Archive for the ‘From our own world’ Category

Our 30 years with peace – And what happened to world peace? Part I

By Christina Spannar & Jan Oberg, TFF founders

Part I

TFF was established on September 12, 1985. We think that it’s 30th Anniversary is a fitting occasion to reflect on what has happened in the big world and in our lives with the foundation.

It is also a piece of Lund’s research history in general and of peace research and education in particular.


The 1980s was a decade of gross changes in Europe, the struggle against nuclear weapons in particular.

Lund University was predominantly about education and single research projects – while TFF could be more of an experimental playground. We wanted to do truly free research and not negotiate with higher levels at, say, the university what to do where, in which countries to work and what to say to the media.

Peace has always been controversial and there were – and remain – enough examples of places that become ‘mainstream’ and routine – rather than experimental and radically ’alternative.’

What we did not know back in 1985 was that Lund University wanted to get rid of all inter-disciplinary academic endeavours – women, environmental, human rights and peace studies – and closed down the Lund University Peace Research Institute of which Jan had been the director since 1983, in November 1989.

Being a private undertaking

The HQ is the first floor of a two-family house in a villa area of Lund. Visitors, board members etc. have held seminars there, eaten and often stayed with us. Board members were colleagues and personal friends and new board members were recruited from Associates who were also personal friends, like-minded colleagues or mentors one way or the other.
Our children and other friends were often involved in the things TFF did – including printing newsletters in the basement, gathering them, putting them in envelopes and fix address labels.


The permanent top priority has been to promote the UN Charter norm that ‘peace shall be created by peaceful means’ (Article 1).
This was promoted through traditional book-based research and later field work – i.e. conflict analyses and mediation and peace plans – in conflict zones, but also through intense public outreach/education such as newsletters, media participation, press releases – and, from 1997, the Internet and then social media.

Secondly, we wanted to integrate theory and practice. While it is good to do basic research in the laboratory, what is peace research really worth if it is never applied to real life’s tough situations?

The first five years we did book projects like everybody else in the trade. But in September 1991 TFF went on its first peace mission to former Yugoslavia. It is safe to say that we were among the first to embark on that in-the-field philosophy and practice it – with all the problems and risks that it entailed.

Foundation and management

The word ‘foundation’ does not mean that we had an endowment to start out with – and funding has been a constant problem every day and year ever since. And getting worse over time.
But it meant flexibility and – being and remaining small – quickly adapting to a changing world.

Being our own and not part of Lund University was another advantage – and a drawback in terms of finding funds. TFF had to build its own reputation from scratch rather than piggyback on that of the university’s. It was quite tough but also more rewarding in the long run. Read the rest of this entry »

TFF turns 30 Part 2: Why peace research is about finding solutions

Jan Oberg talks about why it is essential to not only do analysis and criticism but to also be pro-peace – come up with constructive ideas, concrete peace proposals and thereby combine science with the art of seeing a better future than warfare and other violence.

TFF turns 30 Part 1: How it all began

In this short video founders Christina Spännar and Jan Oberg talk about why they set up TFF in 1985 and what the basic idea behind was.

Peace, research and social innovation

A conversation with Ilhami Alkan, Lund University’s Commissioned Edu – about the above and about human duties and not only human rights.

Dr. Jan Oberg – Social Innovation in a Digital Context from Lund University Commissioned Edu on Vimeo.

Militarism up, intellectualism down = warfare

Jan Oberg’s comments on US Secretary of the Airforce, Deborah James’ advocacy for more NATO arms spending

UN peacekeepers to Ukraine – Yes!

Jan Oberg

By Jan Oberg

Deployment of UN peacekeepers should be agreed with both sides of Ukrainian conflict, says Lavrov — RT Russian politics.

Ukraine has – wisely – suggested that UN Peacekeepers be stationed in Eastern Ukraine. Russia’s foreign minister sounds positive.

That is important and good news – the most constructive for a year.

To get the UN peacekeepers into the conflict zone has been one of TFF’s proposals since the fighting broke out.

In October 1991, TFF was also the first to suggest that the UN be deployed to Croatia. It actually was a few months later thanks to Cyrus Vance, the former U.S. Secretary of State, who in his role as mediator was working on exactly that when he received our report and we then met him a late evening in Belgrade.

Conclusion: Never give up constructive pro-peace proposal-making. One day they do become relevant – when people find out that violence was not such a brilliant idea.

The “New World Order”

Johan Galtung

By Johan Galtung Kuala Lumpur

…is the title of our conference. There will never be any such thing. “New”, yes; “World”, yes –“Order”, No. Wherever there is life there is contradiction, dialectic, forces and counter-forces. At the very obvious level the question arises – Order, in whose interest, against whom? Sow any new order and the seeds of its undoing are already taking root, sprouts are coming. As the Chinese say, “There are human beings without contradictions; they are called corpses.”

Follow that hint; go to the moon. New moons once a month, and order, the order of death, of non-life. The Old Moon Order.

As part of this Perdana Global Peace Foundation Conference, so well composed by Dr Hitam, President Tun Dr. Mahathir unveiled a giant copy of my book just published, Abolishing War: Criminalizing War, Removing War Causes, Removing War as an Institution (TPU and IIUM Press, 2015) together with a smaller book Clash of Civilizations[i] Read the rest of this entry »

TFF PressInfo # 302: Interview with “Iran Review” – and a word about intellectual freedom

By Jan Oberg

Jan Oberg

Lund, Sweden, January 21, 2015

I visited Iran for a third time in December last year, participating in the international UN-endorsed conference, WAVE – World Against Violence and Extremism.

I gave interviews to some ten agencies and media but the longest was this exclusive one by a passionate and very professional 24-year old Iranian journalist, Kourosh Ziabari, for the esteemed Iran Review.

The distorted image of Iran

TFF has been engaged with an in Iran the last three years. We believe that the general image in Western media – covering almost only Iran’s nuclear program, human rights violations and Iran as a threat to the world – is neither objective nor fair.

It conveniently omits the harmful effects on the Iranian society of Western policies since the days of the US-UK coup d’etat against the democratically elected President of Iran, Dr. Mossadegh, in 1953.

Whether intended or not, this type of media coverage risks contributing to deeper conflict and legitimise future violence – rather than mutual understanding and peace.

It is therefore imperative to go there and see for yourself. More about that in the next TFF PressInfo.

What TFF tries to do in Iran

TFF has these aims with its work in Iran:

a) Fact-finding: to simply learn first-hand about its history, culture, people and how they think on all levels; by traveling around and interviewing people, as many and different as possible.

b) To influence the image in the West of Iran Read the rest of this entry »

Remembering Yoshikazu Sakamoto 1927-2014 – also former TFF Associate

By Richard Falk

Richard Falk

TFF wants to express its gratitude to Yoshikazu Sakamoto who served for many years as TFF Associate.

Prefatory Note

This post is dedicated to my remembrance of Yoshi Sakamoto who died recently. Yoshi was a deeply valued friend and an important public intellectual in Japan who exerted a strong influence on the post-war generation. His political orientation, rejecting extremes of right and left, while questioning the militarist premises of the Cold War and Japan’s willingness to become America’s Asian poodle, gave him a distinctive political profile.

I am sharing these words of appreciation, and hope that anyone from Japan who comes across this text will contact me, especially if they have a way of putting me in touch with either Yoshi’s family or Japanese media. I would like to believe that ‘an American appreciation’ of Professor Sakamoto would be of interest to those who knew and admired him.

I first met Yoshi in the mid-1960s when he came to visit me at Princeton, expressing his concern about the Vietnam War and knowing of my anti-war activism. We bonded quickly and marched in a peaceful demonstration in New York City a few days later, and somehow managed to keep in fairly consistent contact until Yoshi’s death on October 2nd.

Yoshikazu Sakamoto 1927 - 2014

Read the rest of this entry »

Uniting for Peace, Building Sustainable Peace through Universal Values at the Centenary of World War I: Criminalizing War

By Johan Galtung

Johan Galtung

Keynote, 25th International Peace Research Association (IPRA) Conference
Istanbul, 11-14 August 2014

We have come of age, at 50; and I am the only surviving founder from 1964 in London, capital of a foggy island in the North Sea. Now we meet in the sunny capital of another empire; bridging three continents. One cloned itself all over; the other was more an Islamic umma, a community of togetherness-and-sharing, with millet islands of tolerance. And now: the superb IPRA program.

Uniting for peace. But we differ, disagree? Incredible how far we can come if we identify and focus on the good and the positive in Kiev, Donetsk and Moscow, or husband and wife in broken marriages rather than what is wrong, and build new relations on that.

Peace is a relation, not attributes of the parties. So also for conferences: focus on the best in paper, praise it; not on the dubious and missing.

Building sustainable peace. My formula in A Theory of Peace is:

Equity X Harmony

Peace = ———————

Trauma X Conflict

Four Roots of Peace

• for positive peace: 1) cooperation for mutual and equal benefit, and 2) empathy for the harmony of sorrow at other’s sorrow and joy at other’s joy;

• for negative peace: 1) reconciling trauma, and 2) resolving conflicts–avoiding violence, through skills.

Expansion of interaction – through means of communication and transportation – with rights and obligations has created vast zones with less direct violence. But without equity: more inequality, more structural violence, killing even more. Identifying violence with bullets is as naive as identifying disease with microbes, overlooking structural diseases like cancer, heart; and overlooking chronic violence, like the security state and security world, by the US National Security Agency. Better: make Ukraine a federation, relate West-North to EU and South-East to Eurasia, with both having access to the other! And clone Snowden.

Through universal values. I know only two for sure, basic to Buddhism: reduce dukkha, suffering, and increase sukha, fulfillment (wellbeing). Emotions more than cognitive values? Yes, hence more basic. Negative and positive peace. Be aware of both-and and neither-nor, the ambiguous and the bland, more frequent than either-or.

Democracy? As rule by the consent of the ruled, maybe; but not as multiparty state elections, too easily corrupted into bankocracy. As dialogue to consensus in smaller units? But many rule themselves or go for those smaller units, uninterested in “states” and “regions”.

Human rights? If enriched with collective, people’s rights, yes; but be careful. They are excellent goal-formulations for underdogs but very one-sided as conflict discourse. Where are the goals of the topdogs? Only to remain on top? Only their perennial “if underdogs come up they will treat us like we treated them?” Or also some justified skepticism about an alternative order with former underdogs on top in a majority democracy, given their numbers? We do not know in advance; give them a hearing – not guaranteed by Human Rights. Solve problems.

To be ruled by somebody of your own kind? Universal. Even if one’s own kind is unkind, it is better than the benevolence of somebody else.

The First World War at 100: To see the Sarajevo’s shots on 28 June 1914 as the cause of the Hapsburg Empire attacking Serbia on 28 July overlooks Austria-Hungary annexing Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1908. The Serbs wanted to be ruled by their own kind. Self-determination was key. Nor was this a world war, all major battles were in Europe (17 of them in the French-Belgian corner). The massive killing was so insane that Europeans pushed it on the world.

The Second European war, rather, the First being the Napoleonic. The First World was, of course, Western colonialism from 4 May 1493 (Pope Alexander VI)–another atrocity to conceal.

IPRA at 50

What we wanted in 1964 was peace research recognized as a social science, member of the UNESCO International Social Science Council, bypassing turf-concerned Western universities. We got it.

Elise Boulding – role of culture, women – very active at the founding, saving IPRA several times afterward. Her husband Kenneth – the Image, stable peace, economic evolution – was in the background and Bert Röling – the youngest judge at the Tokyo Tribunal, disarmament, law for peace–became the first IPRA Secretary General. And then Galtung – at the time the health studies parallel and positive/negative peace.

We were from the world Northwest and IPRA has, like the world, moved East and South, with a Turkish Delight and a Sierra Leone Diamond as secretaries!

Prognosis: we will move on to Islam and China–India still needs time to grow with our Guiding Spirit: Gandhi. Then back to a more modest Northwest, circling on, as we should.

Criminalizing War

Massive murder, dukkha, inequity, disharmony, trauma leading to revenge, solving nothing in the longer run. The 1648 Westphalia Peace stabilized two Christianities at the price of a state system with the “right to war”. That institutional mandate has to go.

A centuries long process – jus ad bellum, jus in bello, human rights – to outlaw war except for defense, peace-keeping and “peace-enforcement” – recently as R2P (Responsibility to Protect) – opens countless loopholes, protected by anonymity and collectivity.

Personalize by naming the massive killers from top politicians to bottom soldiers – Nürnberg, Tokyo. Individualize by making them responsible, maybe following the Trans-National Corporations with amnesty in return for confession-contrition-compensation.

And remove that mandate from the Abrahamic god’s countless massacres via rex gratia dei – the King by God’s grace – transferred to the state – and via vox popoli vox dei – the voice of people being the voice of god–perverting democracies into killing machines.

Be careful! They may kill even more in order not to be arrested.

And we get further with positive and negative peace, and by fighting war as a social evil.

But the three approaches add up. We have work to do!

Originally published by Transcend Media Service here.


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