PEACE in Action

Policies for a More Secure World

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Peaceful Prevention of Deadly Conflict
Policies for a More Secure World

To effectively address current and future threats to peace and security, the U.S. needs a new security strategy for the peaceful prevention of deadly conflict. Such a strategy would reduce reliance on 11th hour military responses to conflict and invest in the development and early application of peaceful alternatives to war. These alternatives include:

  1. International Cooperation and the Rule of Law
  2. Preventive Diplomacy and Peace Operations
  3. Arms Control and Disarmament
  4. Human Rights and Good Governance
  5. Sustainable Development and Human Security
  1. International Cooperation and the Rule of Law
    Goal: Strengthen international law and multilateral cooperation to address global threats to peace and security.
    • Revoke the policy of preventive war;
    • Support and strengthen the United Nations and other international institutions working for the peaceful prevention and settlement of conflicts;
    • Work with the UN Security Council to address emerging conflicts and threats to peace and security before they reach crisis levels;
    • Ratify the Rome Statute and support the International Criminal Court in bringing human rights abusers and perpetrators of crimes against humanity to justice, and
    • Fulfill U.S. commitments under international treaties and work cooperatively for the strengthening of international law on arms control, human rights, the environment, and trade.
  2. Preventive Diplomacy and Peace Operations
    Goal: Enhance the international community's capacity to prevent the escalation of conflict, effectively respond to emerging crises, and rebuild societies shattered by war and conflict.
    • Contribute annually to the UN's Trust Fund for Conflict Prevention;
    • Invest in research and training for national, regional, and international early warning systems and early response mechanisms;
    • Support the use of preventive diplomacy, including the use of mediation, arbitration, and confidence-building measures to deescalate tensions and resolve conflicts;
    • Support the creation of new international capacities for preventing and responding to conflict, including a stand-by corps of conflict resolution and prevention experts, as well as an international civilian police corps;
    • Support and fund more effective civilian post-conflict reconstruction initiatives, including reconciliation and restorative justice programs.
  3. Arms Control and Disarmament
    Goal: Reduce the threat of weapons of mass destruction and the escalation of conflict by enhancing international arms control and disarmament regimes.
    • Renounce the first use of nuclear weapons, prohibit the development of new nuclear weapons, and stop the push for new nuclear testing in the U.S.;
    • Ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, fulfill U.S. obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and support the expansion of the NunnLugar cooperative threat reduction program;
    • Strengthen the Biological Weapons Convention and the Chemical Weapons Convention through enhanced monitoring and inspections;
    • Work to create zones free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East and other regions;
    • Support multilateral efforts, including the UN small arms process, to limit the spread of weapons;
    • Enhance U.S. and international arms export controls, end U.S. military assistance to repressive regimes, and work internationally to end weapons flows to regions of conflict and abusive regimes.
  4. Human Rights and Good Governance
    Goal: Strengthen human rights and promote good governance as foundations for stable, secure societies.
    • Support active cooperation between the UN Office for the High Commissioner on Human Rights and the Security Council's Counter Terrorism Committee;
    • Support the deployment of international human rights monitors in situations of conflict and emerging crises;
    • Uphold U.S. commitments under international humanitarian law, including the protection of civilians in situations of conflict;
    • Ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child and work to end the use of child soldiers;
    • Ratify the Convention to End Discrimination Against Women and support an increased role for women in conflict management and peacebuilding, economic life, and the political arena;
    • Support programs to strengthen civil society and promote human rights awareness, democracy, transparency, accountability, and peacebuilding, particularly in pre- and post-conflict situations.
  5. Sustainable Development and Human Security
    Goal: Address the root causes of violent conflict by meeting basic human needs and promoting more equitable use of world resources.
    • Increase funding for programs to integrate conflict prevention and peacebuilding within traditional development assistance;
    • Increase U.S. development assistance to the world's poorest countries and work to ensure transparency and accountability in aid distribution;
    • Actively work to implement the UN Millennium Development goals, including halving global poverty by 2015, promoting environmental sustainability, and creating a global partnership for development to address issues of aid, trade, and debt;
    • Provide generous and effective U.S. funding -- bilaterally and through the UN -- for the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis in Africa and other highlyinfected regions;
    • Reduce U.S. dependence on oil by lowering consumption, developing renewable sources of energy, and promoting alternative modes of transportation;
    • Work with the international community to make clean water accessible and affordable for all.
Peaceful Prevention of Deadly Conflict is available in both English and Spanish. For information on ordering, readers can visit The FCNL website
  • What is the peaceful prevention of deadly conflict?
    The peaceful prevention of deadly conflict is a paradigm for addressing conflict issues as well as a set of policies for building national and global security in the 21st century. It begins from the premise that preventing the outbreak of violent conflict and wars is less costly and can be more effective than responding, often through military force, once crises have already erupted.
  • Are there cases where violent conflict has been prevented?
    In 1978, when longstanding tension between Argentina and Chile over a strip of water known as the Beagle Channel threatened to disintegrate into full-blown war, Pope John Paul II sent his personal envoy to act as mediator between the two countries. Six years of continued peace efforts, facilitated by Papal officers, held off war long enough for the military regimes of both countries to lose much of their authority, and a final treaty was signed in 1984. In India in 1991, social and religious tensions in the shantytowns of Ahmedabad were erupting into violence with increased frequency. Saint Xavier's Social Service Society launched a program of peace initiatives such as street plays, festivals and community meetings that served to counter propaganda and diffuse confrontations.
  • Who is working toward the peaceful prevention of violent conflict?
    The UN Security Council, General Assembly, and UN agencies, as well as the European Union, the African Union, the World Bank, national governments like Sweden, development programs like the US Agency for International Development (USAID), and many nongovernmental groups working around the world have taken steps to establish policies and programs for the peaceful prevention of deadly conflict. Many peace and conflict scholars continue to make essential contributions to the field. The SecretaryGeneral's Report on the Prevention of Armed Conflict includes 29 recommendations for making progress on prevention in the UN, among Member States, in regional organizations and with civil society groups. The General Assembly of the United Nations has also affirmed the principles and policy directives of conflict prevention in Resolution 57-337, passed in July 2003. Efforts to implement these recommendations are underway, including planning by the Global Partnership for Prevention of Armed Conflict for an international conference on the role of civil society in conflict prevention to be held at the UN in 2003.

[Excerpted from "Frequently Asked Questions" section of If war is not the answer, what is? Peaceful Prevention of Deadly Conflict, Friends Committee on National Legislation, Washington, D.C.]

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