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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Bastardization of “peace” protested

 Rein in politicization of Pacifist Von Suttner-inspired Prize
Reporting, editing by Carolyn Bennett

omas Magnusson of the International Peace Bureau writes what I’ve been thinking

Legitimate winners of Nobel Peace Prizes should be opponents rather than proponents of militarist programs and policies.

“The world,” Tomas Magnusson recounts, “spends exorbitant amounts on a busted model of security and an illusion that it can be achieved in confrontation rather than cooperation.

To use the peace prize to promote the visionary peace plan of Nobel would be the best thing that could happen to the poor and unhappy of the world, to the environment, human rights, democracy, women and children, victims of war — everywhere, every year.” 

Alfred Nobel, he says, “gave his peace prize to the world, wishing to foster innovative changes that would ‘confer the greatest benefit on mankind.’” 

Alfred's legacy
Questionable “peace” Alfred

At the time of his death in 1896, Nobel Prizes founder Alfred Bernhard Nobel’s worldwide business empire consisted of more than 90 factories manufacturing explosives and ammunition.

“The opening of Nobel’s will, which he had drawn up in Paris on November 27, 1895, and had deposited in a bank in Stockholm,” a Britannica article states, contained a great surprise for his family, friends, and the public. He left the bulk of his fortune in trust to establish what came to be the most highly regarded of international awards, the Nobel Prizes.

The reason the explosives manufacturer decided to fund peace prizes is unclear, the writes says, but the “most plausible assumption is that a bizarre incident in 1888 may have triggered the train of reflection that culminated in his bequest for the Nobel Prizes. That year his brother, Ludvig, had died while staying in Cannes, France, and the French newspapers reported Ludvig’s death but confused him with Alfred; and one paper ran the headline ‘The merchant of death is dead’ (‘Le marchand de la mort est mort’).

Questionable “peace” prizewinners

 Bertha von Suttner
“Perhaps,” the writer continues, “Alfred Nobel established the prizes to avoid precisely the sort of posthumous reputation suggested by this premature obituary. …

“There is also abundant evidence that his friendship with the prominent Austrian pacifist Bertha von Suttner inspired him to establish the prize for peace.”

Nevertheless, the peace prize exists and one would think its purpose is to encourage peace not militarism and to reward those who have demonstrated through their works their genuine support for peace, nonviolence; not war or militarism. 

Tomas Magnusson continues in his article, “Why Isn’t the Nobel Peace Prize for the Champions of Peace?”

“Norwegian politicians,” he says, “are entitled to have their opinion on the EU (the latest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize) as a contributor to ‘peace’ and they are free to throw great parties for political friends but they are not free to use the entrusted money and the prestige of the Nobel prizes to promote their own agendas.

WAR partners
“A will is a legally binding instrument, yet, in the last decade, the prize has become totally disconnected from Nobel’s disarmament purpose.” Illustrating his point, Magnusson cites questionable peace prizewinners:

Finnish politician Martti Ahtisaari (2008)
U.S. president Barack Obama (2009)
for democracy in China (2010) and
for the European Union (2012).

“By insisting on using their own, entirely open concept of ‘peace’ as their criterion,” he says, “Norwegian politicians have taken over the prize and use it for any purpose they like.”

Peace Prize Laureate
Mairead Maguire
Some peace laureates have reacted to the politicization of the prize for peace. Calling the grant unlawful, the International Peace Bureau, Desmond Tutu, Mairead Maguire and Adolfo Perez Esquivel in late November protested the Nobel Committee’s grant of the peace prize to the EU. The IPB demanded intervention from Swedish authorities.

Though there is always an element of peacemaking in people and nations getting together, talking, and making agreements, Magnusson says —

Nowhere has the EU declared a political ambition to promote the global peace order of demilitarized nations that Nobel described with unmistakable clarity in his will.

Quite to the contrary, the EU has a multitude of programs for development of arms and armies, a defense agency, battle groups and arms production and trade.

Sources and notes

“Why Isn’t the Nobel Peace Prize For the Champions of Peace?” (Tomas Magnusson [gÖteborg]), December 5, 2012, Inter Press Service

GÖTEBORG, Dic 05 (IPS) - Leaders of the European Union (EU) will gather in Oslo this Monday to receive an increasingly controversial Nobel Peace Prize. Alfred Nobel, the Swedish inventor and industrialist, established the five prizes by his will in 1895 and there is a growing international awareness that his prize "for the champions of peace" does not go to the recipients Nobel had in mind. http://www.globalissues.org/news/2012/12/05/15446

Tomas Magnusson is co-president of the International Peace Bureau.

International Peace Bureau (IPB)

The International Peace Bureau is dedicated to the vision of a World without War; its current main program centers on Sustainable Disarmament for Sustainable Development and it campaigns mainly on the reduction of military expenditure.

International Peace Bureau believes by reducing funding for the military sector, significant amounts of money would be available for social projects domestically or abroad and would lead to the fulfilling of real human needs and general development. The group supports disarmament campaigns and provides them with knowledge about the economic dimensions of weapons and conflicts.

It is comprised of 300 member organizations in 70 countries together with individual members from a global network who bring together expertise and campaigning experience in a common cause. International Peace Bureau tries to link different experts and campaigns working on similar issues in order to create strong civil society movements.

IPB is a Nobel Peace Laureate (1910) and over the years, 13 of its officers have been recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize.

International Peace Bureau: 41 rue de Zurich, 1201 Geneva, Switzerland

International members of IPB

African Religious Youth Network
Anglican Pacifist Fellowship
Corporate Accountability International
Earth Action International
Global Initiatives for Sustainable Development and Humanitarian Action
Global Network against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space
ICW Global - International Community of Women Living with Aids
International Association of Educators for Peace
International Association of Lawyers against Nuclear Arms
International Buddhist Council
International Council "For the Children of Chernobyl"
International Federation for East Timor
International Fellowship of Reconciliation
International Network of Engineers and Scientists against Proliferation
International Network of Engineers and Scientists for Global Responsibility
International Philosophers for Peace and the Elimination of Nuclear and Other Threats to Global Existence (IPPNO)
Nonviolence International
Pax Christi International
Peace and Cooperation - Paz y Cooperacion
Peace Boat
Religions for Peace
The Ribbon International
Women for Peace, Finland

Military vs. Social Spending Imbalance between development and defense budgets:

Global military spending has increased by 50 percent over the past ten years, exceeding $1735 billion in 2011, according to the estimates of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. The biggest military spenders are the United States (41 percent of the global total), Peoples Republic of China (8.2 percent), Russian Federation (4.1 percent), United Kingdom (3.6 percent), France (3.6 percent), Japan (3.4 percent), Saudi Arabia (2.8 percent), India (2.7 percent), Germany (2.7 percent), and Brazil (2 percent).

On the other hand, development aid offered by these countries is relatively low: the United States’ aid for 2010 represented only 4 percent of its military spending. The proportions for France and Japan are 20 percent. Preparing for war is apparently still more attractive than investing in sustainable development and promoting peace.

IPB is working on shifting funds from defense budgets to social projects, be they domestic or abroad; its aim a decrease of at least 10 percent of global military spending and reallocation to social and development programs.

http://www.ipb.org/web/index.php?mostra=content&menu=Military vs. Social Spending&submenu= Imbalance between development and defence budgets

Military vs. Social Spending Global Day of Action on Military Spending

In 2011, IPB launched the Global Day of Action on Military Spending in collaboration with the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) in Washington DC. The idea is to encourage organizations all over the world to join in raising awareness of the imbalance between military and social spending. Partner organizations are invited to create events in their respective cities on topics that relate to the local context but that show how much money their country spends in the defense sector.

In 2012, about 100 events took place in more than 40 countries. These were at the international, national, and local levels. Activists produced videos, constructed powerful public displays and performances, held press conferences and seminars, and mobilized public opinion in favor of reducing military spending.

At the national level, activists targeted their governments and their national media to influence the debate on military spending. At the international level, the UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs issued a supporting statement that concluded that GDAMS “should serve as a catalyst for shifting global and national priorities from massive military spending to creating human security and safety for all.”

The date of GDAMS depends on the publication of the SIPRI (Stockholm International Peace Research Institute) data on military spending. In 2012, it was April 17. SIPRI shares parts of this data with the organizers of GDAMS one week before the official publication in order to help us plan the events. http://www.ipb.org/web/index.php?mostra=content&menu=Military vs. Social Spending&submenu=Global Day of Action on Military Spending

Bertha von Suttner

Bertha von Suttner (Bertha Félicie Sophie, Freifrau von Suttner, née  Gräfin, Countess, b. June 9, 1843, Prague, Bohemia, Austrian Empire [now in Czech Republic], d. June 21, 1914, Vienna): Austrian novelist, one of the first notable woman pacifists; credited with influencing Alfred Nobel in the establishment of the Nobel Prize for Peace. She was the recipient in 1905. Her major novel, Lay Down Your Arms! (Die Waffen nieder!) 1889

Alfred Bernhard Nobel

Alfred Bernhard Nobel (b. October 21, 1833, Stockholm, Sweden, d. December 10, 1896, San Remo, Italy): Swedish chemist, engineer, and industrialist, invented dynamite and other more powerful explosives; Nobel also established the Nobel Prizes.


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