Just Defence: 1992 onwards

To be added: The work on Benign Intervention  – Bradford ‘s Department of Peace Studies, 1992-4

Recent history 2001-2010. For indications of earlier work from a wide range of sources see the ‘Articles’ page. 

2001

People from a range of organisations gathered to discuss proposals for an alternative role for Britain’s armed forces at the Quaker International Centre on 29th June 2001. The organisations included the Centre for Peacebuilding, Just Defence, the Security Studies project, UNA (UK), the Quaker Socialist Society, a retired Indian General, a Friend of Peace Studies (Bradford), a member of the Peace Museum project, an associate member of Scientists for Global Responsibility, a member of the Oxford Research Group, the New Economics Foundation, several members of CND and Britain in the Real World (a coalition of West Midlands NGOs).

The outcome was the commissioning of Steve Schofield to write a study of the implications of the UK adopting a non-offensive defence policy. Steve had been a research fellow in the Department of Science and Technology at the University of Manchester for four years, and then worked with the Project on Demilitarisation  (ProDem) in Leeds.

At the time, encouraging news was coming from Sweden: “Sweden is abandoning the model built up during the Cold War when it was preparing for a large-scale military attack from the east. Cutbacks have been made in the army, navy and airforce – the funds released to be redirected into modernising equipment and the rest of the budget used to address unemployment.” [The Times: Sweden fears no foe as forces are cut – Roger Boyes, 18.5.01]

2002

Public consultations in New Zealand through the 90s eventually culminated in 2002 to ‘minimal, non-provocative defence’. The ANZAC Treaty was not renewed and, following a review of defence policy, combat and trainer jet aircraft and war frigates were scrapped.

Canada disbanded its airborne regiment following public outrage at cruelty perpetrated in Somalia and at that time, Germany was honouring Article 26 of its constitution [Ban on preparations for war of aggression]

At a Quaker Socialist Society meeting with MPs in the House of Commons on March 5th, Alice Mahon, Alan Simpson and Harold Best were asked if the UK government would be well advised to adopt a non-offensive defence policy as advocated in a forthcoming report by Dr Steve Schofield  – heartened by the example of New Zealand, Canada, and Sweden. They agreed.

On December 4th, Dr Steven Schofield’s study of the implications of the UK adopting a non-offensive defence policy was launched in the House of Commons, hosted by former defence minister, Peter Kilfoyle. The launch was attended by members of Abolition 2000, UNA, CAAT, UNGA-Link, The Gandhi Foundation, Vision and Values, Peace Child Foundation, Romania Concern, CCMJ, Community for Reconciliation, Ekklesia, Just Defence, Quaker Socialist Society, CND, Movement for the Abolition of War, Low Level Radiation Group, WDM, and FEASTA. Cross party support from MPs was sent by letter and email, though an unexpected student lobby of Parliament limited or precluded the attendance of all but Peter Kilfoyle and Harold Best.

Thomas Axelsson, a diplomat with responsibility for military affairs at the Swedish Embassy in London, phoned to offer future co-operation and assured us that Sweden would continue its non-offensive defence policy for many years – “for the foreseeable future”.

Two scenes of a simple video were shot. Four people hailing from Sweden, New Zealand, Japan and Switzerland, had agreed to present the defence policies of their respective countries. Our videomaker was, however, unable to complete this task and we could not afford a professional. 

2003-2006: defensive defence work was in the doldrums, only encouraged by the 2004 Ministry for Peace event. It kept a ‘watching brief’ – noting:

2003

In April John Humphrys wondered:”if my grandson might not be better off in one of those countries that enjoys prosperity and a degree of self-confidence without having to win it on the battlefield; somewhere like Sweden, maybe . . . new babies unsettle you. You see the future in them. The greatest blessing you can bestow on a child is peace . . .”

On October 15th Switzerland’s sponsorship of an unofficial Israeli-Palestinian peace plan angered the Israeli government. The 50-page “Geneva Accord,” drawn up by former Israeli and  Palestinian government officials and veteran negotiators, proposed a Palestinian state and addressed some of the issues that have stalled earlier peace plans, including the question of Palestinian war refugees.

On 18th October 2003, the Mayor of Hiroshima, Tadatoshi Akiba, spoke at a public meeting of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in Manchester, UK. He has been president of Mayors for Peace since 1999.

2004

The Ministry for Peace held an open meeting at the House of Commons in July. An introduction to “Defensive Defence” or “Non Offensive Defence” was given before the panel discussion – “New Zealand, Switzerland, Japan and Sweden have official defence/foreign policies which preclude them from attacking other countries. Should this model be adopted in the UK?” It was chaired by David Wardrop (Chair, UNA Westminster)

2007-2009: The Defensive Defence proposal gained 54% vote in the 2007 Simultaneous Policy election, 61% in 2008 [with 3355 ‘views’] rising to 64% in 2009. That was very encouraging.

2009

The May Update reported Dr Ian Davis’ suggestion that a working group be set up under the ‘umbrella’ of NATO Watch.  Volunteers included people from Japan, New Zealand, Sweden and America. Recently the website was finalised, with a Non-offensive Defence section.

In its opening article, Strengthening the Non-Aggression Norm within NATO, Dr Davis recommends that “rather than deregulating the rules of German military engagement, we should be looking to include similar non-aggression clauses in the national legislation of other NATO member states”.

2010: an independent CIVILISATION 3000 weblog was set up in February focussing on civilised attitudes to defence.

BP: March 2010 

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