SDGs and Disarmament Education

(Featured Article: Issue #110 January/February 2014)

sdgsAs the UN prepares for a post 2015 effort to move forward the agenda initiated in the Millennium Development Goals, the MDGs are being transformed into “Sustainable Development Goals.”  Most peace educators would agree that without sustainable peace there can be no sustainable development. Nothing so impedes and reverses the development process as armed conflict and war. Many peace educators would also agree with the Final Document of UNESCO’s World Conference on Disarmament Education that disarmament and demilitarization are fundamental perquisites to sustainable peace and should be the subject of education.

Peace educators have the responsibility to lead students and their fellow citizens in a learning inquiry into the meanings of disarmament, demilitarization and development, the alternatives to militarized security they would entail, the transfer of public funds from military expenditures to the development process, and transition strategies to be followed by civil society and policy makers to achieve such alternatives.  One such strategy in years past was a serious subject of research, study and action on the part of those who understood that the problem of peace was in large part a problem of institutional design, changing militarized institutions and when necessary designing new institutions. These studies were referred to as “conversion” studies and the literature should still be available to educators and activists.  At the very least, peace educators should familiarize themselves with the UNESCO Final Document so as to plan learning experiences to fulfill the principles and purposes it attributes to disarmament education.  This newsletter would welcome any resulting curricula that are applied to this task to share with our readers. 

Such learning inquiry might begin with a review and assessment of the International Peace Bureau (IPB) statement on “Targeting Military Spending: Disarmament, Development and the post-2015 Development Agenda,” calling on learners to speculate on the implementation of a process of transferring funds expended on military preparedness and armed conflict to processes directed toward a set of human security based sustainable development goals. Disarmament education offers us a fruitful route to making our contribution toward the formulation and achievements of SDGs.


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