On July 29, 2016, the Group of 78 and 10 other leading civil society organizations submitted “A Shift to Sustainable Peace and Common Security” to the federal government’s Defence Policy Review.
A Shift to Sustainable Peace and Common Security
We believe that a defence policy review should be developed from the priorities established by the Canadian government’s foreign and international development (ODA) policy framework. We live within the constraints of the current global economic and political climate, but the new Canadian government also has an opportunity to offer constructive leadership on several fronts through our careful selection of defence priorities.
With no direct military threat to Canadian territory, we should restore and expand emphasis on war prevention and peaceful conflict resolution and give priority to building the United Nations envisaged by its Charter. Canada can be a beacon of hope in an unsettled world by pursuing and promoting, wherever possible, conflict prevention, the peaceful resolution of disputes and sustainable peace-building. We can press for multilateral over unilateral responses. We can be a constructive, innovative problem solver, striving to bring conflicting parties closer together to resolve their differences. We can thereby stave off or hasten the repair of breaches of the peace, limit human suffering and environment degradation and minimize costly military interventions.
This year the United Nations proposed a refreshing reorientation towards prevention of armed conflict by embracing the language and perspective of sustainable peace. Prevention costs 60 times less than late response and often futile or counterproductive military interventions. Additionally, 85 per cent of armed conflicts do not end on the battlefield but through negotiated settlements.
We urge Canada to forthrightly embrace this framework, work for cooperative solutions to violent conflict, and help proactively to guide others towards this shift to a sustainable, common security outlook. Common security puts a premium on the machinery and diplomacy of international cooperation; there is less reliance on the competitive pursuit of national security at the expense of others. It is therefore a more perfect reflection of the UN Charter provisions against the use of force, and in favour of the peaceful resolution of disputes and of the equal right to security of all states.