Global Alliance for Ministries and Departments of Peace - A Vision for the Future


The World is at a Crossroads We have recently ended the most violent century in history and started the new millennium on a similar path. At the same time there is a new consciousness spreading in the world that we, the people, are the stewards of our precious but vulnerable planet; that the planet and its peoples are under threat from the culture of violence and war that is dominant in the world today; and that urgent action must be taken now to reveal and strengthen the countervailing culture of nonviolence and peace that to a large extent already exists.

Our culture is giving form to a strong and spreading awareness of the horror of war. In February 2003 there was an unprecedented demonstration by many millions of people worldwide against the Iraq war. As we look more deeply, we understand that war has its roots in the everyday violence that brutalises people and societies, from the direct violence in our homes, schools, communities, and the world, which causes death and injury to individuals and physical devastation to social and economic infrastructures and to the environment; to the structural violence embedded in our social, economic, and political institutions, which leaves millions marginalised and suffering in poverty; and to the cultural violence enshrined in our attitudes, customs, and even the common metaphors of our daily language.

More and more people are coming to realise that it is only by focusing our energies on tackling all forms of violence, including that to the environment, that the human race will have a viable future. In recent years groups in a number of countries have concluded that this vital work needs to be a central role of government. The USA, the United Kingdom, and Canada started initiatives to have Departments of Peace or Ministries for Peace established that would sit alongside existing government Departments.

These Departments would operate in the realm of foreign affairs as well as at home. Their work abroad would include monitoring the world scene for signs of conflict and taking pre-emptive measures as appropriate in partnership with other nations and world bodies, helping with the nonviolent resolution of conflicts that exist, and assisting with rehabilitation and reconciliation work after the cessation of conflicts. Their work at home would involve fostering a culture of peace at all levels of the community by transforming conflict in the home, the workplace, the school, and in all aspects of government. The vision is of a world in which peace, toleration, and justice prevail, within and between nations. Where all ethnic, racial, and religious differences are welcomed; in which territorial, cultural, and human rights are respected; and in which national and international structures are created to ensure that such rights prevail.

In October 2005 three organisations, the US Peace Alliance, the Canadian Federal Working Group for a Department of Peace, and the UK ministry for peace, organised the first People's Summit for Departments of Peace in London. This was done to share information and experience within existing groups and also to begin working with those considering setting up similar initiatives in other countries. Forty people from twelve countries attended the two day Summit. These countries were Australia, Canada, Israel, the occupied Palestinian territories, Italy, Japan, Spain, the Netherlands, Romania, the United Kingdom, Jordan, and the United States. Prominent supporters of the conference include UK John McDonnell MP, US Representative Dennis Kucinich and, from Australia, Dr. Arthur Chesterfield-Evans MP and Senator Natasha Stott Despoja.

A Report of the Summit as well as a transcript of public Remarks of John McDonnell regarding the importance of this initiative are available. The Summit concluded with a Declaration launching the International People's Initiative for Departments of Peace, which will support country-level working groups to establish Departments of Peace/Ministries for Peace. It is this initiative that has set up this website.