Ministry of Peace
The initial focus of this much needed Ministry is to oversea changes to a toxic family law system, and spearhead fundamentail changes to how this country deals with all issues regarding families.
The Ministry Of Peace can dare to tread where existing Government Ministries fear to go. They seem more concerned with saving money on Legal Aid etc. rather than leading fundamental social change.
As a virtual Ministry online to begin with, it could follow the path already laid down by the 10 Minute Bill (see below) and my short talk set’s up why I feel we need to make some fundamental changes in society, and I have much more data available to back up those arguments. I am already collating ideas about porposed fundamental changes to the Family Law System in collaboration with Charity Families Need Fathers, and I believe that teaching dispute resolution tools in all State schools (not just the private schools that are starting to do this already) would be another key aspect.
The benefits financially to the country would be significant over a long period of cultural change. Messy divorces and separation impacts society and the workplace and is a mental health issue, significantly increasing suicide rates. Family separation currently costs the UK ecomony £51 billion a year. That’s more than we spend on defence.
10 Minute Bill
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Ministry of Peace
John McDonnell (Hayes and Harlington): I beg to move,
That leave be given to bring in a Bill to establish a Ministry of Peace with the function of promoting conflict resolution and the avoidance of military conflict.
The Bill aims to establish a Ministry of Peace, a new Government Department whose sole purpose would be to focus the resources of Government on the promotion of peace and the eventual abolition of war. Let me explain briefly the genesis of the Bill. The history of the last millennium can be viewed as a search by humanity for peace and security. At first, that search was individual, pursued by individuals entering society to seek security and protection under nations, in the context of what the philosopher Thomas Hobbes described as
“the war of all against all”.
The next stage of this ceaseless search for peace was the societal attempt to gain safety from aggression between nations through the construction of treaties. Far from avoiding conflict, the treaty system produced the greatest war the world had experienced, which was fought at such human cost in the trenches of Flanders.
From the battlefields of the first world war came the next stage in the pursuit of peace—the foundation of the League of Nations. That first halting attempt to construct a permanent international structure for securing peace floundered in the face of fascist aggression and the ambiguity of the support of the League’s founding nations. Nevertheless, it placed on the post-second world war agenda the potential for creating global structures for peace, resulting in the launch of the United Nations, with the aim, made explicit in its founding charter, of saving succeeding generations from the scourge of war. Tragically, since that time, 120 wars have been fought in which more than 25 million people have been killed and 75 million injured. Increasingly the victims of war are non-combatants.
That stark evidence demands that, in this new millennium, humanity move on to a new stage in its search for peace. The first inkling of this new approach has tentatively emerged over the past decade from the intensive deliberations of the thousands of organisations and individuals who participated in the construction of the Hague agenda for peace and justice in the 21st century.
The Hague appeal recognised that the traditional approaches to preventing war and creating the conditions of permanent peace had largely failed, with disastrous consequences. A fundamentally new approach needs to embrace the roles of individuals, civil society, national Governments and supranational institutions, in creating the conditions for guaranteeing peace. Above all else, the Hague appeal is a proclamation that war is not some elemental, climactic force that can defy all control, but something which, being created and prosecuted by mankind, can therefore be eliminated by mankind.
The Hague peace process has engaged in a forensic examination of the root causes of war, and a discussion and promotion of the concrete actions that could be
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taken to prevent and, ultimately, eliminate war. That approach advocates the use of “soft power” paths, early intervention to identify the possible sources of conflict, and the use of education, negotiation, coalition building and reconciliation as the means of conflict resolution, which ultimately results in the replacement of the law of force with the force of law.
The Hague process urged the reform of supranational bodies such as the United Nations to enable the realisation of their global potential for securing permanent peace. In September, a draft statute was published to promote a United Nations commission for peace and crisis prevention, with the remit of strengthening the UN’s role
“in the peaceful resolution of conflicts and supporting the worldwide strengthening of peace work, peace education and peace research.”
In that context, we need to consider the reform not only of international structures, but structures of national Government to respond to this new peace agenda. To their immense credit, the Government have already gone some way in restructuring to promote conflict prevention and resolution. In a little publicised measure in 2001, the Government set up United Kingdom global and African conflict prevention pools. That initiative brought together the conflict prevention work of a series of Government Departments under an interdepartmental committee of Ministers to increase the Government’s overall impact in reducing the number of people around the world whose lives are affected by violent conflict.
This Bill builds on that Government initiative. It proposes that we take the next step in strengthening the Government’s role in promoting peace by giving greater authority and profile to this work through the establishment of a Ministry of Peace. This is a paving Bill, giving the Government the authority of Parliament to undertake a comprehensive consultation on the potential for establishing a Ministry of Peace. It proposes that the Government report back to Parliament within a designated period, following consultation with statutory bodies, relevant non-governmental organisations, religious groups and the general public.
A Ministry of Peace would perform the following core roles. First, it would provide within Government an expertise in non-violent conflict resolution, through which Government could be advised on how policies can be developed across Government to reduce the potential for conflict. Secondly, it would provide and co-ordinate the application of Government resources to foster greater understanding in Britain and the world of how war can be avoided and peace achieved.
Let me give some practical examples of what a Ministry of Peace could accomplish. If we are to achieve peace, we must understand conflict—how it occurs, and how it can be prevented. A Ministry of Peace would support and promote a renaissance of research in this country into the causes and impacts of conflict, monitoring potential areas of conflict and advancing
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practical techniques to avoid outbreaks of violence before they arise. That includes identifying the potential for conflict over the scarcity or maldistribution of natural resources, the impact of human rights abuses as a cause of conflict, the potential for reducing and eliminating the arms trade and demonstrating the potential of a variety of techniques for conflict resolution and effective community peace-building activities.
A Ministry of Peace would examine how we can undermine the culture of conflict that has grown up in our society at every level, so that Government could use their resources to educate our children and raise the consciousness of our communities and our international partners to ensure that mediation becomes the automatic response to a problem rather than violence, in the playground or on the battlefield. Our domestic and international policies would be prefaced and tested by the central question of whether they reduce conflict and violence or increase the risk.
Establishing a Ministry of Peace would put the pursuit of peace at the heart of Government. In future, Prime Ministers and Cabinets would be required demonstrably to consult the Ministry of Peace in the event of an impending military conflict, and Ministers across Government would draw on its expertise in the negotiation of international treaties and agreements.
The Bill envisages the establishment of a commission for peace to mobilise the depth of commitment in society, consisting of independent experts in the field drawn together to provide the Ministry of Peace with support and advice on best practice, monitor its activities and report to Parliament on its performance. A peace audit commission could thus engage members of our community in this venture for peace.
If nothing else, the war in Iraq demonstrated starkly the need for a new way to resolve the world’s conflicts. Yes, the idea of a Ministry of Peace is idealistic, but it is not unrealistic. The concept is catching the wind of political interest in the United States Congress—a similar Bill has been promoted by Dennis Kucinich—and in the peace movement across China and Japan, and elsewhere. A debate is taking place among the people as well as in Governments.
Given cross-party support for the Bill, we could begin the process of transforming the modern world’s first imperial power into the world’s leading peace power. Too much depends on our success for us to fail. I urge Members to support the Bill.
Question put and agreed to.
Bill ordered to be brought in by John McDonnell, Mr. Elfyn Llwyd, Mr. Alex Salmond, Mr. John Randall, Dr. Rudi Vis, Alan Simpson, Jeremy Corbyn, Mrs. Alice Mahon and Mr. Kelvin Hopkins.