100 years of peace making
A history of the International Peace Bureau and other international peace movement organisations and networks.
by Rainer Santi
Pax förlag, International Peace Bureau, January 1991
1. What is the Peace Movement?
2. The Origins of the Organised Peace Movement
3. Universal Peace Congresses - creation of the International Peace Bureau
1899: The first international peace conference
Efforts to reach the Labour Movement
Pacifism against Nationalism: Efforts to stop the catastrophe
4. After the First World War - the multiplying of peace organisations
1915: The Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF)
1919: The International Fellowship of Reconciliation (IFOR)
1921: The War Resisters International (WRI)
1927: The International Committee for Co-ordination (CIC) and the Joint Peace Council
5. After World War II - a new start
1949: The International Liaison Committee of Organisations for Peace (ILCOP)
1949: The World Peace Council (WPC)
1963: The International Confederation for Disarmament and Peace (ICDP)
1964: Re-establishment of the IPB
The Vietnam War Movement
The Right to Refuse Military Service and Orders
General and Complete Disarmament - the Special NGO Committee on Disarmament
6. The Peace Wave of the 1980s
1980: International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW)
1980: The European Nuclear Disarmament Appeal (END)
1981: The International Peace Coordination and Cooperation network (IPCC)
The Illegality of Nuclear Weapons
1984: Merger between IPB and ICDP
International Arms Trade and SSD III
7. A Retrospective, and a Glance at the Future
1. IPB Programme of Action 1990/91
2. List of Seminars and Conferences organised by IPB and its successors
3. List of IPB member organisations 1991
4. IPB officers since 1963, and Nobel Peace Prizes
This is a history of the peace movement seen from the viewpoint of a peace activist, involved in the international peace movement. I believe that the accumulated experiences which make up the history of the peace movement are valuable assets, and can guide us in our current work. The aim of the book is to convey a sense of history to the pacifist. To me, the history of the peace movement has been an inspiration in my daily work. It has also provided me with a perspective, that is especially essential in times of great political change, such as today.
Many books and articles have been written about the peace movement. This one describes it from inside the International Peace Bureau and its Geneva secretariat. It is a privileged viewpoint. The IPB is the oldest existing international peace organisation. Much information, many discussions and persons involved in the peace movement have passed through there during the past 100 years. The history of the IPB reflects the peace movement as a whole.
It would be impossible to make a comprehensive description of the peace movement. It is too diverse and too broad. One reason for omissions is that the international peace movement is not very well organised. Maybe this book can make the jungle of abbreviations and movements more transparent, and be a handbook for those activists interested or engaged in international coordinating and organising.
The IPB has gone through several phases when it completely changed character. In the beginning it was close to power centres in Europe. It attracted parliamentarians and persons of "standing" Its leadership role in the peace movement was unchallenged, and during this time it had much influence over world politics, and in the creation of an intellectual basis for international relations. After the first World War peace movements and their different aims and strategies multiplied. The IPB lost its central role and the peace movement much of its direct influence over politics. After World War II the IPB - like practically all peace organisations - had to reorganise from scratch and find a useful role in the emerging Cold War. It became a centre of study and debate for member organisations and concentrated on introducing new issues to the peace movement, Governments and the United Nations. It also made grants to peace organisations. But by doing this it used up its financial resources, and towards the end of the 1970s it was unable to add much input to the projects of the many new peace research institutes, or to public debate. Still, the IPB was a stable point of reference in the rapidly changing peace world. While hundreds of new peace groups sprang up in the beginning of the 1980s, the IPB developed into a service institution, and a network of many different kinds of peace organisations. The membership of the IPB tripled.
In writing this book I have been indebted to the work of many persons. I want to specially mention Ilkka Taipale, Erkki Tuomioja, Guido Grünewald, Helmut Mauermann's doctoral thesis "Das Internationale Friedensbüro 1892-1950", and Matthias Finger's doctoral thesis "Paix - Les dix bonnes raisons d'adhérer au nouveau mouvement pour la paix". Judith Winther, Wim Bartels, Ken Coates, Tomas Magnusson, Edith Ballantyne and many others who have been - and are - directly involved in the peace movement have answered my questions. John Spangler has read the manuscript and improved the English. Colin Archer, now secretary-general of the IPB, has given the text a final trimming. The expressed opinions are my own.
Rainer Santi, Geneva and Stockholm, January 1991
1. What Is The Peace Movement?
Two ways to describe the peace movement are to analyse its ideological currents, and its institutions. This chapter introduces the ideological currents and how they have manifested themselves. The institutions and organisations of the peace movement, notably those connected to the International Peace Bureau, will be introduced and described throughout this book.
Peace researcher Nigel Young in 1985 identified nine pacifist traditions, which appear in chronological order. Five of them appeared before the First World War; Religious pacifism (conscientious objection), Liberal internationalism, originally labelled "pacifism", Anti-conscriptionism, Anti-militarism - socialist resistance to war, and Socialist internationalism.
Between the two world wars two more traditions appeared; Feminist anti-militarism and Radical pacifism, inspired by Gandhian non-violence.
After the second world war, Communist internationalism, led by the World Peace Council, and Anti-nuclearism appeared.
To this, one may add the tradition of peace movements to make links between peace and human rights, peace and Third World development, and peace and ecology.
Peace researcher Matthias Finger identifies three main ideological currents in the peace movement. They are pacifism, anti-militarism and anti-nuclearism.
Pacifism is of bourgeois origin. It emphasises arbitration of conflicts, and has a negative definition of peace: the absence of war. It aims its policy at negotiations and specialised institutions like the International Court of Justice and the United Nations. The focus is on relations between states. Pacifist institutions began to appear in the 1890s: 1889 the Inter-Parliamentary Union, 1892 the International Peace Bureau. In 1899 and 1907, two inter-governmental conferences were held in The Hague. For the first time, most states sent their representatives to negotiate about security and peace. The Permanent Court of International Justice was created. After the First World War the League of Nations was created in 1920. In 1946 it was dissolved and replaced by the United Nations. Although the famous UN Charter starts with "We, the peoples of the United Nations ...", the UN is essentially an inter-governmental organisation - and not very united.
Anti-militarism belongs to the traditions of the labour movement. More precisely, it originates in the anarchist and anarco-syndicalist traditions, which state that class struggle should not be led by parties or syndicalist representatives, but by the workers themselves. The aim of Anti-militarism is to change the political system. The accent is on refusal to serve the causes of war. Its focus is on the relations between the individual and the state. Inevitably, all anti-militarist action immediately came into confrontation with the state and its defender, the army (the "watch-dog of the capitalist state").
Before the First World War, anti-militarists and the Second International advocated a general strike against what they perceived as an imperialist war. But when the war commenced, nationalism proved stronger than class loyalty. Anti-militarism had its breakthrough after the First World War, especially in Germany, where the Nie wieder Krieg movement appeared in 1919. In Denmark, Aldrig Mere Krig (AMK) was founded. In 1950-51 the Ohne mich movement appeared, also in Germany. German historian Guido Grünewald notes that these movements drew their main support from "bourgeois" parts of society. They were pacifist movements with anti-militarist demands that sometimes succeeded in making coalitions with republican organisations.
In the 1950s and beginning of the 1960s, Anti-nuclearism became the central force in the peace movement in most industrialised countries. A main reason for the appearance of this current may have been the failure of Pacifism and Anti-militarism to prevent the outbreak of World War II. This was often held against the pacifist and anti-militarist movements. The movements were even accused of having been one of the causes of the war. They were successful in keeping France and England at the (Munich) negotiating table with Nazi Germany (while Nazi Germany occupied Czechoslovakia), and were for example successful in disarming the United Kingdom, thereby paving the way for Nazi Germany. This is a questionable argument, as the British "Appeasement-policy" had economic motives. But Pacifism and Anti-militarism had become discredited.
Anti-nuclearism, or "Nuclear Pacifism" is directed against the nuclear arms race and nuclear testing. It has had two periods of expansion. First, in the 1950s when nuclear weapons were introduced in the U.K. and Germany, and when nuclear tests were conducted in the atmosphere. The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in the U.K., the German Göttingen Appeal and the organisation Kampf dem Atomtod, and US Sane date from this time. Secondly, in the 1980s, when No to Nuclear Weapons-groups were founded in Denmark and Norway. The movement became especially strong in the Netherlands. NATO officials feared that "Hollanditis" would spread and prevent the planned deployment of new nuclear weapons in Europe.
These different currents have overlapped and merged. All the above-mentioned currents can be found in today's peace movement. The International Peace Bureau, founded in the liberal pacifist tradition, is today composed of member organisations from all the different currents; pacifist, anti-militarist, feminist, radical non-violent groups, nuclear pacifists, groups oriented towards the United Nations, socialist and "bourgeois" groups, labour unions and religious groups, as well as organisations working with human rights and peace, development and peace, and ecology and peace.
(graph with ups and down's of the global peace movement)
(Source: Nigel Young, Why peace movements fail, as reprinted in Finger, Les 10 bonnes raisons, etc., own assessments, membership and financial developments in CND, SPAS, WILPF and IPB)
2. The Origins Of The Organised Peace Movement
Local peace societies started to appear at the end of the Napoleonic wars. These wars had lasted for 25 years when they finally ended in 1815, and had left 2,100,000 dead. The peace societies were part of a liberal movement for political reform that aimed for human rights, social improvements, free trade, the abolition of slavery and an end to the waging of war. Typical examples were The American Peace Society in New York, founded in 1815, and The Society for the Promotion of Permanent and Universal Peace, better known as The London Peace Society, formed on Quaker initiative in 1816. The ethical pacifism of these first societies was later strengthened by ideas emanating from France which saw international law as an alternative to wars and as a way to solve international conflicts. The movement spread gradually. The first continental European peace society was founded in Geneva 1830. The London Peace Society created a network of local groups, and its membership grew, however, only in the middle class.
In order to promote the movement, and to create a platform from which the peace movement could develop an international programme, pacifists and peace societies started to organise Peace Congresses. Another aim of the Congresses was to establish pacifism as a major ideological current, distinct from socialism and liberalism.
The first Congress held in London in 1843 was mainly a British-American venture. The following Congresses attracted a more and more international participation, but British and American societies were for a long time the core of the movement. World Peace Congresses were held in Brussels in 1848, in Paris in 1849, Frankfurt in 1850, London in 1851, Manchester in 1852 and Edinburgh in 1853. They brought together intellectuals, businessmen, lawyers, church members and statesmen. The Paris Congress, presided over by Victor Hugo, adopted what may have been the first programme of the international peace movement:
"As only peace can secure the moral and material interests of nations, it is the duty of governments to put all conflicts that appear between them to a council of arbitration, and to follow the judgements of the judges they have chosen".
The number of troops should be decreased proportionally,
"through general and simultaneous measures, both to ease the burdens of the people, and to remove a continuing cause for fear and mistrust between nations".
The participants of the Congress were encouraged to work for an improvement in the education of the young, and to eradicate prejudice and hatred.
Wars had not ended with Napoleon. In 1854 the Crimean war broke out, death toll: 785,000. In 1861 the societies for the first time were confronted with the classic pacifist dilemma when the American Civil War broke out. The American Peace Society saw slavery as a greater evil than war, and supported the Northern war effort, while the London Peace Society protested against violence in all circumstances.
The rift manifested itself on the international level when in 1867 two international organisations were founded. The International League for Peace came into being at a conference in Paris in May of that year. In September the International League for Peace and Freedom was created at a meeting in Geneva. Two of the founders of the latter were Victor Hugo and Garibaldi of Italy. The League for Peace was neutral in political and religious matters, while the League for Peace and Freedom was more radical. It advocated a republic in place of monarchical rule, objected to clerical violence and "Popery" and advocated democracy. Garibaldi wanted revolutionary measures, while a group of French socialists spoke about the oppressiveness of capitalism, which created an uproar and some dry comments about internal quarrels among pacifists. The League for Peace feared being compromised and changed its name to the Society of Friends of Peace (Société des Amis de la Paix). In the interest of peace this league tried to dampen British criticism against the new French dictator Louis Napoleon, while the exiled Victor Hugo wanted a French revolution and a republic. These differences have continued to be the issue of never-ending discussions within the peace movement: Should the State arm itself for "defence" (against other states, revolutions, greater evils), and is it right (or a good strategy) for the oppressed to use violence against the State, or against a greater evil.
1889 was an important year for the development of the peace movement. Together with French and British parliamentarians, Frédéric Passy, a French deputy founded the Inter-Parliamentary Union. Passy in 1889 also chaired the first major international Peace Congress since 1853, in Paris. It was the first in the series of the "Universal Peace Congresses." The present peace societies decided to unite under the name of International Union of Peace Societies.
Some other internationally active founders of the movement during this time were Hodgson Pratt of Great Britain, Christopher von Egidy of Germany, Elie Ducommon and Albert Gobat of Switzerland, Baroness Bertha von Suttner of Austria, Ernesto Moneta of Italy, Fredrik Bajer of Denmark, Carel Asser of the Netherlands, Henri la Fontaine of Belgium, Klas P. Arnoldsson of Sweden and Christian Lange of Norway.
3. Universal Peace Congresses
- Creation of the Permanent International Peace Bureau
The second Congress was held in 1890 in London. There was a need for a permanent institution to organise the Congresses, and to represent the peace movement internationally. Fredrik Bajer of Denmark first proposed a Peace Bureau at the London Congress. A committee was appointed to make a detailed proposal.
The third Universal Peace Congress in Rome, July 1891 decided to create the "Permanent International Peace Bureau" as the executive office of the International Union of Peace Societies. The formal establishment of the IPB was on December 1st 1891 in Bern, Switzerland. The rules and the Council were approved and elected at the fourth Universal Peace Congress in Bern, 22-27th August 1892. Fredrik Bajer became the first president.
The IPB was a unique effort within the whole peace movement, the radical, as well as liberal and conservative elements coming together in one organisation. The founders of the two Leagues for Peace (and Freedom) joined in the IPB, as did pacifists and anti-militarists. Liberal pacifism remained the core of the programme for the peace movement and the IPB, but an on-going debate about it remained.
The fourth Universal Peace Congress called for the convocation of a conference of the European powers on mutual, balanced and simultaneous disarmament. The IPB started on a modest level, with the publication of its journal, the Correspondence autographiée. It had a circulation of 100 copies.
The IPB was now charged with the organisation of the Universal Peace Congresses. They were held in Chicago in 1893, Antwerp in 1894, and in Budapest in 1896. A bimonthly bulletin replaced the journal, and had a print run of 3000 copies. The membership of the IPB increased quickly. In 1895 65 peace societies in 12 countries belonged to the Bureau. In 1897 they were 88 societies in 14 countries.
The 7th Universal Peace Congress in Budapest, September 1896 approved a code of international law. Its general principles were:
* Inter-national relations are governed by the same legal and moral principles as those that regulate relations between individuals.
* No nation has the right to be judge in its own case.
* No nation may declare war on another.
* Every dispute among nations should be settled by legal procedures.
* The autonomy of every nation is inviolable.
* There is no right of conquest.
* Nations have the right to legitimate self-defence.
* Nations have the inalienable right to dispose freely of themselves.
* There is solidarity between all nations.
In 1898 the IPB appealed to all nations in order to mediate in the Spanish-American war. In the following years the IPB appealed in favour of the Armenian people, the Boers and the Finnish people. It called for the cessation of hostilities and for a solution by arbitration to the conflicts between Argentina and Chile, China and Japan, the Russo-Japanese and Balkan wars.
1899: The first international peace conference
For several years the pacifists, among them Bertha von Suttner, tried to persuade governments - that is, Kings, Queens, Emperors, and the Czar - to convene a peace conference. In 1895 Suttner wrote the book "Schach der Qual" in which she described such a conference:
"At the initiative of one of the most powerful heads of state in Europe, and after the principal agreement was achieved with all other governments, this conference was convened - and almost all states, big and small, with few exceptions, have declared their agreement and are present."
Suttner sent her book to the Russian Czar Nicholas II. Another pacifist, the Russian writer Johann Bloch, who had written "The Future War" in 1892, made a deep impression on the Czar. In the book, he had written that new technologies, including explosives invented by Alfred Nobel, had created a new situation which forcibly demanded greater international understanding. Economic factors dictated that a war could not be won by either side any more. Nicholas II analysed the six-volume work of Bloch thoroughly, and also summoned and personally questioned Bloch for many hours.
On August 24 1898, Nicholas II issued a peace manifesto, calling for an international conference: "National culture, economic progress and creation of values are hampered and diverted." The Czar considered it his duty to "stop these never ending armaments, and to search for means to stop the evil that threatens the whole world."
The newspapers reacted negatively to the manifesto. The Austrian Linzer Montagspost said "Only a dreaming cosmopolitan" could take it seriously, because it was just a "shrewd chess draw of a genuinely Slavic policy with ulterior motives." The Czar was "a bear in lamb's fur." In fact, Austria was about to modernise its weaponry, and Russia, technologically backwards, wanted to stop or slow down the development. Social Democracy was sceptical too, and even hostile, especially to the Czar himself. People in diplomatic circles thought that the aim of the manifesto was to convince the other powers to stop their armaments production until Russia had completed the construction of the Siberian railway and made some further loans (after which Russia would be militarily stronger). In fact, the Czar was hardly acting in a peaceful manner, for example in his russification policy towards Finland. The European governments were not enthusiastic in their reply to the Czar's proposals, and the Russian terminology changed from "disarmament" to "halting the arms race".
In October 1898 Suttner met with the Russian Foreign Minister, and proposed the creation of a Russian peace society. The Minister argued that the Czar must first of all be asked, that the founding of a Russian peace society was not wanted and even unnecessary, as "the Czar and the government now themselves are leading the movement." The book that had made Suttner famous when it appeared in 1888 "Die Waffen Nieder" ("Lay down your arms") was forbidden in Russia.
In the Russian draft programme for the Conference of 1899 the original manifesto had become diluted. It was now concerned with the banning of certain explosives, and the "humanisation" of war.
The invitations to the Conference came from the Netherlands. Quarrels started as Italy opposed a representative of the Pope and England opposed the invitations to the two South African states, Transvaal and Orange Free State, against the will of the Netherlands. Only the USA and Mexico came from the American continent. The German delegation was composed of anti-pacifists.
The members of the IPB were very busy lobbying the governments and representatives of the states participating at the Conference in The Hague. A "Peace Crusade" with meetings in the European capitals was organised from England. Eleonore Selenka, the wife of a Munich professor, collected more than a million signatures from all over the world in support of the peace conference.
In honour of its initiator, the Conference was opened on the birthday of Nicholas II, May 18, 1899. It continued until June 29. In addition to the European States, the USA, Mexico, China, Japan and Siam participated. There were three commissions: Disarmament, Rules of War, and Arbitration. The disarmament commission failed: a Russian proposal for a five-year halt in the arms race was refuted. The second commission agreed to forbid dumdum bullets, gas-warfare and the throwing of bombs from balloons (aeroplanes didn't exist yet) for five years. These bans were however not renewed - aeroplanes came into use, and bomb-throwing had become militarily meaningful. The third commission achieved something new: a convention on the peaceful arbitration of international conflicts.
The year after The Hague Conference, in 1900, the IPB was awarded the Grand Prix of the Exposition Universelle at Paris for its peace work. The 9th Universal Peace Congress was organised there. The following year Frédéric Passy, member of the IPB Council, received the first Nobel Peace Prize together with Henry Dunant, founder of the Red Cross. In 1901 the IPB counted 100 member peace societies from 19 countries. In 1902 IPB secretary-general Elie Ducommon was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize together with IPB Council member Albert Gobat, who later became Ducommon's successor. Bertha von Suttner, IPB vice-president received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1905.
A second Hague Conference was held in 1907. The emphasis was placed on the "humanitarian" rules of warfare, and a Convention adopted at this Conference stated that the right to injure an enemy was not unlimited. It prohibited weapons that caused unnecessary suffering, and in particular the use of poison, "treacherous" killing, and killing or wounding an enemy that had surrendered. But no agreement on limiting "excessive armaments" was achieved. There were plans for a third Hague Conference, but these plans were abandoned during the increasing tensions before World War I.
Efforts to reach the Labour Movement
Early in its history the IPB tried to achieve cooperation with the labour movement. The early peace congresses had stated that "The Cooperative Societies are one of the best ways to achieve peace". The 1892 Universal Peace Congress in Bern decided to invite workers' organisations to the peace congresses on an equal basis. Initially, the response was very negative. Belgian workers' organisations responded to the invitations by referring to the decisions of the Second Socialist International of 1891. These decisions stated that if the economic reasons for war were not first eliminated by the creation of a socialist society, all efforts to achieve peace were useless. At its 1893 Congress in Zürich the 2nd International propagated class struggle as the only way to achieve peace between the peoples.
But this view changed. Three years later in London, the 2nd International included the creation of an International Court for the peaceful solution of conflicts in its demands. On the other hand, many liberal and conservative pacifists were hesitant towards the labour movement. Bertha von Suttner wrote in 1896 that the pacifist programme for peace-making had to be achieved before any general social reform. IPB President Bajer was of a different opinion, but the Suttner view was more accepted within the peace societies, especially in Germany and Austria. Several IPB Council members pushed hard for a rapprochement to the labour movement, both via the programme of the peace movement, and through personal contacts between the peace societies and labour unions. The common denominators for the workers movements and the pacifists became the struggle for disarmament, international arbitration and anti-militarist education of the youth. Especially in Britain and France, the peace societies made efforts to contact workers' movements. The IPB began to analyse the economic causes of war.
The first real breakthrough came in 1902 when the Congress of the International Cooperative Alliance met in Manchester. At this meeting, representatives from 18 countries voted unanimously for a resolution welcoming the results of the 1902 Monaco Peace Congress, and for establishing formal contacts with the IPB. In Britain the Social Democratic Union, the Independent Labour Party, the General Federation of Trade Unions and the London Trades Council made statements in support of the IPB. The Metropolitan Radical Federation and the Cooperative Union joined the IPB. In France several teachers unions, smaller unions and high-schools joined as members. In Italy the workers funds in Rome and Brescia joined the IPB. The Belgian Socialist Party, while still favouring its own anti-militaristic arguments, accepted the pacifist ones, and even sent a circular to its local sections promoting cooperation with the peace movement. As a result, some Belgian Labour Unions joined. In Switzerland the Social Democratic Party and the Grütliverein both joined the IPB.
The IPB clearly stated that a better social organisation was a precondition for international peace. But there were limits to the rapprochement. It also stated that the elimination of the capitalist system did not necessarily mean the end of wars. Even after the victory of the proletariat there would be rich and poor countries (and economic reasons for war), as well as religious and racial differences. Therefore it would remain necessary to create a system of international law that would put right before might.
The IPB set up a study commission, which worked on the basis of the following propositions:
* Wars hinder social improvements and industrial development.
* Decisive activities are necessary to stop the increasing arms expenditures.
* Action is necessary against capitalist syndicates, who pursue colonial politics out of egotistical reasons.
* International relations have to be developed.
* Arbitration, and the court in The Hague have to be promoted and developed.
* Standing armies should be turned into militias.
Between the world wars, and even up until the 1980s, formal relations between the IPB and the labour movement became less frequent. At the time of the reorganisation of IPB through ILCOP at the end of WWII, IPB membership included only peace organisations. In the 1980s however, both the labour movement's interest in peace questions, and the peace movement's interest in meeting with the labour movement increased. There has been substantial union participation in the END Conventions (see the chapter on END). In 1986 and 1987 the first labour unions affiliated to the post-war IPB: the Bermuda Industrial Union, and the International Union for Food and Allied Workers (IUF). In 1988 the Australian Teachers Federation and the Amalgamated Metal Workers Unions affiliated. In 1990 the Fire Brigades Union in the United Kingdom joined.
Mobilisation in the approach to war - and recognition
By 1905 the membership of the IPB had grown to 132 peace societies in 26 countries: Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Britain, Canada, Chile, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Norway, the Netherlands, Persia, Portugal, Rumania, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, USA and Uruguay.
In 1907 the 16th Universal Peace Congress expressed the hope that one nation might take a step towards disarmament by a unilateral reduction of its armaments, hoping that other nations would follow successively.
Ernesto Theodor Moneta, IPB Council member was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The following year the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Frédéric Bajer, the first IPB president. He shared the prize with Klas P. Arnoldsson of Sweden, founder of the Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society (SPAS).
The 18th Universal Peace Congress was held in the Swedish Parliament House in Stockholm in 1910. The Nobel Peace Prize was this year awarded to the IPB itself. Alfred Herrmann Fried, member of the Council, received the Nobel Prize in 1911.
The peace movement became a major popular movement. At the time the European powers were engaged in a tremendous arms race, and in aggressive military alliances. The aim was often territorial conquest. Practically every nation had claims on territories of neighbouring countries. The big powers were also scrambling to compete for overseas colonies, and were boosting the strength of their navies.
Military and Naval Personnel of the najor Powers (in 1000s)
Warship Tonnage of the major Powers (in 100 tons)
(Source: Kennedy: The Rise And Fall of the Great Powers)
Pacifism against Nationalism:
Efforts to stop the catastrophe
During the ever more threatening arms race in Europe the IPB tried to promote French-German reconciliation. One initiative came from the German Parliamentarian, Ludwig Frank. The German Parliament was about to decide on increasing the length of conscription, and Frank wanted to refute the argument of "necessity" by showing the alternative of talks with France. The IPB was asked to organise a conference of German and French Members of Parliament. In the harsh political atmosphere, this was a difficult endeavour. Many parliamentarians refused to attend this meeting. German parliamentarians even conspired against the preparation by intimidating their colleagues to prevent them from participating. In the end, 39 German parliamentarians met with 190 French deputies and 25 senators, in May 1913 in Bern, Switzerland. All but 11 of the Germans came from the Social Democratic Party. The aims of the meeting, put forward by IPB secretary-general Gobat before the meeting started, were to state the necessity of limiting armaments, to make proposals for ways and means for peaceful solution of conflicts, and to establish a Franco-German Commission for the improvement of relations between the two countries. All these aims were achieved. The following year a second Franco-German Conference was planned, but world events made it impossible to organise.
The 1913 Universal Peace Congress was held in The Hague. Delegates to the Congress were the first to use the newly completed Peace Palace of The Hague, that was to become the quarters of the International Court of Arbitration. In 1914 the Congress was to be held in Vienna. The "Great War" stopped all preparations for the Congress in July 1914.
Austrian Prince Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in Sarajevo on 28 June. The Austrian government made demands on Serbia. Russia mobilised in defence of Serbia. Germany declared war on Russia on August 1, and then attacked France through neutral Belgium. Russia and England then entered the war.
The Council of the IPB mainly included persons from countries who were at war. Political action became difficult. A split evolved between those who insisted on an immediate cessation of hostilities, and those that wanted a special condemnation of Germany, that had violated the neutrality of Belgium and Luxembourg. The IPB protested against the war and the violations of international law that had taken place. It also recommended the creation of an international organisation of States, and in particular a World Court. Apart from that, the IPB abstained from any political action during the war. Instead, it established a Prisoner of War Service at the beginning of the war. This Service sent more than 800,000 letters and cards to seek out missing persons until the end of 1919.
4. After the First World War - The Multiplying of Peace Organisations
After the "Great War", one of the demands of the programme of the IPB came into fruition: the creation of the League of Nations. But the League had many faults, which 20 years later would lead to its abandonment and failure. The August 1919 IPB Council meeting in Bern called for a revision of the Covenant of the League of Nations. In particular:
"The expression, in the preamble of the Statutes, of the principles on which the League of Nations shall be based; the elaboration of the international public code; the absolute condemnation of war; the strict obligation to solve international conflicts amiably and juridically; the right of all nations to join the League of Nations with the sole condition that they satisfy the obligations of the Pact - which should be the same for all members; the creation of the International Court of Justice; the abolition of national armaments and the creation of the international army and navy" (which would be under League of Nations control).
For several years the IPB - and the Universal Peace Congresses - would support the League of Nations, while demanding its reform.
The peace movement changed after 1918. Many peace societies lost members. As an example, the Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society had 20,077 paying members at the end of 1918. The number declined to 15,945 in 1919. In 1920 the membership was 7,217, and in 1921 only 3,816.
One reason for this decline was the establishment of the new League of Nations Organisations. They represented a specific, and very popular part of the IPB programme. They also had greater resources, as many of them were subsidised directly by their national governments. Some of the peace societies even disaffiliated from the IPB, to affiliate instead with the World Federation of Organisations for the League of Nations. This happened in Switzerland, the Netherlands and Denmark. A merger with the League Federation was ruled out, as this would have meant dropping the broader programme of the IPB, and stopping the criticisms against the League of Nations.
Another reason for the decline of the IPB was the emergence of a stronger and more radical anti-militaristic wing within the peace movement. It was a logical result of the war, that had radicalised a whole generation. The militant anti-militaristic current that existed before the war had been a minority part of the IPB. But classical Pacifism and its programme, except for the expectation that the League of Nations would develop into a World Government, had lost much of its appeal. The ideological conflict between Pacifism and Anti-militarism surfaced. The radicals challenged the effectiveness of the IPB programme, based as it was on the enforcement of international law. They wanted to fight nationalism and militarism without compromise and stood in total opposition to the military and the armies. They started to encourage refusal to work in arms factories and war resistance in its widest sense. The classical pacifists wanted an international police force and supported "defensive" wars and armaments. Political ideologies strengthened the division, as left-wing movements did not want to cooperate with "bourgeois", and right-wing movements, and vice-versa.
The differences were seen as irreconcilable by the leadership of the IPB, and the movement split. The IPB now emerged with a clearer profile: Peace through (the development and enforcement of) international law. This current was losing importance in the peace movement, and so was the IPB. On the other hand, many new peace organisations were created on the national and international level.
1915: The Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF)
The WILPF has its roots in the International Suffrage Alliance, an already well-established organisation with pacifists in its leadership ranks. When the Suffrage Alliance cancelled its regular Congress due to the war, the Dutch members of the Alliance took the initiative at the beginning of 1915 to convene a women's congress to protest the war. The Congress gathered 1,136 women in The Hague in April 1915. As a result, delegations of women were sent to 14 governments in Europe, the USA and Russia, with a call for a conference of neutral nations to mediate between the belligerent nations.
The International Committee of Women for Permanent Peace was set up at The Hague Congress, and sections were created in several countries. With financial aid from the American millionaire Henry Ford, an unofficial neutral conference was actually held in Stockholm in 1916, but this work faltered when Germany resumed unrestricted submarine warfare and the USA entered the war in April 1917. But the sections that were created in many countries continued their work, and after German capitulation in 1918, a new Congress was convened in May 1919 in Zürich. A formal constitution for the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) was adopted, and the office was moved from Amsterdam to Geneva to be near the headquarters of the new League of Nations.
1919: The International Fellowship of Reconciliation (IFOR)
On the fringes of the second Hague Conference in 1907 participants from German and English churches discussed how to diminish tensions between the countries. After six years of exchanges of delegations of Christians from Britain and Germany the World Alliance for Promoting International Friendship through the Churches was founded at a meeting in Konstanz, Germany, August 1-3, 1914. The Konstanz meeting was held on the very eve of the World War. The meeting had to end August 3rd when the participants, who were from 12 different nations were sent out of Germany in sealed train wagons. Some of the participants of the meeting decided to found an interconfessional peace alliance, and national "Fellowships of Reconciliation" began to appear. While the World Alliance was particularly concerned with international cooperation, members of the Fellowships focused on personal commitments to fight war, non-violence, and the Sermon on the Mount. After the war, at a meeting in Bilthoven, the Netherlands in October 1919, some 40 pacifists met to create the International Fellowship of Reconciliation (IFOR). Travelling secretaries were sent out, and founded branches of IFOR in most Western countries, as well as Japan, China, Australia, New Zealand, and later Africa and Latin America. The first secretary of IFOR, Pierre Cérésole, had also been the founder of the voluntary organisation Service Civil International.
1921: The War Resisters International (WRI)
The history of WRI dates back to 1904, when an international anti-militarist Congress was held in the Netherlands. The Congress gave birth to the International Anti-Militarist Association. Until the war the Association operated mainly in the Netherlands. After the war, national organisations were formed. They tried to combine personal pacifism and economic criticism of class structures. The Anti-Militarist Association met again in Congress in 1919, and defined its four motivations: the rejection of personal constraints imposed by militarism, the rejection of all forms of violence, the rejection of the military acting as the "watch-dog of the state", and rejection of the capitalist state. At its third Congress, in 1921 the Association split. At the initiative of Quakers, four national non-violent anti-militarist organisations created their own international, initially called "Paco" (the Esperanto word for Peace). A broken rifle was adopted as the common symbol. In 1922 the name was changed to War Resisters International (WRI). Anarco-syndicalist anti-militarism declined after 1921, and the Anti-Militarist Association disappeared in 1940. WRI expanded rapidly during the peace waves of the 1920s and 1930s, and in 1933 it was represented in 24 countries, concentrating on conscientious objection to military service.
A peace wave in the 1920s
In the period after 1920 there was a large peace movement in Europe. In the Netherlands, petitions with one-and-a-half million signatures against the Navy Law were submitted to Parliament in 1924. Kerk en Vrede (Church and Peace) was one of the initiators of the petitions. The Navy Law was subsequently rejected. The membership of German Deutsche Friedensgesellschaft (DFG) rose to 30000 in 1926. In Sweden the "White General", thus called because he dressed in white and drove a white car when on speaking tours, was such an efficient speaker that new peace groups appeared everywhere he came. The membership of the Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society increased to a record 49,000, and 1,482 local sections in 1930.
The IPB however, while promoting "Peace through International Law", saw the influence of this current decline. In 1922 its leadership decided to act for greater co-ordination in the peace movement, and also stated later that it considered the currents propagating war resistance and military defence as equal.
In 1923 the IPB proposed a Committee for the Co-ordination of Pacifist Forces (CIC in its French acronym) at a meeting in Basel with the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), the World Alliance for Promoting International Friendship through the Churches and the International Freemasons Association. Later many other organisations took part in the meetings: The World Federation of organisations for the League of Nations, the International Association of Trade Unions, the Institute for International Law, the International Democratic Action Committee, the International Women's Council, the International Education Bureau, the International Teachers Union, the Union of the Leagues for Human Rights, the World Youth League, and the Union of International Associations.
1927: The International Committee for the Co-ordination of Pacifist Forces (CIC) - and the Joint Peace Council
The formal Rules of the CIC were however not approved until 1927, and at first only by 5 of the smaller organisations. The organisations of the left and radical wings of the peace movement were missing. In fact the CIC could not prevent the split in the peace movement which even widened. In 1928 the radical peace movements created their own network, the Joint Peace Council. This network focused on objection to military service, and in 1930 an appeal against conscription ("a form of slavery") was sent out: "Military education is training for brain and body in the art of killing. It is education for war. - It stops the development of the quest for peace." The appeal was signed by WILPF president Jane Addams, Sigmund Freud, Thomas Mann, Upton Sinclair, Stefan Zweig, Selma Lagerlöf, Bertrand Russell and H.G. Wells amongst others.
The activities of the CIC were mainly to present joint statements, for example during the 9th General Assembly of the League of Nations in 1928, when disarmament measures were demanded. At the 10th anniversary of the League of Nations in 1930 CIC organised a public event in Geneva.
The Coordination Committee was never very strong or united. At the beginning of the 1932 Disarmament Conference held in Geneva, efforts to agree on a common manifesto from the peace movements failed, and the different organisations each made their own separate statements at the Conference - a pattern that has repeated itself more recently during the United Nations Special Sessions on Disarmament 1978, 1982 and 1988.
Defusing the European powder-keg
Beginning in 1929, the IPB focused specially on the situation in the Balkan, the "European powder-keg". The 1929 Universal Peace Congress in Athens proposed the holding of annual Balkan Conferences to bring the nations "intellectually, materially, economically and politically into closer touch with each other." IPB officers visited Constantinople (Istanbul), Sofia, Bucharest and Belgrade, where they met with members of governments and other personalities. Peace societies were founded in Greece, Rumania and Bulgaria as a result of these visits. A first Governmental Balkan Conference was held under the auspices of the IPB in Athens in 1930, with the participation of representatives from Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Rumania, Turkey and Yugoslavia. Further Conferences were held in 1931-1933, which led to the Balkan Treaty between Greece, Rumania, Turkey and Yugoslavia in 1934.
The Renunciation of War
In 1928 the "Briand-Kellogg Pact", or the "General Treaty for the Renunciation of War" had been signed in Paris. 61 countries adhered to the Pact, condemned "recourse to war for the solution of international controversies", and renounced it as an instrument of national policy. They agreed that "the settlement or solution of all disputes or conflicts of whatever origin they may be, which may arise among them, shall never be sought except by pacific means."
While not being very specific, the Pact led to the first conference to discuss a universal reduction and limitation of all kinds of armaments. The World Disarmament Conference that convened beginning in 1932 was held under the auspices of the League of Nations, and more than 60 states participated.
Naturally, the Conference was a main focus for the IPB. All parliamentarians in the Upper and Lower Chambers of the European states received a letter from the IPB in their own language. Totally, 15,000 parliamentarians received it. Both the 1931 and the 1932 Universal Peace Congress focused on the Disarmament Conference. The 1932 Universal Peace Congress demanded the following concrete steps from the Conference:
The proposals that were discussed at the Disarmament Conference were far-reaching and serious. However, many states also took a hard line, which made success unlikely. When Germany withdrew from the League of Nations and rearmed in violation of the Treaty of Versailles, the Conference broke down. In 1936 the League of Nations suspended the Conference, and it never re-convened.
The IPB experienced increasing problems as an organisation. When Hitler came to power in Germany, and with the rise of fascism in other countries, pacifists were persecuted, or left the peace organisations. The important peace societies in Germany - Deutsche Friedensgesellschaft (DFG) - and Austria were dissolved. The British National Peace Council existed only on paper. There were active peace organisations during this time, for example the Peace Pledge Union in Britain, but they didn't adhere to the IPB. The appeals of the IPB before World War II went practically unnoticed.
One of these appeals was the call for an international conference between the European States, the USA and others, both "totalitarian and democratic". In a letter to all foreign ministers, shortly after the Accord of Munich, in 1939, the IPB wrote:
"How should peace be organised? It seems clear to us that partial and limited Accords, such as the recent (Munich) one, don't constitute a sufficient foundation for general peace, - especially since other manifestations seem to contradict the spirit of these accords, and new difficulties are constantly raised."
The aim of the international conference would be to organise peace and reduce armaments. The letter stated that
"All major leaders in the old, as well as in the new Continent have seen, understood and declared the necessity of this Conference, open to all. President Roosevelt in particular, has underlined its urgency."
"But nobody takes the initiative to send the convocation to this Conference, as was done by Czar Nicholas II for the first Hague conference in 1898, nobody dares to assume the initiative and to formulate a firm proposition.
We ask you - in the name of the IPB, in the name of all those who fight for peace and try to prevent war, in the name of all the peoples whose deep feelings have been manifested so strongly - to provoke this necessary international conference."
A memorandum, outlining the scope, aim, composition and powers, duration and urgency of the conference was attached. Roosevelt especially was urged to take the initiative. At the same time the dictators in Germany, Italy and Japan were forcefully condemned. IPB President La Fontaine with brilliant oratory wrote in a lead article in the January 1939 number of "Le Mouvement Pacifiste":
"If some people, in far-away or close spectator countries, have been able to approve of the monstrous, crude and cowardly methods with which the Italian, German and Japanese dictators have had the criminal impudence to pull the name of their peoples into the dirt, silenced, by a terror that belongs to the most sinister epochs of the past, into the most frightening agreement, first what has happened in Ethiopia, then in China and in Spain, will always remain, for those who were the profiting or unknowing promoters and flatterers, an undeletable shame, similar to the mark in by-gone days inflicted to prisoners in penitentiaries, disgraceful and vengeful."
The initiative of an international conference was not taken. War preparations had gone too far. Italy, Germany (in Spain) and Japan were already at war, and the largest ever man-made catastrophe began.
After the start of the German-Polish War in 1939, IPB Council meetings and communication between pacifists became almost impossible. The IPB was managed by a Permanent Committee in Switzerland. The Committee condemned Germany and its actions as barbaric, and asked neutral countries to cease their neutrality and the USA to enter the war.
Without contact with its member organisations, the IPB restricted its activities to relief work for war prisoners, deported persons and refugees. The continued existence of the IPB was secured by a Committee of Patrons in Switzerland, that gave the Bureau moral and financial support.
5. A New Start After World War II
The Nazis had forbidden peace organisations in the countries that Germany occupied during the war. Most of the IPB member organisations had been dissolved, and most of the remaining organisations had few members and little activity. At the first IPB Council meeting after the war, September 10, 1946, it was reported that the organisational structures were intact only in the USA, Britain, Sweden and Switzerland. The IPB was not representative of the peace movement. It became necessary to expand the membership, especially with new international peace organisations, and also to re-define its role and program. A major new focus for the post-war peace movement was the atomic bomb, which already had become a concern in the USA, where the Council for a Livable World was formed by American scientists in 1946.
A movement that had spread quickly in 1947 and 1948 was the movement for world federalism. 1947 the World Movement for World Federal Government was founded, and received support from many members of parliament. Former US soldier Gary Davis in Paris 1948 declared that he renounced American citizenship in order to become world citizen, and started a movement in many countries. 1949 a World Federalist Congress with 300 participants from 25 countries was presided over by Lord Boyd Orr, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize the same year. In December 1950 a "People's World Parliament" was held in Geneva, with 500 participants from 45 countries.
In order to initiate cooperation among the new organisations, a meeting, named the "International Reunion of Peace-Movement Leaders" was organised in Geneva on September 12-14, 1946. The British members of the IPB Council prepared a draft of new rules aiming at a radical reorganisation on the basis of a union of all forces of internationalism. But the IPB was split on the issue. There was a majority of "classical" pacifists among the remaining Council members. These hesitated to give anti-militarist and other organisations a greater role in the IPB, afraid that the original aims of the IPB would be lost. In August 1947 a meeting of the IPB Council in Brussels failed to agree on the reorganisation. The reformers, led by the National Peace Council of Britain and its director Gerald Bailey lost patience. They withdrew from IPB and took the initiative to establish a World Union of Peace Organisations (WUPO) at a meeting in St. Cergue, Switzerland, in September 1947.
Discussions about how to relaunch the remaining IPB continued by some Council members, while others wanted a merger with the reformers. The Council however never succeeded in attracting peace movement support. In October 1950 the IPB secretary-general Golay died, and after that the IPB existed only on paper. It was legally dissolved in 1959, when the Swiss Federal Tribunal declared that the International Union of Peace Societies, the mother organisation of the original IPB, had ceased to exist. In January 1961 the Swiss Federal Council handed over the assets of the former IPB to ILCOP/IPB (see below), which thereby became the legal successor to IPB.
But already from 1947 on, the reformers took the lead in the former activities of the IPB. At a meeting in Brussels in 1948, a constitution for WUPO was adopted, and contacts were made with international organisations in Geneva and elsewhere. Soon it became clear to the reformers that the goal of a formal Union was too ambitious. Many of the new or still existing international organisations wanted to participate in an annual conference and in information exchanges about peace issues, but not in a formal Union. New rules were drawn up, and at a meeting in Geneva, in September 1948, the creation of a liaison committee was proposed instead of a World Union. To mobilise support for the liaison committee, the National Peace Council and other involved peace organisations convened a meeting the following year, again in St. Cergue, Switzerland. At this meeting, on the 7-12 September 1949, the Liaison Committee of Organisations for Peace (ILCOP) was formally established.
1949: The International Liaison Committee of Organisations for Peace (ILCOP)
ILCOP was a child born in disillusion. The wartime alliance had broken down as the Soviet Union blockaded Berlin in July 1948, and NATO was set up in April 1949.
At the start in September 1949, ILCOP was a co-ordination committee for international peace organisations and national 'Peace Councils' - umbrella bodies for national peace groups. Thirteen organisations were affiliated, including six Peace Councils. The membership soon expanded. At the beginning of 1951 there were 20 members:
Equipes de la Paix
Finnish Peace Union
Friends Peace Committee (Britain, corresponding member)
Friends World Committee for Consultation
International Fellowship of Reconciliation, IFOR
Mouvement International des Etudiants Catholiques
Mouvement International des Intellectuels Catholiques
National Peace Conference (USA)
National Peace Council (Britain)
National Peace Council of Norway
Nederlandse Beweging Tot Bevordering van de Internationale Vrede en de International Veiligheid (The Netherlands)
Peace Pledge Union, PPU (Britain, corresponding member)
Service Civil International, SCI
Swedish Peace Council
Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society, SPAS
Swiss Peace Council
War Resisters International, WRI
World Movement for World Federal Government
World Youth Friendship League
The first formal session of the member organisations was held the day after the St. Cergue conference, 13th September 1949. It adopted the following aims:
a) the promotion of consultation and co-operative action among the international organisations and national councils working for world unity and world peace.
b) the organisation of an annual and representative international conference for the consideration of current issues in world affairs.
c) the exchange of information on the activities of the co-operating organisations and other relevant matters.
d) the promotion of co-operation between the national peace councils themselves.
An implicit aim of the ILCOP was to continue the tradition of the IPB. Central figures in this effort to reorganise the pre-war IPB were E.A. Lindblom of the Swedish Peace Council and president of SPAS, Gerald Bailey of the British National Peace Council, Ernst Wolf, president of the Swiss Peace Council, and Marie-Madeleine Wolf of Switzerland who acted as Chairperson and Secretary of ILCOP during this time. Senator Lindblom had been treasurer in the IPB before the war, a post he resumed in ILCOP.
One of the first activities of ILCOP was to publish the "ILCOP Bulletin" in English and French. Again, the beginning was modest: the typewriter had to be borrowed. Following the tradition of the IPB, ILCOP started to organise annual congresses. These were not any more 'Universal Peace Congresses' but seminars with a specific theme.
The first such seminar was organised in September 1950 in Royaumont, France. Its title was "Under-Developed Areas and the World's Peace." Just after the seminar, Ernst Wolf from Switzerland was elected Chairman of ILCOP. He later became president in the reconstructed IPB, a post he held until 1974. Until late 1961 there was no permanent office, or staff working for ILCOP.
In March 1950 the "Stockholm Appeal" against nuclear weapons had been issued by the World Peace Council. The appeal had a great response all over Europe. However, one result of the appeal was that it split the peace movement along Cold War frontiers, the World Peace Council in the East and other peace movements in the West.
1949: The World Peace Council (WPC)
During the Berlin crisis of 1948-49, a group of writers, scientists and other intellectuals had met in Wroclaw, Poland. They urged the development of groups of "defenders of peace" in various countries. In April 1949 the first World Peace Congress was convened in Paris with 2200 delegates from 72 countries attending. This led to the establishment of the World Committee of Partisans for Peace. Many delegates were refused visas by French authorities, and a simultaneous congress was held in Prague. Professor Joliot Curie, then High Commissioner for Atomic Energy of France, was elected president of the Congress.
The Manifesto that was adopted at the Congress reflects the urgency and fear that the participants felt in the emerging cold war:
"Four years after the tragedy of the Second World War, the peoples have been flung into a perilous arms race."
"In various parts of the world the fires of war still burn, lit and kept going by the intervention of foreign States and the direct action of their armed forces."
"The deliberate rupture of economic relations between groups of countries has already assumed the character of a war blockade. The protagonists of cold war have moved on from mere blackmail to the open preparation of war."
In March 1950 the Committee met in Stockholm and launched the 'Stockholm Appeal' calling for a ban of the atom bomb:
"We demand the absolute banning of the atomic bomb, weapon of terror and mass extermination of populations.
We demand the establishment of strict international control to ensure the implementation of this ban.
We consider that the first Government to use the atomic weapon against any country whatsoever would be committing a crime against humanity and should be dealt with as a war criminal.
We call on all men of goodwill throughout the world to sign this Appeal."
US nuclear weapons were obviously aimed at the Soviet Union. The USA had still a nuclear monopoly at this time. The Soviet Union exploded one nuclear weapon in 1949, none in 1950, and two in 1951. It is logical that the Soviet Union would support the Stockholm Appeal and the Committee. According to the Committee, 500 million signatures to the Appeal were collected, mostly from communist countries. In the process of collecting these names, national peace committees were formed in many countries.
The second World Congress was held in Warsaw in November 1950. It had been originally scheduled for Sheffield, England, but visas were refused to so many delegates that it was shifted to Poland. Here a permanent constitution for the World Peace Council, succeeding the Committee of Partisans for Peace, was adopted. Following congresses were held in Helsinki and Stockholm.
Originally based in Paris, the WPC was accused by the French Government of engaging in "fifth column" activities, and expelled in 1952. The headquarters were moved to Prague and then Vienna, from where it was banned by the Austrian Government in 1957. It continued its activities in Vienna without using the name of WPC. In 1968 it moved to Helsinki and took back the original name.
In June 1975 a second 'Stockholm Appeal' was launched in the midst of the new détente between East and West, with a more hopeful tone:
"The victories of peace and détente have created a new international climate, new hopes, new confidence, new optimism among the peoples."
The new détente was not, however, followed by disarmament, and the Appeal called for a halt in the arms race to make détente irreversible, in order to move towards a new International Economic Order, in order to defend peace and to build a new world.
According to the World Peace Council, seven hundred million people signed the second Stockholm Appeal. By the end of the 1980s the WPC claimed to have more than 2000 participating parties and movements from 140 countries, and more than 30 participating international organisations. (There was no formal membership, or membership fees) All this would make it the world's major peace organisation by far. But it has always had difficulty in securing cooperation from West European and North American peace organisations because of its obvious affiliation with Socialist countries and the foreign policy of the Soviet Union. Especially difficult to digest, was that instead of criticising the Soviet Union's unilaterally resumed atmospheric nuclear testing in 1961, the WPC issued a statement rationalising it. In 1979 the World Peace council explained the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan as an act of solidarity in the face of Chinese and US aggression against Afghanistan.
The cold war spreads to the peace movement
Bo Beskow, a Swedish participant at the 1949 Paris WPC Congress reported in the SPAS newspaper Freden that the movement claimed 600 million members (for North Korea the number of 31 million, more than the total population, was given). He also said that no spontaneous contributions or free discussions were allowed, and that the famous World-Citizenship campaigner Gary Davis had been refused to speak. "The aggressive, warlike atmosphere of this peace meeting cannot be described. Can the word `Peace' be washed clean again?" Beskow's article was answered in an article by Swedish WPC member John Takman in the same newspaper, saying that apparently the Congress didn't wish to hear Gary Davis. The Congress was not a marketplace to which everybody came to propose his or her opinions. To this Beskow replicated that it was wrong to call a political propaganda meeting a `Peace Congress'. Many similar discussions followed. When a peace relay to the 1950 WPC meeting in Stockholm from Oslo was organised, the message included a vow to "drive the Anglo-American aggressors out from Norwegian territory" (Norway had joined the North Atlantic Treaty). The energetic activity of the WPC blurred the distinction between `peace' and `communism' in public view. A `peace activist' became the same thing as a `communist'. The Soviet party organ Pravda wrote "the people's peace movement has nothing in common with bourgeois pacifism", it "develops under the motto: Friendship and solidarity with the Soviet Union".
In Sweden, because of the Stockholm Appeal and the feeling that the WPC was making of Stockholm a kind of headquarters, reactions from the other peace movements were very negative. They declared that the Swedish peace movement "in no way is engaged" and that the purpose of the new movement was to "make propaganda for Russian Stalinism". A repudiation was signed by the Swedish Peace Council, the Swedish WILPF section, SPAS, the World Peace Mission, the World Federalists and others, also warning people against signing the Stockholm Appeal: "The initiative is only camouflaged political propaganda", those that signed it risked being "used for totally different purposes than those that promote peace."
ILCOP distanced itself from the World Peace Council from the beginning. The ILCOP presentation leaflet of 1953 stated that "ILCOP has no association with the World Peace Council or any of its national associations." But the huge resources and constant activities of the WPC made it difficult to avoid by the other peace organisations. It continuously arranged major events and conferences with thousands of participants, and distributed its bulletins, newspapers and magazines generously in several languages to peace organisations and activists. It also often tried to create liaison bodies for the peace movement, with majority or other control by the WPC and the pro-Soviet line, a Bolshevik strategy, successfully used already with regard to the local and national Soviets (Councils) during the 1917 revolution in Russia. One example was the 1967 Conference on Vietnam (see below) when the WPC tried to create a continuing committee. At the "World Congress of Peace Forces" in Moscow in 1973, an International Liaison Forum of Peace Forces was set up. The then IPB (ILCOP had by this time changed its name to IPB) Vice-Chairman Arthur Booth, who participated on behalf of the IPB wrote that the aim was "to maintain a minimum machinery for continuing the liaison between peace organisations which the Moscow Congress had so notably emphasised." IPB officers Sean MacBride and Arthur Booth took part in this Liaison Forum in the beginning, but as it was misused by the WPC the IPB later withdrew. The WPC then completely dominated the Liaison Forum, which was regularly called into life to convene major Congresses like the ones held in Prague in 1983 and Copenhagen 1986.
The principal activity of ILCOP became organising annual conferences. Between 1951 and 1959 they were held each year in August, and focused on the United Nations, mediation, the cold war, and social, economic, scientific and psychological aspects of peace. The other activities were to provide liaison between existing peace organisations, to try to develop such organisations where none existed, and to inform peace organisations about activities in other countries through the ILCOP Bulletin. During this period contacts were established with organisations in India, the Far East, the United States and in Europe. The persons on the board of ILCOP travelled a lot, and wrote reports of their meetings with peace movements in the Bulletin. International contacts between peace movements were badly developed and difficult. ILCOP and its affiliates had to struggle with insufficient funding, McCarthyism and visa problems (to the USA), and the fact that peace movement structures had generally disintegrated during the war. But the seeds for the post-World War peace movement in the Western countries were planted. A new wave of peace activism was soon to come.
East-West tensions, nuclear testing and solidarity with Third World countries became the main concern of the member organisations during this period. In Britain the National Peace Council tried to encourage a British initiative for world disarmament, supported admission of the Chinese (mainland) Government into UN membership and urged cessation of experimental explosions of the hydrogen bomb by the US and USSR. Members of the NPC had private talks with the British Foreign Minister and others about the Korean conflict. In Sweden the Swedish Peace Council and SPAS made study-tours to the Soviet Union, held hundreds of lectures in schools and churches, collected aid for refugees and successfully opposed a Swedish nuclear weapons programme. The Swiss Peace Council focused on nuclear testing, and lobbied the Swiss Government to increase development aid and to work for a cessation of nuclear tests.
In the USA national co-ordination of peace activities experienced problems. The US ILCOP-affiliate National Peace Conference ceased to exist in 1954. Instead, the National Council for Prevention of War, founded in October 1921 and a participant in the pre-war IPB, became member of ILCOP but it too had to suspend activities the same year.
The peace wave of the 1950s
After the wave of communist internationalism, the peace movement had a second post-war "wave", beginning at the end of the 1950s. With both the USA and the Soviet Union having the Bomb, it became possible to have a relatively "respectable" neutralist, or "non-aligned" position against nuclear weapons themselves. The immediate initiator of the wave was the atmospheric testing of the hydrogen bomb. During 1954 the United States government's series of H-bomb tests in the Pacific had scattered radioactive ash on the 23 crewmembers of the Japanese fishing-boat "the Lucky Dragon". Japanese organisations collected 32 million signatures asking for a total ban on nuclear weapons. These organisations in 1955 formed the Japan Council Against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs (GENSUIKYO). Bertrand Russell in 1955 issued an appeal against British plans for a hydrogen bomb. The Pugwash movement of scientists followed. Britain nevertheless joined the nuclear club in 1957, and in 1958 the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) was established. The same year the British peace movement started to organise Easter- or 'Aldermaston'-marches (where there were nuclear facilities).
A similar appeal to that initiated in Britain, the Göttingen Appeal was issued in West Germany in 1957 by a number of West German nuclear physicists. In the USA the National Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy, or just "Sane", was created in 1957, and launched an advertisement in the New York Times with the headline "We Are Facing A Danger Unlike Any Danger That Has Ever Existed." In Sweden AMSA, the Action Group Against a Swedish Atom Bomb, a coalition of many popular movements was formed, and 95,000 signatures were collected in 1957 and 1958 against plans for a Swedish nuclear weapon. It managed to completely turn public opinion against nuclear weapons, and made the decision politically impossible.
Question: Should Sweden acquire nuclear weapons?
Yes No don't know
June 1957 40 % 36 % 24 %
October 1959 29 % 51% 20 %
March 1961 21 % 56 % 23 %
Autumn 1969 17 % 69 % 14 %
(Source: Opinion polls by SIFO reported in Fogelström: Kampen för Fred)
1963: The International Confederation for Disarmament and Peace (ICDP)
By 1960 leaders of a number of the CND-type, or new `nuclear pacifist' peace organisations, had begun to feel the need for a World Federation. Some had attended congresses sponsored by the World Peace Council and disliked their pro-Soviet character. Western observers were always invited to these congresses, but increasingly refused to come, on the grounds that either their impact would be marginal or that attendance would compromise their position at home.
Non-Alignment was the word of the day. India and many new states in Asia and Africa refused to choose between the US and USSR, preferring to remain outside the cold war. When forced to decide in cold war issues, they would do that on the merits of each issue and not on whether the US or USSR advocated a particular course. Non-Alignment became the unifying idea for the new anti-nuclear peace movements.
ILCOP could not attract these new organisations as a forum for cooperation. They placed their emphasis on political mass action and protest, while ILCOP in its international work focussed on peace research, mediation, inter-governmental negotiations and the United Nations. In addition, it was busy developing its own organisation, which made it reluctant to adopt new ideas, working methods and to radically change its leadership. In August 1960 the Executive Committee of ILCOP added "International Peace Bureau" to its name, and in the autumn of 1961 a full-time secretariat was again established in Geneva.
In January 1959 an international anti-nuclear congress had been held in London with Bertrand Russell as chairman. One of the results of this meeting was the establishment of a European Federation against Nuclear Arms. This federation called, in the autumn of 1962, for a meeting in Oxford, England in January 1963, to explore the establishment of a global federation. Also some already established, ILCOP/IPB member organisations, like the IFOR, WRI and their national affiliates were invited, and attended the Oxford meeting, as did Ernst Wolf, Chairman of ILCOP.
The Oxford meeting made headlines when half a dozen observers from the World Peace Council were not allowed to participate. The observers had been invited to attend by the European Federation, but the majority at the meeting wanted to discuss a global federation, and its relations to the WPC, without any WPC observers present. There was also a wish to separate themselves from the WPC in the public mind.
The meeting decided to create an International Confederation for Disarmament and Peace (ICDP), and appointed a Continuing Committee to realise the plan. Sean MacBride became a member of the Committee.
The Continuing Committee met frequently over the following months to draft a constitution and discuss the planned Confederation. ILCOP/IPB was very much part of these discussions. On 20-23 August 1963, the ICDP Continuing Committee met during the ILCOP/IPB General Assembly in De Pietersberg, Oosterbeek, that had started one day earlier.
The plans for the creation of ICDP caused heated debate at the ILCOP/IPB Assembly, with some organisations, lead by the WRI, urging steps to amalgamate the two international organisations. Ernst Wolf, Chairman of ILCOP/IPB was strongly against this. The Assembly took a decision to defer for two years any decision on the amalgamation of or close cooperation between both organisations. There seem to have been three reasons for this. Firstly, ILCOP/IPB was in a transition period. For years it had tried to establish itself as the successor to the IPB, and it was about to adopt new rules and change the name to IPB. Amalgamation would probably have meant IPB's activities and identity being taken over by ICDP, at this time the more dynamic body. Secondly, the impressive sum of more than 800,000 Swiss Francs, all pre-war IPB assets, had been handed over to ILCOP/IPB, which allowed it to plan its activity with a high degree of independence. Thirdly, the ICDP was said to have Communists on its board. Some members of ILCOP/IPB suspected it of being a disguise for a communist attempt to infiltrate the peace movement - and ILCOP/IPB. But the decision not to merge was not a rejection of ICDP, rather, the persons that had built up ILCOP/IPB wanted to assure its continuation and integrity. There was even a wish to support ICDP. Already in January 1963, ILCOP/IPB and the ICDP Continuing Committee started the joint publication of the "Peace Information Bulletin" with a circulation of 1000 copies, including all ILCOP/IPB and ICDP affiliates. Its cover included the words "Published by the IPB as a service to ICDP".
The decision to defer amalgamation was strongly criticised by some of the members. The Executive Committee of the WRI stated:
"The WRI regrets that the decision on a merger has been deferred for so long (...). It urges both organisations to reconsider the position (...). The WRI cannot contemplate being affiliated to both bodies with the same purpose indefinitely and will be obliged at some stage to withdraw its affiliation from one if a decision to merge is not reached. (...) The presence of two organisations in the field would cause confusion and would damage the ability of the independent peace movement to develop and undertake unified action."
A majority in ILCOP/IPB was against a merger with the ICDP, while a minority of the member organisations was extremely frustrated with the situation. But the majority prevailed, and the ILCOP/IPB General Assembly later even agreed that
"all member organisations should be asked to reaffirm their membership in ILCOP/IPB in the light of the new situation after the establishment of the ICDP. Organisations which do not answer should be regarded as non-members."
Ernst Wolf proposed to set up a foundation with 650,000 Swiss Francs of IPB money, under the trusteeship of three persons in Switzerland. The Assembly agreed this.
ICDP was in favour of a merger, not least because it would have given the organisation substantial financial resources. But the Committee gave priority to its own aims, and the minutes of its meeting August 20 just stated that "It was realised at the meetings that IPB (ILCOP) was not willing to consider amalgamating the two organisations for the time being."
The membership of ILCOP/IPB had varied during the first 15 years after the war. Several new member organisations were admitted, but at the same time, many left, or ceased their activities. In 1963 ILCOP/IPB had 17 member organisations:
IFOR and WRI (International)
Arbeitsgemeinschaft Deutscher Friedensverbände and Verband der Kriegsdienstweigerer (FRG)
Onafhankelijke Contactcommissie voor Vredeswerk (The Netherlands)
Association Montessori (Italy)
National Peace Council of Norway
Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society, Swedish Peace Council and Stockholm Peace Society (Sweden)
Swiss Peace Council and Pax Romana (Switzerland)
Friends Peace Committee, Northern Friends Peace Board, National Peace Council and Peace Pledge Union (U.K.)
The ICDP in its turn, was formally established at this same meeting by the Continuing Committee 20 August in De Pietersberg, with the following affiliated groups:
Accra Assembly, IFOR, and WRI (International)
Victoria Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (Australia)
CND, and Combined Universities CND (Canada)
Komiteen for Oplysning om Atomfaren (Denmark)
Action Civique Nonviolente, and Mouvement contre l'Armement Atomique (France)
Arbeitsgemeinschaft Deutscher Friedensverbände, and Ostermarsch der Atomwaffengegner (FRG)
Akhil Bharat Sarva Seva Sangh (India)
Consulta per la Pace (Italy)
Comite 1963 voor de Vrede, and Stichting Anti-Atoombom Actie (Netherlands)
CND (New Zealand)
CND, Colleges and Universities CND, Committee of 100, Friends Peace Committee, and Youth CND (U.K.)
FOR, War Resisters League, Student Peace Union, and National Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy (USA)
Yugoslav League for Peace, Independence and Equality (Yugoslavia)
The first ICDP working conference, to adopt a constitution and set of principles was planned for 9-13 January 1964 in Tyringe, Sweden. Some 42 delegates from 17 national organisations in ten countries and from three international organisations attended that meeting.
An ICDP Subcommittee was created to discuss relations with ILCOP/IPB.
1964: Re-establishment of the IPB
After two chaotic and strongly divided ILCOP/IPB Executive Committee meetings, (on the issue of amalgamation) ILCOP/IPB Chairman Ernst Wolf, a notary by profession, on August 10, 1964 set up the ILCOP Foundation to administer the more than 800,000 Swiss Francs of IPB money that had been handed over to ILCOP/IPB. This was just 10 days before the 1964 IPB General Assembly, and the Assembly delegates were presented with a fait accompli. According to the rules of the Foundation, the income and within limits its capital could be used to finance an office that had to be situated in Switzerland, with the name of International Peace Bureau. Three persons resident in Switzerland were given final control over the capital. A change in the Foundation rules required an agreement by the Swiss Government. The capital was thus bound to finance the IPB.
On the 28th August 1964 13 ILCOP/IPB member organisations came together for the ILCOP/IPB General Assembly. They adopted new rules and changed the name of the organisation to "International Peace Bureau". They where the Swiss, British, Norwegian and Swedish Peace Councils, SPAS, the Stockholm Peace Association, IFOR and the US FOR, WRI, Northern Friends Peace Board and the Friends Peace Committee from the U.K., German Verband der Kriegdienstweigerer and the Dutch Onafhanhelijke Contactcommissie voor Vredeswerk. Three organisations joined in 1964, Norges Fredslag, Folkereisning Mot Krig (FMK) and Swiss Pacem in Terris.
The WRI again submitted a proposal for a merger between the IPB and ICDP, but agreed that as the majority of the Assembly had accepted the ILCOP Foundation the IPB office had to stay in Geneva, and couldn't merge immediately with the ICDP, that had set up office in London. In the end a compromise was agreed. The assembly affirmed its desire for active functional cooperation with the ICDP and decided to have joint meetings between the Executive Committees in order to work out proposals for a future relationship. In addition the Assembly made a grant of œ1000 to the ICDP, and another œ1000 for the peace information service run jointly by both organisations.
The former IPB had thus been successfully reorganised. Furthermore, its future financing was secured through the ILCOP Foundation for an indefinite period. The office moved from the house the IPB owned at 8 rue Charles Bonnet to its present address at 41 rue de Zürich. ILCOP/IPB Chairman Ernst Wolf was elected President of the IPB, while John Kay of the British National Peace Council was elected Chairman of the Executive Committee. Sean MacBride, member also of the ICDP Executive Committee, became Treasurer.
The Vietnam War Movement
In 1963, with the ratification of the Partial Test Ban Treaty between the USA, the Soviet Union and the United Kingdom, the peace wave of the 1950s began to ebb. US and USSR atmospheric testing had stopped, and a number of US-Soviet negotiations promised détente and calmed fears. But new signals soon came from US peace activists. They had become increasingly disturbed about the US role in Vietnam, and in December 1964 the first substantial anti-Vietnam War demonstration was held in New York. By 1968 535,000 US troops were fighting in Vietnam. The anti-war movement soon spread from the USA and became the largest peace movement ever seen.
The 1965 IPB Conference adopted the following statement:
"The International Conference of the IPB, deeply disturbed by the Vietnamese tragedy, calls upon the United States Government
1) to stop immediately bombing and other military action in North Vietnam,
2) to declare publicly its willingness to enter into negotiations with all parties concerned, including the National Liberation Front, and for the withdrawal of all foreign military forces from Vietnam;
at the same time calls upon the National Liberation Front to accept and enter into negotiations as soon as the United States Government has accepted the two above mentioned conditions."
Naturally, the Vietnam war increased the Cold-War confrontation. The general public, governments, peace movements and other organisations sided either with the Soviet Union and North Vietnam, or with the USA and South Vietnam. The IPB sided with U Thant, the United Nations Secretary General. Also, as draft resistance became a major strategy of the US peace movement, the IPB came to focus on this aspect of war resistance.
The main activity of the IPB in 1966 was a project about UN peace-keeping operations. In June 1966 a number of persons with experience from UN field operations met for a consultation under the auspices of the IPB and produced a report with the title "We, the People, and United Nations Peace-Keeping". A series of studies were initiated, and the annual IPB conference focused on "Peace-Keeping."
Bertil Svahnström, the representative of SPAS, came to the IPB meeting in Strasbourg with the proposal to hold a World Conference on Vietnam in Stockholm (July 6-9, 1967). This conference became one of the rare occasions where international peace organisations cooperated. The sponsors of the conference were SPAS, IPB, ICDP, WRI and WPC. The participation of the World Peace Council led to a slandering campaign in the Swedish press. A forged letter was sent to the press, "proving" that the conference was a communist plot.
There were many other problems. Should only the Vietnamese National Liberation Front be represented? or also the Vietnamese Buddhists? Should a continuing organisation be created?
The 1967 meeting brought together 430 delegates from 63 countries, the strongest delegation coming from the USA. It condemned US intervention in Vietnam. No other solution was seen or discussed, other than that the US should get out of Vietnam, and that Britain should stop supporting the USA. The religious leaders working group was the only one that mentioned reconciliation and negotiation in their report.
The Right to Refuse Military Service and Orders
In 1967 the IPB Executive Committee decided to take up the issue of the Right to Refuse Military Service and Orders, and to make it the main subject of the annual Conference in 1968. Together with Amnesty International, the Friends World Committee for Consultation (Quakers), WRI and Service Civil International it organised working seminars to prepare for the 1968 Conference, that was held in Reutlingen, FRG, in August, under the title "The Right to Refuse Military Service and Orders."
The participants at the 1968 meeting started the work of drafting a Convention on the Right to Refuse to Participate in Armed Conflicts. A Seminar in Sweden, in August 1969 produced a Draft Resolution for submission to the UN General Assembly, and a Draft Charter of Conscientious Objection to Military Service or Training. At the same time the UN Human Rights Commission was lobbied to adopt provisions on conscientious objection.
The documents were discussed by the member organisations, and adopted at the 1970 IPB General Assembly. The 27th Session of the United Nation's Commission on Human Rights adopted a resolution broadly modelled on the IPB draft. It was strictly a procedural resolution, asking the UN secretary-general to make a report on the position of Conscientious Objectors. It however introduced the issue and created a debate in the United Nations. Sixteen years later, at its 42nd session in 1987 the UN Commission on Human Rights for the first time acknowledged the right to conscientious objection to military service as a human right. The resolution that was adopted in 1987 was strengthened in 1989. The IPB had made a statement to the Commission, basically making three points favouring the right to Conscientious Objection:
1) To provide for CO is a confidence-building measure,
2) If the right to life is fundamental then the right to refuse to kill should also be recognised, and
3) Failure to provide for alternative service is a tragic waste of resources.
The 1989 Human Rights Commission passed the new resolution on Conscientious Objection without a vote. It was the strongest resolution to date on this issue within a UN body, and for the first time ever a socialist State, Hungary, co-sponsored the initiative. The other sponsors were Austria, Canada, Costa Rica, France, FRG, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom. In its concluding paragraphs the resolution:
"Recognises the right of everyone to have conscientious objections to military service as a legitimate exercise of the right of freedom of thought, conscience and religion; Recommends to States with a system of compulsory military service...that they introduce for conscientious objectors various forms of alternative service...and that they refrain from subjecting such persons to imprisonment; and Emphasises that such forms of alternative service be in principle of non-combatant or civilian character, in the public interest and not of a punitive nature.
The resolution is a powerful tool in the hands of peace organisations that fight for the right to CO in countries where this right does not exist yet. Credit for this success must first of all be given to the dedicated and long-term work of Quakers and the War Resisters International.
General and Complete Disarmament - the Special N.G.O. Committee on Disarmament
The role of the IPB in the peace movement at the end of the 1960s was to study and introduce new issues and discuss them in annual conferences, a task it performed well. The membership of the IPB increased, six new members joining the IPB between 1967 and 1969. But the IPB also continued to aim for a better organisation of the international work of the peace movement, and for more cooperation among peace organisations.
Starting in February 1970 the IPB and its Geneva office became the secretariat of the Special NGO Committee on Disarmament, an umbrella of international "Non-Governmental" Organisations.
The term "NGO" dates back to the beginnings of the United Nations. When governments met in San Francisco in 1945 to create the UN, they were also joined and supported by representatives from many popular movements, in UN terminology called "Non-Governmental Organisations". As a result, a "Consultative Status" between the UN Economic and Social Council, and NGOs was created (article 71 in the UN Charter). In 1948, the organisations that were given this status tried to improve their leverage in the UN by coordinating their activities in relation to the UN. They created the Conference of Non-Governmental Organisations in Consultative Status with the UN Economic and Social Council (CONGO). CONGO meets every third year in a General Assembly.
Many of the NGOs that hold a consultative status within the UN have little in common, except that they are non-governmental, and support the UN. They include professional organisations as well as peace movements, sports organisations and consumers organisations. Therefore "Special NGO Committees" have been created in different areas, for example on disarmament, human rights, transnational corporations, drugs, etc.
The Special NGO Committee on Disarmament in Geneva had been established already in 1968. Some of the member organisations in 1990 are the IPB, WILPF, WPC, the Friends World Committee for Consultation (Quakers), the World Federation of Scientific Workers, the World Conference on Religion and Peace (WCRP), the World Federation of Democratic Youth (WFDY), the International Youth and Student Movement for the UN (ISMUN), the Afro-Asian Peoples Solidarity Organisation (AAPSO), the Commission of the Churches on International Affairs, the International Union of Students, Pax Christi International, and the Women's International Democratic Federation. An NGO Committee on Disarmament was created also in New York in 1973.
The Geneva NGO Committee has been meeting regularly and on special occasions. Conferences have been organised to make an NGO input to the UN, for example at the UN Special Sessions on Disarmament.
In September 1972, an International NGO Conference on Disarmament was organised in the Palais des Nations in Geneva. With its 250 representatives of NGOs and Governments it was probably the first major gathering of NGOs on the subject.
This conference also served as a rehearsal for another meeting of peace and other movements in Bradford, England, for which the IPB mobilised. The IPB was constantly calling for an Inter-Governmental World Disarmament Conference. The meeting in Bradford 29 August - 1 September 1974 entitled "Preparation for the UN World Disarmament Conference" produced the Bradford Proposals with a proposed agenda for a Disarmament Conference. The proposals were circulated in ten languages and one million copies. They were part of a massive build-up of public opinion in favour of such a Conference. The massive distribution was financed with the help of the money coming from the Nobel Peace Prize that was awarded in 1974 to Sean MacBride, chairman of the IPB Executive, and prime mover behind the Bradford initiative.
The Bradford Proposals document focused on General and Complete Disarmament as the prime objective of the United Nations. It sought to identify vested interests in the arms race and ways to negate their power and influence. It called for the outlawing of nuclear weapons and their dismantling. To strengthen international security it called for control and the licensing of arms transfers, the dissolution of military alliances, no-first-use commitments, and an extended compulsory jurisdiction for the International Court of Justice.
The call for a World Disarmament Conference came from other directions too. The Non-Aligned Movement decided to exercise its new numerical strength in the United Nations and it was decided to hold the first Special Session on Disarmament of the United Nations General Assembly in 1978. The IPB immediately started to prepare for this, and several meetings were held to co-ordinate an NGO input to the UN meeting. An NGO message, coming from the seminar "NGOs and the SSD", 24-25 October 1977 in Geneva, stated the main concerns of the NGO community. These consisted of a ban on nuclear, chemical and other weapons of mass destruction, including the new enhanced radiation weapon or "Neutron Bomb", a halt to nuclear testing, the reduction of armed forces and conventional weapons, the limitation of the arms trade, and the transfer to developing countries of resources released by the reduction of military expenditures. The IPB made its own submission in October 1977 in which it urged the Special Session to adopt a UN Convention outlawing the use of nuclear weapons, to enforce a moratorium on the research and development of new weapons and to place the sales and transfers of arms under international control. The aim of these measures was to "freeze" armaments at existing levels through measures that "could pose no threat to security and require only the political will to be put in effect."
6. The Peace Wave of the 1980s
At the end of the Vietnam War in 1975 the peace movement went into a relative decline. The same year the Helsinki Final Document had been adopted, promising an end to the Cold War. The Document was seen as a kind of substitute for a European peace treaty after World War II, that settled the post-war borders between the European countries. 35 States had participated in the CSCE (Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe) negotiations in the Finnish capital: all European states except Albania, plus the US and Canada. Peace activists started to focus on Third World development and liberation, and on human rights, nuclear energy and the environment.
But there was a new upsurge in the peace movement starting already in 1976-77, again inspired by opposition to the nuclear arms race. Women for Peace groups were founded in Sweden, Norway and Holland, and later in Switzerland and France. The Dutch Interkerkeljig Vredesberaad IKV (Interchurch Peace Council) took an initiative stressing that not only the use of nuclear weapons but also their ownership was a moral wrong.
In 1975 and 1976, IPB officers went to Japan on the invitation of the Japan Council Against A & H Bombs (GENSUIKYO) and developed a plan to organise an international symposium of medical and other experts to review research and highlight the conditions of A-bomb survivors. An International Committee was set up. It met at the World Health Organisation, and at the IPB office in Geneva. The symposium, "Damage and After-effects of the Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki" was held in July and August 1977 in Tokyo, and the report of the symposium became a standard-work about the effects of nuclear war. The term Hibakusha has since become well known world-wide. At the time little scientific research had been made public about the effects of the atomic bombings.
In April and June 1977 an "International Disarmament Relay Helsinki-Belgrade" was organised by several IPB member organisations on the initiative of the German Peace Society DFG-VK, and under the general sponsorship of the IPB and WRI. The leading organiser of the Relay was Gerd Greune, international secretary of DFG-VK, and IPB Executive Committee member since 1975.
The peace movement had observed that the Helsinki Final Document failed to fulfil its promises, and wanted to highlight the commitments in it. The declared aims of the Relay were:
"To make people aware of the discrepancies between the disarmament hopes and sentiments expressed in the Helsinki Final Act, and the continuing military development resulting in an accelerating arms race with absurd overkill in both East and West.
To mobilise the people to understand that their active participation was essential to press governments to make stronger responses to the industrial-military complex.
To talk directly to participating governments in the countries the Relay passes through, especially those which have disarmament questions on their agendas, for example Austria."
A relay bus accompanied by a number of cars travelled from Helsinki to Belgrade. Along the way hundreds of meetings were organised in streets and open places, halls, schools, universities, factories and other social centres. Some 500,000 people in 1000 cities, towns and villages may have been involved in the relay.
The Relay was an example of how a link was made between popular and governmental work. The Relay focused on the CSCE negotiations and the second follow-up meeting in Belgrade. It met with MBFR (Mutually Balanced Force Reductions) negotiators in Vienna. Sean MacBride, IPB president and at the same time assistant secretary-general of the United Nations opened the Relay in Helsinki. The Finnish Foreign Minister and other MPs took part.
It was also an example of practical cooperation between peace groups in most West-European countries. Many individuals met their like-minded colleagues through the relay and during the preparations for it.
In 1977 and 1978 a campaign against the Neutron Bomb started in Europe. First Stop de Neutronen Bom was created in the Netherlands, and groups in other European countries took up the issue. The Campaign became successful when US President Jimmy Carter reversed the decision to deploy the weapon in Europe. The Neutron Bomb had been developed by the US especially for the European theatre.
At the same time East-West relations worsened because of new conflicts in the Third World. In 1979 the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan and the Sandinistas gained power in Nicaragua. The arms race again picked up speed, and the strategies, along with statements by some politicians, made a nuclear war in Europe look more possible.
With the December 1979 "double track" decision of NATO the peace movement got a visible campaign focus. The decision was to deploy medium-range nuclear missiles, Pershing II and Cruise missiles in Europe, and at the same time to negotiate with the Soviet Union about pulling them, and Soviet SS 20-missiles back. The new missiles were scheduled to be deployed starting in 1983. There was plenty of time for the peace movement to mobilise people.
An example of this mobilising work was the founding of the Danish "No to Nuclear Weapons". In October 1979 a group of five persons took the initiative of placing advertisements in two major newspapers in Denmark, with the headline "Nej til Atomvaben" - (No to Nuclear Weapons). In the advertisements they asked for signatures and financial contributions. The replies came in thousands, and filled two pages of a newspaper ad in November. On 13-14 January 1980 No to Nuclear Weapons had its first meeting. The group was typical of the peace wave. There was no clear institutional framework or leadership. Members of the group came to international peace movement meetings saying that they couldn't represent the organisation, just inform about it, as they attended only in their own personal capacity. The aim was very limited. No to Nuclear Weapons in Norway, which was established at the same time, refused to take up issues other than Nuclear Weapons. People liked this form of organisation, especially the young, the women and the well educated.
The strong upsurge of the peace movement, and of hundreds of new peace groups took most politicians by surprise. Even the established peace organisations were surprised. The membership of British CND increased from 4000 in 1979, to 50,000 in 1982, and to 94,000 in 1984. On October 26, 1980, 100,000 people came to a demonstration in London, organised by CND. There were even examples of peace organisations reacting negatively to the doubling, again and again of their membership, fearing that the majority of new "nuclear pacifist" members would dilute the radical pacifist ideology.
On the international level, the IPB focused on the negotiation part of the double-track decision. President Sean MacBride corresponded with the negotiators. On November 30, 1981 a well-wishing letter, in the form of a press release was sent to the US and USSR negotiators Kvitsinsky and Nitze who were attending the INF (Intermediate Nuclear Forces) talks. "The IPB warmly welcomes the negotiations on theatre nuclear weapons which begin today." Support for proposals made by the "Group of 21" non-aligned countries, and for a Comprehensive Programme of Disarmament was urged. The negotiators were reminded of the forthcoming second UN Special Session on Disarmament and the opportunity for starting negotiations on general and complete disarmament. It was signed by MacBride and IPB Vice-President Philip Noel Baker, both Nobel Peace laureates.
December 1980: International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW)
On 29th March 1979 a group of medical doctors in Boston, USA, organised a public meeting about the dangers of the nuclear industry. The very same day the nuclear power station at Three Mile Island, Harrisburg in Pennsylvania suffered a meltdown, and the physicians got massive press coverage. Some of the physicians were more concerned with the possible effects of a nuclear war, and in March 1980 their open letter to President Carter and Soviet leader Brezhnev was published in the New York Times. Both Brezhnev and the White House responded. The August 1980 Pugwash conference in the Netherlands took up the issue, and medical doctors from many countries concluded that
"Medical disaster planning for nuclear war is futile. A nuclear war would result in human death, injury and disease on a scale that has no precedent in history, dwarfing all previous plagues and wars. There is no effective medical response after a nuclear attack."
In December the same year six US and six Soviet physicians met in Geneva to launch the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW). The group later met in Moscow and organised a televised discussion on the likely medical consequences of nuclear war. The one-hour programme was transmitted all over the Soviet Union, and later also in the USA, Netherlands, Scandinavian countries and elsewhere. In 1986 IPPNW had 145,000 members in 40 countries, all of them doctors or health care workers.
April 1980: The European Nuclear Disarmament Appeal (END)
The December 1979 decision to deploy Pershing and Cruise missiles in several European countries including Britain, drove Edward Thompson, a historian and writer, to protest publicly in a series of articles. Thompson, together with Ken Coates in the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation, Mary Kaldor and Dan Smith who had been advising the Labour Party on defence issues, Peggy Duff who was secretary-general of the ICDP, union leader Arthur Scargill and others, drafted the Appeal for European Nuclear Disarmament - the END Appeal. Many of these people had met already in 1974 at a seminar in Bradford to discuss on what basis a new European peace movement could be established.
It was part of a campaign for European Nuclear Disarmament, launched by the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation (BRPF), ICDP and CND.
The Appeal was launched at a press conference 28 April 1980. It immediately touched the minds and hearts of peace activists everywhere in Europe. It was both visionary and concrete, frightening, and at the same time offering a solution. It started with the words "We are entering the most dangerous decade in human history. A third world war is not merely possible, but increasingly likely." This tone was not new - compare the Sane appeal of 1957: "We Are Facing A Danger Unlike Any Danger That Has Ever Existed." But it put in words what people felt and feared, and could recognise in the speeches of politicians:
"As each side tries to prove its readiness to use nuclear weapons, in order to prevent their use by the other side, new, more `usable' nuclear weapons are designed and the idea of `limited' nuclear war is made to sound more and more plausible."
The Appeal also gave an alternative to the established and prevailing East-West, Good-Evil, view of things:
"We do not wish to apportion guilt between the political and military leaders of East and West. Guilt lies squarely upon both parties. Both parties have adopted menacing postures and committed aggressive actions in different parts of the world."
This was met with a strong rejection in the Peace Committees of the WPC, who started a campaign against the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation and the END Liaison Committee (see below). Anti-END publications in different European languages were generously handed out to peace activists everywhere.
The way out of the nuclear impasse was clear in the Appeal:
"The remedy lies in our hands. We must act together to free the entire territory of Europe, from Poland to Portugal, from nuclear weapons, air and submarine bases, and from all institutions engaged in research into or manufacture of nuclear weapons. We ask the two superpowers to withdraw all nuclear weapons from European territory. In particular, we ask the Soviet Union to halt production of SS 20 medium-range missile and we ask the United States not to implement the decision to develop cruise missiles and Pershing II missiles for deployment in Western Europe. We also urge the ratification of the SALT II agreement, as a necessary step towards the renewal of effective negotiations on general and complete disarmament."
The Appeal contained a message of solidarity between peace workers, and a call for revolt:
"We must defend and extend the right of all citizens, East or West, to take part in this common movement and to engage in every kind of exchange." And "We must commence to act as if a united, neutral and pacific Europe already exists. We must learn to be loyal, not to `East' or `West', but to each other, and we must disregard the prohibitions and limitations imposed by any national state."
The initiators of the Appeal started to collect signatures in Britain. A separate endorsement, that launched the idea of the END Convention was sought from other Europeans:
"We have received with sympathy the proposal of the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation for an all European campaign to free the soil and territorial waters of all European states from nuclear weapons. (...) To facilitate this work we should welcome a European meeting to explore the problems involved in creating a nuclear-free zone, to discuss a variety of intermediary proposals which are already being suggested as possible steps towards the objective, and help in the development of a major popular campaign for peace and disarmament."
In November 1981, the Italian signatories of the Appeal, and in particular the Eurocommunist fraction of the new Italian peace movement, organised a European meeting in Rome. Some of the participants were Petra Kelly and Rudolf Bahro of the German Greens, Jo Leinen of the German ecology movement Bundesverband Bürgerinitiativen Umweltschutz (BBU), Eva Quistorp of the German Women for Peace and Ken Coates of the BRPF. They launched the first END Convention and set up the END Liaison Committee to organise it. The Convention was held the following year, 1-4 July 1982 in Brussels. It started a rolling process. Since Brussels, Conventions were held in West Berlin in 1983 where 3000 persons attended, in Perugia, Italy in 1984, Amsterdam in 1985, Evry, France in 1986, Coventry, Britain in 1987, Lund, Sweden in 1988, and Vitoria, Spain in 1989. The 1990 END Convention was held partly in Helsinki, Finland and partly in Tallinn, the capital of Estonia. This Convention was a historical event, and gave new impetus to the END process by involving social and political movements - like the ecology movement and the National Front - in the Estonian republic directly in the Convention organising process. The next Convention is planned to be held in Moscow.
The Conventions have had many functions. They enabled peace-workers of different constituencies to meet and organise - hundreds of "teachers/doctors/generals/women/librarians/engineers etc. for peace" groups were created this way. The Conventions were a common platform, where politicians and peace activists could discuss peace. They also established a link between labour unions and the peace movement. They made repeated efforts to include isolated `independents' from Eastern Europe in the movement, and they publicised the Eastern European independent peace movements, such as the "Swords into Ploughshares" movement in the GDR, Freedom and Peace in Poland, Dialogue and 460 in Hungary, the Trust Group in the Soviet Union and Charter 77 in the CSSR.
The END Liaison Committee has not become still another international organisation, even though there are applications for membership, membership fees, and a budget. Its purpose has been strictly limited to the organisation of the END Convention. The Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation has taken care of administrative work between the Conventions, and new national organising committees have been created for each new Convention. Many of the original aims of the Conventions have been fulfilled. After the Berlin Convention, which remains the largest by far, the Conventions have become repetitive. Some peace organisations and some members of the END Liaison Committee have tried to prevent the institutionalisation of the `END process' and to find new aims and working methods for it.
1981: The International Peace Communication and Co-ordination Network (IPCC)
However loosely organised, many of the new groups at the beginning of the 1980s felt the need for an international framework to develop their strategies and co-ordinate their actions and manifestations. Some of the new groups met in Frankfurt in August 1981 to discuss how to benefit from cooperation, and to organise a mass demonstration in Bonn in October of that year.
They were amongst others, the Krefelder Appell - that had been created in a similar way as NtA, Aktion Sühnezeichen, BBU, Deutsche Friedensunion - a group close to the Communist Party, Dutch IKV, Belgian CNAPD - an umbrella of several peace groups, and the Danish NtA. The meeting was a mess of ideological quarrels. Some persons at the meeting strongly felt the need for a forum of "like-minded and similar" groups. It was Danish No to Nuclear Weapons that took the initiative. They called for a meeting three weeks later in Copenhagen on the 5-6 September 1981. At first, their idea was to convene peace groups in small NATO countries in order to take an initiative against the deployment of medium-range missiles, but the meeting was attended also by British, German, Swedish and Finnish groups. The groups represented were No to Nuclear Weapons in Denmark and Norway, SPAS (Sweden), the Tampere Peace Research Institute (Finland), the Campaign Against the Military Base (Iceland), IKV (Netherlands), END and BRPF (Britain), Pax Christi International and Aktion Sühnezeichen (West Germany). The agenda was: 1. The deployments, 2. East-West relations and the END appeal, 3. Nuclear-free zones, and 4. Strategies. The only group that was affiliated either to IPB or to ICDP was SPAS. Most of the others were new, or their participation in the anti-nuclear movement was new.
Ironically, the member organisations of the IPB met in a General Assembly during the same weekend in Helsinki. In Oslo there was another international peace movement gathering this weekend, that of the Committee for a Scandinavian Nuclear-Free Zone. SPAS tried to avoid the triple clash. Tomas Magnusson, President of SPAS and member of the IPB Executive Committee, wrote a frustrated letter to the other members of the Executive:
"This weekend SPAS is invited to three international meetings. Movements are rapidly growing in many countries, but in the international field things remain as they used to be: we have no real international peace organisation. New movements are not joining the existing internationals, but make up their own direct contacts. Obviously the organisations inviting us to Copenhagen and Oslo this weekend don't know about the IPB meeting in Helsinki. SPAS has tried to change the date for the Copenhagen meeting. But among these new and active organisations coming to Copenhagen we seemed to be the only one at all interested in the IPB."
Magnusson suggested that the IPB and ICDP should merge immediately, that the IPB should create more international actions and become more useful to the peace movements, instead of concentrating mainly on UN activities and the upcoming UN Special Session on Disarmament.
The letter was in vain. Over the following two years the IPB Executive Committee and secretariat, under the strong leadership of Sean MacBride continued to focus on the UN, and all but ignored the emerging anti-deployment movement. This may have been a useful division of labour. The groups active within the new upsurge were very critical towards inter-governmental negotiations, and sometimes even towards politicians in general. Most favoured unilateral initiatives. The main activity was organising mass protests. But the United Nations Second Special Session on Disarmament was around the corner. It was necessary to make the link between peace movements and the established Governmental and Non-Governmental institutions. For the IPB, the separation from the new groups made it easier to concentrate its work in the Non-Governmental sphere, and take `conservative' initiatives. Contacts with the UN, with governments and diplomats and, for example, the lawyers' community would be easier. Also the IPB had considerable vitality at this time, and its membership was increasing.
For the new groups the separation meant that they could quickly decide upon common actions, without having to go through the democratic decision-making processes in the established internationals. And they did not really need the others; their own impact was tremendous.
US opinion poll question: In general, do you favour increasing or decreasing the present defence budget or keeping it the same as it is now?
Increase Decrease The same
February 1980: 71 % 6 % 21 %
June 1985 14 % 32 % 52 %
(Source: SIPRI Year-book 1986)
At the Copenhagen meeting it was decided to set up a new international organisation, the International Peace Communication and Co-ordination network (IPCC). Dutch IKV, based in The Hague, the Netherlands, was organisationally the strongest group among those assembled. It agreed to serve as the secretariat for the Network. Wim Bartels, international secretary for IKV, became secretary and prime mover in the IPCC.
But the separation also created confusion and wasted peace movement resources. Yet another organisational structure had to be created and maintained. Disarmament Campaigns, a new international peace movement bulletin was created, competing with already established ones, and other new ones like the END Journal. There were often clashes of meetings of the different organisations held at the same time, and as in the case of the IPB and the ICDP, a fruitless discussion started about which organisation was "best." Some peace organisations felt that they constantly had to send representatives to different international meetings in order to remain informed and involved. All three Internationals, the IPB, ICDP and IPCC were understaffed and under-funded. Information about initiatives and actions did not reach out to the whole peace movement.
The Illegality of Nuclear Weapons
At its (triple clash) 1981 General Assembly in Helsinki, the IPB decided to start a campaign focusing on the morality and legality of nuclear weapons. In the following years meetings of specialists in law, morality and medicine were held in many parts of the world. They were organised by lawyers' and doctors' organisations. The overall conclusion of these meetings was that nuclear weapons, and other weapons of mass destruction were indefensible morally and legally. In some countries organisations of lawyers were formed, such as the British Lawyers for Nuclear Disarmament (LND) and the Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy in the USA.
In 1982 the second UN Special Session on Disarmament was held in New York, and on the 24th June Sean MacBride, on behalf of the IPB, presented proposals to the UN that had been adopted by the US Lawyers Committee and the IPB. They contained a draft Convention for General and Complete Disarmament. MacBride also called for the immediate adoption of a short convention, making the use of nuclear weapons an offence under international law.
The question of the legality of nuclear weapons was further developed at the London Nuclear Warfare Tribunal that was held in January 1985. Out of the Tribunal later grew the Appeal from Lawyers Against Nuclear Weapons, launched by the IPB in 1987. It stated:
"The IPB, which is a federation of peace organisations, has decided to launch an Appeal to lawyers throughout the world to condemn nuclear weapons and wars as illegal."
The first signatories included Bruno Kreisky, former Prime Minister of Austria, Alexandre Sukharev, Minister of Justice of the Russian Federation, Ramsey Clark, former Attorney-General of the USA, Robert Krieps, Minister of Justice of Luxembourg, Lennart Gjeijer, former Minister of Justice of Sweden, T.O. Elias, Judge at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Natvarlal Bhagwati, chief Justice of India, and 50 other high-ranking jurists.
The signatories state that
"convinced that lawyers cannot remain silent and have a responsibility to make known, to develop and to defend the rules of international law, and thus contribute to the maintenance of peace, to international security, and to the establishment of an international order which reflects the aspirations of humanity, (...) declare that the use, for whatever reason, of a nuclear weapon would constitute a violation of international law, a violation of human rights, and a crime against humanity; demand the prohibition of nuclear weapons as a first step towards the ultimate goal of general and complete disarmament."
The Appeal was translated into ten languages and was distributed widely in the whole world. It collected 13,000 lawyers' signatures until the signature collection campaign was formally ended January 15, 1989, the anniversary of the death of Sean MacBride. It laid the basis for the creation of the International Association of Lawyers against Nuclear Arms (IALANA), which was created April 9, 1988 at a meeting in Stockholm.
1984: Merger between IPB and ICDP, contacts with IPCC
The number of IPB member organisations in 1982 had increased substantially, to 29, of which 6 were national peace movement co-ordination bodies. But none of the main international peace movements participated actively in the IPB at this time.
The second international network in the peace movement, the ICDP, had not been able to maintain the momentum of the 1960s, and was financially bankrupt. It also had not been able to renew its international campaign activity after the end of the Vietnam War. Other similar networks like the IPCC and END had emerged. ICDP increasingly became just a formality. Members of the Executive Committee, both in the IPB and the ICDP were aware of this. There were again strong demands from member organisations for a merger between the IPB and the ICDP. The Executive Committees of the IPB and the ICDP began to have joint meetings, and in September 1982 it was proposed that a joint IPB/ICDP conference be held on the issue of a "FREEZE" of atomic weapons. Still, there was resistance to this proposal. IPB secretary-general Frank Field opposed the idea, afraid that IPB's aim of general and complete disarmament - as opposed to partial approaches like a Freeze - would be lost.
But the time had come for a merger. During the second END Convention in Berlin in 1983 the Executive Committees of the IPB and the ICDP met. The result was a proposal to dissolve the ICDP, to draft a new declaration of principles for the IPB, to enlarge the IPB Executive Committee with ICDP members, and to open a London Office. ICDP member organisations were urged to join the IPB. The proposal was formally made at the 1983 IPB General Assembly by the Finnish Executive members Ilkka Taipale (IPB) and Erkki Tuomioja (ICDP). The Assembly, that was held in Göteborg on the 9-10 September, in connection with the conference "The Peace Movement after 1984" endorsed the 1975 ICDP Manifesto. It also elected two well-known ICDP members, David McReynolds (USA) and Bogdan Osolnik (Yugoslavia) as vice-presidents of the IPB, and decided to hold discussions on possible amendments to the IPB constitution. Also ICDP member Claude Bourdet (France) later became IPB vice president.
The active ICDP member organisations did join the IPB (Yugoslav League for Peace, WRL, WRI, Finnish Committee of 100, MDPL), but for achieving the aim of an internationally unified peace movement the merger had come to late. Many of the new peace movements in Europe had already chosen to co-ordinate their activities through the IPCC network. There were few personal contacts between the IPB and the IPCC. The IPB Executive members tried to establish contacts only after the merger with the ICDP. In November 1984 IPB Secretary-general Kimmo Kiljunen wrote a proposal for merging the IPB and IPCC networks. The proposal was discussed at an IPCC meeting in January 1985. After that IPCC recommended its members to join the IPB. There was no pooling of resources however, as the IPB was perceived by IPCC members as having the specific role of monitoring the United Nations. The IPB was in many ways re-evaluating its role in the peace movement during this time, as most of its activities and focuses were outside the major current of the (anti-deployment) peace movement. The IPB Executive saw an IPB-IPCC connection as essential, but the interest for formal cooperation was not reciprocated, and there continued to be few personal connections. Instead in 1985, the IPB concentrated on building up its own organisation, expanding membership, and starting campaigns in the fields of arms trade, the illegality of nuclear weapons, a nuclear test ban, foreign military presence and the arms race at sea (see below). None of these issues were the focus of the IPCC, and there continued to be a "division of labour" as the IPCC centred on coordinating demonstrations against the deployment of medium-range missiles in Europe.
After 1983, when the deployment of medium-range missiles started in Europe this issue lost its unifying force in the European peace movement. Many peace organisations started to focus on national issues. The IPCC started to meet less often, and also became less important as a centre for coordinating actions. Instead it became more of a "think-tank" for European peace movements. The persons that had been involved continued to meet regularly to discuss the development of the movement, and to keep each other informed. In 1989 IKV passed on the secretariat of the IPCC to the Belgian umbrella organisation VAKA and its international secretary Luc Deliens. Later the tasks were taken over by the Belgian WRI-section IOT, based in Brussels.
In the middle of 1989, 21 groups were affiliated to IPCC:
Pax Christi International
AGDF and Aktion Sühnezeichen (FRG)
VAKA (Flamish-Belgian Umbrella)
CNAPD (Walloon-Belgian Umbrella)
Committee of 100 and Peace Union (Finland)
Quaker Peace & Service and European Nuclear Disarmament (Britain)
No to Nuclear Weapons (Denmark)
No to Nuclear Weapons (Norway)
Campaign against Military Bases (Iceland)
Associazione per la Pace (Italy)
Comision Anti-OTAN (Spain)
Swiss Peace Council
Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society
IKV (The Netherlands)
Focusing the work of the IPB
During the time of the "counting of weapons" in the peace movement, civilian viewpoints on wars and the military system were kept in focus in the IPB through the work of the Peace Union of Finland, which between 1983 and 1987 organised three international seminars in Finland: "Children and War", "Youth and Conscription", and "Women and the Military System".
At the 1985 IPB General Assembly Bruce Kent, who had been vice-president of the IPB since 1982, was elected President. The Executive Committee now included more representatives of "grassroot activist" peace organisations, and the focus of the IPB shifted from the UN to peace movement campaigning. The need to further expand the membership was emphasised, and the General Assembly started to formulate Programmes of Action. The titles of the IPB-organised conferences started to reflect more action-oriented issues. The membership started to increase rapidly. The Finnish Peace Union, SPAS, GENSUIKYO and CND made efforts to raise more money for the running of the IPB secretariat in Geneva and a full-time secretary-general was appointed. The 1986 General Assembly in Greece adopted the first comprehensive Program of Action for the IPB. It included campaigns against arms trade and foreign military presence, for a nuclear test ban, for legal resistance to nuclear weapons, and for the right to Conscientious Objection.
International Arms Trade and SSD III
The IPB campaign against arms trade was brought into the Programme of Action by the Swedish member organisation SPAS. In 1983, SPAS had started a national campaign against Swedish arms trade, and had succeeded in placing the issue on the front pages of mass media. Arms smuggling by Swedish companies had been discovered by researchers of SPAS, and a lawsuit was opened against the major exporter Bofors. The "Bofors scandal" had many international connections, and a European cartel of companies that were smuggling explosives to Iran was discovered. It involved companies in Finland, Norway, Belgium, The Netherlands, Britain, France, Italy, Austria, Portugal and Yugoslavia. These companies cooperated to supply Iran and Iraq with huge quantities of explosive goods that they needed for the war. SPAS began to take this up at international peace movement meetings. A network of anti-arms trade campaigning organisations was created. In September 1987 the IPB organised a conference in Malmö about "International Arms Trade and International Institutions" to discuss how the arms trade could be fought through the UN, the European Parliament and other institutions. Peace organisations working against arms trade in the Netherlands, France, Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, Britain and other countries participated and a list of demands and action proposals to the UN and the European Parliament were developed, and adopted by the IPB:
"We urge the UN General Assembly, at SSD III to:
- issue a declaration on the dangers created by the arms trade.
- make a study on the issue of arms transfers.
- make a study on defensive and offensive weapons.
- establish a register of all production of military equipment.
- establish a register of all international transfers of military and security equipment.
- establish a register of end-user statements.
- agree on a set of principles guiding arms transfers.
- agree on a timetable for member states' disengagement from the international arms trade."
All UN member States were informed of the recommendations. The IPB condemned the arms trade as being immoral in its direct and indirect effects both in the countries producing weapons and in those countries to which they are transferred.
At the third UN Special Session on Disarmament in 1988 the IPB organised a forum on Arms Trade. The Arms Trade topic had the most active NGO lobbying at the Special Session. Countries that supported measures against arms transfers were Australia, Belgium, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, West Germany, Indonesia, Ghana, Nigeria, Peru and the UK (!). The Special Session could not find a consensus on a final document. However, the following UN General Assembly adopted a resolution that "requests member states to consider" a list of measures to reinforce control over the production and transport of arms and to provide more openness with regard to arms transfers. The UN secretary-general was also asked to seek and evaluate the views of the member states and to submit the issue to the next UN General Assembly. He was also requested to commission a study on the issue, and to produce information material on arms transfers. The issue had thus been firmly placed on the international agenda.
Recognition and expansion
1986 was the "International Year of Peace", declared by the United Nations. Many "Non-Governmental" organisations started peace-related activities during the year, and the United Nations Organisation also started to give credit to "NGOs" - who in fact had often been promoting the idea of the UN much more than the member states. The UN secretary-general created the "Peace Messenger" designation: "In recognition of a significant contribution to the programme and objectives of the International Year of Peace proclaimed by the UN General Assembly". On UN Peace Day September 15, 1987, 300 organisations, and 60 cities were designated "Peace Messenger". In 1988, 55 further organisations and 6 cities were designated "Peace Messenger". 15 of the member organisations of the IPB, and the IPB itself were given this recognition by the UN. They were AKE and KEADEA (Greece), Appel des Cent (France), Archivio Disarmo (Italy), ACDP (Australia), Concertation Paix et Dévéloppement (Belgium), IPPNO (USA), GENSUIKYO (Japan), National Peace Council (Britain), Paz y Cooperacion (Spain), Peace Union of Finland, the Swedish Peace Council, Women for Peace (Switzerland) and the Yugoslav League for Peace, Independence and Equality of Peoples.
In 1987 a record number of 26 peace organisations applied for membership of the IPB. The membership now totalled 60 full and 20 associated member organisations. The largest increase came from outside of Europe. The first peace organisations from developing countries had joined in 1986. They where the Nuclear-Free Philippines Coalition (NFPC) and the Anti-Bases Coalition (ABC), also in the Philippines. They were followed in 1987 by Servicio Paz y Justicia (SERPAJ) in Argentina, Anuvrat Vishna Bharati in India, the Islamic Society for International Unity and Peace in Pakistan, Sarvadhana Sangam in India, and the Indian CND. This large increase outside of Europe led to the first General Assembly of the IPB held outside Europe since World War II. The Australian Coalition for Disarmament and Peace (ACDP), the umbrella body for the Australian peace movement had joined the IPB in 1986. The 1988 IPB conference, "Disarming the Indian Ocean & Pacific Regions" was held in September 1988 in Sydney with ACDP sponsorship.
Changes in the East
The changes in the Soviet Union and in Eastern Europe, and the new multi-polarity of international relations, are of course having an impact on the activities of the IPB. A whole new scope for the IPB emerges: coordination of activities over the old East-West divide. There has never before been a Soviet member organisation in the IPB, or from any Warsaw Pact country after 1939. In 1989 the first application for membership from a Soviet organisation, the Foundation for Social Innovation, was submitted to the IPB General Assembly.
In 1988 and 1989 the WPC-affiliated Peace Committees in Hungary, Poland, GDR and the Soviet Union all experienced radical changes in policy, structure and activity. More importantly, many new, independent peace organisations emerged in Eastern Europe, and were allowed to act increasingly freely.
An article in the first WPC Peace News Bulletin of 1990 reflected the new atmosphere, the fact that it appeared in the WPC publication itself being characteristic:
"At a press conference, the Peace Council (East German WPC section) President, Professor Drefahl, stated that the organisation is abandoning its monopoly of representing all peace activists in the GDR. It wants to be one of several peace movements in the country. (...) According to Drefahl, the Peace Council lost its body while only its head continued to exist. Now the Council wants to become an association of individual members, one that is open to all who work for disarmament and safeguarding of peace. All motives for peace will be acceptable, including (long condemned) pacifism."
In February 1990, at the World Peace Council regular Congress in Athens, its 1987-1990 secretary-general Johannes Pakaslahti, as well as several national sections spoke for dissolution of the WPC. The Norwegian and Danish sections left the WPC. The important Finnish and US sections declined to nominate candidates for the 40-person governing board. The Soviet Peace Committee promised to continue to finance the WPC headquarters for one more year, but said that this financing would be drastically reduced. The rules of the WPC were changed in order to decentralise the organisation. Its future is uncertain.
The new peace organisations took the initiatives in the Eastern European peace movement. A major achievement was the organisation of the 1990 END Convention in Tallinn, Estonia. The Popular Front of Estonia, the Estonian Peace Committee, the Estonian Green movement all joined the END Liaison Committee and took part in the preparations. Dozens of organisations in Eastern Europe have been born. They include names like Freedom and Peace and the Polish Peace Coalition, the John Lennon Peace Club, Civic Forum, Peace Movement and Independent Peace Movement in Czechoslovakia. It will take time for the new organisations to become established. Links back in history have been cut off for 50 years or more.
7. A Retrospective, And A Glance At The Future
The 1980s have been rewarding years for the peace movement. With the effective use of mass media it has made extraordinary achievements. It started by making a continued arms race politically difficult, if not impossible in Europe. It managed to ban the Neutron Bomb from European soil. It prepared the "Western" ground for a new leadership and foreign policy in the Soviet Union. It changed the political face of Europe. The pro-nuclear policy of the West German Social Democratic Party was turned around 180 degrees, and the new Green Party achieved a vote of over 10%. The British Labour Party put unilateral nuclear disarmament on its election programme. The campaigns of the peace movement led to the first ever agreement on a reduction in nuclear arsenals. The movement has firmly implanted the idea of common security in discussions on international relations, thereby boosting the United Nations as a tool for the solution of conflicts. It has made disarmament "thinkable", and the cold war obsolete. It is keeping track of national arms expenditures, and provides the environment for forward-looking ideas and initiatives for peace and disarmament, once considered as too bold. US and Soviet medium-range nuclear weapons have, in fact, been abolished, and for the first time since the 1950s, real disarmament, nuclear and conventional, is under way.
We have seen the dismantling of the post-world-war-II political World Order, including (increasingly) free elections in all Eastern European countries except, as yet, Albania, in 1990. The Soviet Union has refused to intervene militarily in Rumania, even when - a historical irony - asked to by NATO country leaders.
On the global level there have also been changes, even if not as sweeping as in Europe. The US intervention in Panama, the events in Tiananmen square and the Soviet show of force in January 1991 in Lithuania and Latvia show that there are limits to the change, and that governments still very much rely on military force to impose their will. The dictator of Iraq has reminded us in August 1990, that humanity's bellicose history has not come to an end, and the result of the occupation of Kuwait is a disaster for hopes of peace in the Middle East, and may prove a disaster also for the future of the United Nations Organisation.
Still, the USSR has withdrawn from Afghanistan. Vietnam has withdrawn from Kampuchea. South Africa has withdrawn from Namibia, legalised the African National Congress, and may be heading towards abolishing the Apartheid system. The PLO, while waging the "Intifada", has committed itself to negotiations, with Israel still refusing. Civilian governments have come to power in the Philippines, Pakistan, Argentina and Chile.
Ideologically, there is a growing global consensus on the key value of democracy. This consensus will open up a new field of human progress, if it leads to the ever-increasing participation of each individual in political decision-making. That is what the peace movement has been very much about.
A multipolar world
While the events of the 1980s are not necessarily inter-related, two ongoing, major trends have had a global influence. The first is the change and opening up of the USSR, and the subsequent improving East-West relations.
Secondly, and related to the first, is the fact that the two superpowers, mainly the USSR but also the USA, have over-extended their military apparatus, and their global military and financial commitments. Their share of world production is shrinking. The USSR has been forced to withdraw its commitments to Vietnam and Angola, its intervention in Afghanistan, and it has pulled back troops from Europe and the Chinese border. Its control of Eastern Europe had become counter-productive, and its armaments economically unsustainable.
Shares of Gross World Product in percentages:
Less developed countries 14.2 19.3
Japan 4.5 9.0
EEC 26.0 22.5
USA 25.9 21.5
Other OECD 10.1 9.7
USSR 12.5 11.4
Other Communist countries 6.8 6.1
(Source: Kennedy, The Rise And Fall of the Great Powers)
The US has yet to face a major change in policy. While the accumulated US budget and trade deficits are rocketing, its Western allies and Japan are reluctant to take on the burden. They have sent money or troops to support the US-led alliance against Iraq, but not to the extent that the US has demanded. And Saudi Arabia has been asked, and can not well refuse, to foot half the bill for the US intervention. The cost for operating overseas bases and for naval deployments is growing ever higher. After World War II, the US's share of world production was around 40 percent. It has now - relatively - halved.
Globally, this amounts to a withdrawal of the world's two police forces that have been able to interfere and enforce their law practically everywhere in the world. Japan and the European Community/NATO could theoretically replace or reinforce the USA as a police force in many areas. China and India are already becoming great military powers.
India has tested a police role in the Maldives and Sri Lanka by sending troops to intervene in conflicts there. But it has to cope with domestic nationalisms and religious problems, and is likely to concentrate on regional problems and especially on its relations with Pakistan.
China, if its economic growth (of 8-10% annually during the 1980s) continues, will during the coming 10 years economically surpass France and Britain. It is rapidly modernising its army and navy (by cutting redundancy; presented as "disarmament"). It has acquired intermediate-range nuclear missiles, and nuclear submarines. It has fought successful wars against India and Vietnam (though with painful losses), and provides military assistance to several foreign armed groups. It has claims on Taiwan and border areas to the Soviet Union.
Japan, because of its past, and out of self-interest, seeks peaceful relations everywhere, and is reluctant to take on a policing role. It can, and does, however, increasingly use the carrot rather than the stick, and could provide a strong incentive for peace in the Philippines, southeast Asia and China, if it engages in substantial development programmes.
The European Community has until now avoided global military roles (or even discussions), even though France and Britain have engaged themselves in Chad, the Falkland Islands and the Middle East. NATO might in the absence of a defence role against the Soviet Union, develop into a global police and intervention force, especially since its leaders, notably the US, are now so desperately searching for new roles for the organisation.
The answer of the peace movement
Whatever happens, neither a military "Pax Sovietica" or "Pax Americana", or any substitute in the form of a Japanese, European, Indian or Chinese military police force can ever be the peace movement's solution to conflicts and war. The solution of the peace movement as it is described in chapter 1, rests on individual moral strength and freedom, international solidarity and friendship, non-violence, democracy, and the rule of law.
The lack of international law that overrides nations, ethnical, cultural or even secular groups and sovereign states makes aggression and oppression an almost "natural" state of affairs.
But such groupings and states are increasingly interacting in economical, intellectual and other spheres. "Spheres of inter-action" have overlapped more and more during modern history, especially since the beginning of the industrial age. It has created frictions, but the trend is inevitable, because it is wanted, and needed. With Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union falling in line, we now live in a practically single global economic system. We are also beginning to understand that we live in a single global ecological system.
Politically, the spheres are much less overlapping. But even there there is development. "Holy" sovereignty is slowly transferred to international and global bodies. While the United Nations could provide more authority and law, there are also more regional authorities now, that will have to check racial, ethnic, religious or political "nations" of all kinds.
We have an example in the Council of Europe. It has created a European Court of Human Rights, to which individuals can appeal, and to which the member states are subordinated. Another regional authority is the European Community, which eventually must be able to cope, not only with British and French imperialism and militarism, but with German economic dominance, and with local ethnic and political antagonisms.
To avoid new regional antagonisms, like a US-European trade war for example, regional "authorities" must have a relation and commitment to the United Nations, which itself must be able to cope with that kind of problem. The peace movement must demand that the European Community, the USA, USSR, Japan, China and India take a special interest in developing and strengthening international law.
In addition to supporting the United Nations and other international bodies (including demands for their reform and improvement) the peace movement should actively promote regional institutions that put the emphasis on non-military authority, work in the economic, cultural and political fields, and follow an open, non-sectarian policy. There are of course thousands of "NGOs" doing this, and they do have the support of the peace movement. But contacts should also be built with "semi-official" and governmental organisations, which today have far greater resources and influence, both in governments and the public mind.
Examples of existing official, semi-official or non-governmental bodies include the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), the Organisation of American States (OAS), the League of Arab States, the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Non-Aligned Movement. International "NGOs" with great influence include the World Council of Churches, the International Red Cross and the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU).
Facing new challenges
In Asia China's increasing fire-power (the "fourth modernisation"), India's economic development and its possibly nuclear hostile neighbour, together with unsolved international conflicts (the Sino-Soviet border, the Chinese-Indian border, the division of Korea, the situation in Kampuchea and in the Philippines, the civil war in Sri Lanka, the status of Tibet, Kashmir, East Timor, Taiwan, the Kurile Islands and Hong Kong) are an explosive mix.
In Europe, even the stable West European governments have not yet found an acceptable answer to the ethnic conflicts in the Basque country, Northern Ireland, Corsica and Cyprus. The future of Germany raises many fears. The prospect of a "Europe of Regions" to which central power is transferred, might eventually provide a democratic solution.
For Eastern Europe and for the Western parts of the Soviet Union the situation is different. Many questions are now demanding answers almost at once. In the wake of the present withdrawal of the USSR, earlier suppressed regional, national, ethnic and religious conflicts are coming to the surface. There are emerging conflicts in Moldavia-Rumania, Hungary-Rumania, Bulgaria-Turkey, Yugoslavia and Yugoslavia-Albania, Ukraine, Georgia, the Baltic Republics, and, perhaps, between Poland and Lithuania, between Poland and Germany and between Poland and the Soviet Union.
Similarly, a future US military-political withdrawal from global affairs may set the stage for new violence between Greece and Turkey, further violence in the Middle East, such as between Israel and Egypt (and other Arab States), increased fighting in the Philippines, maybe in Korea, certainly in Central America, although it is difficult to imagine a US withdrawal from there.
It is now hard to find anybody who is against "Democracy". But the way the term is understood in the West, it contains many contradictions. In parliamentary states in Europe as in the US, such contradictions were exposed on a mass scale in the 1980s. Opinion polls showed that popular will in practically all European countries and the US was diametrically opposed to the policies of the governments on the issues of deployment, Freeze, and Nuclear Test Ban.
The peace movement must therefore fill the term with its own content, by highlighting the human values, rights and principles, that are essential to democracy. There is no democracy when majorities can oppress minorities, or when "democratic" countries can exploit or frustrate peoples in other areas of the world. A most blatant example is French nuclear testing in the Pacific, but there are of course, many. The idea of threatening whole peoples with nuclear annihilation is the very negation of "democracy".
At the turn of the decade, we are hearing triumphant proclamations of the final victory of capitalism and the demise of communism. Capitalism is not democracy. In fact, one result of Glasnost and Perestroika, as well as the installation of non-communist governments in Eastern Europe, could be a decline in criticism of the exploitative sides of capitalism.
Another old mistake is to confuse democracy with the "principles of national self-determination". The victorious powers of the first world war tried to draw the new European borders along ethnic dividing lines, and thus created many new national states: Poland, the Baltic states, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Finland, Hungary and Austria. They were aware of the shortfalls and even dangers of "national self-determination", and therefore tried to force the new states to protect their minorities in their constitutions. It often failed. It is impossible to separate the European ethnic groups. The new European order, based on ethnic "nations", instead often created smaller, more exposed, more oppressed, and therefore more aggressive minorities. Self-determination in Indo-china at the end of the 1940s and in Africa in the 1960s created many ethnic and national-territorial conflicts.
Some states have managed to channel nationalism into political, rather than ethnic, religious or cultural nationalism, like Switzerland, and to a large degree the USA. However, US acts abroad "to protect the lives of American citizens" (the argument given for the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as well as for the recent invasions of Grenada and Panama) warn of the dangers of this kind of nationalism too.
"National self-determination" based on ethnic nationhood, sometimes, as in the case of the Baltic states amplified by claims for "historic rights", is powerful as a rallying-cry for the oppressed. But for the peace movement, it is a sterile concept. The peace movement will have to search for ways to channel nationalist activism into democratic activism. The matter is pressing. There are emerging or existing ethnic battlefields in India, Sri Lanka, Burma, Northern Ireland, Spain, Yugoslavia, Armenia-Azerbajian, South Africa, Sudan, Chad, Ethiopia, Zaire, Kurdistan, Lebanon, Georgia, Israel and in numerous other places, not even mentioning the East European ones. We have to remember that hardly any of the world's states is ethnically homogeneous. The great majority govern a mix of races, religions, languages and cultures. No measure of national self-determination will change that.
All things considered, the peace movement faces new challenges to world peace, not lesser than the East-West conflict, and much more complex. In addition, while the peace movement has coped with (or, at least, has had experience of) chauvinism and racism in Europe and North America before, potential conflicts and clashes in Asia are a very new focus for most IPB member organisations.
The organised peace movement
However strong the peace movement is as an independent force for change, it still mainly responds to political and social developments. Obviously, the tasks of the peace movement will always be education for peace, and expressing the demand for disarmament and peace. Its international bodies, like the IPB, must provide for communication and exchanges between the many different groups, and strengthen the movement, especially in countries where it is still weak. There are, and will be, many concrete political focuses for the movement: the reduction of military budgets, the naval and foreign military presences, the change of strategy of the military alliances and their eventual dissolution, and a strengthened conflict-resolution machinery, for example the United Nations.
Organisationally, the movement faces a new situation. Although the incredible increase in the number of peace groups since 1980 has slowed, and the individual membership of many peace organisations has stabilised, there are now many more active groups and persons than before. In addition, organisations primarily concerned with Third World development, solidarity, ecology or culture, often consider themselves as part of the peace movement. So do churches, some political parties, and labour unions.
Before the First World War "pacifists" organised in "Peace Societies" that had a clear and simple political program under the leadership of the International Peace Bureau. The evolution of the organisational structure of the international peace movement has been from formal "Union" to "Liaison Committee", from "Confederation" to (many) "mutual interest networks". In other words, it has moved from a rather tight but limited institution, to loose structures, comprising millions of people and thousands of organisations in many different parts of society.
The reason for getting organised is that by concentrating their resources and focusing their aims, people have greater influence. But with more and more peace groups, it is not evident that the resources of the peace movement are concentrated. This decentralisation has been seen as a guarantee against political take-over, or manipulation by powerful institutions or other movements with aims that have nothing to do with peace. On the other hand, it has allowed some politicians with good access to mass media to present themselves as peace movement leaders, while secretly closing arms deals, agreeing to cold war confrontationist policies, compromising with the military-industrial complex, or blocking arms control negotiations. All this confuses the outlook of the peace movement in the view of the public. It will lead to powerlessness, if peace movement organisations and their leaders hold on to the traditional, almost instinctive adversarial approach to other organisations, and continue to define and enforce narrow organisational, ideological and other boundaries (not to speak of social class, race, gender, religion, nationality and the like). If the peace movement is to maintain a direction, quick horizontal communication must have priority. Peace movement organisations and leaders must learn to see themselves as parts of one large social and political movement for peace. Different organisations may have different tasks and specific aims, but their efforts should be seen as a contribution to a common aim, that should of course be constantly discussed.
As shown in the previous chapters, there have been tremendous ups and downs in the peace movement during the last century. As an organised movement, it has made gains. Each "wave" has added diversity, and human, financial, organisational and ideological resources.
"One-issue movements", committees or campaigns, such as No to Nuclear Weapons are the quick response to political challenges. They are the best way to focus public attention, and quickly organise political work. They constitute the upward thrust of a peace movement "wave".
"General purpose", individual membership organisations such as the long established Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society are slow to pick up new challenges - they also have other concerns. The Swedish campaign against a Swedish Atom Bomb of the 1950s and the initiative for a Nordic Nuclear-Free Zone in the 1980s were at first organised mainly outside of the established structure. Eventually, SPAS (and other organisations) actively took up the issue, giving it an organisational and resource-base.
In the ideal case, when an issue fades - in mass the media, in acuteness, in campaign activity - there is a pooling of resources, as in the case of the merger of Sane and Freeze in 1988 in the USA. General purpose, individual member organisations are best suited to carry on, securing gains already made. They are less dependent on public "whim". Sometimes, one-issue campaigns constitute themselves as individual member organisations and take up new issues, thereby becoming "general purpose". This has happened in CND, United Kingdom in the 1960s, and is currently happening for example in VAKA, Belgium.
The global outcome has been a growing human, financial and organisational base, a resource-pool for new initiatives. The anti-arms-trade campaign of the middle 1980s that provoked such an international response for example, was not only a reaction to national or world events, but the result of a decision by the SPAS membership assembly in 1984, which was able to devote quite large resources for research and campaigning on arms trade. This resource-pool is a motor for continued mobilisation and campaigning, and keeps the movement ready for new political challenges.
In the worst case, the wave fades away and disappears, and its activists and movement organisers are left in limbo. The reasons for this happening can be jealousies or "organisational egoism" in new movements, or conservatism in established organisations. This worst case has happened three times in the history of the IPB.
First, immediately after the First World War, when the Council of the IPB declared radical pacifism as incompatible with liberal pacifism and closed the door to the radicals. The peace movement wave of the 1920s created its own organisations, but many of them later disappeared. Large national movements, such as the German Nie Wieder Krieg are unknown today. Eventually the IPB recognised the "equality" of pacifism and anti-militarism, but it was already too late.
Secondly, after the Second World War. This time the reluctance to change in the IPB Council was so great, that the IPB itself faded away, board members actually dying of old age, unable to rejuvenate its membership. The peace movement had to re-create the IPB from scratch, without the help of the IPB's resources.
Thirdly, in 1963, when the ICDP was created, and was denied both cooperation and financial help, except for some minor grants, from the IPB. The ICDP and IPB finally did merge in 1984, but this was too late to be of assistance to the emerging peace wave of the 1980s.
Once the relay was managed. In the 1890s, ethical and "classical" pacifism were successfully amalgamated in the IPB. This led to maybe the strongest peace movement to date.
A second time is now. Nuclear pacifist movements of the 1980s are increasingly using the IPB as their international vehicle. But the IPB has not yet managed to take full advantage of the political methods of the one-issue movements of the 1980s, such as internationally coordinated mass media focused campaigning and large demonstrations. Partly, that has been on purpose, in order to obtain a division of labour in the peace movement. Eventually however, the relay has to be made, or large movements will wither and die.
An additional relay is approaching: the potential pooling of the peace movement in Eastern European countries, including in the Soviet Union, with the "Western" peace movement. The Peace Committees in the Warsaw Pact countries are the remnants of the Communist peace wave of the 1950s. Drawing their ideas, leaders, and not least money from the states and the Communist Parties, they never had to develop into general purpose, individual membership organisations. In Hungary, Poland, Czechoslovakia, former GDR and the Soviet Union the peace committees are now either dissolving or "restructuring", and alternative movements are allowed. The IPB should be open to them all. The World Peace Council has had far more contacts with Third World movements than "Western" peace movements. Such contacts are an essential resource for the peace movement.
Networking and communicating have become easier and cheaper. There is so much more widespread awareness of the global character of the problems of the world. When it comes to pollution, disease and military security we know today that we are all sitting in the same boat, and that we have to solve our problems together. I hope the IPB will be able to develop its networking and communication role further. To do this it must be open for sometimes rapid change. Above all, it must be able to serve peace activists promoting new ideas. The IPB, together with thousands of other organisations, should be their tool.
(c) Rainer Santi and International Peace Bureau