Citizens’ Peace Diplomacy
Every one of us can contribute to the cause of peace — not only in our own communities but also nationally and internationally. “Citizen’s Diplomacy” means that ordinary citizens and their local political representatives — at city, county, and state levels — take responsibility for establishing peaceful, constructive relationships between nations. Forming these relationships is essential, given the reluctance of the U.S. federal government to solve international conflict diplomatically.
Let us take the very dangerous conflict between N. Korea and the United States as an example. U.S. cities can form sister city relationships with Korean cities, North and South. With an awareness that war is devastating to human life, including the lives of children, a school district in the United States can seek to create a friendly relationship with a corresponding school or school district in North or South Korea. American teachers and students might ask to visit schools in North and South Korea, and invite their teachers and students to visit our schools. The better we understand one another, the less likely we will be to view one another as “the enemy.” We can resolve to live together in peace, and insist that our leaders find non-violent, collaborative solutions to the problems facing our respective countries and the world.
There are other ways as well in which local political officials and the constituencies they represent can advance this cause. Every state in the nation can become a center for peace education and advocacy, forming a “peace institute” as described below.
Create Publicly Funded “Peace Institutes” in the 50 States. War-making is enabled by misinformation: leaders and mass media misrepresent international conflict as resolvable only through military intimidation and force. To counter this misinformation, the first responsibility of our peace movement is education. Peace institutes organized in each state can conduct research and provide information to citizens seeking to understand war and peace issues.
Every state in the nation current depends economically, to one degree of another, on military industry and military installations. A peace institute can investigate and inform the public about the economic prospects of peace, including conversion of a military economy to a peace economy dedicated to meeting real human needs.
These are additional activities that a peace institute could carry out:
- Organize town hall meetings and other vehicles of dialogue about war and peace issues.
- Develop curriculum on war and peace issues for use in schools.
- Facilitate re-training and guarantee alternative employment for soldiers and military industry workers, enabling them to apply their experience and skills to civilian production.
- Form relationships with organizations and governments in other countries to advance mutual understanding and peaceful collaboration.
- Monitor all domestic weapons production, including non-military arms, conventional military arms, and nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons.
- Develop a program to train peace activists and teach and promote non-violent methods of conflict resolution.
- Monitor and support human rights domestically and abroad.
- Provide information and make recommendations to the President and Congress about diplomacy and non-violent conflict resolution.
- Advocate for the observance of a national Peace Day, which may or may not coincide with World Peace Day (Sept. 21) established by the U.N.