Nonviolent Approaches More Likely to Succeed
Selkirk College faculty member Randy Janzen is breaking new ground and gaining widespread attention on the subject of unarmed civilian peacekeeping. Janzen, who chairs the Mir Centre for Peace in addition to his role as a Peace Studies instructor, is investigating methods of avoiding armed conflict in instances where political conflicts arise.
Janzen's research indicates that nonviolent approaches are far more likely to result in a successful resolution to these conflicts while also avoiding the violence that most often accompanies war and military intervention.
"It is not unlike climate change," Janzen explains. "It is not enough to say no to those energy sources that negatively impact climate change - we need to put more resources into finding better, cleaner energy sources. Likewise, it is not enough to say no to war, we need to develop sound, evidence-based strategies that will resolve violent conflicts besides going to war."
Canadians in Favour of Nonviolent Peacekeeping
Thus far, solutions like those suggested by Janzen are striking a strong cord with the public, as preliminary results indicate that Canadians are in favour of the concept of unarmed civilian peacekeeping as a strategy of Canada's foreign policy.
"There has been a growing movement in Canada to establish a Canadian Department of Peace as part of the federal government's portfolio," says Janzen. "One of the tenets of the proposed department is to focus Canada's responses to global violent conflicts by sending highly trained unarmed peacekeepers, whose mission would be to reduce direct violence between warring parties, but doing so through nonviolent skills rather than conventional military apparatus.
"However, any governmental policy change would require widespread support from the Canadian public. Thus far, no one has determined whether Canadians in general support this new strategy that has been used only in the past decade."
Janzen will be presenting the results of this study at the Annual Peace and Justice Studies Conference in Waterloo in October 2013.