Global Article 9 Conference on the Abolition of War: A Significant Moment for Peace Education

Betty A. Reardon

Founding Director Emeritus, International Institute on Peace Education

(Welcome letter:Issue #54 – April 2008)  

Dear Friends in the Global Campaign for Peace Education,              

From May 3rd through May 6 peace activists, researchers and educators will gather in Makuhari near Tokyo, Japan to exchange possibilities, plan strategies and build solidarity for the preservation of Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution, and the adoption of similar constitutional provisions by other nations to advance the goal of abolishing war. 

This conference marks an opportunity to carry forward the abolition movement to which 10,000 peace activists from throughout the world committed themselves at the Hague Appeal for Peace Civil Society Conference in The Netherlands in May 1999. That conference that saw the launching of the Global Campaign for Peace Education (GCPE) placed the goal of abolition within a framework of the Hague Agenda, 50 areas of action that taken within the 21st century could lead to the practical achievement of a peaceful and just world order. The Hague Agenda and the Global Campaign acknowledge the complexities and difficulties integral to a serious commitment to peace, a commitment that requires intentional and coordinated learning and action and a vision of “another world” declared possible by the World Forum. 

As a peace educator I assert that making the possibility a reality necessitates worldwide intensive peace education, by which I mean intentional critical learning / civic action efforts in all communities, at all levels from local to global. Each community needs to understand the ways in which they are deprived of the full enjoyment of the criteria for human dignity and social justice enumerated in the international human rights standards by the inhumane demands as well as the human and environmental destructions inherent in the war system. So too, they need to address what changes and developments in their respective communities could challenge that system and contribute to the abolition of war. Through a discourse exploring how to demilitarize while strengthening capacities to fulfill human rights, all communities and all institutions could contribute to the strengthening of the abolition movement. One of the major purposes of the GCPE is to facilitate the discourse of abolition. “Learning to Abolish War” was a tool produced by the Campaign to assist educators in introducing the discourse into their teaching.

1) Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes.

 (2) In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.

-Article 9 (The Constitution of Japan)

The Global Article 9 Conference brings more productive concepts and discussions to the discourse of abolition through holding up for consideration the possibilities of constitutional prohibition of war such as that proclaimed in the Japanese constitution and the dissolution of national militaries pioneered by Costa Rica. These two model national initiatives embody essential aspects of the achievement of another world, strengthening legal prohibitions and obstacles to armed force to settle conflicts and achieve national goals, and demilitarization toward the achievement of a human security system to replace the war system. Coupled with the discourse of human rights, the language of justice, the Luarca Declaration of the Human Right to Peace that will also be discussed at the conference, these models provide the substance of another curricular tool for critical learning toward civic action for the abolition of war.

A workshop suggesting approaches to the development of such a tool will be presented at the conference by three educators active in the GCPE, Chieko Baba, a member of the team who translated “Learning to Abolish War” into Japanese, Kathy Matsui, Founding Director of the Department of Global Citizenship Education at Seisen University, Tokyo and Betty Reardon, a founder of the GCPE. We hope to share more about this tool and possibilities for preparing educators to facilitate a learning discourse on abolition in future issues of the GCPE newsletter.     

Betty A. Reardon
April 27, 2008