Peace & Disarmament Education: Changing Mindsets to Reduce Violence and Sustain the Removal of Small Arms

The story of the partnership in Albania, Cambodia, Niger and Peru between the UN Dept for Disarmament Affairs and the Hague Appeal for Peace.

(Hague Appeal for Peace, 2005: isbn 0-9770827-0-9)

Introduction by Betty Reardon

2015-10-29 03.45.35 pmThe learning derived from the DDA/HAP partnership on disarmament education summarized in this publication is an invaluable contribution to the advancement of the study of disarmament as an essential issue for peace education.

With its focus on small arms, the partnership has pioneered the introduction of a variety of disarmament issues into peace education. The efforts of the partnership provide educators with ways to bring attention to weapons both as tools and symbols of the culture of violence that perpetuates war and armed conflict. The project invites critical reflection on the acceptance of the inevitability of war, the logic of force in politics and the conflation of conflict with violence. The participating peace educators in Albania, Cambodia, Niger and Peru have challenged these assumptions in community- and schools-based learning experiences that have taught both substantive and symbolic lessons in disarmament. Learners in the process of challenging the efficacy of weapons, can begin to grasp the possibilities for non-destructive ways to conduct conflict and alternative methods for maintaining communal and national security.

Disarmament, like most topics in peace education, is best studied through inquiry rather than didactic exposition. Inquiry allows for the formation of self-derived opinions through gathering and analyzing information. Through inquiry, community disarmament education such as that conducted by the partnership can be the occasion for reflection on larger realms of disarmament and institutional change. They can be the basis of inquiry into multiple issues of peace and security integral to the study of disarmament. These include:

  • Environmental protection from the ravages of war and weapons testing
  • The human right to peace implicit in article 28 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, entitlement to an international order in which rights are fully realized
  • Economic conversion from military to social expenditures to meet human needs and assure social justice and demilitarized security systems

Whether in community meetings or classrooms, questions can be raised to illuminate the breadth and complexity of the issues as well as the multiple possibilities for confronting them. Such an inquiry can produce learning about the pervasive destructive effects of weaponry and militarism as well as the possibilities for disarmament and demilitarization.

Any and all weapons systems can form the basis for a general inquiry into most issues of disarmament. Such inquiries can facilitate exploration of many problems of global security, from terrorism and WMDs to arms reduction agreements to possibilities for general and complete disarmament.  It can lead to public understanding that disarmament and demilitarization are long range processes that must include consideration of as wide a range of options as possible, and require a way of thinking that is not only global in scope, but developmental and future-oriented. Long range global thinking is a capacity that peace education seeks to develop in learners.  Disarmament, perhaps more than any other peace education topic is the most effective basis for guiding learners in the development of this capacity.

Consideration of multiple possibilities can engender an understanding that disarmament does not mean sacrificing security. Rather, it means assuring it by replacing armed force and lethal conflict with viable, just, democratically derived institutions that enforce the rule of law, provide mechanisms and procedures for non-violent conflict resolution, protect human rights, and provide for the relief of poverty through equitable, sustainable development. By helping the participants towards this understanding the DDA/HAP partnership has made a significant contribution toward enabling peace educators to cultivate an understanding of the needs for and the benefits of disarmament.

Download the complete book Contact information for partnering organizations.


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