Raising our Voices on Threats to Peace

BY DAVID CORTRIGHT, ASHER KAUFMAN, GEORGE LOPEZ, ANN MISCHE, ATALIA OMER, JASON SPRINGS, SUSAN ST. VILLE, AND ERNESTO VERDEJA

house_of_flagsThe statement shared below was crafted by a group of faculty members at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies during the first week of the new administration, as we watched the foundational values of our scholarship and practice being challenged by leadership actions as never before. The Kroc Institute is an interdisciplinary research and teaching center at the University of Notre Dame dedicated to the study of the causes of violent conflict and strategies for sustainable peace.

To express our alarm at the rapidly unfolding situation, we drafted the “Statement of Concern on Threats to Peace” and circulated it within the Kroc Institute and the broader Notre Dame community. Within a few days we had gathered over 375 signatures from individuals in many disciplines, including all of the core fields of the Kroc Institute: political science, history, anthropology, sociology, psychology, theology, and religious studies. The statement was published on February 2, 2017 as a Letter to the Editor in the Observer, the student newspaper of Notre Dame and St. Mary’s College. We now have nearly 450 signatures, including those from other peace and conflict scholars around the country.

While the headlines shift daily, the threats to peace continue to grow. For this reason we have decided to share what might otherwise be a timebound document, but which highlights our sense of the moral peril that our country and world face at this critical historical juncture. This is not a singular response to a particular policy measure, but rather the voicing of a broader set of concerns about the administration’s clearly stated, long term intent to undermine multilateralism, global accountability structures, movements for the expansion of human rights, economic justice and democratic governance, and peacebuilding efforts at local and transnational levels.

In this, we act in solidarity with many others in academia and beyond who are likewise seeking to respond critically and proactively to the grave risks and challenges that we face in the U.S. and in the global community.

David Cortright, Asher Kaufman, George Lopez, Ann Mische, Atalia Omer, Jason Springs, Susan St. Ville, and Ernesto Verdeja

STATEMENT OF CONCERN ON THREATS TO PEACE

As scholars, practitioners, and current and former students of the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame, we are writing to express our deep dismay and moral condemnation in response to the grave threats to international peace, justice, and human security posed by recent proposals of the Trump administration. We are joined by members of the broader Notre Dame community who share our concerns.

The new administration is launching a frontal assault on the foundational principles of peace and international cooperation — the very ideas, values, and practices that we study, teach, and advocate.

New executive orders, administrative actions, and draft proposals provide significant cause for alarm. They are aimed at reducing US funding for international peacekeeping organizations, weakening diplomatic infrastructures, undermining international conventions on the rights of women and children, and possibly renewing CIA ‘black sites’ for unlawful detention and interrogation. The president has signed executive orders that deny entry to refugees from Syria and other countries, suspend travel and immigration from Muslim-majority countries afflicted by conflict, and direct the immediate construction of the infamous wall with Mexico. The administration has announced its intention to massively scale up the deportation of ‘unauthorized’ immigrants in the US, end the DACA program and punish municipalities that provide sanctuary.

Moreover, the administration’s wholesale denial of climate change — including the threatened withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accords and slashing of programs designed to monitor and respond to these changes — not only further endangers the planet, but ignores the critical ways in which climate-induced pressures are intensifying resource inequities, community displacement, and social conflict around the world.

These actions will damage the structures of international cooperation that are essential for peace and development and will cause great hardship and risk for vulnerable populations in the US and internationally. We are alarmed at the proposed dismantling of the international norms and institutions that seek to diminish conflict and protect human rights, as well as the withdrawal of support for development and humanitarian work focused on women, refugees and marginalized communities. We fear that these measures will exacerbate violent conflict and contribute to state fragility, political autocracy and repression, deepening social and economic inequality, and intensified human suffering.

These actions are a clear violation of the basic principles of human rights, civil rights, and Catholic social teaching, along with those of countless other religious and moral traditions, including Jewish and Muslim. Each of these require that we defend the vulnerable and marginalized, respect the dignity of all human beings, strive for justice and reconciliation, and build relationships of mutual responsibility and stewardship.

Those of us who study and advocate for policies of justice and cooperation cannot remain silent in the face of these actions. We cannot carry on business as usual and ignore the wholesale attack on the ideas and practices that we research and teach.

We join with our colleagues at other institutions in using our expertise, our public action, and our networks to oppose these policies, along with any future measures that violate the foundational values of peace and conflict scholarship and practice. At the same time, we call on our communities to work proactively to advance alternative policies grounded in the principles of human solidarity, scholarly rigor, and responsible leadership.

It is time for deep reflection, courageous action, and conscientious resistance.

This statement first appeared in the Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s College Observer on February 2, 2017. The Letter to the Editor and original signatories can be seen here.

Please direct inquiries about this statement to: threats.to.peace@gmail.com

 

We continue to accept signatures at this link.

 

 

 

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