Report from the
Scotland's for Peace Forum

17th September 2005

These pages give details of the Scotland's for Peace Forum which took place on 17th September 2005.

 

Promoting Peace Education
Workshop 1 led by David Mackenzie

Some Considerations

Education for peace is a learning process aimed at helping people develop the skills, knowledge and understanding that will make them able to contribute to a peaceful society.

There is much good work being done across Scotland on peer mediation, conflict resolution (at personal and local level), and mediation in general. There is also a national committee trying to get a Scottish Civilian Peace Service off the ground.

Endorsement of education for peace by a state which indulges in illegal wars, possesses and actively deploys weapons of mass destruction, is a leading global arms dealer, deports people to face torture in their homeland, and generally implies by its actions that conflict is best resolved by large scale murderous violence, may be seen as less than useful. We must be careful not to join the chorus which dumps all our ills on the young, their violent behaviour or lack of “respect,” while ignoring the appalling example set by the adult world. Should we as ordinary citizens support well-meaning initiatives to put peace on the formal agenda?

A critical problem is the inability of the mainstream education system to illustrate and support values in any coherent way.

A key factor is the way that educational life (like indeed all of our life) is experienced in apparently watertight and separate compartments, so there is a limit to flow and connected-ness.

Education for peace should not be a subject in schools, not a package which you can pick up and teach from. EFP is simply good education with the following components emphasised:

  1. Learning a proper disrespect for authority.
  2. Encouragement of and support for the natural tendency to question and make connections.
  3. Encouraging people to develop their critical skills.
  4. Giving people the opportunities to develop key skills in the area of conflict resolution and mediation.
  5. A learning experience that is open to the world outside school.
  6. Empowering people to take responsibility.

Text: David Mackenzie

Creating a Scottish Centre for International Peace and Justice
Workshop 2 led by Liz Law and Isobel Lindsay

Objectives

Can a small country make a contribution to addressing the major problems of our world, the problems of violence and the social and economic injustice that is often its breeding ground? Smallness is not a bar to effectiveness. Switzerland, as home to the International Red Cross Committee, has made such a contribution during the last century. Sweden/Norway have the international Nobel prizes and the Swedish International Peace Research Institute. Ireland has a strong record of contributions to the United Nations and its agencies. The Netherlands is a centre for international justice. New Zealand has adopted a positive non-nuclear policy. What could Scotland do?

Scotland has a wide range of organisations concerned with peace and justice issues. They do valuable work but are constrained by very low and insecure resourcing. The Edinburgh Peace and Justice Centre and the Scottish Centre for Non-Violence are examples. We are not short of the vision but we are short of the resources and the institutional support to make it effective. Among the other proposals being promoted by Scotland’s For Peace is the establishment of a Scottish Centre for International Peace and Justice. The proposed centre would engage in policy development, educational and campaigning work. Part of its role would be to provide support and co-ordination for groups working on peace and justice projects and part would be to initiate its own work. An organisation of this kind has to develop flexibly over time but it will need some clear objectives in its initial stages. The following summarises possible initial aims:

  1. Developing programmes for conflict analysis and resolution
  2. Providing a centre that can be used by national and international groups engaged in the above
  3. Promoting within Scotland an informed public at all levels, general and professional

Structure

For this proposal to be effective, there needs to be continuity of resourcing, pluralism in management, and independence from state control. This may seem difficult to achieve since there are limited sources to provide continuous substantial funding apart from public funds. We also want a clear indication of Scottish Parliament/Executive support. Start-up funding is accessible from trusts but there is generally a reluctance to sustain core funding. Direct public funding risks the withdrawal of support if those in power disagree with some aspect of its work.

The aim should be an endowment fund into which there is a substantial public contribution but also private funding. This could provide an income that could sustain core funding over time.

To ensure plurality in management, the supervisory board should comprise nominees from a range of organisations in Scotland. For example – the Parliament, the universities, human rights, aid and peace organisations, the trade unions, churches, local authorities. There should also be some co-opted places for individuals from overseas.

These funding and structural proposals would ensure both significant public participation but also independence for the centre.

Text: Isobel Lindsay

 

Below are some ideas I have had around this idea in preparation for the Forum Meeting on 17.9.05 at Augustine United Church, Edinburgh:

Who does this work at present?

Scottish Catholic Justice and Peace Commission, Glasgow
Peace and Justice Centre, Edinburgh
Scottish Centre for Nonviolence in Dunblane
Church and Society Council, Church of Scotland
Iona Community, Iona
Many, many, many committed individuals.

Pitfalls and Cautions

The Vision is the easy thing, what are the Challenges. The Challenges for me are Continuity, Substance, Value and Independence.

Continuity: as funding has become such a burden to organisations working for social change and peace and justice is seems important to start with adequate funding for the long-term. This suggests the only healthy way forward is substantial endowment funding. The formulas of return on an ethical endowment would be 3%-4.5% and on standard commercial a maximum of 6% on any endowment in place.

Substance: it would be important not to create competition with excellent organisations in place rather to compliment their work and facilitate networking. I would suggest that facilitation is more useful. Specialist in the vast expanse of peace and justice issues need help connecting into networks and lobbies rather than actually needing to be told what to do. In a sense people already in the field working and contributing would create the substance of a Centre. This creates a dilemma. If people already working in the field create the substance of a Centre would they feel ownership of their work was being “stolen”? Or would it be worth this risk to have a focus for the diversity of Peace and Justice work where links could be developed.

Value: how do we stop ourselves being a “cosy option” an organisation where smugness overrules delivery targets, goals and value for money? It really is a fine line on the one hand the whole culture of peace and justice is not about quantitive analysis yet “woolly” is not a word we want associated with this Centre. Maybe it would be necessary to build into the constitution something like a timescale for membership of Management Committee, Trustees and Staff alike. This all sounds quite harsh but a well-endowed trust could so easily become a sinecure.

Independence: this is where the endowment funding would help. A degree of project funding money would be an excellent addition but all funding comes with a degree of influence and we should not be so naïve that we do not recognise that any money from a political source will have political objectives.

Finally: could it be really be inclusive? Would the faith groups with a peace and justice dimension participate and contribute or wait and see. Maybe that is why it would be useful if it facilitated rather than delivered because then different networks could exist and grow and have a culture of their own. There might be a network for church peace groups who had some members who were in the general peace network and others who lobbied via their faith. Alternatively there could be an anarchist climate change network who linked in with the faith groups on climate change for certain campaigns. I have used the diversity of faith and anarchist deliberately. For this Centre to be worth the effort of raising endowment funding in the region of several million pounds we need to have something inclusive. We need to model what we are aiming for a world when difference can co-exist. It will be incredibly hard. It means learning to trust one another as ourselves. There will be many out there who will be desperately working to ensure the building of trust fails because a strong peace and justice organisation that is fully inclusive will be an incredible force towards change.

This paper was produced by Liz Law, Co-ordinator, Scottish Centre for Nonviolence in Dunblane (website http:\\www.nonviolence-scotland.org.uk; phone number 01786 824730) for the Scotland’s For Peace Forum on Saturday 17 September 2005.

 

Afternoon Session

The workshop began with all the participants introducing themselves and commenting on what they felt a centre for peace & justice should be, from their perspective, both in terms of it’s functions and aims. Liz Law and Isobel Lindsay proceeded to outline their own particular vision for the centre, its make up and structure. This was based upon the material they had prepared for the workshop.

There were a number of opinions as to what should be at the core of the centre. One suggestion was that it should be a Peace Centre. The explanation for this was that peace was a more important concept than justice. This view was opposed by a number of those present. The conclusion drawn from this seemed to be that these principles are both important in their own right, and that they also inform each other. The consensus of opinion was that you cannot have one without the other. The discussion developed on from this considering whether it should be a Peace & Justice Centre, or a Justice & Peace Centre. Within this debate one opinion put forward was that the emphasis should be on the ‘Scottish’, as opposed to, an ‘International’ Centre for Peace & Justice.

Liz Law emphasised the importance of engaging those who, hitherto had not been engaged. This was a point that was agreed by everyone. The particular emphasis here was with regard to young people. If they were engaged in the right way there was a great willingness on their part to get involved in the political process, to participate and make a positive contribution to driving issues forward. She cited the Make Poverty History march, where they were present in significant numbers, and involving themselves in the campaign. She noted that there did not seem to be a significant number of young people at the forum, an unfortunate truth. It was pointed out, however, that representatives of the Scottish Youth Parliament were in attendance. They will, hopefully, have felt the event was informative from their point of view, resulting in further engagement with the Scottish Youth Parliament in particular, and as a means to engage young people in general.

One point that was put across, given that the aim is to establish a culture of peace in Scotland, then one of the fundamental principles should be inclusiveness. This should be the case not only bearing in mind the particular aims of the Scotland’s for Peace campaign, but also for the long term stability of a culture of peace to prevail in Scotland. It should be about not only embracing individuals with specific abilities or knowledge, but also the Scottish people as a whole, without whom you cannot truly establish a culture of peace in the country.

Text: Robert Gannon

Building a Campaign against the Replacement of Trident Nuclear Weapons
Workshop 3. Speaker John Ainslie, facilitator Alan Mackinnon

Morning session

John Ainslie led the session, explaining that a decision will be made by 2010 and we have a rare opportunity to influence the development of Britain’s nuclear weapons programme. While Trident replaced Polaris in the late 1970s’ we do not yet know what form ‘son of Trident’ will take, which makes campaigning a bit difficult.

But the point of the campaign is:
  1. They are not our weapons - the UK could not launch a nuclear strike using Trident, or its replacement, without US cooperation. So why are they here?
  2. They are weapons with no obvious purpose in today’s climate. What military role do nuclear weapons play today? Which country would we attack? They present more of a target for terrorists than a deterrent against them. They don’t “keep us safe”.
  3. Cost - Follow the Trident Pound. Nuclear weapons cost £1billion/year to maintain, and then there’s the cost of construction and decommissioning.

We need a positive message explaining what benefits could come to Scotland if we did not replace Trident. It has been estimated that £2billion could be found for Scotland alone by UK defence budget cuts. The poorest areas in Scotland are often core Labour seats.

We need to educate the educators - if we want to start grassroots popular education, we need to educate people so they are confident of the arguments when talking to politicians. We can call for a ‘best value review’ to find out if Trident really is the best use of tax-payers money.

The message should be accessible, such as expressing the amount of money spent in terms of schools or hospitals rather than £billions.

As defence is a reserved matter, the campaign would have two discrete parts:

  1. Scottish action and awareness, which might culminate in the Scottish Parliament rejecting the replacement of Trident. This would include establishing local groups, say in the Nuclear-Free Local Authorities at first, and lobbying MSPs. The Scottish Parliament is more accessible and Scotland is small enough to build united public opinion.
  2. Westminster/Government pressure is also vital because even if the Scottish Parliament did reject the replacement of Trident, it has no powers over reserved matters. However, it would be a powerful statement to have a country forced to host nuclear weapons it clearly did not want.

Who should be in the coalition? Those who opposed the Iraq war and marched for Make Poverty History should be included. While many could be contacted through the groups already involved in the Scotland’s for Peace coalition, local groups with a good local presence would reach many otherwise excluded.

Local groups important to maximise the numbers signing the pledge and lobbying local councillors, MSPs, MPs and Local Authorities (e.g. maybe get more Nuclear-Free Local Authorities and sympathetic politicians. We also have to work on cross-party support. CND have surveyed MSPs and MPs. More MSPs responded to the survey than MPs. Scottish elections in 2007 - politicians are always most responsive to public pressure when votes at stake. Local councillors should be lobbied too.

Text: Mandy Meikle

Afternoon session

The following main points were made about the best ways to carry the campaign forward:

  1. All members of Scotland for Peace should contact their MPs and MSPs, to lobby them about the replacement (or rather, non-replacement) of Trident. This is the right time to do it. The Liberal Democrats regarded as a key party to get ‘on side’.
  2. Also important to get the Scottish Parliament to ‘tune in’ to the idea that in replacing Trident - essentially an American defence system - we would be binding ourselves closer to America, and to build a picture of what Scotland could look like without Trident. Scottish Parliament can express a view on Trident, even though it can’t vote not to replace it.
  3. Possibility of lobbying for an Early Day Motion against the replacement of Trident, but the timing of this would need to be carefully considered.
  4. Also important to get local authorities on side - to host events discussing the future of Trident, for instance. Many authorities are decalred nuclear-free authorities and should be sympathetic to an anti-Trident campaign.
  5. The churches lobby could be mobilised - all denominations.
  6. Trade unions should be encouraged to include motions against the replacement of Trident at their AGMS. May be useful to target trade unions specifically relevant to workers at Faslane and Coulport.
  7. A set of deadlines should be agreed for various actions:

Text: Anne Clarke

Reviving Defence Diversification – Now more than ever
Workshop 4. Facilitator Mike Martin

Introduction

Research into the potential for Defence Diversification has been carried out on the initiative of the Trade Unions, Academic Institutions and Nuclear Free Local Authorities. Most of this activity took place in the 1980s and 1990s and, as far as is known, there is no current activity around this question in Scotland. Bearing in mind the numerous military bases such as Faslane and Coulport and the numbers of jobs in defence related industries in Scotland there would appear to be a need to review the impact that, for example, the abolition of the UK’s nuclear deterrent would have on employment and measures which could be convincingly put into place to alleviate the negative effects this might have on the workforce.

The Scotland’s for Peace Forum

On 17th September 2005 Scotland’s for Peace held a Forum which was addressed by David Moxham, Assistant General Secretary of the STUC. Dave indicated that the potential for the loss of jobs resulting from the closure of defence related activity means that defence diversification is not always an easy question for the STUC and Trade Unions. However, he went on to say that there is an absolute need for diversification and that such an initiative, with job safeguards, would be entirely in line with the interests of the workforce as a whole.

In the afternoon Douglas Rogers from SANA led the defence diversification workshop and laid out the issues which would need to be taken into account, for example, if the UK is to move away from defence related production and jobs transferred to the non military sector then the workforce affected may need to be re-skilled. There may be technologies which would straightforwardly transfer across to the civilian sector and some facilities could be utilised such as the launch ramp at Rosyth which was used for the Pelamis wave power converter. On the downside Douglas pointed out that the military sector was not under the same commercial pressures compared to the civilian sector hence there is a palpable culture of inefficiency. Douglas suggested that the government could play a more proactive role in stimulating the sustainable energy sector by creating an electricity consumption demand as in Portugal. In the ensuing discussion substantial questions were confronted and addressed:

Conclusion and Proposal

If such a defence diversification initiative is going to have any effect whatsoever the Scottish Parliament must at least acknowledge the initiative and be prepared to debate and consider its proposals. Moreover, the project must be shaped to address the concerns of the workforces who will potentially be affected by moves to diversify away from defence into non-military areas of economic activity. There was broad agreement for the proposal that a sympathetic MSP, such as Marlyn Glen, investigate the possibility of setting up a Scottish Parliamentary Committee to look at how it would be possible to transform the Scottish economy from having a high level of dependency on military related economic activity to an economy which depends on a high level of sustainable economic activity. An obvious priority would be the establishment of a Scottish Defence Diversification Research Unit.

References

Ian Goudie “Defence Diversification or Dole?” June 2001

http://www.thecitizen.org.uk/articles/vol2/article16e.htm
Northern Friends Peace Group: http://nfpb.gn.apc.org/disarmr.htm

Text: Mike Martin

Illustrating the links between war and poverty
Workshop 5: Speaker John McAllion, facilitor Mary Alice Mansell

“We are up to our necks in an arms industry that is fuelling wars in poor countries.”

This was a fascinating workshop, providing lots of information and raising many points of discussion. It was led by John McAllion, Campaigns worker for Oxfam and chaired by Mary Alice Mansell of the Quakers.

Many were keen to make contributions to proceedings despite a small side-issue regarding use of language: at a Peace Forum are we allowed to use phrases such as ‘an idea worth fighting for’ or ‘that’s something we can get our teeth into’.

John began by providing some details about the links between poverty and war, particularly in Africa. Sierra Leone has had a 10 year civil war and is ranked 176th out of 177 countries in the UN Human Development Index which ranks nations according to their citizens' quality of life. Similarly, the Democratic Republic of Congo, where 3.5 million people have died in war, is ranked 167th.

Although some may argue that these countries have wars because they are poor, it seems clear that the opposite is true and that they are poor because they have wars. Many of the countries ravaged by war in Africa are rich in natural resources. It is control of these resources that wars are fought over.

This point was emphasized by several speakers; that countries that are richest in resources are often the poorest. And they are poor because of outside intervention. The example of the Congo, which once had a democratically elected government, was held up. This government was overthrown with the help of the Belgian government and the CIA and President Mobutu was installed. But even he was eventually replaced because he wouldn’t privatize the country’s mines.

These are other killer facts that were raised in the workshop:

“Whoever wins, the arms industry wins.”

Often, as in the war in the Congo or the stand-off between India and Pakistan, the western arms industry supplies arms to both sides. This ensures that, whatever the outcome, the arms manufacturers always win. The cost to Zimbabwe of the war in the Congo was $1 million a day.

The British Government and the Arms Industry

The fact that the arms industry is a large employer in the field of manufacturing in Britain was raised. This leads to understandable difficulties for the Scotland’s for Peace movement in garnering trade union support. Trade Unions have an obligation to protect their members jobs. It was considered encouraging though that Dave Moxham of the STUC had shown his support for the movement in his opening speech.

On a wider discussion of the Scotland’s For Peace movement the issue was raised of how to make the Peace movement more appealing to a wider audience. Ways need to be found to make the campaign seem more ‘exciting’, especially to younger people. With the war in Iraq and the demonstrations against it there has been a marked rise in young peoples’ interest and involvement in politics. The creativity and vitality that they bring to demonstrations would be very welcome within the Scotland’s For Peace movement.

Text: Iain Mitchell

General points

Links between war and poverty

Text: Mary Alice Mansell