Category Archives: Peace and Security

War: Does it make us richer or poorer?

In February this year, The Washington Post featured an op-ed titled, “In the long run, wars make us safer and richer,” written by Stanford Professor Ian Morris. The guts of his case is that if we take the long term view there has been huge progress in life expectancy and economic and social well being and fewer and fewer people as a percentage dying a violent death and this has come about through war. And according to Morris, war is the only way this degree of progress can happen.

The world of the Stone Age, …was a rough place; 10,000 years ago, if someone used force to settle an argument, he or she faced few constraints. Killing was normally on a small scale, in homicides, vendettas and raids, but because populations were tiny, the steady drip of low-level killing took an appalling toll. By many estimates, 10 to 20 percent of all Stone Age humans died at the hands of other people.
This puts the past 100 years in perspective. Since 1914, we have endured world wars, genocides and government-sponsored famines, not to mention civil strife, riots and murders. Altogether, we have killed a staggering 100 million to 200 million of our own kind. But over the century, about 10 billion lives were lived — which means that just 1 to 2 percent of the world’s population died violently. Those lucky enough to be born in the 20th century were on average 10 times less likely to come to a grisly end than those born in the Stone Age. And since 2000, the United Nations tells us, the risk of violent death has fallen even further, to 0.7 percent.
As this process unfolded, humanity prospered. Ten thousand years ago, when the planet’s population was 6 million or so, people lived about 30 years on average and supported themselves on the equivalent income of about $2 per day. Now, more than 7 billion people are on Earth, living more than twice as long (an average of 67 years), and with an average income of $25 per day.

So how did war contribute to this progress? Well according to Morris:

This happened because about 10,000 years ago, the winners of wars began incorporating the losers into larger societies. The victors found that the only way to make these larger societies work was by developing stronger governments; and one of the first things these governments had to do, if they wanted to stay in power, was suppress violence among their subjects.
The men who ran these governments were no saints. They cracked down on killing not out of the goodness of their hearts but because well-behaved subjects were easier to govern and tax than angry, murderous ones. The unintended consequence, though, was that they kick-started the process through which rates of violent death plummeted between the Stone Age and the 20th century.
This process was brutal. Whether it was the Romans in Britain or the British in India, pacification could be just as bloody as the savagery it stamped out. Yet despite the Hitlers, Stalins and Maos, over 10,000 years, war made states, and states made peace.
War may well be the worst way imaginable to create larger, more peaceful societies, but the depressing fact is that it is pretty much the only way.

Paul K. Chappell, West Point graduate and NAPF Peace Leadership Director, has provided a powerful and comprehensive response to this. His article, War makes us poorer argues that Morris’s argument is faulty on many counts

Firstly, it is faulty because it neglects to factor in the huge costs of war, and not just to people, but to the planet, to our resources to our and to our common good.

To illustrate this point he draws on the perspectives of, writers and politicians over time:

Sun Tzu 2000 years ago:

The common people are deprived of seventy percent of their budget, while the government’s expenses for equipment amount to sixty percent of its budget.”

George Orwell, dystophic author:

The essential act of war is destruction, not necessarily of human lives, but of the products of human labor. War is a way of shattering to pieces, or pouring into the stratosphere, or sinking in the depths of the sea, materials which might otherwise be used to make the masses too comfortable, and hence, in the long run, too intelligent.

Dwight Eisenhower ex general:

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children . . . Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.

Major General Smedley Butler:

War is a racket . . . A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of people. Only a small ‘inside’ group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.

Secondly, he takes apart Morris’s data about murder reductions over the 10,000-year period

Professor Morris is correct that there has been a dramatic decrease in death by violent means over this time period but Chappell refutes that this has anything to do with changes in society brought about through war. Medical technology has completely revolutionized the impact of violence in society. To put it crudely, violence actions have not necessarily reduced but today we are far less likely to be killed by the same violent acts.

If we had 1930s level technology in America today, the murder rate would easily be ten times what it is. 1930s level evacuation technology, no ambulance services, no cars for most people. 1930s notification technology, no 911 systems, no phones for most people. 1930s level medical technology, no penicillin [penicillin was first discovered in 1928 but was not used widely until the late 1930s and early 1940s], no antibiotics . . . What if every gunshot wound, every knife wound, every trauma wound, there were no phones, there were no cars, and when you finally got the guy to the hospital, there were no antibiotics or penicillin? How many more would die? Easily ten times as many.

Thirdly, he argues that social, economic and political well being owes more to the actions of civil society and non violent protest than to war.

War may have been used as in part a means to win independence and end slavery in the US but these were pretty hollow victories. They did not bring with them mass changes in voting and other rights

Key aspects of human progress: more humane labour laws; democratic institutions, a free press, the right to vote, the rights of the child; civil rights, anti-discrimination laws, Occupation, health and Safety, maternity leave, childcare, universal education for all, superannuation, welfare services , unemployment benefits were not won through warfare but through civil society struggle and non violent actions.

These victories for liberty and justice were achieved because people waged peace, but most of us are not taught this important part of our history.
Although the American Civil War kept our country together, it took a peaceful movement—the civil rights movement—before African Americans truly got their human rights. And how many European countries fought a civil war to end slavery? Zero.
Recent research shows that another commonly believed myth in our society is also harming us. Professor Morris echoes this myth by saying, “People almost never give up their freedoms—including, at times, the right to kill and impoverish one another—unless forced to do so; and virtually the only force strong enough to bring this about has been defeat in war or fear that such a defeat is imminent.
However we have witnesses the end to unjust regimes that did not involve war time and time again, for example peoples powering the Philippines, the end of apartheid in South Africa, the re-unification of Berlin to name just a few.

Chappell quotes the groundbreaking research of Erica Chenoweth and Maria Stephan, that debunks the myth that war isthe only way to overcome oppression. In fact, according to this research nonviolence has become much more effective.

From 1900 to 2006, nonviolent campaigns worldwide were twice as likely to succeed outright as violent insurgencies. And there’s more. This trend has been increasing over time, so that in the last fifty years, nonviolent campaigns are becoming increasingly successful and common, whereas violent insurgencies are becoming increasingly rare and unsuccessful. This is true even in those extremely brutal authoritarian conditions where I expected nonviolent resistance to fail.

Fourthly, Chappell argues that the ravages of warfare in terms of its impact on poverty, human rights and the environment can become triggers for more violence and warfare.

Even the military reports acknowledge this:

The 2009 U.S. Army Sustainability Report lists several threats to national security, which include severe income disparity, poverty, and climate change. The report tells us: “The Army is facing several global challenges to sustainability that create a volatile security environment with an increased potential for conflict . . . Globalization’s increased interdependence and connectivity has led to greater disparities in wealth, which foster conditions that can lead to conflict . . . Population growth and poverty; the poor in fast-growing urban areas are especially vulnerable to antigovernment and radical ideologies . . . Climate change and natural disasters strain already limited resources, increasing the potential for
War cannot protect us from any of these dangers, and if we keep believing the myth that war is the only way, we will not be able to solve the problems that threaten human survival in the twenty-first century. Because we have the ability to destroy ourselves with nuclear weapons, if we keep believing the myth that war is the only way, we will keep pursuing war despite the clear evidence that it threatens human survival. If we keep believing the myth that war is the only way, we will continue to create conditions that make us less safe.
His final argument is that the opportunity cost of the resources sucked up by being permanently on a war type footing must be taken into account:

And finally, Chappell comes back to his first point, that war sucks up huge resources that could be used to benefit all humanity

What could humanity achieve if we end war? According to a study conducted by Robert Pollin and Heidi Garrett-Peltier at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, an economy focused on peaceful priorities would employ many more Americans than an economy that wages war. In their study they said: “This study focuses on the employment effects of military spending versus alternative domestic spending priorities, in particular investments in clean energy, health care and education . . . We show that investments in clean energy, health care and education create a much larger number of jobs across all pay ranges, including mid-range jobs and high-paying jobs. Channeling funds into clean energy, health care and education in an effective way will therefore create significantly greater opportunities for decent employment throughout the U.S. economy than spending the same amount of funds with the military.
What else could humanity achieve if we end war? General Douglas MacArthur, who had a deep understanding of war that we can all learn from, said, “The great question is: Can global war now be outlawed from the world? If so, it would mark the greatest advance in civilization since the Sermon on the Mount. It would lift at one stroke the darkest shadow which has engulfed mankind from the beginning. It would not only remove fear and bring security—it would not only create new moral and spiritual values—it would produce an economic wave of prosperity that would raise the world’s standard of living beyond anything ever dreamed of by man. The hundreds of billions of dollars now spent in mutual preparedness [for war] could conceivably abolish poverty from the face of the earth.




Making Sense of WILPF’s New Campaign: Women’s Power to Stop War

As part of our celebration of our 99th year, WILPF is rolling ourt a new global campaign under the bold banner headline Women’s Power to Stop War.
If you, like me, are inclined to feel a little ambivalent about the ‘stretch ‘ of the vision behind this slogan, Cynthia Cockburn’s article, “Women’s power to stop war: Hubris or hope?”, is definitely worth a read.
She asks the following question:

Bold… but also bald. The slogan stops people in their tracks, we find. They pause and puzzle over it. Are WILPF making a statement of fact here, or is this mere aspiration? The story of the Hague Congress hardly inspires confidence in women’s power to stop war. Besides, the very fact that we have a centenary to ‘celebrate’, that we have had wars to contest throughout the twentieth century and into the twenty-first, suggests not power but impotence.

And she concludes:

If we really mean women have the power to stop war, in what does that ability reside? why has it been ineffective till now? how may we believe in it? It is this holistic, multi-facetted struggle for a nonviolent revolution in the relations of gender, class, ethnicity and nation to which we shall soon commit ourselves anew in our forthcoming centenary Manifesto. If we assert, with breath-taking optimism, Women’s Power to Stop War, it’s not to suggest that women ‘have power’ – on most counts we have little. Rather, it’s to remind ourselves that we have agency. Of course, not all women lack privilege and security. Nonetheless, women as a sex have seen millennia of injustice, many of us have learned how to organize, and above all we have reach, into every corner of life, into the heart of families, into civil society and, increasingly, into the structures of governance. ‘Our weapons’, reads our campaign website, ‘are dialogue, knowledge and insistence.’ Women as women are the ones who have the potential to translate the principle and practice of ‘care’ from the individual to collective, so that a caring society becomes the principle of politics, embraced by men and women alike. And war becomes unthinkable.

To follow the argument I strongly encourage you to read the full article

WORLD PEACE FOUNDATION: Annual toast to peace

Readers might be interested a speech that WILPF, US President Laura Roskos’ delivered at the World Peace Foundation at their annual ‘toast to peace’

In this speech Roskos notes that

“The tagline for WILPF’s centennial is Women’s Power to Stop War. It’s a proclamation. Not a question. Women have the Power to Stop War; not just the war on women but stop war on all human beings, who wish to live a life of peace and freedom”.

Read  the speech in its entirety  at


On November 11, The UK Foreign Secretary William Hague committed the UK to securing the participation of Syrian women in the future of their country: in the peace talks, in the future government and in the rebuilding of Syria and called on other countries to help to make this a reality.

“Good! This is right as a matter of law, of policy, morality and common sense. Peace agreements brokered only between warring factions simply do not work. It is unconscionable that the majority of the Syrian population, in other words the men and women who continue to oppose bloodshed and sectarianism, can be excluded from discussions as to the future of their country. They are being held hostage by those who choose violent conflict to retain or gain power. By failing to recognize the voices of the non-violent movement, the international community has been colluding in silencing them.” commented Madeleine Rees, Secretary General of Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.

WILPF has consistently been advocating for non-violence and real engagement with Syrian women as part of the international community’s commitments on Women, Peace and Security and supported the mobilization of civil society. Today, there has been a serious step forward in these efforts to ensure women’s rights and participation in international peace and security.

This is a first step towards breaking that mold and the Foreign Secretary should be encouraged in his commitment. There is much to be done and we call on all governments to now really engage in a peace process for Syria that will end the horror of conflict through a political negotiation which ensures the voices of the Syrian people are heard.

Looking back on RAMSI, mainstreaming women, peace and security in Australian foreign policy and practice

UNSCR1325 13th Anniversary Event:

Evening Seminar: Open to public

Presenters include Dr Jasmine-Kim Westendorf and Sue Ingram

Dr. Jasmine-Kim Westendorf is a lecturer in International Relations at La Trobe University. Her research explores why negotiated peace processes often fail to establish lasting peace, and she has worked extensively on issues of conflict resolution, peace processes, peace-building, and the international community’s responses to civil wars across a range of cases in Africa, Asia and the Pacific. She co-founded and convenes the Melbourne Free University.

Sue Ingram has a long career in public policy, peace-building and international development, including as a senior executive in Australian Government – including AusAID. She has also held several appointments in UN peacekeeping missions in Timor-Leste before and after independence. Sue was head of RAMSI’s Machinery of Government pillar, the area with responsibility for the Women in Government Project within RAMSI. More recently she has worked as an independent consultant/adviser focusing on governance and state-building in fragile and conflict-affected states for AusAID, the World Bank, UNDP and OECD. Sue is now studying full-time towards a PhD.

Event date: Monday

11 November 2013.

5.30 pm for nibbles and refreshment,

6.00-7.00 pm Seminar

Venue: The Theatrette,

Sir Roland Wilson Building (Room 2.02),

21 McCoy Cct, ANU

This Is a Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) Event in Partnership with the ANU Gender Institute.

RSVP: For catering purposes please book with Eventbrite as light refreshments will be served outside the Theatrette from 5.30.

Contact Martina Fechner or call 6125 6281 (Mon- Wed)

Access: Free and open to the public

Websites: UNSCR13325 The first resolution on Women, Peace and Security and RAMSI Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands

UN Security Council Adopts New Resolution Aimed at Removing Barriers to Women’s Full Participation in All Efforts to Prevent, Resolve, and Rebuild from Conflict

The UN Security Council today demonstrated renewed determination to put women’s leadership at the centre of all efforts to resolve conflict and promote peace. By unanimous vote, the Council adopted a resolution that sets in place stronger measures to enable women to participate in conflict resolution and recovery, and puts the onus on the Security Council, the United Nations, regional organizations and Member States to dismantle the barriers, create the space, and provide seats at the table for women.

In his opening remarks, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon commended the Security Council for today’s resolution that shines a light on the importance of women’s agency and leadership in international peace and security.

UN Women Executive Director, Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, along with Ms. Navi Pillay, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and Ms. Brigitte Balipou, Board member of Femmes Africa Solidarité and founder of the Association of Women Jurists of the Central African Republic, briefed the Security Council and presented the findings of the Secretary-General’s 2013 report on women and peace and security.

Addressing the UN Security Council, UN Women Executive Director Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka highlighted women’s catalytic role in conflict resolution. “Women’s leadership is central to reconciliation and conflict resolution and to peacebuilding efforts that bring results for families and communities. That is why I welcome today’s resolution on women’s peace leadership,” she said.

Adopted during a day-long debate on women, peace and security, convened under the Presidency of Azerbaijan, focusing on women, rule of law and transitional justice in conflict-affected situations, this new resolution – Security Council resolution 2122 – puts in place a roadmap for a more systematic approach to the implementation of commitments on women, peace and security. Concretely, these measures include: the development and deployment of technical expertise for peacekeeping missions and UN mediation teams supporting peace talks; improved access to timely information and analysis on the impact of conflict on women and women’s participation in conflict resolution in reports and briefings to the Council; and strengthened commitments to consult as well as include women directly in peace talks.

The resolution recognizes that the impact of conflict on women is exacerbated as a result of inequalities. For example, because of unequal citizenship rights and a lack of access to identity documents women and their children may be rendered stateless, lack access to basic services for survival or lack the ability to reclaim land and property, post-conflict.

The resolution makes some unprecedented advances. It addresses the rights of women who are pregnant as a result of rape during conflict. The international community has recognized through this resolution the need to ensure that humanitarian aid includes support for access to the full range of sexual and reproductive health services, including regarding pregnancies resulting from rape.

Lastly, the resolution places gender equality and women’s empowerment as critical to international peace and security, underlining that the economic empowerment of women greatly contributes to the stabilization of societies emerging from armed conflict.

The annual report of the UN Secretary-General on women and peace and security, S/2013/252 shows progress and good practices over the past year. There is more awareness than ever of the catastrophic impact of sexual and gender-based violence in war and the need to prevent it. In peacekeeping contexts, there is a marked increase in the number of practical actions and directives guiding military and police components to address women’s security. This includes deployment of gender advisers and experts to UN mediation teams or in post-conflict planning.

International Commissions of Inquiry now routinely include gender crimes investigators, as seen in those established most recently in the context of Côte D’Ivoire, Libya, North Korea and Syria. Historic appointments of women leaders to senior peace and security positions have been made and include Ms. Aïchatou Mindaoudou Souleymane, who became the first woman UN chief mediator, for Darfur. In March this year, Ms. Mary Robinson became the first woman UN Special Envoy when the UN Secretary-General appointed her as Special Envoy for the Great Lakes region of Africa.

Yet, the report notes with concern that results remain uneven and insufficient. Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka urged stronger action and collaboration. “This resolution puts the onus on all of us – the Security Council, the United Nations, regional organizations and Member States – to create the space and provide seats at the peace table for women. I am committed to working with all of you so that we can see better results.”

NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security responds:

We welcome today’s additional steps by the UN Security Council to fully implement its resolution 1325 (2000) on women, peace and security. Today’s resolution 2122 (2013) lays out key commitments regarding women’s participation: for the Council itself, for UN actors, for all those involved in peace processes. In addition, the resolution reminds all UN Member States of the forthcoming 15th anniversary in 2015, setting out that date as a marker for achievements and goals on this core issue of international peace and security.

Ms. Brigitte Balipou of Femmes Africa Solidarite, … noted the urgency for action in her own country of the Central African Republic. “It is time,” she said, “thirteen years after the unanimous adoption of resolution 1325, for the consistent resourcing and sustained political will to support women’s deserved role in preventing, ending, and rebuilding from conflicts like those that are currently plaguing my own country of the Central African Republic.”

“For years, we have been asking the Council to be more consistent in its commitment and obligations to women in conflict situations,” said Sarah Taylor of the NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security. “Today’s resolution provides an important step towards this. It should be implemented to help ensure women’s voices and women’s rights are fundamental, not incidental, to the Council’s daily work.”

The resolution also contains capacity-building language regarding the role of women in all processes regarding the prevention and resolution of conflict. “Inclusive conflict prevention and resolution are not solely about improving the lives of women and girls; they are about ensuring stability for the entire community,” said Jacqueline O’Neill, Director of The Institute for Inclusive Security. “We know from experience that women’s full and meaningful engagement strengthens the integrity of a process and the sustainability of its outcome. Ultimately, inclusion is simply smart policy.”

A key element of the resolution is its call on Member States to fund the vital work of women’s leadership, and that of local civil society organizations, who are often doing the daily and dangerous work of conflict prevention and resolution. “Investment in women’s human rights, equality, and women-led civil society is critical, including for the prevention of conflict and war,” said Maria Butler of the PeaceWomen programme at Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. She added “Our words and our resolutions mean nothing if they are not backed by our actions.”

Comment from Margaret Bearlin WILPF ACT: Really superb news. After the enthusiastic speech that the Minister assisting …. for Women, Senator Michaelia Cash, gave at the launch of The Report Card on the WPS NAP in Canberra last Wednesday, and with the inspired appointment of Senator Claire Moore as Shadow, as well as Tanja Plibersek as Shadow Foreign Minister we have a very good context for, dare we suggest, cross party collaboration. Tanja was the Minister for Women when we first started moving on implementation of 1325, and Claire Moore has been a stalwart parliamentary supporter, making regular speeches on 1325 from the early days. Claire has also been a longtime WILPF member.

▶ Security: What is it? What can we do?

▶ Security: What is it? – YouTube.

This WILPF video was posted by Jo Haytor on the IWDA website as part of an excellent article about Women,Peace and Security.

The article provides an excellent summary of what Australia as a nation and what we as individuals can do to progress action on women peace and security

What Australia can do

  • Maintain Australia’s emphasis on WPS staying at the forefront of the UNSC agenda both during Australia’s Presidency and in all relevant deliberations throughout the period of Australia’s seat on the Security Council and identify an ongoing advisory group of civil society representatives whose core business is WPS
  • Sustain funding to international development agencies whose core business is women’s safety and security linked to conflict prevention and resolution, peace building, transitional justice and women’s rights
  • Sustain the government commitment to the Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development Initiative to accelerate women’s leadership in peace and security policy and planning in our region
  • Continue to collaborate in and support the implementation of Pacific Regional Action Plan through civil society networks and political, diplomatic and official channels
  • Continue to improve embedding the WPS agenda in the Australian government’s approach to human resource management for defence, AFP and deployed personnel
  • Resource evidence gathering, information exchange and dialogue with wider networks such as the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict or the WPS Academic Collective
  • Contribute to shaping how peace and security are defined and prosecuted in the Proposed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Post- 2015 Development Agenda and through other regional or national plans and policy development for Women’s Empowerment, Gender Equality, Peace and Security in countries such as Bougainville, Burma or Fiji.

What you/we can do

  • Write to your political representative now to let them know that funding for women, peace and security must be a vital part of Australia’s foreign aid and security budgets
  • Promote and transfer knowledge to your networks about agencies like IWDA, whose work priortises safety and security for women and girls. Follow IWDA on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Track the monitoring of the UN system in relation to WPS at and share this information to increase public support and momentum
  • Donate your time, money or expertise to strengthen international dialogue between civil society organisations, government and the UN as we work towards the post 2015 Development Goals.
  • Watch the [above] … video by Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF International) and share it to champion a wider definition of security:

You can read the full article here