Some news from the UK’s Ministry for Peace



Sent by Diana Basterfield, co-founder of the ministry for peace with MP John McDonnell 

With the arrival of the new coalition government, and the imminent summer Parliamentary recess, the mfp National Coordinating Committee has decided to put a hold on public meetings for the moment. We want to get some understanding of this government’s policies on war and violent conflict first in order to know where to apply our energies . . . 

Amidst the gloom, there is some excellent news to report. On 21st June South Sudan set up a Ministry for Peace as the oil-producing region prepared for a referendum that could see it split away as an independent country. Southerners are widely expected to choose secession in the vote promised in the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that created a semi-autonomous southern government and ended more than two decades of civil war with the north.  

This is now the 4th such Ministry. The others are in the Philippines, the Solomon Islands and Costa Rica.  

The second positive note is on the question of our human nature. The Seville Report a good few years ago gathered research that showed that war -like behaviour – is learned, it is not innate. Now brain science is proving this.   Jeremy Rifkin has now brought together research in the neurosciences that confirms this. It seems that we are physiologically wired for empathy and compassion.   I’ve read and heard the same thing from Bruce Lipton and others.  To get a brilliant synopsis of his evidence I can highly recommend this short ten-minute film on the subject – with added cartoons. 

If you would like to take it further Jeremy Rifkin has written:  “The Empathic Civilization.  The race to global consciousness in a world in crisis” in which he asks:  “Can we achieve global empathy in time to avoid the collapse of civilization and save the planet?    The word “peace” has a bad press, is “empathy” the new word for peace? 

Finally, the All Party Parliamentary Group on Conflict Issues, that mfp helped to set up three years ago, has been reconstituted following the General Election, with the same three Co-Chairs, – Simon Hughes (now Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats), John McDonnell (Labour) and Gary Streeter (Conservative).  

We hope to see conflict transformation ideas taking their rightful place in the mainstream of political discourse.


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