Outline of an Alternative Global Security System

No single strategy will end war. Strategies must be layered and woven together to be effective. In what follows, each element is stated as concisely as possible. Entire books have been written about each of them, a few of which are listed in the resources section. As will be apparent, choosing a world beyond war will require us to dismantle the existing War System and create the institutions of an Alternative Global Security System and/or to further develop those institutions where they already exist in embryo. Note that World Beyond War is not proposing a sovereign world government but rather a web of governing structures voluntarily entered into and a shift in cultural norms away from violence and domination.

Common Security

Conflict management as practiced in the iron cage of war is self-defeating. In what is known as the “security dilemma,” states believe they can only make themselves more secure by making their adversaries less secure, leading to escalating arms races that culminated in conventional, nuclear, biological and chemical weapons of horrific destructiveness. Placing the security of one’s adversary in danger has not led to security but to a state of armed suspicion, and as a result, when wars have begun, they have been obscenely violent. Common security acknowledges that one nation can only be secure when all nations are. The national security model leads only to mutual insecurity, especially in an era when nation states are porous. The original idea behind national sovereignty was to draw a line around a geographical territory and control everything that attempted to cross that line. In today’s technologically advanced world that concept is obsolete. Nations cannot keep out ideas, immigrants, economic forces, disease organisms, information, ballistic missiles, or cyber-attacks on vulnerable infrastructure like banking systems, power plants, stock exchanges. No nation can go it alone. Security must be global if it is to exist at all.

Demilitarizing Security

Conflicts typical of the contemporary world cannot be resolved at gunpoint. They require not a recalibration of military tools and strategies but a far-reaching commitment to demilitarization.
Tom Hastings (Author and Professor of Conflict Resolution)

Shift to a Non-Provocative Defense Posture

A first step toward demilitarizing security could be non-provocative defense, which is to reconceive and reconfigure training, logistics, doctrine, and weaponry so that a nation’s military is seen by its neighbors to be unsuitable for offense but clearly able to mount a credible defense of its borders. It is a form of defense that rules out armed attacks against other states.

Can the weapon system be effectively used abroad, or can it be only used at home? If it can be used abroad, then it is offensive, particularly if that ‘abroad’ includes countries with which one is in conflict. It if can only be used at home then the system is defensive, being operational only when an attack has taken place.1
(Johan Galtung, Peace and Conflict Researcher)

Non-provocative defense implies a truly defensive military posture. It includes radically reducing or eliminating long-range weapons such as Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles, long-range attack aircraft, carrier fleets and heavy ships, militarized drones, nuclear submarine fleets, overseas bases, and possibly tank armies. In a mature Alternative Global Security System, a militarized non-provocative defense posture would be gradually phased out as it became unnecessary.

Another defensive posture that will be necessary is a system of defense against futuristic attacks including cyber-attacks on the energy grid, power plants, communications, financial transactions and defense against dual-use technologies such as nanotechnology and robotics. Ramping up the cyber capabilities of Interpol would be a first line of defense in this case and another element of an Alternative Global Security System.2

Also, non-provocative defense would not rule out a nation having long-range aircraft and ships configured exclusively for humanitarian relief. Shifting to non-provocative defense weakens the War System while making possible the creation of a humanitarian disaster relief force that strengthens the peace system.

Create a Nonviolent, Civilian-Based Defense Force

Gene Sharp has combed history to find and record hundreds of methods that have been used successfully to thwart oppression. Civilian-based defense (CBD)

indicates defense by civilians (as distinct from military personnel) using civilian means of struggle (as distinct from military and paramilitary means). This is a policy intended to deter and defeat foreign military invasions, occupations, and internal usurpations.”3 This defense “is meant to be waged by the population and its institutions on the basis of advance preparation, planning, and training.

It is a “policy [in which] the whole population and the society’s institutions become the fighting forces. Their weaponry consists of a vast variety of forms of psychological, economic, social, and political resistance and counter-attack. This policy aims to deter attacks and to defend against them by preparations to make the society unrulable by would-be tyrants and aggressors. The trained population and the society’s institutions would be prepared to deny the attackers their objectives and to make consolidation of political control impossible. These aims would be achieved by applying massive and selective noncooperation and defiance. In addition, where possible, the defending country would aim to create maximum international problems for the attackers and to subvert the reliability of their troops and functionaries.
Gene Sharp (Author, Founder of Albert Einstein Institution)

The dilemma faced by all societies since the invention of war, namely, to either submit or become a mirror image of the attacking aggressor, is solved by civilian-based defense. Becoming as or more war-like than the aggressor was based on the reality that stopping him requires coercion. Civilian-based defense deploys a powerful coercive force that does not require military action.

In civilian-based defense, all cooperation is withdrawn from the invading power. Nothing works. The lights don’t come on, or the heat, the waste is not picked up, the transit system doesn’t work, courts cease to function, the people don’t obey orders. This is what happened in the “Kapp Putsch” in Berlin in 1920 when a would-be dictator and his private army tried to take over. The previous government fled, but the citizens of Berlin made governing so impossible that, even with overwhelming military power, the takeover collapsed in weeks. All power does not come from the barrel of a gun.

In some cases, sabotage against government property would be deemed appropriate. When the French Army occupied Germany in the aftermath of World War I, German railway workers disabled engines and tore up tracks to prevent the French from moving troops around to confront large-scale demonstrations. If a French soldier got on a tram, the driver refused to move.

Two core realities support civilian-based defense; first, that all power comes from below—all government is by consent of the governed and that consent can always be withdrawn, causing the collapse of a governing elite. Second, if a nation is seen as ungovernable, because of a robust civilian-based defense force, there is no reason to try to conquer it. A nation defended by military power can be defeated in war by a superior military power. Countless examples exist. Examples also exist of peoples rising up and defeating ruthless dictatorial governments through nonviolent struggle, beginning with the liberation from an occupying power in India by Gandhi’s people power movement, continuing with the overthrow of the Marcos regime in the Philippines, the Soviet-backed dictatorships in Eastern Europe, and the Arab Spring, to name only a few of the most notable examples.

In a civilian-based defense all able adults are trained in methods of resistance.4 A standing Reserve Corps of millions is organized, making the nation so strong in its independence that no one would think of trying to conquer it. A CBD system is widely publicized and totally transparent to adversaries. A CBD system would cost a fraction of the amount now spent to fund a military defense system. CBD can provide effective defense within the War System, while it is an essential component of a robust peace system. Certainly one can argue that nonviolent defense must transcend the nation-state view as forms of social defense, since the nation state itself often is an instrument of oppression against physical or cultural existence of peoples.5

As noted above, scientifically proven wisdom holds that nonviolent civil resistance is twice as likely to be successful compared to movements that use violence. The contemporary knowledge in theory and practice is what makes longtime nonviolent movement activist and scholar George Lakey hopeful for a strong role of CBD. He states: “If the peace movements of Japan, Israel and the United States choose to build on a half century of strategy work and devise a serious alternative to war, they will certainly build in preparation and training and gain the attention of pragmatists in their societies.”6

Phase Out Foreign Military Bases

In 2009 the U.S. lease on an air base in Ecuador was set to expire and the president of Ecuador made a proposal to the U.S.

We’ll renew the base on one condition: that they let us put a base in Miami.

The British people would find it unthinkable if their government allowed Saudi Arabia to establish a large military base in the British Isles. Similarly, the United States would not tolerate an Iranian air base in Wyoming. These foreign establishments would be seen as a threat to their security, their safety and their sovereignty. Foreign military bases are valuable for controlling populations and resources. They are locations from which the occupying power can strike inside the “host” country or against nations on its borders, or possibly deter attacks. They are also frightfully expensive for the occupying country. The United States is the prime example, having hundreds of bases in 135 countries around the world. The actual total seems to be unknown; even Defense Department figures vary from office to office. Anthropologist David Vine, who has extensively researched the presence of U.S. military bases all over the world, estimates that there are 800 locations that station troops globally. He documents his research in the 2015 book Base Nation. How U.S. military bases abroad harm America and the world. Foreign bases create resentment against what is seen locally as imperial domination.7 Eliminating foreign military bases is a pillar of an Alternative Global Security System and goes hand-in hand with non-provocative defense.

Withdrawing to an authentic defense of a nation’s borders is a key part of demilitarizing security, thus weakening the ability of the War System to create global insecurity. As an alternative, some of the bases could be converted to civilian use in a “Global Aid Plan” as country assistance centers (see below). Others could be converted to solar panel arrays and other systems of sustainable energy.


Disarmament is an obvious step leading toward a world beyond war. The problem of war is in great measure a problem of wealthy nations flooding poor nations with weapons, most of them for a profit, others for free. Regions of the world that we think of as war-prone, including Africa and most of Western Asia, do not manufacture most of their own weapons. They import them from distant, wealthy nations. International small arms sales, in particular, have skyrocketed in recent years, tripling since 2001.

The United States is the world’s leading weapons seller. Most of the rest of international weapons sales come from the four other permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany. If these six countries stopped dealing weapons, global disarmament would be a very long way toward success.

The violence of poor countries is often used to justify war (and arms sales) in wealthy countries. Many wars have U.S.-made weapons on both sides. Some have U.S. trained and armed proxies on both sides, as has been the case lately in Syria where troops armed by the Department of Defense have fought troops armed by the CIA. The typical response is not disarmament, but more armament, more weapons gifts and sales to proxies, and more arms purchases in the wealthy nations.

The United States is not just the biggest arms seller, but also the biggest arms buyer. Were the United States to scale back its arsenal, removing various weapons systems that lack a defensive purpose, for example, a reverse arms race might be kick started.

Efforts to end war are crippled by the ongoing existence and growth of the arms trade, but scaling back and ending the arms trade is a possible path toward ending war. Strategically, this approach has some possible advantages. For example, opposing U.S. weapons sales to Saudi Arabia or gifts to Egypt or Israel does not require a confrontation with U.S. patriotism in the way that opposing U.S. wars does. Instead we can confront the arms trade as the global health threat that it is.

Disarmament will require reductions in so-called conventional weapons as well as nuclear and other weapons types. We will need to end profiteering in arms trading. We will need to restrain the aggressive pursuit of global dominance that leads other nations to acquire nuclear weapons as deterrents. But we will also need to take on disarmament step-by-step, eliminating particular systems, such as armed drones, nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons, and weapons in outer space.

Conventional Weapons

The world is awash in armaments, everything from automatic weapons to battle tanks and heavy artillery. The flood of arms contributes both to the escalation of violence in wars and to the dangers of crime and terrorism. It aids governments that have committed gross human rights abuses, creates international instability, and perpetuates the belief that peace can be achieved by guns.

The United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) is guided by the vision of promoting global norms of disarmament and oversees efforts to deal with weapons of mass destruction and conventional arms and the arms trade.8 The office promotes nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, strengthening of the disarmament regimes in respect to other weapons of mass destruction, and chemical and biological weapons, and disarmament efforts in the area of conventional weapons, especially landmines and small arms, which are the weapons of choice in contemporary conflicts.

Outlaw the Arms Trade

Arms manufacturers have lucrative government contracts and are even subsidized by them and also sell on the open market. The U.S. and others have sold billions in arms into the volatile and violent Middle East. Sometimes the arms are sold to both sides in a conflict, as in the case of Iraq and Iran and the war between them that killed between 600,000 and 1,250,000 based on scholarly estimates.9 Sometimes weapons end up being used against the seller or its allies, as in the case of weapons the U.S. provided to the Mujahedeen which ended up in the hands of al Qaeda, and the arms the U.S. sold or gave to Iraq which ended up in the hands of ISIS during its 2014 invasion of Iraq.

The international trade in death-dealing weapons is huge, over $70 billion per year. The main exporters of arms to the world are the powers that fought in World War II; in order: U.S., Russia, Germany, France, and the United Kingdom.

The UN adopted the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) on April 2, 2013. It does not abolish the international arms trade. The treaty is an “instrument establishing common international standards for the import, export and transfer of conventional arms.” It entered into force in December 2014. In the main, it says the exporters will monitor themselves to avoid selling arms to “terrorists or rogue states.” The U.S., which has not ratified the treaty, nonetheless made certain that it had a veto over the text by demanding that consensus govern the deliberations. The U.S. demanded that the treaty leave huge loopholes so that the treaty will not “unduly interfere with our ability to import, export, or transfer arms in support of our national security and foreign policy interests” [and] “the international arms trade is a legitimate commercial activity” [and] “otherwise lawful commercial trade in arms must not be unduly hindered.” Further, “There is no requirement for reporting on or marking and tracing of ammunition or explosives [and] there will be no mandate for an international body to enforce an ATT.”10

An Alternative Security System requires a major level of disarmament in order for all nations to feel safe from aggression. The UN defines general and complete disarmament “…as the elimination of all WMD, coupled with the “balanced reduction of armed forces and conventional armaments, based on the principle of undiminished security of the parties with a view to promoting or enhancing stability at a lower military level, taking into account the need of all States to protect their security” (UN General Assembly, Final Document of the First Special Session on Disarmament, para. 22.) This definition of disarmament seems to have holes large enough to drive a tank through. A much more aggressive treaty with dated reduction levels is required, as well as an enforcement mechanism.

The Treaty appears to do no more than require States Parties to create an agency to oversee arms exports and imports and to determine if they think the arms will be misused for such activities as genocide or piracy and to report annually on their trade. It does not appear to do the job since it leaves the control of the trade up to those who want to export and import. A far more vigorous and enforceable ban on the export of arms is necessary. The arms trade needs to be added to the International Criminal Court’s list of “crimes against humanity” and enforced in the case of individual arms manufacturers and traders and by the Security Council in its mandate to confront violations of “international peace and security” in the case of sovereign states as the selling agents.11

End the Use of Militarized Drones

Drones are pilotless aircraft (as well as submarines and other robots) maneuvered remotely from a distance of thousands of miles. Thus far, the main deployer of military drones has been the United States. “Predator” and “Reaper” drones carry rocket-propelled high explosive warheads which can be targeted on people. They are maneuvered by “pilots” sitting at computer terminals in Nevada and elsewhere. These drones are regularly used for so-called targeted killings against people in Pakistan, Yemen, Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq, and Syria. The justification for these attacks, which have killed hundreds of civilians, is the highly questionable doctrine of “anticipatory defense.” The U.S. President has determined that he can, with the aid of a special panel, order the death of anyone deemed to be a terrorist threat to the U.S., even U.S. citizens for whom the Constitution requires due process of law, conveniently ignored in this case. In fact, the U.S. Constitution requires respect of everyone’s rights, not making the distinction for U.S. citizens that we are taught. And among the targeted are people never identified but deemed suspicious by their behavior, a parallel to racial profiling by domestic police.

The problems with drone attacks are legal, moral, and practical. First, they are a clear violation of every nation’s laws against murder and of U.S. law under executive orders issued against assassinations by the U.S. government as far back as 1976 by President Gerald Ford and later reiterated by President Ronald Reagan. Used against U.S. citizens – or anyone else – these killings violate the rights of due process under the U.S. Constitution. And while current international law under Article 51 of the UN Charter legalizes self-defense in the case of an armed attack, drones nevertheless appear to violate international law as well as the Geneva Conventions.12 While drones might be considered legally used in a combat zone in a declared war, the U.S. has not declared war in all of the countries where it kills with drones, nor are any of its current wars legal under the UN Charter or the Kellogg-Briand Pact, nor is it clear what makes certain wars “declared” as the U.S. Congress has not declared war since 1941.

Further, the doctrine of anticipatory defense, which states that a nation can legitimately use force when it anticipates it might be attacked, is questioned by many international law experts. The problem with such an interpretation of international law is its ambiguity—how does a nation know for certain that what another state or non-state actor says and does would truly lead to an armed attack? In fact, any would-be aggressor could actually hide behind this doctrine to justify its aggression. At the least, it could be (and is presently) used indiscriminately without oversight by Congress or the United Nations.

Second, drone attacks are clearly immoral even under the conditions of “just war doctrine” which stipulates that non-combatants are not to be attacked in warfare. Many of the drone attacks are not targeted on known individuals whom the government designates as terrorists, but simply against gatherings where such people are suspected to be present. Many civilians have been killed in these attacks and there is evidence that on some occasions, when rescuers have gathered at the site after the first attack, a second strike has been ordered to kill the rescuers. Many of the dead have been children.13

Third, drone attacks are counter-productive. While purporting to kill enemies of the U.S. (a sometimes dubious claim), they create intense resentment for the U.S. and are easily used in recruiting new terrorists.

For every innocent person you kill, you create ten new enemies.
General Stanley McChrystal (former Commander, U.S. and NATO Forces in Afghanistan)

Further, by arguing that its drone attacks are legal even when war has not been declared, the U.S provides justification for other nations or groups to claim legality when they may well want to use drones to attack the U.S. Drone attacks make a nation that uses them less rather than more secure.

When you drop a bomb from a drone… you are going to cause more damage than you are going to cause good,
U.S. Lt. General Michael Flynn (ret.)

More than seventy nations now possess drones,and more than 50 countries are developing them.14 The rapid development of the technology and production capacity suggest that almost every nation will be able to have armed drones within a decade. Some War System advocates have said that the defense against drone attacks will be to build drones that attack drones, demonstrating the way in which War System thinking typically leads to arms races and greater instability while widening the destruction when a particular war breaks out. Outlawing militarized drones by any and all nations and groups would be a major step forward in demilitarizing security.

Drones are not named Predators and Reapers for nothing. They are killing machines. With no judge or jury, they obliterate lives in an instant, the lives of those deemed by someone, somewhere, to be terrorists, along with those who are accidentally—or incidentally—caught in their cross-hairs.
Medea Benjamin (Activist, Author, Co-founder of CODEPINK)

Phase Out Weapons Of Mass Destruction

Weapons of mass destruction are a powerful positive feedback to the War System, strengthening its spread and ensuring that wars that do occur have the potential for planet-altering destruction. Nuclear, chemical and biological weapons are characterized by their ability to kill and maim enormous numbers of people, wiping out whole cities and even whole regions with indescribable destruction.

Nuclear Weapons

At present there are treaties banning biological and chemical weapons but there is no treaty banning nuclear weapons. The 1970 Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) provides that five recognized nuclear weapons states– the U.S., Russia, UK, France and China– should make good faith efforts for the elimination of nuclear weapons, while all other NPT signatories pledge not to acquire nuclear weapons. Only three countries refused to join the NPT— India, Pakistan, and Israel—and they acquired nuclear arsenals. North Korea, relying on the NPT bargain for “peaceful” nuclear technology, walked out of the treaty using its “peaceful” technology to develop fissile materials for nuclear power to manufacture nuclear bombs.15 Indeed, every nuclear power plant is a potential bomb factory.

A war fought with even a so-called “limited” number of nuclear weapons would kill millions, induce nuclear winter and result in worldwide food shortages that would result in the starvation of millions. The whole nuclear strategy system rests upon a false foundation, because computer models suggest that only a very small percentage of warheads detonated could cause the worldwide shutdown of agriculture for up to a decade—in effect, a death sentence for the human species. And the trend at present is toward a greater and greater likelihood of some systemic failure of equipment or communication that would lead to nuclear weapons being used.

A larger release could extinguish all life on the planet. These weapons threaten the security of everyone everywhere.16 While various nuclear arms control treaties between the U.S. and the former Soviet Union did reduce the insane number of nuclear weapons (56,000 at one point), there are still 16,300 in the world, only 1000 of which are not in the U.S. or Russia.17 What is worse, the treaties allowed for “modernization,” a euphemism for creating a new generation of weapons and delivery systems, which all of the nuclear states are doing. The nuclear monster has not gone away; it is not even lurking in the back of the cave—it’s out in the open and costing billions of dollars that could be far better used elsewhere. Since the not so Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty was signed in 1998, the U.S. has ramped up its high-tech laboratory tests of nuclear weapons, coupled with sub-critical tests, 1,000 feet below the desert floor at the Nevada test site on Western Shoshone land. The U.S. has performed 28 such tests to date, blowing up plutonium with chemicals, without causing a chain-reaction, hence “sub-critical”.18 Indeed, the Obama administration is currently projecting expenditures of one trillion dollars over the next thirty years for new bomb factories and delivery systems—missiles, airplanes submarines—as well as new nuclear weapons.19

Conventional War System thinking argues that nuclear weapons deter war–the so-called doctrine of “Mutual Assured Destruction” (“MAD”). While it is true that they have not been used since 1945, it is not logical to conclude that MAD has been the reason. As Daniel Ellsberg has pointed out, every U.S. president since Truman has used nuclear weapons as a threat to other nations to get them to allow the U.S. to get its way. Furthermore, such a doctrine rests on a wobbly faith in the rationality of political leaders in a crisis situation, for all time to come. MAD does not ensure security against either accidental release of these monstrous weapons or a strike by a nation that mistakenly thought it was under attack or a pre-emptive first strike. In fact, certain kinds of nuclear warhead delivery systems have been designed and built for the latter purpose—the Cruise Missile (which sneaks under radar) and the Pershing Missile, a fast attack, forward-based missile. Serious discussions actually occurred during the Cold War about the desirability of a “Grand, Decapitating First Strike” in which the U.S. would initiate a nuclear attack on the Soviet Union in order to disable its ability to launch nuclear weapons by obliterating command and control, beginning with the Kremlin. Some analysts wrote about “winning” a nuclear war in which only a few tens of millions would be killed, nearly all civilians.20 Nuclear weapons are patently immoral and insane.

Even if they are not used deliberately, there have been numerous incidents where nuclear weapons carried in airplanes have crashed to the ground, fortunately only spewing some plutonium on the ground, but not going off.21 In 2007, six U.S. missiles carrying nuclear warheads were mistakenly flown from North Dakota to Louisiana and the missing nuclear bombs were not discovered for 36 hours.22 There have been reports of drunkenness and poor performance by servicemen posted in underground silos responsible for launching U.S. nuclear missiles poised on hair-trigger alert and pointed at Russian cities.23 The U.S. and Russia each have thousands of nuclear missiles primed and ready to be fired at each other. A Norwegian weather satellite went off-course over Russia and was almost taken for an incoming attack until the last minute when utter chaos was averted.24

History does not make us, we make it—or end it.
Thomas Merton (Catholic Writer)

The 1970 NPT was due to expire in 1995, and it was extended indefinitely at that time, with a provision for five year review conferences and preparatory meetings in between. To gain consensus for the NPT extension, the governments promised to hold a conference to negotiate a Weapons of Mass Destruction Free Zone in the Middle East. At each of the five year review conferences, new promises were given, such as for an unequivocal commitment to the total elimination of nuclear weapons, and for various “steps” that need to be taken for a nuclear free world, none of which have been honored.25 A Model Nuclear Weapons Convention, drafted by civil society with scientists, lawyers, and other experts was adopted by the UN26 which provided, “all States would be prohibited from pursuing or participating in the ‘development, testing, production, stockpiling, transfer, use and threat of use of nuclear weapons.’” It provided for all the steps that would be needed to destroy arsenals and guard materials under verified international control.27

To the dismay of civil society and many non-nuclear weapons states, none of the proposed steps at the many NPT review conferences have been adopted. Following an important initiative by the International Red Cross to make known the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons, a new campaign to negotiate a simple ban treaty without the participation of the nuclear weapons states was launched in Oslo in 2013, with follow up conferences in Nayarit, Mexico and Vienna in 2014.28 There is momentum to open these negotiations after the 2015 NPT Review conference, on the 70th Anniversary of the terrible destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. At the Vienna meeting, the government of Austria announced a pledge to work for a nuclear weapons ban, described as “taking effective measures to fill the legal gap for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons” and “to cooperate with all stakeholders to achieve this goal.”29 Additionally, the Vatican spoke out at this conference and for the first time declared that nuclear deterrence is immoral and the weapons should be banned.30 A ban treaty will put pressure not only on the nuclear weapons states, but on the governments sheltering under the U.S. nuclear umbrella, in NATO countries which rely on nuclear weapons for “deterrence” as well as countries like Australia, Japan and South Korea.31 Additionally, the U.S. stations about 400 nuclear bombs in NATO states, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, Germany and Turkey, who will also be pressured to give up their “nuclear sharing arrangements” and sign the ban treaty.3233

Chemical and Biological Weapons

Biological weapons consist of deadly natural toxins such as Ebola, typhus, smallpox, and others that have been altered in the lab to be super virulent so there is no antidote. Their use could start an uncontrolled global epidemic. Therefore it is critical to adhere to existing treaties that already make up part of an Alternative Security System. The Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction was opened for signature in 1972 and went into force in 1975 under the aegis of the United Nations. It prohibits the 170 signatories from possessing or developing or stockpiling these weapons. However, it lacks a verification mechanism and needs to be strengthened by a rigorous challenge inspection regime (i.e., any State can challenge another which has agreed in advance to an inspection.)

The Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction prohibits the development, production, acquisition, stockpiling, retention, transfer or use of chemical weapons. States Signatories have agreed to destroy any stockpiles of chemical weapons they may hold and any facilities which produced them, as well as any chemical weapons they abandoned on the territory of other States in the past and to create a challenge verification regime for certain toxic chemicals and their precursors… in order to ensure that such chemicals are only used for purposes not prohibited. The convention entered into force on April 29, 1997. Whereas the world stockpiles of chemical weapons have been dramatically reduced, complete destruction is still a distant goal.34 The treaty was successfully implemented in 2014, when Syria turned over its stockpiles of chemical weapons. The decision to pursue that result was made by U.S. President Barack Obama shortly after he reversed his decision to launch a major bombing campaign over Syria, the nonviolent disarmament measure serving as something of a public substitute for a war measure prevented largely by public pressure.

Outlaw Weapons In Outer Space

Several countries have developed plans and even hardware for warfare in outer space including ground to space and space to space weapons to attack satellites, and space to ground weapons (including laser weapons) to attack earth installations from space. The dangers of placing weapons in outer space are obvious, especially in the case of nuclear weapons or advanced technology weapons. 130 nations now have space programs and there are 3000 operational satellites in space. The dangers include undermining existing weapons conventions and starting a new arms race. If such a space-based war were to occur the consequences would be terrifying for earth’s inhabitants as well as risking the dangers of the Kessler Syndrome, a scenario in which the density of objects in low earth orbit is high enough that attacking some would start a cascade of collisions generating enough space debris to render space exploration or even the use of satellites infeasible for decades, possibly generations.

Believing it had the lead in this type of weapons R&D, “Assistant Secretary of the United States Air Force for Space, Keith R. Hall, said, ‘With regard to space dominance, we have it, we like it and we’re going to keep it.’”

The 1967 Outer Space Treaty was reaffirmed in 1999 by 138 nations with only the U.S. and Israel abstaining. It prohibits WMDs in space and the construction of military bases on the moon but leaves a loophole for conventional, laser and high energy particle beam weapons. The United Nations Committee on Disarmament has struggled for years to get consensus on a treaty banning these weapons but has been continually blocked by the United States. A weak, non-binding, voluntary Code of Conduct has been proposed but “the U.S. is insisting on a provision in this third version of the Code of Conduct that, while making a voluntary promise to ‘refrain from any action which brings about, directly or indirectly, damage, or destruction, of space objects’, qualifies that directive with the language “unless such action is justified”. “Justification” is based on the right of self-defense that is built into the UN Charter. Such a qualification renders even a voluntary agreement meaningless. A more robust treaty banning all weapons in outer space is a necessary component of an Alternative Security System.35

End Invasions and Occupations

The occupation of one people by another is a major threat to security and peace, resulting in structural violence that often promotes the occupied to mount various levels of attacks from “terrorist” assaults to guerrilla warfare. Prominent examples are: Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and assaults on Gaza, and China’s occupation of Tibet. Even the strong U.S. military presence in Germany, and even more so Japan, some 70 years after World War II has not prompted a violent response, but does create resentment, as do U.S. troops in many of the 175 nations where they are now based.

Even when the invading and occupying power has overwhelming military capability, these adventures usually do not work out due to several factors. First, they are enormously expensive. Second, they are often pitted against those who have a greater stake in the conflict because they are fighting to protect their homeland. Third, even “victories,” as in Iraq, are elusive and leave the countries devastated and politically fractured. Fourth, once in, it’s hard to get out, as the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan exemplifies which officially “ended” in December, 2014 after thirteen years, although almost 10,000 U.S. troops remain in country. Finally, and foremost, invasions and armed occupations against resistance kill more civilians than resistance fighters and create millions of refugees.

Invasions are outlawed by the UN Charter, unless they are in retaliation for a prior invasion, an inadequate provision. The presence of troops of one country inside another with or without an invitation destabilizes global security and makes conflicts more likely to be militarized and would be prohibited in an Alternative Security System.

Realign Military Spending, Convert Infrastructure to Produce Funding For Civilian Needs (Economic Conversion)

Demilitarizing security as described above will eliminate the need for many weapons programs and military bases, providing an opportunity for government and military-dependent corporations to switch these resources to creating genuine wealth. It can also reduce the tax burden on society and create more jobs. In the U.S., for every $1 billion spent in the military more than twice the number of jobs at wider spectrum of pay grades would be created if the same amount were spent in the civilian sector.36 The trade-offs from shifting federal spending priorities with U.S. tax dollars away from the military toward other programs are tremendous.37

Spending on a militarized national “defense” is astronomical. The United States alone spends more than the next 15 countries combined on its military.38

The United States spends $1.3 trillion dollars annually on the Pentagon Budget, nuclear weapons (in the Energy Department budget), veteran’s services, the CIA and Homeland Security.39 The world as a whole spends over $2 trillion. Numbers of this magnitude are hard to grasp. Note that 1 million seconds equals 12 days, 1 billion seconds equals 32 years, and 1 trillion seconds equals 32,000 years. And yet, the highest level of military spending in the world was unable to prevent the 9/11 attacks, halt nuclear proliferation, end terrorism, or suppress resistance to occupations in the Middle East. No matter how much money is spent on war, it does not work.

Military spending is also a serious drain on a nation’s economic strength, as pioneering economist Adam Smith pointed out. Smith argued that military spending was economically unproductive. Decades ago, economists commonly used “military burden” almost synonymously with “military budget.” Currently, military industries in the U.S. receive more capital from the state than all private industries combined can command. Transferring this investment capital to the free market sector either directly by grants for conversion or by lowering taxes or paying down the national debt (with its huge annual interest payments) would inject a huge incentive for economic development. A Security System combining the elements described above (and to be described in following sections) would cost a fraction of the present U.S. military budget and would underwrite a process of economic conversion. Furthermore, it would create more jobs. One billion dollars of federal investment in the military creates 11,200 jobs whereas the same investment in clean energy technology would yield 16,800, in health care 17,200 and in education 26,700.40

Economic conversion requires changes in technology, economics and the political process for shifting from military to civilian markets. It is the process of transferring the human and material resources used to make one product to the making of a different one; for example, converting from building missiles to building light rail cars. It is not a mystery: private industry does it all the time. Converting the military industry to making products of use value to society would add to the economic strength of a nation instead of detracting from it. Resources presently employed in making weapons and maintaining military bases could be redirected to many areas of domestic investment and foreign aid. Infrastructure is always in need of repair and upgrading including transportation infrastructure such as roads, bridges, and rail network, as well as energy grids, schools, water and sewer systems, and renewable energy installations, etc. Just imagine Flint, Michigan and the many other cities where citizens, mostly poor minorities, are poisoned with lead-contaminated water. Another investment area is innovation leading to reindustrialization of economies that are overloaded with low-paying service industries and far too dependent on debt payments and foreign imports of goods, a practice that also adds to the carbon loading of the atmosphere. Airbases, for example, can be converted to shopping malls and housing developments or entrepreneurship incubators or solar-panel arrays.

The main obstacles to economic conversion, apart from the corruption of government by money, are the fear of job loss and the need to retrain both labor and management. Jobs will need to be guaranteed by the state while the retraining takes place, or other forms of compensation paid to those currently working in the military industry in order to avoid a negative impact on the economy of major unemployment during the transition from a war to a peacetime status.

To be successful, conversion needs to be part of a larger political program of arms reduction. It will require national level meta-planning and financial assistance and intensive local planning as communities with military bases envision transformation and corporations determine what their new niche can be in the free market. This will require tax dollars but in the end will save far more than is invested in redevelopment as states end the economic drain of military spending and replace it with profitable peace time economies creating useful consumer goods.

Attempts have been made to legislate conversion, such as the Nuclear Disarmament and Economic Conversion Act of 1999, which links nuclear disarmament to conversion.

The bill would require the United States to disable and dismantle its nuclear weapons and to refrain from replacing them with weapons of mass destruction once foreign countries possessing nuclear weapons enact and execute similar requirements. The bill also provides that the resources used to sustain our nuclear weapons program be used to address human and infrastructure needs such as housing, health care, education, agriculture, and the environment. So I would see a direct transfer of funds.
(Transcript of July 30, 1999, Press Conference) HR-2545: “Nuclear Disarmament and Economic Conversion Act of 1999”

Legislation of this sort requires more public support to pass. Success may grow from a smaller scale. The state of Connecticut has created a commission to work on transition. Other states and localities may follow Connecticut’s lead. Some momentum for this grew out of a misperception that military spending was being reduced in Washington. We need to either prolong that misperception, make it a reality (obviously the best choice), or persuade local and state governments to take the initiative anyway.

Reconfigure The Response to Terrorism

Following the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, the U.S. attacked terrorist bases in Afghanistan, initiating a long, unsuccessful war. Adopting a military approach has not only failed to end terrorism, it has resulted in the erosion of constitutional liberties, the commission of human rights abuses and violations of international law, and has provided cover for dictators and democratic governments to further abuse their powers, justifying abuses in the name of “fighting terrorism.”

The terrorist threat to people in the Western world has been exaggerated and there has been an over-reaction in the media, public and political realm. Many benefit from exploiting the threat of terrorism in what now can be called a homeland-security-industrial complex. As Glenn Greenwald writes:

…the private and public entities that shape government policy and drive political discourse profit far too much in numerous ways to allow rational considerations of the Terror threat.41

One of the end results of the over-reaction to the terrorist threat has been a proliferation of violent and hostile extremists such as ISIS.42 In this particular case, there are many constructive nonviolent alternatives to counter ISIS which should not be mistaken for inaction. These include: an arms embargo, support of Syrian civil society, support of nonviolent civil resistance,43 pursuit of meaningful diplomacy with all actors, economic sanctions on ISIS and supporters, closing the border to cut off the sale of oil from ISIS controlled territories and stop the flow of fighters, and humanitarian aid. Long-term strong steps would be the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the region and ending oil imports from the region in order to dissolve terrorism at its roots.44

In general, a more effective strategy than war would be to treat terrorist attacks as crimes against humanity instead of acts of war, and to use all the resources of the international police community to bring perpetrators to justice before the International Criminal Court. It is notable that an incredibly powerful military was unable to prevent the worst attacks on the U.S. since Pearl Harbor.

The world’s most powerful military did nothing to prevent or stop the 9-11 attacks. Virtually every terrorist caught, every terrorist plot foiled has been the result of first-rate intelligence and police work, not the threat or use of military force. Military force has also been useless in preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction.
Lloyd J. Dumas (Professor of Political Economy)

A professional field of peace and conflict studies scholars and practitioners is continuously providing responses to terrorism which are superior to the so-called experts of the terrorism industry.

Nonviolent responses to terrorism

  • Arms embargoes
  • End all military aid
  • Civil Society Support, Nonviolent actors
  • Sanctions
  • Work through supranational bodies (e.g. UN, ICC)
  • Ceasefires
  • Aid to refugees (relocate/improve proximal camps/repatriate)
  • Pledge no use of violence
  • Withdrawal of military
  • Nonviolent conflict workers
  • (Transitional) Justice Initiatives
  • Meaningful diplomacy
  • Conflict resolution framework
  • Inclusive good governance
  • Confront violence supporting beliefs
  • Increasing women’s participation in social and political life
  • Accurate information on facts
  • Separate perpetrators from support base – addressing the grey area
  • Ban war profiteering
  • Peacebuilding engagement; reframe the either/or us/them choices
  • Effective policing
  • Nonviolent Civil Resistance
  • Information gathering and reporting
  • Public advocacy
  • Conciliation, arbitration and judicial settlement
  • Human rights mechanisms
  • Humanitarian assistance and protection
  • Economic, political and strategic inducements
  • Monitoring, observation and verification

Long-term nonviolent responses to terrorism45

  • Stop and reverse all arms trade and manufacture
  • Consumption reduction by rich nations
  • Massive aid to poor nations and populations
  • Refugee repatriation or emigration
  • Debt relief to poorest nations
  • Education about roots of terrorism
  • Education and training about nonviolent power
  • Promote culturally and ecologically sensitive tourism and cultural exchanges
  • Build sustainable and just economy, energy use and distribution, agriculture

Dismantle Military Alliances

Military alliances such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) are leftovers from the Cold War. With the collapse of the Soviet client states in Eastern Europe, the Warsaw Pact alliance disappeared, but NATO expanded up to the borders of the former Soviet Union in violation of a promise to former premier Gorbachev, and has resulted in extreme tension between Russia and the West— the beginnings of a new Cold War–signaled perhaps by a U.S. supported coup in Ukraine, the Russian annexation of, or reunification with the Crimea – depending on which narrative prevails – and the civil war in Ukraine. This new cold war could too easily become a nuclear war which could kill hundreds of millions of people. NATO is a positive reinforcement of the War System, reducing rather than creating security. NATO has also taken on military exercises well beyond the borders of Europe. It has become a force for militarized efforts in eastern Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.

The Role of Women in Peace and Security

The role of women in peace and security has not been given the appropriate attention. Take for example treaties, in particular peace agreements, which are most commonly negotiated and signed in a male dominated context, by state and non-state armed actors. This context utterly misses the reality on the ground. The “Better Peace Tool” by the International Civil Society Action Network was developed as a guide to inclusive peace processes and negotiations.46 Women, according to the report, share a vision of societies rooted in social justice and equality, are an important source of practical experience about life in a war zone, and understand the ground realities (e.g. radicalization and peacemaking). Peace processes therefore should not be narrowly focused security or political ones, but inclusive societal processes. This is what is called the democratization of peacemaking.

“No women, no peace” – this headline described the central role of women and gender equality in the peace deal between the Colombian government and the FARC rebel group, marking the end of a 50-plus-year civil war in August of 2016. The deal does not only have women influence on the content, but also on the manner in which peace is built. A gender subcommission ensures lines by line that women’s perspectives are ensured, even LGBT rights are considered.47

There are numerous examples of creative and determined women peace activists in the secular and faith-based realms. Sister Joan Chittister has been a leading voice for women, peace and justice for decades. Iranian Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Shirin Ebadi is an outspoken advocate against nuclear weapons. Worldwide indigenous women are increasingly recognized and powerful as agents of social change. A less known, but nonetheless wonderful example is the Young Women’s Peace Charter aimed at building commitment and understanding of the challenges and obstacles faced by young women in conflict affected countries, as well as other societies within the framework of the Young Women’s Peace Academy.48 The women want to spread feminism worldwide, eliminate patriarchal structures, and secure the safety for feminists, women peacebuilders and human rights defenders. The goals are accompanied by a powerful set of recommendations which can act as a model for women in many contexts.

Women played a particular role in peace talks in Guatemala in the 1990s, they formed an alliance to coordinate peacebuilding activity in Somalia, they forge cross-community efforts in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, or led a political movement to enhances women’s power and influence the peace agreement and peace processes in Northern Ireland.49 Women’s voices advance different agendas from the those usually presented by leaders.50

Acknowledging the existing gap in the role of women and peacebuilding, advances have been made. Most notably at the policy level, UNSCR 1325 (2000) provides a “global framework for mainstreaming gender in all peace processes, including peacekeeping, peacebuilding, and postconflict reconstruction.”51 At the same time, it is clear that policies and rhetorical commitments are only a first step toward changing a male-dominated paradigm.

In creating a World Beyond War, a gender-sensitive approach to our thinking and acting needs to be adopted. The following stages of engendering war prevention are required:52

  • Making women visible as agents of change in preventing war and building peace
  • Removing male bias in war prevention and peacebuilding data collection and research
  • Rethinking drivers of war and peace to take gender into account
  • Incorporating and mainstreaming gender into policy-making and practice

Managing International and Civil Conflicts

The reactionary approaches and established institutions for managing international and civil conflicts have proven to be insufficient and often inadequate. We propose a series of improvements.

Shifting To A Pro-Active Posture

Dismantling the institutions of the War System and the beliefs and attitudes that underlie it will not be enough. An Alternative Global Security System needs to be constructed in its place. Much of this system is already in place, having evolved over the past hundred years, although either in embryonic form or in great need of strengthening. Some of it exists only in ideas that need to be institutionalized.

The existing parts of the system should not be seen as the static end-products of a peaceful world, but as elements of dynamic, imperfect processes of human evolution which leads to an increasingly nonviolent world with more equality for everyone. Only a pro-active posture will help strengthen the Alternative Global Security System.

Strengthening International Institutions and Regional Alliances

International institutions for managing conflict without violence have been evolving for a long time. A body of very functional international law has been developing for centuries and needs to be further developed to be an effective part of a peace system. In 1899 the International Court of Justice (ICJ; the “World Court”) was set up to adjudicate disputes between nation states. The League of Nations followed in 1920. An association of 58 sovereign States, the League was based on the principle of collective security, that is, if a State committed aggression, the other states would either enact economic sanctions against that State or, as a last resort approach, provide military forces to defeat it. The League did settle some minor disputes and initiated global level peace building efforts. The problem was that the member states failed, in the main, to do what they said they would do, and so the aggressions of Japan, Italy, and Germany were not prevented, leading to World War II, the most destructive war in history. It is also noteworthy that the U.S. refused to join. After the Allied victory, the United Nations was set up as a new attempt at collective security. Also an association of sovereign states, the UN was supposed to resolve disputes and, where that was not feasible, the Security Council could decide to enact sanctions or provide a counter military force to deal with an aggressor state.

The UN also greatly expanded the peacebuilding initiatives begun by the League. However, the UN was hobbled by built-in structural constraints and the Cold War between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. made meaningful cooperation difficult. The two superpowers also set up traditional military alliance systems aimed at one another, NATO and the Warsaw Pact.

Other regional alliance systems were also established. The European Union has kept a peaceful Europe despite differences, the African Union is keeping the peace between Egypt and Ethiopia, and the Association of South-East Asian Nations and the Union de Naciones Suramericanas are developing potential for its members and would-be members toward peace.

While international institutions for managing inter-state conflicts are a vital part of a peace system, the problems with both the League and the UN arose in part from a failure to dismantle the War System. They were set up within it and by themselves were unable to control war or arms races, etc. Some analysts believe that the problem is that they are associations of sovereign states which are committed, in the last resort (and sometimes earlier) to war as the arbiter of disputes. There are many ways that the UN as well as other international institutions can be constructively reformed to become more effective in keeping the peace including reforms of the Security Council, the General Assembly, peacekeeping forces and actions, funding, its relationship to non-government organizations and the addition of new functions.

Reforming the United Nations

The United Nations was created as a response to World War II to prevent war by negotiation, sanctions, and collective security. The Preamble to the Charter provides the overall mission:

To save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, and to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom. . . .

Reforming the United Nations can and needs to take place at different levels.

Reforming the Charter to More Effectively Deal with Aggression

The United Nations Charter does not outlaw war, it outlaws aggression. While the Charter does enable the Security Council to take action in the case of aggression, the doctrine of the so-called “responsibility to protect” is not found in it, and the selective justification of Western imperial adventures is a practice that must be ended. The UN Charter does not prohibit States from taking their own action in self-defense. Article 51 reads:

Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security. Measures taken by Members in the exercise of this right of self-defence shall be immediately reported to the Security Council and shall not in any way affect the authority and responsibility of the Security Council under the present Charter to take at any time such action as it deems necessary in order to maintain or restore international peace and security.

Further, nothing in the Charter requires the UN to take action and it does require the conflicting parties to first try to settle the dispute themselves by arbitration and next by action of any regional security system to which they belong. Only then is it up to the Security Council, which is often rendered impotent by the veto provision.

As desirable as it would be to outlaw forms of warfare including making war in self-defense, it is hard to see how that can be achieved until a fully developed peace system is in place. However, much progress can be made by changing the Charter to require the Security Council to take up any and all cases of violent conflict immediately upon their commencement and to immediately provide a course of action to halt hostilities by means of putting a ceasefire in place, to require mediation at the UN (with the aid of regional partners if desired), and if necessary to refer the dispute to the International Court of Justice. This will require several further reforms as listed below, including dealing with the veto, shifting to nonviolent methods as the primary tools by making use of nonviolent unarmed civilian peaceworkers, and providing an adequate (and adequately accountable) police power to enforce its decisions when needed.

It should be added that most wars in recent decades have been illegal under the UN Charter. However, there has been little awareness and no consequences for that fact.

Reforming the Security Council

Article 42 of the Charter gives the Security Council the responsibility for maintaining and restoring the peace. It is the only UN body with binding authority on member States. The Council does not have an armed force to carry out its decisions; rather, it has binding authority to call on the armed forces of member States. However the composition and methods of the Security Council are antiquated and only minimally effective in keeping or restoring the peace.


The Council is composed of 15 members, 5 of whom are permanent. These are the victorious powers in World War II (U.S., Russia, U.K., France, and China). They are also the members who have veto power. At the time of the writing in 1945, they demanded these conditions or would not have permitted the UN to come into being. These permanent five also claim and possess leading seats on the governing bodies of the major committees of the UN, giving them a disproportionate and undemocratic amount of influence. They are also, along with Germany, as noted above, the major arms dealers to the world.

The world has changed dramatically in the intervening decades. The UN had gone from 50 members to 193, and population balances have changed dramatically as well. Further, the way in which Security Council seats are allotted by 4 regions is also unrepresentative with Europe and the UK having 4 seats while Latin America has only 1. Africa is also underrepresented. It is only rarely that a Muslim nation is represented on the Council. It is long past time to rectify this situation if the UN wants to command respect in these regions.

Also, the nature of the threats to peace and security has changed dramatically. At the time of the founding the current arrangement might have made sense given the need for great power agreement and that the main threat to peace and security was seen to be armed aggression. While armed aggression is still a threat – and permanent member the United States the worst recidivist – great military power is almost irrelevant to many of the new threats that exist today which include global warming, WMDs, mass movements of peoples, global disease threats, the arms trade and criminality.

One proposal is to increase the number of electoral regions to 9 in which each would have one permanent member and each region have 2 revolving members to add up to a Council of 27 seats, thus more perfectly reflecting national, cultural and population realities.

Revise or Eliminate the Veto

The veto is exercised over four types of decisions: the use of force to maintain or restore the peace, appointments to the Secretary-General’s position, applications for membership, and amending the Charter and procedural matters which can prevent questions from even coming to the floor. Also, in the other bodies, the Permanent 5 tend to exercise a de facto veto. In Council, the veto has been used 265 times, primarily by the U.S. and the former Soviet Union, to block action, often rendering the UN impotent.

The veto hamstrings the Security Council. It is profoundly unfair in that it enables the holders to prevent any action against their own violations of the Charter’s prohibition on aggression. It is also used as a favor in shielding their client states’ misdeeds from Security Council actions. One proposal is to simply discard the veto. Another is to allow permanent members to cast a veto but to make three members casting it necessary to block passage of a substantive issue. Procedural issues should not be subject to the veto.

Other Necessary Reforms of the Security Council

Three procedures need to be added. Currently nothing requires the Security Council to act. At a minimum the Council should be required to take up all issues of threat to peace and security and decide whether to act on them or not (“The Duty to Decide”). Second is “The Requirement for Transparency.” The Council should be required to disclose its reasons for deciding to or deciding not to take up the issue of a conflict. Further, the Council meets in secret about 98 percent of the time. At the least, its substantive deliberations need to be transparent. Third, the “Duty to Consult” would require the Council to take reasonable measures to consult with nations that would be impacted by its decisions.

Provide Adequate Funding

The UN’s “Regular Budget” funds the General Assembly, Security Council, Economic and Social Council, the International Court of Justice, and special missions such as the UN Assistance Mission to Afghanistan. The Peacekeeping Budget is separate. Member states are assessed for both, rates depending on their GDP. The UN also receives voluntary donations which about equal the revenue from assessed funds.

Given its mission, the United Nations is grossly underfunded. The regular two-year budget for 2016 and 2017 is set at $5.4 billion and the Peacekeeping Budget for the fiscal year 2015-2016 is $8.27 billion, the total amounting to less than one half of one percent of global military expenditures (and about one percent of U.S. annual military related expenditures). Several proposals have been advanced to adequately fund the UN including a tax of a fraction of one percent on international financial transactions that could raise up to $300 billion to be applied primarily to UN development and environmental programs such as reducing child mortality, fighting epidemic diseases such as Ebola, countering the negative effects of climate change, etc.

Forecasting and Managing Conflicts Early On: A Conflict Management

Using the Blue Helmets, the UN is already stretched to fund 16 peacekeeping missions around the world, putting out or damping fires that could spread regionally or even globally.53 While they are, at least in some cases, doing a good job under very difficult conditions, the UN needs to become far more proactive in foreseeing and preventing conflicts where possible, and quickly and nonviolently intervening in conflicts that have ignited in order to put out the fires quickly.


Maintain a permanent expert agency to monitor potential conflicts around the world and recommend immediate action to the Security Council or the Secretary General, beginning with:

Pro-active Mediation Teams

Maintain a permanent set of mediation experts qualified in language and cultural diversity and the latest techniques of non-adversarial mediation to be dispatched rapidly to states where either international aggression or civil war looks imminent. This has started with the so-called Standby Team of Mediation Experts who act as on-call advisers to peace envoys around the world on issues such as mediation strategy, power-sharing, constitution-making, human rights and natural resources.54

Align Early With Indigenous Nonviolent Movements

To date the UN has shown little understanding of the power that nonviolent movements within countries can exercise to prevent civil conflicts from becoming violent civil wars. At the least, the UN needs to be able to assist these movements by pressuring governments to avoid violent reprisals against them while bringing UN mediation teams to bear. The UN needs to engage with these movements. When this is deemed difficult due to concerns about infringing on national sovereignty, the UN can do the following.


The current UN Peacekeeping operations have major problems, including conflicting rules of engagement, lack of interaction with affected communities, lack of women, gender-based violence and failure to deal with the changing nature of warfare. A UN High-Level Independent Panel of Peace Operations, chaired by Nobel Peace Laureate Jose Ramos-Horta, recommended 4 essential shifts to UN peace operations: 1. Primacy of politics, that is political solutions must guide all UN peace operations. 2. Responsive operations, that is missions should be tailored to context and include the full spectrum of responses. 3. Stronger partnerships, that is developing resilient global and local peace and security architectures, 4. Field-focused and people-centered, that is a renewed resolve to serve and protect the people.55

According to Mel Duncan, co-founder of the Nonviolent Peaceforce, the panel also recognized that civilians can and do play an important role in the direct protection of civilians.

Improving and maintaining the current Blue Helmets peacekeeping operations and enhanced capability for long-term missions should be considered as the last resort approach and with increased accountability to a democratically reformed UN. To be clear, the operations of UN Peacekeeping or civilian protection operations are not what one would consider a military intervention for the sake of peace and security. The fundamental mission of international peacekeeping, policing or civilian protection authorized by the United Nations or another international body is different from military intervention. A military intervention is the introduction of outside military forces into an existing conflict through the introductions of arms, air strikes and combat troops to intervene in the conflict in order to influence a military outcome and defeat an enemy. It is the use of deadly force on a massive scale. UN Peacekeeping is guided by three basic principles: (1) consent of the parties; (2) impartiality; and (3) non-use of force except in self-defence and defence of the mandate. That is not to say, that civilian protection is being falsely used as a disguise for military interventions with less noble motives.

With that in mind, armed peacekeeping operations must be understood as a clear transitional step toward ultimately relying on more effective, viable nonviolent alternatives, in particular Unarmed Civilian Peacekeeping (UCP).

Rapid Reaction Force to Supplement the Blue Helmets

All peacekeeping missions must be approved by the Security Council. The UN’s peacekeeping forces, the Blue Helmets, are recruited primarily from the developing nations. Several problems make them less effective than they could be. First, it takes several months to assemble a peacekeeping force, during which time the crisis can escalate dramatically. A standing, rapid reaction force which could intervene in a matter of days would solve this problem. Other problems with the Blue Helmets stem from using national forces and include: a disparity of participation, armaments, tactics, command and control, and rules of engagement.

Coordinate with Civilian-Based Nonviolent Intervention Agencies

Nonviolent, civilian-based peacekeeping teams have existed for over twenty years, including the largest, the Nonviolent Peaceforce (NP), headquartered in Brussels. The NP currently has observer status at the UN and participates in discussions of peacekeeping. These organizations, including not only NP but also Peace Brigades International, Christian Peacemaker Teams and others, can sometimes go where the UN cannot and thus can be effective in particular situations. The UN needs to encourage these activities and help fund them.The UN should cooperate with other INGOs such as International Alert, Search for Common Ground, the Muslim Voice for Peace, the Jewish Voice for Peace, the Fellowship of Reconciliation, and many others by enabling their efforts to intervene early on in conflict areas. In addition to funding those efforts through UNICEF or UNHCR, much more can be done in terms of including UCP in mandates and recognizing and promoting the methodologies.

Reform the General Assembly

The General Assembly (GA) is the most democratic of the UN bodies since it includes all the member States. It is concerned primarily with crucial peacebuilding programs. Then-Secretary General Kofi Annan suggested that the GA simplify its programs, abandon reliance on consensus since it results in watered-down resolutions, and adopt a supermajority for decision making. The GA needs to pay more attention to implementation and compliance with its decisions. It also needs a more efficient committee system and to involve civil society, that is NGOs, more directly in its work. Another problem with the GA is that it is composed of state members; thus a tiny state with 200,000 people has as much weight in voting as China or India.

A reform idea gaining popularity is to add to the GA a Parliamentary Assembly of members elected by the citizens of each country and in which the number of seats allocated to each country would more accurately reflect population and thus be more democratic. Then any decisions of the GA would have to pass both houses. Such “global MPs” would also be able to represent the common welfare of humanity in general rather than being required to follow the dictates of their governments back home as the current State ambassadors are.

Strengthen the International Court of Justice

The ICJ or “World Court” is the principal judicial body of the United Nations. It adjudicates cases submitted to it by the States and gives advisory opinions on legal matters referred to it by the UN and specialized agencies. Fifteen judges are elected for nine-year terms by the General Assembly and the Security Council. By signing the Charter, States undertake to abide by the decisions of the Court. Both State parties to a submission must agree in advance that the Court has jurisdiction if it is to accept their submission. Decisions are only binding if both parties agree in advance to abide by them. If, after this, in the rare event that a State party does not abide by the decision, the issue may be submitted to the Security Council for actions it deems are necessary to bring the State into compliance (potentially running into a Security Council veto).

The sources of the law on which the ICJ draws for its deliberations are treaties and conventions, judicial decisions, international custom, and the teachings of international law experts. The Court can only make determinations based on existing treaty or customary law since there is no body of legislative law (there being no world legislature). This makes for tortuous decisions. When the General Assembly asked for an advisory opinion on whether the threat or use of nuclear weapons is permitted under any circumstances in international law, the Court was unable to find any treaty law that permitted or forbade the threat or use. In the end, all it could do was suggest that customary law required States to continue to negotiate on a ban. Without a body of statutory law passed by a world legislative body, the Court is limited to existing treaties and customary law (which by definition is always behind the times) thus rendering it only mildly effective in some cases and all but useless in others.

Once again, the Security Council veto becomes a limit on the effectiveness of the Court. In the case of Nicaragua vs. The United States – the U.S. had mined Nicaragua’s harbors in a clear act of war – the Court found against the U.S. whereupon the U.S. withdrew from compulsory jurisdiction (1986). When the matter was referred to the Security Council the U.S. exercised its veto to avoid penalty. In effect, the five permanent members can control the outcomes of the Court should it affect them or their allies. The Court needs to be independent of the Security Council veto. When a decision needs to be enforced by the Security Council against a member, that member must recuse itself according to the ancient principle of Roman Law: “No one shall be judge in his own case.”

The Court has also been accused of bias, the judges voting not in the pure interests of justice but in the interests of the states that appointed them. While some of this is probably true, this criticism comes often from States that have lost their cases. Nevertheless, the more the Court follows rules of objectivity, the more weight its decisions will carry.

Cases involving aggression are usually brought not before the Court but before the Security Council, with all of its limitations. The Court needs the power to determine on its own if it has jurisdiction independent of the will of States and it then needs prosecutorial authority to bring States to the bar.

Strengthen the International Criminal Court

The International Criminal Court (ICC) is a permanent Court, created by a treaty, the “Rome Statute,” which came into force on 1 July, 2002 after ratification by 60 nations. As of 2015 the treaty has been signed by 122 nations (the “States Parties”), although not by India and China. Three States have declared they do not intend to become a part of the Treaty—Israel, the Republic of Sudan, and the United States. The Court is free standing and is not a part of the UN System although it operates in partnership with it. The Security Council may refer cases to the Court, although the Court is under no obligation to investigate them. Its jurisdiction is strictly limited to crimes against humanity, war crimes, genocide, and crimes of aggression as these have been strictly defined within the tradition of international law and as they are explicitly set out in the Statute. It is a Court of the last resort. As a general principle, the ICC may not exercise jurisdiction before a State Party has had an opportunity to try the alleged crimes itself and demonstrate capability and genuine willingness to do so, that is, the courts of the States Parties must be functional. The court is “complementary to national criminal jurisdiction” (Rome Statute, Preamble). If the Court determines that it has jurisdiction, that determination may be challenged and any investigation suspended until the challenge is heard and a determination is made. The Court may not exercise jurisdiction on the territory of any State not signatory to the Rome Statute.

The ICC is composed of four organs: the Presidency, the Office of the Prosecutor, the Registry and the Judiciary which is made up of eighteen judges in three Divisions: Pre-trial, Trial, and Appeals.

The Court has come under several different criticisms. First, it has been accused of unfairly singling out atrocities in Africa while those elsewhere have been ignored. As of 2012, all seven open cases focused on African leaders. The Permanent Five of the Security Council appear to lean in the direction of this bias. As a principle, the Court must be able to demonstrate impartiality. However, two factors mitigate this criticism: 1) more African nations are party to the treaty than other nations; and 2) the Court has in fact pursued criminal allegations in Iraq and Venezuela (which did not lead to prosecutions).

A second and related criticism is that the Court appears to some to be a function of neo-colonialism as the funding and staffing are imbalanced toward the European Union and Western States. This can be addressed by spreading out the funding and the recruitment of expert staff from other nations.

Third, it has been argued that the bar for qualification of judges needs to be higher, requiring expertise in international law and prior trial experience. It is unquestionably desirable that the judges be of the highest caliber possible and have such experience. Whatever obstacles stand in the way of meeting this high standard need to be addressed.

Fourth, some argue that the powers of the Prosecutor are too broad. It should be pointed out that these were established by the Statute and would require amending to be changed. In particular, some have argued that the Prosecutor should not have a right to indict persons whose nations are not signatory; however, this appears to be a misunderstanding as the Statute limits indictment to signatories or other nations which have agreed to an indictment even if they are not signatory.

Fifth, there is no appeal to a higher court. Note that the Pre-trial chamber of the Court must agree, based on evidence, that an indictment can be made, and a defendant can appeal its findings to the Appeals Chamber. Such a case was successfully maintained by an accused in 2014 and the case dropped. However, it might be worth considering the creation of an appeals court outside of the ICC.

Sixth, there are legitimate complaints about lack of transparency. Many of the Courts sessions and proceedings are held in secret. While there may be legitimate reasons for some of this (protection of witnesses, inter alia), the highest degree of transparency possible is required and the Court needs to review its procedures in this regard.

Seventh, some critics have argued that the standards of due process are not up to the highest standards of practice. If this is the case, it must be corrected.

Eighth, others have argued that the Court has achieved too little for the amount of money it has spent, having obtained only one conviction to date. This, however is an argument for the Court’s respect for process and its inherently conservative nature. It has clearly not gone on witch hunts for every nasty person in the world but has shown admirable restraint. It is also a testimony to the difficulty of bringing these prosecutions, assembling evidence sometimes years after the fact of massacres and other atrocities, especially in a multicultural setting.

Finally, the heaviest criticism laid against the Court is its very existence as a transnational institution. Some don’t like or want it for what it is, an implied limitation on unconfined State sovereignty. But so, too, is every treaty, and they are all, including the Rome Statute, entered into voluntarily and for the common good. Ending war cannot be achieved by sovereign states alone. The record of millennia shows nothing but failure in that regard. Transnational judicial institutions are a necessary part of an Alternative Global Security System. Of course the Court must be subject to the same norms which they would advocate for the rest of the global community, that is, transparency, accountability, speedy and due process, and highly qualified personnel. The establishment of the International Criminal Court was a major step forward in the construction of a functioning peace system.

It needs to be emphasized that the ICC is a brand-new institution, the first iteration of an international community’s efforts to assure that the world’s most egregious criminals do not get away with their mass crimes. Even the United Nations, which is the second iteration of collective security, is still evolving and still in need of serious reform.

Civil society organizations are at the forefront of reform efforts. The Coalition for the International Criminal Court consists of 2,500 civil society organizations in 150 countries advocating for a fair, effective, and independent ICC and improved access to justice for victims of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. The American Non-Governmental Organizations Coalition for the International Criminal Court is a coalition of non-governmental organizations committed to achieving through education, information, promotion and an aroused public opinion full United States support for the International Criminal Court and the earliest possible U.S. ratification of the Court’s Rome Statute.56

Nonviolent Intervention: Civilian Peacekeeping Forces

Trained, nonviolent and unarmed civilian forces have for over twenty years been invited to intervene in conflicts around the world to provide protection for human rights defenders and peace workers by maintaining a high profile physical presence accompanying threatened individuals and organizations. Since these organizations are not associated with any government, and since their personnel are drawn from many countries and have no agenda other than creating a safe space where dialogue can occur between conflicting parties, they have a credibility that national governments lack.

By being nonviolent and unarmed they present no physical threat to others and can go where armed peacekeepers might provoke a violent clash. They provide an open space, dialogue with government authorities and armed forces, and create a link between local peace workers and the international community. Initiated by Peace Brigades International in 1981, PBI has current projects in Guatemala, Honduras, New Mexico, Nepal and Kenya. The Nonviolent Peaceforce was founded in 2000 and is headquartered in Brussels. NP has four goals for its work: to create a space for lasting peace, to protect civilians, to develop and promote the theory and practice of unarmed civilian peacekeeping so that it may be adopted as a policy option by decision makers and public institutions, and to build the pool of professionals able to join peace teams through regional activities, training, and maintaining a roster of trained, available people. NP currently has teams in the Philippines, Myanmar, South Sudan, and Syria.

For example, the Nonviolent Peaceforce currently operates its largest project in civil-war South Sudan. Unarmed civilian protectors successfully accompany women collecting firewood in conflict zones, where fighting parties use rape as a weapon of war. Three or four unarmed civilian protectors have proven to be 100% successful in preventing those forms of wartime rape. Mel Duncan, co-founder of the Nonviolent Peaceforce recounts another example of South Sudan:

[Derek and Andreas] were with 14 women and children, when the area where they were with these people was attacked by a militia. They took the 14 women and children in a tent, while people outside were shot point blank. On three occasions, rebel militia came to Andreas and Derek and pointed AK47s at their heads and said ‘you have to go, we want those people’. And on all three occasions,very calmly, Andreas and Derek held up their Nonviolent Peaceforce identity badges and said: “we are unarmed, we are here to protect civilians, and we will not leave’. After the third time the militia left, and the people were spared. (Mel Duncan)

Such stories bring up the question of risk to unarmed civilian peacekeepers. One certainly cannot create a more threatening scenario than the previous one. Yet Nonviolent Peaceforce has had five conflict related injuries – three of which were accidental – in thirteen years of operating. Moreover, it is safe to assume that an armed protection in the example described would have resulted in the deaths of Derek and Andreas as well as those they sought to protect.

These and other organizations such as Christian Peacemaker Teams provide a model that can be scaled up to take the place of armed peacekeepers and other forms of violent intervention. They are a perfect example of the role civil society is already playing in keeping the peace. Their intervention goes beyond intervention through presence and dialog processes to working on the reconstruction of the social fabric in conflict zones.

To date, these crucial efforts are under recognized and underfunded. They need to be fully sanctioned by the UN and other institutions and by international law. These are among the most promising efforts to protect civilians and create space for civil society and contribute to lasting peace.

International Law

International Law has no defined area or governing body. It is composed of many laws, rules, and customs governing the relations between different nations, their governments, businesses, and organizations.

It includes a piecemeal collection of customs; agreements; treaties; accords, charters such as the United Nations Charter; protocols; tribunals; memorandums; legal precedents of the International Court of Justice and more. Since there is no governing, enforcing entity, it is a largely voluntary endeavor. It includes both common law and case law. Three main principles govern international law. They are Comity (where two nations share common policy ideas, one will submit to the judicial decisions of the other); Act of State Doctrine (based on sovereignty—one State’s judicial bodies will not question the policies of another State or interfere with its foreign policy); and the Doctrine of Sovereign Immunity (preventing a State’s nationals from being tried in the courts of another State).

The chief problem of international law is that, being based on the anarchic principle of national sovereignty, it cannot deal very effectively with the global commons, as the failure to bring concerted action to bear on climate shift demonstrates. While it has become obvious in terms of peace and environmental dangers that we are one people forced to live together on a small, fragile planet, there is no legal entity capable of enacting statutory law, and so we must rely on negotiating ad hoc treaties to deal with problems that are systematic. Given that it is unlikely such an entity will develop in the near future, we need to strengthen the treaty regime.

Encourage Compliance With Existing Treaties

Crucial treaties for controlling war that are now in force are not recognized by a few critical nations. In particular, the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction is not recognized by the United States, Russia and China. The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court is not recognized by the United States, Sudan, and Israel. Russia has not ratified it. India and China are holdouts, as are a number of other members of the UN. While hold out States argue that the court might be biased against them, the only plausible reason for a nation not becoming a party to the Statute is that it reserves the right to commit war crimes, genocide, crimes against humanity or aggression, or to define such acts as not coming under the common definitions of such acts. These States must be pressured by global citizens to come to the table and play by the same rules as the rest of humanity. States must also be pressured to comply with human rights law and with the various Geneva Conventions. The non-complying states, including the U.S., need to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and reassert the validity of the still-in force Kellogg-Briand Pact which outlaws war.

Create New Treaties

The evolving situation will always require the consideration of new treaties, the legal relations between the different parties. Three that should be taken up immediately are:

Control Greenhouse Gases

New treaties are necessary to deal with global climate shift and its consequences, in particular a treaty governing the emission of all greenhouse gases that includes assistance for the developing nations.

Pave the Way for Climate Refugees

A related but separate treaty will need to deal with the rights of climate refugees to migrate both internally and internationally. This applies to the urgency of the already ongoing effects of climate change, but also the the current refugees crisis emerging from the Middle East and North Africa, where historical and current Western policies contributed immensely to war and violence. As long as war exists, there will be refugees. The United Nations Convention on Refugees legally obligates signatories to take in refugees. This provision requires compliance but given the overwhelming numbers that will be involved, it needs to include provisions for assistance if major conflicts are to be avoided. This assistance could be part of a Global Development Plan as described below.

Establish Truth and Reconciliation Commissions

When interstate or civil war occurs in spite of the many barriers the Alternative Global Security System throws up, the various mechanisms outlined above will work quickly to bring an end to overt hostilities, restoring order. Following that, paths to reconciliation are necessary to ensure that there is no relapse into direct and indirect violence. The following processes are considered necessary for reconciliation:

  • Uncovering the truth of what happened
  • Acknowledgement by the offender(s) of harm done
  • Remorse expressed in apology for victim(s)
  • Forgiveness
  • Justice in some form
  • Planning to prevent recurrence
  • Resuming constructive aspects of the relationship
  • Rebuilding trust over time57

Truth and Reconciliation Commissions are a form of transitional justice and offer a path alternative to prosecutions and counteract cultures of denial.58 They have been set up in more than 20 countries. Such commissions have already worked in many situations in Ecuador, Canada, the Czech Republic, etc., and most notably in South Africa at the end of the Apartheid regime.59 Such commissions take the place of criminal proceedings and act to begin to restore trust so that genuine peace, rather than a simple cessation of hostilities, can actually commence. Their function is to establish the facts of past wrongdoing by all actors, both the injured and the perpetrators (who may confess in return for clemency) in order to prevent any historical revisionism and to remove any causes for a new outbreak of violence motivated by revenge. Other potential benefits are: public and official exposure of truth contributes to social and personal healing; engage all of society in national dialog; look at ills of society that made abuses possible; and sense of public ownership in the process.60

Create a Stable, Fair and Sustainable Global Economy as a Foundation for Peace

War, economic injustice and failure of sustainability are tied together in many ways, not the least of which is high youth unemployment in volatile regions such as the Middle East, where it creates a seed bed for growing extremists. And the global, oil-based economy is an obvious cause of militarized conflict and imperial ambitions to project power and protect U.S. access to foreign resources. The imbalance between the affluent northern economies and the poverty of the global south can be righted by a Global Aid Plan that takes into account the need to conserve ecosystems upon which economies rest and by democratizing the international economic institutions including the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

There is no polite way to say that business is destroying the world.
Paul Hawken (Environmentalist, Author)

Political economist Lloyd Dumas states, “a militarized economy distorts and ultimately weakens society”. He outlines the basic principles of a peacekeeping economy.61 These are:

Establish balanced relationships – everyone gains benefit at least equal to their contribution and there is little incentive to disrupt the relationship. Example: The European Union – they debate, there are conflicts, but there are no threats of war within the EU.

Emphasize development – Most of the wars since WWII have been fought in developing countries. Poverty and missing opportunities are breeding grounds for violence. Development is an effective counter-terrorism strategy, as it weakens the support network for terrorist groups. Example: Recruitment of young, uneducated males in urban areas into terror organizations.62

Minimize ecological stress – The competition for depletable resources (“stress-generating resources”) – most notably oil and water – generates dangerous conflicts between nations and groups within nations.

It is proven that war is more likely to happen where there is oil.63 Using natural resources more efficiently, developing and using non-polluting technologies and procedures and a large shift toward qualitative rather than quantitative economic growth can reduce ecological stress.

Democratize International Economic Institutions

The global economy is administered, financed and regulated by three institutions – The World Trade Organization (WTO), The International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD; “World Bank”). The problem with these bodies is that they are undemocratic and favor the rich nations against the poorer nations, unduly restrict environmental and labor protections, and lack transparency, discourage sustainability, and encourage resource extraction and dependence.64 The unelected and unaccountable governing board of the WTO can override the labor and environmental laws of nations, rendering the populace vulnerable to exploitation and environmental degradation with its various health implications.

The current form of corporate-dominated globalization is escalating the plunder of the earth’s riches, increasing the exploitation of workers, expanding police and military repression and leaving poverty in its wake.
Sharon Delgado (Author, Director Earth Justice Ministries)

Globalization itself is not the issue—it’s free trade. The complex of government elites and transnational corporations that control these institutions are driven by an ideology of Market Fundamentalism or “Free Trade,” a euphemism for one-sided trade in which wealth flows from the poor to the rich. The legal and financial systems these institutions set up and enforce allow for the export of industry to havens of pollution in countries that oppress workers who attempt to organize for decent wages, health, safety and environmental protections. The manufactured goods are exported back to the developed countries as consumer goods. The costs are externalized to the poor and the global environment. As the less developed nations have gone deeply into debt under this regime, they are required to accept IMF “austerity plans,” that destroy their social safety nets creating a class of powerless, impoverished workers for the northern-owned factories. The regime also impacts agriculture. Fields that ought to be growing food for people are instead growing flowers for the cut-flower trade in Europe and the U.S. Or they have been taken over by elites, the subsistence farmers shoved out, and they grow corn or raise cattle for export to the global north. The poor drift into the mega-cities where, if lucky, they find work in the oppressive factories creating export goods. The injustice of this regime creates resentment and calls for revolutionary violence which then calls out police and military repression. The police and military are often trained in crowd suppression by the United States military at the “Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation” (formerly “School of the Americas”). At this institution training includes advanced combat arms, psychological operations, military intelligence and commando tactics.65 All of this is destabilizing and creates more insecurity in the world.

The solution requires policy changes and a moral awakening in the north. The obvious first move is to cease training police and military for dictatorial regimes. Second, the governing boards of these international financial institutions need to be democratized. They are now dominated by the Industrial North nations. Third, so-called “free trade” policies need to be replaced with fair trade policies. All of this requires a moral shift, from selfishness on the part of Northern consumers who often purchase only the cheapest possible goods regardless of who suffers, to a sense of global solidarity and a realization that damage to ecosystems anywhere has global implications, and has blowback for the north, most obviously in terms of climate deterioration and immigration problems that lead to militarizing borders. If people can be assured of a decent life in their own countries, they will not be likely to try to immigrate illegally.

Create an Environmentally Sustainable Global Aid Plan

Development reinforces diplomacy and defense, reducing long-term threats to our national security by helping build stable, prosperous and peaceful societies.
2006 United States National Security Strategy Plan.

A related solution to democratizing the international economic institutions is to institute a Global Aid Plan to achieve stabilizing economic and environmental justice worldwide.66 The goals would be similar to the UN Millennium Development Goals to end poverty and hunger, develop local food security, provide education and health care, and to achieve these goals by creating stable, efficient, sustainable economic development that does not exacerbate climate shift. It will also need to provide funds to assist with the resettlement of climate refugees. The Plan would be administered by a new, international non-governmental organization to prevent it from becoming a foreign policy tool of rich nations. It would be funded by a dedication of 2-5 percent of GDP from the advanced industrial nations for twenty years. For the U.S. this amount would be approximately a few hundred billion dollars, far less than is the $1.3 trillion currently spent on the failed national security system. The plan would be administered at ground level by an International Peace and Justice Corps made up of volunteers. It would require strict accounting and transparency from the recipient governments to ensure that the aid actually got to the people.

A Proposal For Starting Over: A Democratic, Citizens Global Parliament

The United Nations ultimately needs such serious reforms that it can be useful to think of them in terms of replacing the United Nations with a more effective body, one that can actually keep (or help to create) the peace. This understanding is rooted in the failures of the UN which may stem from inherent problems with collective security as a model for keeping or restoring the peace.

Inherent Problems With Collective Security

The United Nations is based on the principle of collective security, that is, when a nation threatens or initiates aggression, the other nations will bring to bear preponderant force acting as a deterrent, or as a very early remedy for an invasion by defeating the aggressor on the battlefield. This is, of course, a militarized solution, threatening or carrying out a larger war to deter or prevent a smaller war. The one principal example – the Korean War – was a failure. The war dragged on for years and the border remains heavily militarized. In fact, the war has never been formally terminated. Collective security is simply a tweaking of the existing system of using violence to attempt to counter violence. It actually requires a militarized world so that the world body has armies it can call on. Moreover, while the UN is theoretically based on this system, it is not designed to execute it, since it has no duty to do so in the event of conflicts. It has only an opportunity to act and that is severely enervated by the Security Council veto. Five privileged member states can, and very often have, exercised their own national aims rather than agreed to cooperate for the common good. This partially explains why the UN has failed to stop so many wars since its founding. This, along with its other weaknesses, explains why some people think humanity needs to start over with a far more democratic institution that has the power to enact and enforce statutory law and bring about peaceful resolution of conflicts.

The Earth Federation

The following is based on the argument that reforms to existing international institutions are important, but not necessarily enough. It is an argument that the existing institutions for dealing with international conflict and the larger problems of humankind are wholly inadequate and that world needs to start over with a new global organization: the “Earth Federation,” governed by a democratically elected World Parliament and with a World Bill of Rights. The United Nations’ failures are due to its very nature as a body of sovereign states; it is unable to solve the several problems and planetary crises which humankind is now facing. Instead of requiring disarmament, the UN requires the nation states to maintain military force that they can loan to the UN on demand. The UN’s last resort is to use war to stop war, an oxymoronic idea. Furthermore, the UN has no legislative powers—it cannot enact binding laws. It can only bind nations to go to war to stop a war. It is totally unequipped to solve global environmental problems (the United Nations Environment Programme has not stopped deforestation, toxification, climate change, fossil fuel use, global soil erosion, pollution of the oceans, etc.). The UN has failed to solve the problem of development; global poverty remains acute. Existing development organizations, especially the International Monetary Fund and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (the “World Bank”) and the various international “free” trade agreements, have simply allowed the rich to fleece the poor. The World Court is impotent, it has no power to bring disputes before it; they can only be brought voluntarily by the parties themselves, and there is no way to enforce its decisions. The General Assembly is impotent; it can only study and recommend. It has no power to change anything. Adding a parliamentary body to it would just be creating a body which would recommend to the recommending body. The world’s problems are now at a crisis and are not amenable to being solved by an anarchy of competitive, armed sovereign nation states each interested only in pursuing its national interest and unable to act for the common good.

Therefore, reforms of the United Nations must move toward or be followed by the creation of an unarmed, non-military Earth Federation, made up of a democratically elected World Parliament with power to pass binding legislation, a World Judiciary, and a World Executive as the administrative body. A large movement of citizens has met several times as the Provisional World Parliament and they have drafted a draft World Constitution designed to protect liberty, human rights, and the global environment, and to provide for prosperity for all.

The Role of Global Civil Society and International Non-government Organizations

Civil society usually encompasses actors in professional associations, clubs, unions, faith-based organizations, nongovernmental organizations, clans, and other community groups.67 Those are mostly found on a local/national level and together with global civil society networks and campaigns, they form an unprecedented infrastructure to challenge war and militarism.

In 1900 there were a handful of global civil institutions such as the International Postal Union and the Red Cross. In the century and some since, there has been an astonishing rise of international non-governmental organizations devoted to peacebuilding and peacekeeping. There are now thousands of these INGOs including such organizations as: the Nonviolent Peaceforce, Greenpeace, Servicio Paz y Justicia, Peace Brigades International, the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Veterans for Peace, the Fellowship of Reconciliation, the Hague Appeal for Peace, the International Peace Bureau, Muslim Peacemaker Teams, Jewish Voice for Peace, Oxfam International, Doctors Without Borders, Pace e Bene, Ploughshares Fund, Apopo, Citizens for Global Solutions, Nukewatch, the Carter Center, the Conflict Resolution Center International, the Natural Step, Transition Towns, United Nations Association, Rotary International, Women’s Action for New Directions, Peace Direct, the American Friends Service Committee, and countless other smaller and less well known ones such as the Blue Mountain Project or the War Prevention Initiative. The Nobel Peace Committee recognized the importance of global civil society organizations, awarding several of them with the Nobel Peace Prize.

A heartening example is the founding of Combatants for Peace:

The “Combatants for Peace” movement was started jointly by Palestinians and Israelis, who have taken an active part in the cycle of violence; Israelis as soldiers in the Israeli army (IDF) and Palestinians as part of the violent struggle for Palestinian freedom. After brandishing weapons for so many years, and having seen one another only through weapon sights, we have decided to put down our guns, and to fight for peace.

We can also look at how individuals like Jody Williams harnessed the power of global citizen-diplomacy to help the international community agree on the global ban on land-mines or how a delegation of citizen-diplomats are building people-to-people bridges between Russians and Americans amidst heightened international tensions in 2016.68

These individuals and organizations knit the world together into a pattern of care and concern, opposing war and injustice, working for peace and justice and a sustainable economy.69 These organizations are not only advocates for peace, they work on the ground to successfully mediate, resolve, or transform conflicts and build peace. They are recognized as a global force for good. Many are accredited to the United Nations. Aided by the World Wide Web, they are the proof of an emerging consciousness of planetary citizenship.

1. This statement by Johan Galtung is put into context by himself, when he suggests that defensive weapons are still highly violent, but that there is reason to be optimistic that such a path of transarmament from conventional military defense will develop into nonviolent non-military defense. See complete paper at: https://www.transcend.org/galtung/papers/Transarmament-From%20Offensive%20to%20Defensive%20Defense.pdf

2. Interpol is the International Criminal Police Organization, set up in 1923, as an NGO facilitating international police cooperation.

3. Sharp, Gene. 1990. Civilian-Based Defense: A Post-Military Weapons System. Link to entire book: http://www.aeinstein.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Civilian-Based-Defense-English.pdf

4. See Gene Sharp, The Politics of Nonviolent Action (1973), Making Europe Unconquerable (1985), and Civilian Based Defense (1990) among other works. One booklet, From Dictatorship to Democracy (1994) was translated into Arabic prior to the Arab Spring.

5. See Burrowes, Robert J. 1996. The Strategy of Nonviolent Defense: A Gandhian Approach for a comprehensive approach to nonviolent defense. The author considers CBD strategically flawed.

6. See George Lakey “Does Japan really need to expand its military to solve its security dilemma?” http://wagingnonviolence.org/feature/japan-military-expand-civilian-based-defense/

7. Osama bin Laden’s stated reason for his horrific terrorist attack on the World Trade Center was his resentment against American military bases in his home country of Saudi Arabia.

8. See UNODO website at http://www.un.org/disarmament/

9. For comprehensive information and data see the website of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (https://www.opcw.org/), which received the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize for its extensive efforts to eliminate chemical weapons.

10. See the U.S. State Departments Arms Trade Treaty documentation at: http://www.state.gov/t/isn/armstradetreaty/

11. Estimates range from 600,000 (Battle Deaths Dataset) to 1,250,000 (Correlates of War Project). It should be noted, that measuring casualties of war is a controversial topic. Importantly, indirect war-deaths are not accurately measurable. Indirect casualties can be traced back to the following: destruction of infrastructure; landmines; use of depleted uranium; refugees and internally displaced people; malnutrition; diseases; lawlessness; intra-state killings; victims of rape and other forms of sexual violence; social injustice. Read more at: The human costs of war – definitional and methodological ambiguity of casualties (http://bit.ly/victimsofwar)

12. See Geneva Convention Rule 14. Proportionality in Attack (https://ihl-databases.icrc.org/customary-ihl/eng/docs/v1_cha_chapter4_rule14)

13. The comprehensive report Living Under Drones. Death, Injury and Trauma to Civilians from U.S. Drone Practices in Pakistan (2012) by the Stanford International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic and the Global Justice Clinic at NYU School of Law demonstrates that the U.S. narratives of “targeted killings” is false. The report shows that civilians are injured and killed, drone strikes cause considerable harm to the daily lives of civilians, the evidence that strikes have made the U.S. safer is ambiguous at best, and that drone strike practices are undermine international law. The full report can be read here: http://www.livingunderdrones.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Stanford-NYU-Living-Under-Drones.pdf

14. See the report Armed and Dangerous. UAVs and U.S. Security by the Rand Corporation at: http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/research_reports/RR400/RR449/RAND_RR449.pdf

15. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treaty_on_the_Non-Proliferation_of_Nuclear_Weapons

16. See the report by Nobel Peace Laureate Organization International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War “Nuclear Famine: two billion people at risk”

17. ibid

18. ibid

19. http://nnsa.energy.gov/mediaroom/pressreleases/pollux120612

20. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/22/us/us-ramping-up-major-renewal-in-nuclear-arms.html?_r=0

21. http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pdffiles/pub585.pdf

22. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_military_nuclear_accidents

23. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2007_United_States_Air_Force_nuclear_weapons_incident

24. http://cdn.defenseone.com/defenseone/interstitial.html?v=2.1.1&rf=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.defenseone.com%2Fideas%2F2014%2F11%2Flast-thing-us-needs-are-mobile-nuclear-missiles%2F98828%2F

25. See also, Eric Schlosser, Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanislav_Petrov

26. http://www.armscontrol.org/act/2005_04/LookingBack

27. http://www.inesap.org/book/securing-our-survival

28. Those States that possess nuclear weapons would be obligated to destroy their nuclear arsenals in a series of phases. These five phases would progress as follows: taking nuclear weapons off alert, removing weapons from deployment, removing nuclear warheads from their delivery vehicles, disabling the warheads, removing and disfiguring the ‘pits’ and placing the fissile material under international control. Under the model convention, delivery vehicles would also have to be destroyed or converted to a non-nuclear capability. In addition, the NWC would prohibit the production of weapons-usable fissile material. The States Parties would also establish an Agency for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons that would be tasked with verification, ensuring compliance, decision-making, and providing a forum for consultation and cooperation among all State Parties. The Agency would be comprised of a Conference of State Parties, an Executive Council and a Technical Secretariat. Declarations would be required from all States Parties regarding all nuclear weapons, material, facilities, and delivery vehicles in their possession or control along with their locations.” Compliance: Under the 2007 model NWC, “States Parties would be required to adopt legislative measures to provide for the prosecution of persons committing crimes and protection for persons reporting violations of the Convention. States would also be required to establish a national authority responsible for national tasks in implementation. The Convention would apply rights and obligations not only to the States Parties but also to individuals and legal entities. Legal disputes over the Convention could be referred to the ICJ [International Court of Justice] with mutual consent of States Parties. The Agency would also have the ability to request an advisory opinion from the ICJ over a legal dispute. The Convention would also provide for a series of graduated responses to evidence of non-compliance beginning with consultation, clarification, and negotiation. If necessary, cases could be referred to the UN General Assembly and Security Council.” [Source: Nuclear Threat Initiative, http://www.nti.org/treaties-and-regimes/proposed-nuclear-weapons-convention-nwc/]

29. www.icanw.org

30. https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/rebecca-johnson/austrian-pledge-to-ban-nuclear-weapons

31. http://www.paxchristi.net/sites/default/files/nuclearweaponstimeforabolitionfinal.pdf

32. https://www.armscontrol.org/act/2012_06/NATO_Sticks_With_Nuclear_Policy

33. A citizen initiative by PAX in the Netherlands calls for a ban of nuclear weapons in the Netherlands. Read the proposal at: http://www.paxforpeace.nl/media/files/pax-proposal-citizens-initiatiative-2016-eng.pdf

34. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_sharing

35. A draft sample treaty to achieve this can be seen at the Global Network for the Prohibition of Weapons and Nuclear Power In Space, at http://www.space4peace.org

Article 7 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court identifies the crimes against humanity.

36. Researchers found that investments in clean energy, healthcare and education create a much larger number of jobs across all pay ranges than spending the same amount of funds with the military. For the complete study see: The U.S. Employment Effects of Military and Domestic Spending Priorities: 2011 Update at http://www.peri.umass.edu/fileadmin/pdf/published_study/PERI_military_spending_2011.pdf

37. Try the National Priorities Projects’s Trade -Offs calculator to see what U.S. tax dollars could have paid for instead of 2015 Department of Defense budget: https://www.nationalpriorities.org/interactive-data/trade-offs/

38. See the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute Military Expenditure Database.

39. Download the War Resisters League federal spending pie chart at https://www.warresisters.org/sites/default/files/2015%20pie%20chart%20-%20high%20res.pdf

40. See: The U.S. Employment Effects of Military and Domestic Spending Priorities: 2011 Update at http://www.peri.umass.edu/fileadmin/pdf/published_study/PERI_military_spending_2011.pdf

41. The following are only some of the analyses dealing with the exaggerated terrorism threats: Lisa Stampnitzky’s Disciplining Terror. How Experts Invented ‘Terrorism’; Stephen Walt’s What terrorist threat?; John Mueller and Mark Stewart’s The Terrorism Delusion. America’s Overwrought Response to September 11

42. See Glenn Greenwald, The sham “terrorism” expert industry at http://www.salon.com/2012/08/15/the_sham_terrorism_expert_industry/

43. See Maria Stephan, Defeating ISIS Through Civil Resistance? Striking Nonviolently at Sources of Power Could Support Effective Solutions at http://www.usip.org/olivebranch/2016/07/11/defeating-isis-through-civil-resistance

44. Comprehensive discussions outlining viable, nonviolent alternatives to the ISIS threat can be found at https://worldbeyondwar.org/new-war-forever-war-world-beyond-war/ and http://warpreventioninitiative.org/images/PDF/ISIS_matrix_report.pdf

45. All responses are thoroughly examined in: Hastings, Tom H. 2004. Nonviolent Response to Terrorism.

46. http://www.betterpeacetool.org

47. No women, no peace. Colombian women made sure gender equality was at the center of a groundbreaking peace deal with the FARC (http://qz.com/768092/colombian-women-made-sure-gender-equality-was-at-the-center-of-a-groundbreaking-peace-deal-with-the-farc/)

48. http://kvinnatillkvinna.se/en/files/qbank/6f221fcb5c504fe96789df252123770b.pdf

49. Ramsbotham, Oliver, Hugh Miall, and Tom Woodhouse. 2016. Contemporary Conflict Resolution: The Prevention, Management and Transformation of Deadly Conflicts. 4thed. Cambridge: Polity.

50. See “Women, Religion, and Peace in Zelizer, Craig. 2013. Integrated Peacebuilding: Innovative Approaches to Transforming Conflict. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.

51. Zelizer (2013), p. 110

52. These points are modified from the four stages of engendering conflict resolution by Ramsbotham, Oliver, Hugh Miall, and Tom Woodhouse. 2016. Contemporary Conflict Resolution: The Prevention, Management and Transformation of Deadly Conflicts. 4th ed. Cambridge: Polity.)

53. See http://www.un.org/en/peacekeeping/operations/current.shtml for current peacekeeping missions

54. http://www.un.org/en/peacekeeping/operations/financing.shtml

55. The Global Peace Operations Review is a web-portal providing analysis and data on peacekeeping operations and political missions. See the website at: http://peaceoperationsreview.org

56. http://www.iccnow.org/; http://www.amicc.org/

57. Santa-Barbara, Joanna. 2007. “Reconciliation.” In Handbook of Peace and Conflict Studies, edited by Charles Webel and Johan Galtung, 173–86. New York: Routledge.

58. Fischer, Martina. 2015. “Transitional Justice and Reconciliation: Theory and Practice.” In The Contemporary Conflict Resolution Reader, edited by Hugh Miall, Tom Woodhouse, Oliver Ramsbotham, and Christopher Mitchell, 325–33. Cambridge: Polity.

59. Reconciliation through Restorative Justice: Analyzing South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Process –


60. Fischer, Martina. 2015. “Transitional Justice and Reconciliation: Theory and Practice.” In The Contemporary Conflict Resolution Reader, edited by Hugh Miall, Tom Woodhouse, Oliver Ramsbotham, and Christopher Mitchell, 325–33. Cambridge: Polity.

61. Dumas, Lloyd J. 2011. The Peacekeeping Economy: Using Economic Relationships to Build a More Peaceful, Prosperous, and Secure World.

62. Supported by the following study: Mousseau, Michael. “Urban Poverty and Support for Islamist Terror Survey Results of Muslims in Fourteen Countries.” Journal of Peace Research 48, no. 1 (January 1, 2011): 35–47. This assertion should not be confused with an overly simplistic interpretation of the multiple root causes of terrorism

63. Supported by the following study: Bove, V., Gleditsch, K. S., & Sekeris, P. G. (2015). “Oil above Water” Economic Interdependence and Third-party Intervention. Journal of Conflict Resolution. Key findings are: Foreign governments are 100 times more likely to intervene in civil wars when the country at war has large oil reserves. Oil dependent economies have favored stability and support dictators rather than emphasizing democracy. http://communication.warpreventioninitiative.org/?p=240

64. For some, the underlying assumptions of the economic theory need to be questioned. For example, the organization Positive Money (http://positivemoney.org/) aims to build a movement for a fair, democratic and sustainable money system by taking the power to create money away from the banks and return it to a democratic and accountable process, by creating money free od debt, and by putting new money into the real economy rather than financial markets and property bubbles.

65. For more information see School of the Americas Watch at www.soaw.org

66. Somewhat similar, the so-called Marshall Plan was a post World War II American economic initiative to help rebuild European economies. See more at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marshall_Plan

67. See Paffenholz, T. (2010). Civil society & peacebuilding: a critical assessment.The case studies in this book examines the role of civil society peacebuilding efforts in conflict zones such as Northern Ireland, Cyprus, Israel and Palestine, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, and Somalia.

68. The Center for Citizen Initiatives (http://ccisf.org/) began a series citizen-to-citizen initiatives and exchanges, buttressed by official media PR and social media networks across the United States and Russia. See also the book: The Power of Impossible Ideas: Ordinary Citizens’ Extraordinary Efforts to Avert International Crisis. 2012. Odenwald Press.

69. For more, see the book on the development of the huge, unnamed movement Blessed Unrest (2007) by Paul Hawken.


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