19 April 2008 (Journal entry #5 – final part of this assignment for “Key Issues in Peace and Conflict Studies”)

“If you want peace, prepare for war”

The last few weeks have focused on the concept of Security, and at the Iraq Never Again conference last week, these concepts tied neatly together.

It’s interesting to think about security developments over the last 500 years. What a massive change our society has been through in this time! I recently saw two movies that were set in the 15th and 16th Century: ‘The Other Boleyn Girl’ – about King Henry the Eighth and his second wife Anne; and ‘Elizabeth: The Golden Age’ – about the reign of Queen Elizabeth the First, King Henry and Anne’s daughter. These came at the right time, as they have helped me imagine the concepts in action. Territory/borders, military/armaments, to defend/expand, threats/fear. Power. Images of horses, battles, Spanish boats, explorers – float in an out of my head.

In these times of sovereignty, war was thought to be natural, inevitable, normal and good. This realist perspective, shared by Hobbes and Kant, is still reflected foreign policy to this day.

Is war inevitable or not? How likely is it to stop it? Attempts throughout history… what limited them from success? Can you have states without arms? How do we relate this to positive and negative peace? – Some of the questions posed in class.

Westphalia Treaty was signed in 1648. It’s incredible, simply incredible, how much the world has changed dramatically in the last 350 years. Today more than ever, we live in a world connected on so many different levels, and in my opinion, our Security agreements are struggling to keep up.

“Collective security”, “Comprehensive security”, “Common security” and the one I like the most “Cooperative security” – all powerful concepts that I would like to talk more about, however my word count is way over already, so I’m going to skip that and go straight to the very important concept “Peace with Justice.”

Peace with Justice – is it possible? How can it be achieved? In particular, how can we achieve a Positive Peace with Justice, in a non-violent way?

I do think a Positive Peace with Justice is possible, and I have combined what I have learned from readings, last week’s class, and the Iraq conference, into the following steps:

1 Awareness

It’s important to develop a non-judgmental yet critical awareness of ourselves, of others and of the world, and developing a literacy of Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Rees)

“The awareness that the “enemy” has needs and perceives injustice or unfairness in meeting those needs can help build productive relationships between groups in conflict. It can also create motivation for working together to solve the problem of shared unmet needs rather than the win-lose orientation.” (Schirch)

2 Understanding

With in-depth analysis, we must strive to understand all aspects of the problem from all perspectives. What are the core motives? Desire for ‘happiness’? Fear? What stands between the issue and the motive? Another’s desire for power? Indoctrination? Propaganda? All aspects must be understood.

‘Relations between States are essentially no different from relations between groups and persons. Conflict and violence are no less a problem at these levels and have the same fundamental sources.’ (Rees)

3 Collaboration

Developing a vision of what the world could be, and brainstorming ideas on how to get there. Exercising Power Creatively (Rees), using our imagination, developing liberation, and possessing knowledge; and coordinating an interdependence between actors on horizontal and vertical levels (Lederach)

As Joseph Camilleri said at the conference, “it starts with conversation at the kitchen table.”

4 Action

Setting up ‘institutionalised coordination networks’ and means of providing ‘restorative justice’ (Schirch) Empowering the people through education and resources. Practicing non-violence (Rees), leading by example, and basically, “making it happen.“

Helping people recognise that ‘happiness which contributes to a sense of peace derives not from personal gain, but from quality of life experiences.’ (Rees)

5 Evaluating and starting the process again

I think it’s useful to look at conflicts as processes (Lederach), moving away from a ‘myopic focus on agreements and events’, toward a ‘commitment of embracing the permanency of relationship building’. Lederach’s river metaphor created a clear picture in my mind of how to view the ‘conflict transformation’ (as opposed to ‘conflict resolution’) process: looking at problems from standing with water to your knees so you see, feel and hear the dynamic flow of water, force & power, change; and from standing high on a mountain, so that you see the shape and form that the water has carved in the land.

Like self-development: the process of learning and experience never stops. Paradoxically the only thing permanent – is change.

I think we should aim for a Holistic Peace, because this encompasses both Ethical Peace and Justpeace, focusing on inner peace and working outward. Maybe this is the Pilates teacher in me – wanting to strengthen the core, and working outward to tone the rest of the body from there…

While at the conference, Iraqi Samer Khamisy was twice asked “What do you think a vision of peace would look like in Iraq? He replied that he just couldn’t imagine it – the situation was hopeless. Without a vision of what you want, how can you get it?

I think we need to imagine how we want the world to be, and truly believe it is possible. In my personal experience, it is figuring out what you want that is the difficult bit –  once you have this clear in your mind, getting it just comes, in it’s own time and in it’s own way – but it happens.

In the article by Mead, M. (1940/2000) the idea is presented that war is an invention. In order to move forward we need to recognise the defects of the old invention, and invent a new one. “First requirement is to believe that an invention is possible.”

As Stuart Rees says, in Passion for Peace: Exercising Power Creatively, “It starts with ourselves.”


Kind of war-like… Maybe I need to take my camera out some more – or at least bother to connect with my hard drive… I’m exhausting the files I can randomly find on this laptop.

Photographer: Anatole Papafilippou

Taken in Tokyo a long time ago.