Another New Institute for Canada?
11 September 2000
A paper prepared for the 29-30 Conference on
Establishing a Canadian Peace Institute
held at McMaster University
Some fundamental characteristics desirable for a Peace Institute have
been prepared for this conference in her "Peace Vision Paper" by
Farlinger. This paper presumes that her analysis is correct, and moves
on from there.
Several difficult questions face the founders of a new Peace Institute
- To what extent should the Institute be a teaching institution and to
what extent should it concentrate on research?
- Will any Canadian University be able, within five years, say, to bring
to maturity a fully fledged school of peace studies such as has been
realised in Bradford England? [Annex 1]
- If the above could be achieved, would it be the desired Institute?
- Would it be possible, as an alternative to looking toward a mature
school such as we have seen in Bradford, to form a national institute
spanning several or many universities, governed by some kind of
committee spanning all the separate institutions?
- Would the above, spread-out Institute be as effective as a truly
first-class Peace Studies School?
- In any of the above models, is it better to build upon what we have, or
to start afresh?
- Who will or could fund the fresh start?
- How would funding an Institute founded upon existing schools of peace
studies be achieved?
- Can Prime Minister Chrétien be persuaded to fulfil a 1993 election
promise to restart the Canadian Institute for international Peace and
Security (CIIPS), by, instead, providing starter funding for a new
Canadian Peace Institute that is much further removed from government
than CIIPS was?
[For brevity I omit the other, obvious funding questions].
The teaching, especially at the graduate level, will not be truly
successful unless the Institute stands at the front line in its
endeavours, including research. This means that all permanent staff of
the institute must be chosen for their excellence in their fields.
What areas of peace research will likely bring the new Institute into
prominence and, through this prominence, will maintain at least its
research funding? To this broad question there are really two answers:
- There is a long list of topics that will be of vital importance to
government and other concerned organizations, although officials and
politicians may not know it yet. An example is arms control and
disarmament, in which Foreign Affairs (DFAIT) is grossly understaffed at
present and has been for several years.
- Also, I have learned to mistrust
much that is concluded in Ottawa; there is a process of internal
feedback within large departments, often positive in the
systems-analysis sense, that permits myths to be held as truths in the
medium-to-long term. Therefore, there is a strong need for independent
work. The areas where such research is needed are in fact very broad.
The need for excellence in the research, and credibility of the results
Despite the above, it is vital that the institute be willing to direct
Lastly I refer briefly to practical work. At the Hague Peace Appeal
a nice proportion of its efforts to fundamental questions. These are the
questions that government, and many academics and researchers outside of
government cannot afford the luxury of studying. These are also the
questions that traditional experts are sometimes nervous of tackling,
because it involves risk. An example is the field of radical economics,
which has received too little attention from mainstream scholars and
finance departments, especially in Ottawa. The word radical means (or
should merely mean) going to the root of the matter. People are often
uncomfortable about anything radical because it threatens the balance
they have achieved in their lives between what they can do and what is
expected of them. Nevertheless, going to the root is what peace research
must do if it is to have the desired effect. [Annex 2]
Conference in May 1999 I noticed for the first time that nongovernmental
organizations (NGOs) were being entrusted with (and commissioned to do)
work of a type that formerly had been the prerogative and duty of
government. In particular, much of the supervision of demining and of
the verification of the Landmines Treaty had been placed in the hands of
competent nongovernment organization(s). The motive for governments to
do this may have been merely to save money. However, the consequence is
that NGOs have become indispensable to international affairs. It seems
inevitable that in an increasingly complex world NGOs will more and more
often be called upon officially to perform international functions, such
as treaty verification or the implementation of change. A worthy Peace
Institute will train people for such challenges and supply or recommend
nongovernment peace ambassadors on request.
Peace Studies at the University of Bradford
A few excerpts from my article "Peace Studies at Bradford,"
Peace Magazine, November/December 1997, pp.20-21
"The fundamental ingredient of the values underlying peace research
seems to be life itself, whereas in all other disciplines there is
likely to be some mix of values."
"Peace Research has for long been recognized as interdisciplinary
between political Science, economics, history and sociology, but to be
truly successful it must be much broader than this. Bradford also has at
least three natural scientists on its staff, including Paul Rogers, its
current chair, who has a degree in the biological sciences."
"The breadth of academic scope at Bradford is of tremendous importance
in enabling the Department to keep up with the times, notably the
widening in emphasis in peace studies from arms control, disarmament and
other international security issues, to quite general environmental
issues, most prominently climate change, which today is recognized as a
huge threat to the human race, but was not even discussed in the 1970s."
Note: In 1996 the Peace Studies Department in Bradford had 17 full-time
academic staff and 23 research associates.
A Partial List of Peace Research Topics of Current Importance
Underlying structures and principles*
Governance and the effect of gender balance
The United Nations
Climate change and energy
Ethnic and geographic history
War crimes tribunal
Arms control, disarmament, and treaty verification
*This item is placed first, as an essential factor in going to the root.
26 September 2000
A Note prepared for the 29-30 Conference on
Establishing a Canadian Peace Institute
held at McMaster University
Peace research has two features that distinguish it from other research.
First it is interdisciplinary, in the manner described in my vision
paper of 11 September. Second its value basis is different from all
The value basis of peace research is life itself. Since life is
normally thought of as a phenomenon, rather than the value basis of
something, the whole discussion tends to self-reference, and therefore
to paradox. What this means in practice is that the peace researcher is
someone who has made a choice, namely, the choice that her/his research
will be directed to preserving life in all its complexity. The value
basis of other research is generally different, often a mix of values.
Peace research is unique in its value basis.
Note. A somewhat fuller discussion of this question appeared in my paper
"Peace Research" in the Proceedings of the 1987 Pugwash Conference on
Science and World Affairs.
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