"It's not enough to say no to war, we need to develop sound, evidence-based strategies that will resolve violent conflicts besides going to war," says Randy Janzen, Chair of the Mir Centre for Peace, who is undertaking a study to examine Canadian public perspectives on Unarmed civilian peacekeeping.
A Growing Movement
There has been a growing movement in Canada to establish a Canadian Department of Peace as part of the federal government's portfolio. 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.
Recent research strongly suggests that nonviolent approaches to political violence are much more likely to reach intended goals as opposed to violent approaches. Thus, we are on a global cusp where for the first time we are putting a great deal of energy into research to find nonviolent, evidence-based methods to replace war and military intervention.
It is not unlike climate change. 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.
Preliminary results indicate that Canadians are in favour of the concept of unarmed civilian peacekeeping as a strategy of Canada's foreign policy. Randy will be presenting the results of this study at the Annual Peace and Justice Studies Conference in Waterloo in October 2013.