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Peace & Security

Now is the time to talk peace. By Anna Sundström, Olof Palme International Center

This year marks the 40th anniversary of Olof Palme’s Independent Commission on Disarmament and Security Issues. The Commission presented its report in 1982, at the height of the Cold War, and the Commission developed the concept of Common Security – the idea that nations and populations can only feel safe when their counterparts feel safe.

Forty years ago, the relationship between the superpowers was at rock bottom. The risk of a devastating nuclear war was high. The introduction of common security showed that security is something we create together. More and more powerful weapons are not the answer.

Again, the world stands at the same crossroad. Faced with a choice between an existence based on confrontation and aggression or one to be rooted in a transformative peace agenda and common security. In 2022, humanity faces the existential threats of nuclear war, climate change and pandemics. This is compounded by a toxic mix of inequality, extremism, nationalism, gender violence, and shrinking democratic space. How humanity responds to these threats will decide our very survival.

The international order, which enables us to prevent wars, stop global warming, fight a pandemic and tackle global challenges, simply does not work well enough. We have to fix it. For our shared future.

The new Common Security 2022 report was put together over a year of global webinars and meetings of a high level advisory commission involving 18 world thought leaders such as former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark and Bangladeshi MP Saber Chowdhury, the world’s top trade unionist Australian Sharan Burrow and Nobel peace laureate Tunisian employer Ouided Bouchamaoui, former Greenpeace director Kumi Naidoo and former Oxfam CEO Winnie Byanyima, diplomats Jan Eliasson and Alexander Kmentt and youth leaders from India, Sweden and the USA. The project was steered by the International Peace Bureau, the International Trade Union Confederation and the Olof Palme International Centre.

The 25 recommendations are grouped under four headings:

  1. Strengthen the global architecture for peace
  2. A new peace dividend – disarmament and development
  3. Revitalised nuclear arms control and disarmament
  4. New military technologies and outer space weapons

The world needs to return to the path of disarmament and peaceful progress to overcome the causes of conflict, especially climate change and global warming, inequality, current and future pandemics, and authoritarian regimes shrinking democratic space. The recommendations aim to motivate public opinion and have a positive impact on policy- and decision-makers about what is necessary and achievable. A starting point for the process of turning around the ‘supertanker’ of war. They are practical steps, but also set out a vision for a better, safer world. It is for all of us to take these proposals forward.

Some may say it is naïve to even talk about peace, disarmament and common security when the world is on the brink of a new world war. On the contrary. Now, more than ever, we need a stronger discourse for peace.

Anna Sundström, Secretary General, Olof Palme International Center

Read the full report here;