The historian, Kent Shifferd, in his book From War to Peace, described recent historical events all of which are part of many steps that must be taken if the global community is to create a sustainable global peace. (Shifferd 2011) The enormity of this challenge is lessoned by the fact that we have already began to do or have done the following things. This list is taken from Dr. Shifferd’s roughly 18 minute YouTube video on this subject: (Shifferd 2012)
Recent Historical Changes in the Direction of a Global Peace The Evolution of a Global Peace System K. Shifferd, From War to Peace Supranational Parlimentary Systems Spread of Democratic Systems International Laws and Treaties End of Colonialism and NeoEmpire Rise in International Justice Long-term Peace Regions Emergence of Peace-Keeping & Building End to DeFacto Sovereignty Spread of International Development Human Rights Principles Recognized Rise of Global Conferences Granting Rights to Women Rise of Global Outlook of NGOs Decline of Institutional Racism Emergence of Peace Activism Trend to End Capital Punishment Surge in Nonviolent Direct Action Rise in Environmental Activism Nonviolent Conflict Resolution Training Trend to Peace Oriented Religion Spread of Peace Research & Education Trend to Conscientious Objection Trend Toward Peace Journalism Rise of Internet and Cellphones Decline in Prestige of War Rise in Planetary Loyalty
We’ll not consider all 26 here. You can easily check them out and the examples he uses by viewing the video. But to provide a feeling for what’s changing, 9 of these global happenings will be briefly described below. You’ll probably immediately sense how each is a step moving toward creating conditions which have the potential to end war, permanently. For each, one or more examples are mentioned by way of illustration:
Emergence of supranational parliamentary systems tasked to keep the peace: The United Nations, being chief among them. Other examples: The European Union (EU), The Organization of American States (OAS), The African Union (AU). These all monitor regional disputes and engage in peace-building.
International Law and Treaties that deal with instruments of war, such as land mines and nuclear weapons, and set rules of engagement: Geneva Convention, Kellogg-Briand Treaty, Outer Space Treaty, Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, International Treaty to Ban Landmines. Most recently the Iranian Agreement on Development of Nuclear Weapons.
The Rise in International Justice. Such bodies as: The International Court of Justice in The Hague, The International Criminal Court, Regional courts in Europe and Latin America. Yearly there are hundreds of global conferences aimed at creating a peaceful and just world. Here are some notable examples: Earth Summit Rio (1992), International Indigenous Commission, UN Conferences on Sustainable Living, UN Conference on Women, Beijing (1995), Rotary World Peace Conferences, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, The Hague (2015), World Council of Religious Leaders.
The proliferation of thousands of Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs) Having a Global Outlook. They have environmental, humanitarian, peacemaking and peacekeeping objectives – they reflect an emerging global citizenship – one people, one planet, one peace: Habitat for Humanity, Heifer Foundation, Fellowship of Reconciliation, Global Zero, Doctors Without Borders, World Vision, Clinton Global Initiative, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Project Concern International. These organizations act without regard to race, religion, nationality, and so on. They are the kinds of organizations anyone can join or support financially if that person wants to be actively involved in working toward a global future without war. Globally, thousands of institutions provide courses, majors, minors, higher degrees and practical training in nonviolent conflict resolution. Examples in San Diego, California, alone: Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice, San Diego City College Peace Studies Certificate and Associate Degree, Alliant University Institute for Violence, Abuse, and Trauma, San Diego State University program in International Security and Conflict Resolution, Tariq Khamisa Foundation, San Diego Peace Resource Center. Such organizations and projects are found in cities and communities on virtually every continent. The hunger to end war, and willingness to do what’s necessary for success, is strong and rapidly growing. It’s waiting to be harnessed by visionary leaders in a shared effort to end war. The growing trend toward decline in the prestige of war. War used to be considered a noble and glorious enterprise. Unfortunately, a great many movies arrange to still make it out to be. But in the real world there is a growing sense that war is a destructive and barbaric trap to be avoided…if for no other reason that, except for the war industry, it’s now seen as bad for business. And highly important, there is more knowledge among soldiers and citizens about networks of war profiteering - just who benefits from wars? We can look forward to a time when men, and women, who are trained as defenders and peacekeepers — the police of our global peace system — will be as honored as warriors who in earlier times were trained to invade and kill.
Sustainability movements work toward reducing consumptive excesses that create shortages, poverty, pollution and all kinds of environmental injustice. All of these lead to social unrest, a common fuel for war; thus making the environment sustainable is key to maintaining any global peace. Now, many groups are working on this, and if all goes well, the shared threats created by global climate change could cause the entire global population to begin to pull together. Across the globe we may decide that resources devoted to war and cleaning up after war can be put to much more urgent, civilization-saving uses.
The trend toward peace-oriented religion is particularly hopeful – some religious leaders have turned away from using their religion to justify war and instead use religion to foster peace and a sense of human oneness. Listed here are some notable examples: World Council of Religious Leaders, Christianity of Thomas Merton, Jim Wallace of Sojourners, Pax Christi, Buddhism of Dalai Lama, Judaism of Jewish Peace Fellowship, Jewish Voice for Peace, Islamism of Muslim Peace Fellowship, Muslim Voice for Peace. And most recently, that the Catholic Church has begun to consider whether the “just war” concept has become obsolete. Warmongers use religion to foment the will to kill other people. A trend toward rejection of war by religious leaders is potentially an enormously powerful, positive shift.
Finally, our ability now to look down at earth from outer space. No borders are visible. This enhances our sense of oneness, that we are all citizens sharing this blue and white living globe, our only home in the vastness of the universe. That God-like perspective serves to decrease xenophobia, a trait that unfortunately fosters tendencies toward war.
In short, the entire list of 26 trends puts our current status into realistic perspective - we’re not starting a campaign or movement to abolish war from ground zero. We need to see clearly how much we have already done that is part of creating an enduring global peace.
Shifferd, K. 2011. From War to Peace: A Guide to the Next Hundred Years. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company. Shifferd, K. 2012. Evolution of a global peace system. Available on YouTube at: https://www.youtube.com/watch? v=f1HMRAZNQd8. (accessed 29 May 2017).