Text Only | Disarmament Diplomacy | Disarmament Documentation | ACRONYM Reports
Back to the Acronym home page
Iraq
US/Russia
Space
NPT
CTBT
Fissban
BWC
CWC
UN
CD
British Policy
South Asia
Calendar
About Acronym
Links
Glossary

Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 34, February 1999

'Global Action to Prevent War'

'Global Action to Prevent War: A Program for Government and Grassroots Efforts to Stop War, Genocide, and Other Forms of Deadly Conflict,' 10 February 1999

Editor's note: in January 1998's issue of Disarmament Diplomacy (No. 22, pp. 2-7), former US arms control ambassador Jonathan Dean, currently advisor on international security issues to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), wrote an Opinion & Analysis paper setting out possible parameters for a programme of action designed to drastically minimise the intensity and occurrence of armed conflicts - and ultimately to prevent all war. Such a programme has now been drawn up in detail by Jonathan Dean together with Dr. Randall Forsberg and Dr. Laura Reed at the Institute for Defense & Disarmament Studies (IDDS) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Professor Saul Mendlovitz and Dr. John Fousek at the Rutgers Center for Global Change & Governance and the World Order Models Project in New York. It is intended to present the programme for discussion at both the Hague Peace Appeal and the Millenium Peoples' Forum at the United Nations. The Global Action Plan can be viewed on the Internet at http://www.idds.org/globact0.html

I. Aims, Objectives & Strategy

"Global Action to Prevent War sets out a comprehensive approach to war prevention, with a plan to reduce the frequency and devastation of war and the scale of preparations for war throughout the world. The long-term goals of this approach are for nations to adopt policies of defensive security, limiting national armed forces to territorial defense; to create a situation where an improved UN and regional counterparts can enforce the peace with small, standing all-volunteer forces; and for nations, groups, and individuals to accept the rule of law in resolving disputes.

Most experts agree that, once implemented, Global Action will achieve these goals, but that implementation could be slow and difficult, especially at the outset. That is why we are planning a long effort which will have to be supported over the years by a broad coalition of interested supporters, until Global Action gains enough salience and visibility to elicit interest and cooperation from governments of large countries, including the United States.

We are now in the first stage of disseminating the Global Action concept and coalition-building. We ask interested individuals, groups and organizations to discuss the Global Action program in detail and give it the widest possible distribution - to friends, relatives, colleagues, religious and political leaders, and others. Our first goal is to become widely known.

A reasonable short-term goal for this program to achieve in two to three years is to establish an international coalition of seriously interested groups and individuals sufficiently committed and influential to make Global Action known worldwide as a serious long-term enterprise with increasing visibility and momentum, a project whose name and general character people and governments will widely recognize. The international coalition we are working on now is the first step to that objective.

A desirable five-year goal would be to get name recognition and understanding of our aims roughly equivalent to the campaign for nuclear abolition. When we are able to convince a number of committed people throughout the world that Global Action entails a practical and effective program to make armed conflict rare, we will have succeeded in tapping the universal desire for peace and the end of war, and Global Action will rapidly gain in influence.

Among short-term goals with governments, we aim for circulation of Global Action to Prevent War into higher ranks of government with favorable endorsement by working level officials; introduction of the Global Action program into the agenda of the UN General Assembly by one or more friendly governments, as Costa Rica has done with the Model Nuclear Weapons Convention; mention of the Global Action program by influential media representatives; and positive public mention of Global Action by government leaders, for example, in annual speeches to the UN General Assembly.

Our mid-term goals include gaining wide governmental acceptance in different parts of the world of individual components of the Phase I Global Action program: for example, to strengthen means of multilateral conflict prevention, resolution, and peacekeeping; to secure verified commitments from individual governments to freeze or reduce military spending, production, and trade; and to provide full transparency on conventional forces.

One important step toward mid-term goals which might be achieved in ten years or so would be to establish a working group at the Conference on Disarmament to discuss a possible Global Action Treaty or, alternatively, to have several governments to convene a conference on the Global Action program.

Other feasible ten year goals are establishing and strengthening regional security organizations; regional discussion of a no-increase commitment for armed forces of that region; discussion of a worldwide no increase commitment on armed forces including arms sales and arms transfers (an important symbolic beginning for negotiated reductions); agreement on comprehensive exchange of information on armed forces; a high majority General Assembly vote for a resolution urging unconditional acceptance of outside observers to confirm compliance with human rights conventions; or deliberate agreement on the part of the UN Security Council to play a systematic pro-active role in preventing internal conflict, together with setting up the information gathering and staff assistance that decision would entail.

While implementing the entire Global Action program lies far in the future, the individual components of the first two phases of the program are politically modest and feasible. They involve strengthening conflict-prevention and conflict-resolution mechanisms that already exist, initiating new measures of similar scope, and taking modest steps to reduce the longer-term risks of major international war, including cuts in armed forces built up during the Cold War. Most of these measures can be put into effect separately.

What is needed to launch the Global Action program is formation of a broad, powerful coalition composed of grassroots activists, interested individuals, humanitarian, private voluntary, and economic development organizations, peace, disarmament and religious groups, businesses, and supportive government officials. This coalition can bring pressure to bear on governments to acknowledge the need for a comprehensive plan like Global Action and to start by taking the modest steps outlined in Phases I and II. This section describes how such a coalition might be created, and the kinds of action participants might take.

Just as in the 1970s and 1980s environmental activists made environmental protection a near-universal goal, today Global Action participants seek to make war-prevention a non-partisan goal that is perceived as part of the general good. Today, grade schools teach environmental conservation; when Global Action to Prevent War has mobilized a global movement, grade schools will be able to teach peacebuilding skills and policies as an equally non-partisan, non-politicized matter.

The Global Action program covers the whole spectrum of issues relating to peace, nonviolent conflict resolution, demilitarization, and disarmament. It is based on a 'living' platform that is constantly being updated and improved with input from new and old supporters. By delineating a practical route to a substantially different world, starting with modest steps that are politically feasible today, it combines vision with practicality.

A Multi-Issue Campaign with Shared Priorities

The Global Action to Prevent War program is more than a catalog of actions to promote peace: Its in-depth analysis clarifies the synergistic relationship between various steps to reduce the risk of war, such as reductions in standing armed forces and military spending, limits on arms production and trade, a new balance between military and nonmilitary means of preventing aggression and genocide, confidence in international peacekeeping capabilities, and a greater role for the international court system in resolving conflicts and preventing war.

Equally important, the Global Action program distinguishes between near-term and longer-term goals in these diverse yet linked aspects of efforts to prevent war. Without prescribing rigid coordination, it takes into account the need for progress toward several mutually-reinforcing goals, such as reducing national military capabilities for cross-border attack, and strengthening national and international institutions for nonviolent conflict resolution.

These features of the Global Action program foster independent yet mutually supportive efforts by members of the Global Action International Network (GAIN, described more fully in the next section). Organizations can choose the issues on which they focus. Within the broad framework of the Global Action program, they can usefully focus on specific short-term goals, work to make the overall program better understood and more widely supported, or foster broad, long-term moral and cultural change. They can work against nuclear proliferation or violence in children's TV programming, or for universal school education on nonviolent conflict resolution or prompt payment of UN dues - and identify themselves as equally active participants in Global Action to Prevent War.

There are many component areas in which grassroots and governmental effort for change and improvement are needed. These include but are not limited to:

  • Arms control and disarmament, including measures to reduce and eliminate weapons of mass destruction (nuclear, biological, and chemical), and to reduce conventional armaments, land mines, small arms, and handguns.
  • Confidence-building measures between nations, and among groups within nations.
  • Nonviolent means of conflict resolution.
  • Conflict early warning and prevention of escalation of disputes into armed conflict.
  • Reform of the UN and creation of new or improved, universal-membership regional security organizations, improvement of multilateral peacekeeping.
  • Peace education in schools and communities.
  • Post-conflict rebuilding and reconciliation.
  • Steps to strengthen international law and the role of international courts in preventing and ending armed conflict.

Organizations which support work in any of these areas are urged to become Members of the Global Action International Network; and those working in or familiar with areas of activity that are also useful for preventing organized armed conflict but are not noted separately above, are requested to send suggested additions to the Coordinating Committee.

Because various regions have diverse security concerns, stemming from differences in history, size, culture, and resources, different aspects of the Global Action program will be most pertinent in different States. In some parts of Africa and Asia, stopping bloodshed will be the highest priority. In Latin America, there are urgent needs for greater openness of information on armed forces and military plans, and for steps to strengthen the security role of the Organization of American States. For conflict-prone countries in the Middle East, South Asia, and North-East Asia, the top priorities may be confidence-building measures, defensively-oriented cuts and restructuring in armed forces perceived as threatening by neighbors, and the establishment of universal-membership regional security organizations. In the United States, support must be developed for many near-term steps, including participation in the International Criminal Court, talks on global cuts in conventional forces, and the strengthening of conflict prevention and peacekeeping under the UN Security Council and Secretary-General.

On certain issues, transnational mobilization may be most effective. For example, a global campaign supporting the development of rapid response brigades, building on current efforts by the governments of Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands and others, would be extremely useful. On issues where the Global Action program calls for steps to be codified in international treaties, organizations might press their governments to show leadership by acting unilaterally.

What will give Global Action unity and focus - and what will give GAIN global impact - are the shared objectives for near- and longer-term change through a common program, and the shared commitment to delegitimizing violence as a means of achieving various ends, while strengthening nonviolent efforts to meet basic needs and to provide political empowerment, dignity, and equal opportunity to all.

The Phase I goals of Global Action to Prevent War-strengthening multilateral conflict-prevention, peacekeeping, and defense capabilities, and talks on global conventional arms cuts, supported by full transparency and a freeze-or-reduce commitment-are sufficiently diverse so that non-governmental organizations and individuals in every country will find useful areas for public education and national political debate.

GAIN - the Global Action International Network

The core program statement of Global Action to Prevent War is constantly undergoing revision, update, and improvement. Organizations and individuals reading the statement for the first time are invited to send comments and suggestions to the Coordinating Committee. Revised drafts, published every 3-6 months, take into account suggestions from supporters and changes in the world. This keeps the program statement up-to-date, relevant, and open to input from members of an ever-expanding coalition. Until all phases of the Global Action program have been implemented, Global Action will be 'a coalition-building network-in-formation,' inviting the active participation of old and new supporters - and gradually evolving from a campaign to a global movement.

The basic structure for creating a global movement is provided by the Global Action International Network, GAIN, a worldwide association of groups and individuals who support Global Action to Prevent War. GAIN offers a capacious umbrella for coalition-building. It allows individual and organizational members of the Network to work for diverse goals while identifying themselves as part of a much larger global movement.

GAIN welcomes organizations which relate to the Global Action program differently. 'Members' of GAIN are organizations and individuals involved in like efforts by groups such as the Hague Appeal for Peace, Earth Action, or the European Conflict Platform, which have multi-issue campaigns to prevent war; allied efforts by groups such as Abolition 2000 (advocating government commitment to talks on abolishing nuclear weapons by the year 2000) or the campaigns against land-mines or small arms; and component efforts by groups working for intermediate goals included in the Global Action platform, such as cuts in military forces and spending, limits on arms trade, education and training in nonviolent conflict resolution, strengthening the UN, or increased use of international courts.

'Affiliates' of GAIN are organizations and individuals involved in related efforts in fields which would benefit from the success of Global Action to Prevent War, such as humanitarian aid, refugee relief, third world development, human rights, the environment, economic justice, groups concerned with women's issues and with preventing domestic and youth violence, and businesses seeking stable markets and currencies for international finance and trade. Affiliates can of course become members at any stage. The first step for organizations that are considering either GAIN membership or affiliation is thorough dissemination and discussion of the Global Action program among all members and, where needed, formal agreement in working groups, committees, or boards, to support the program and to join GAIN.

National and international Member and Affiliate Councils let participating groups and individuals work together on joint Global Action projects.

Participants in GAIN are urged to identify themselves as GAIN Members or Affiliates on their letterhead or website, or in their literature by adding the phrase, 'Member of GAIN, the Global Action International Network,' or 'Affiliate of GAIN, the Global Action International Network' to a group's letterhead or brochure can have an enormous impact on the progress of Global Action to Prevent War. The reason is twofold: This instantly brings 'brand-name' recognition to the campaign, and it quickly signals the strength in the numbers of organizations which support Global Action goals.

At the same time, Global Action 'brand-name' recognition has the potential to bring greater public, political, and financial support to participating organizations, without any significant investment of money or personnel time, because members of the public understand that when coordinated, various campaigns have a much greater chance of success. Individually, these campaigns are likely to be too narrowly based to carry the day; but when taken together, their tremendous potential for change becomes self-evident.

Groups and individuals can choose their own degree of involvement in GAIN. 'Mailing list only' indicates an interest in being informed about Global Action. Members and Affiliates, who support the general thrust of the Global Action program, can participate in GAIN Councils and use the public areas of the GAIN web site. Greater degrees of participation can involve education or lobbying on components of the Global Action program or the program as a whole, input into the evolving program, or becoming a Network node for Global Action activity and support."

II. The Global Action Plan

"Overview

Global Action to Prevent War is a comprehensive project for moving toward a world in which armed conflict is rare. The program envisions four phases of change, each lasting 5-10 years, to fully implement a wide array of measures to prevent international and internal war, genocide, and other deadly conflict.

Global Action to Prevent War addresses the global problem of organized violence. The world also faces fundamental crises of poverty, human rights violations, environmental destruction, and discrimination based on race, gender, ethnicity, and religion. To meet these challenges, many efforts must be pursued: No single campaign can deal effectively with all of them - but efforts to address such global problems can and should complement and support one other.

The Global Action program focuses on violent expressions of conflict, which obstruct efforts to get at the roots of conflict. Specifically, the program increases early warning and early action to prevent the escalation of disputes into armed violence; it minimizes the mistrust fueled by arms races and offensive military strategies; it guards against genocide; and it builds commitment to the rule of law and the peaceful resolution of conflicts. When implemented, this program is likely to make war rare, saving many lives. At the same time, by increasing respect for human dignity and saving billions of dollars for productive uses, Global Action will reduce structural violence. It will strengthen efforts to meet basic human needs, build tolerance, and protect the environment; and it will foster the democratic institutions that must ultimately replace armed force in achieving justice and fulfilling human needs.

Substantial efforts are now underway to reduce and eventually abolish nuclear weapons, but there are no comparable efforts to reduce conventional armed conflict and conventional arms. Yet nuclear disarmament and a comprehensive program to prevent armed violence are both indispensable requirements for practical progress to peace. Each program must support and invigorate the other.

The Global Action program is offered as a coalition-building platform to peoples and governments everywhere. Some components of the program, such conventional arms cuts or multilateral action against aggression and genocide, concern mainly governments. Other components, such as those dealing with nonviolent conflict resolution and peace education, can be implemented by individuals and State and local communities, as well as by national governments in all parts of the world.

The Global Action program is a work in progress. The current phase is one of disseminating and strengthening basic concepts. Concerned individuals throughout the world are invited to make suggestions and report activities. News will be reported on a web site and in occasional newsletters. Every six months or so, a coordinating group will publish updated versions of the program materials. These drafts will be distributed globally to organizations concerned with peace, development, humanitarian aid, and the environment, and to all governments. The goal of this process is to support and supplement the many efforts for peace already under way by uniting them under a common umbrella. The sense of common action, in turn, will reinforce the separate projects and facilitate coordinated efforts.

The ambitious goals of the Global Action program cannot be achieved quickly. Building support for the program will take several years, and launching Phase I will take some years more. But sustained, coordinated efforts can stop the killing, and the Global Action program has the potential to mobilize and focus such efforts.

Program Summary

Global Action to Prevent War aims to make deadly conflict rare by strengthening commitment to the rule of law, strengthening global and regional capabilities for conflict resolution and peacekeeping, and replacing unilateral armed intervention with multilateral defense against genocide and aggression.

The Global Action program proposes a phased process of change, set in a treaty framework. Three initial phases, each lasting 5-10 years, lay the foundation for a fourth phase that establishes a permanent global security system. The goals of the successive phases are as follows:

Phase I. Reduce internal warfare by greatly strengthening a reformed UN and universal-membership regional security organizations, giving to both improved capabilities for conflict resolution, peacekeeping, and defense against aggression and genocide. Strengthen institutions to protect human rights and enforce the rule of law. Begin to reduce the risks of major international war with talks on cuts in military forces and spending and in arms holdings, production, and trade, and with a commitment to provide open information on these elements, and not to increase them while talks are under way (or for 10 years).

Phase II. Further reduce the risks of major war by making substantial global cuts in armed forces and military spending (up to one-third of the largest forces) and in arms production and trade, and by mandatory submission of international disputes to the International Court of Justice. At the same time, continue to strengthen UN and regional conflict resolution and peacekeeping capabilities, and the international courts. Establish a tax on international financial transactions to support all these activities.

Progress in these two phases of the Global Action program and in the subsequent phases will boost progress toward nuclear disarmament and vice versa. But nuclear and conventional disarmament, while interacting intensively, should move at their own speed.

Phase III. Building on the improved means of avoiding armed conflict, deepen confidence in the international community's ability to prevent war through a watershed commitment by participating nations (including the major powers) not to deploy their armed forces beyond national borders except in multilateral actions under the auspices of the reformed UN or its regional counterparts. This commitment will test global and regional institutions while participants still have national means of action as a fallback. At the same time, conduct talks on steps to be taken in Phase IV, when there is full confidence in global and regional peacekeeping institutions.

Phase IV. Complete the process of making war rare and brief by permanently transferring to the reformed UN and regional security organizations the authority and capability for armed intervention to prevent or end war and genocide, while expanding individually-recruited all-volunteer armed forces at the disposal of the UN and regional organizations and making another round of deep cuts (up to one-third, compared with today's levels) in national armed forces. The remaining national forces, at most one-third the size of today's largest forces, will be limited to defense of national territory, and will be restructured to focus exclusively on this role.

In a final phase of change, expected to evolve later, national armed forces will be cut back to air defense, coast guard, defense of coastal waters, and border guards; and forces maintained by the UN and regional security organizations will have the police functions of guarding against re-armament and transnational violence by terrorists or criminal syndicates. At that point, it would be fair to say that war will have been abolished.

The Need and Opportunity for Change

The UN and its member States are failing to prevent new outbreaks of armed conflict, and the entire world is paying huge costs for this failure. The statistics are dismaying. According to some estimates, up to 35 million people - 90 percent civilians - have been killed in 170 wars since the end of World War II. Thirty wars are now taking place, most inside national boundaries. In addition to the tragic loss of life and limb, these conflicts breed international terrorism and they have huge economic costs. War's damage to productive economic activity is immense: it lasts for decades, sometimes generations, multiplying the human costs of conflict. (In Lebanon - one case where hard figures are available - 20 years after civil war broke out, the GDP was still only half of its previous level.) Moreover, the large standing forces maintained to deter or intervene in wars cost hundreds of billions of dollars per year.

Despite their enormous resources and vast spending on armaments, governments around the world have been unable to prevent frequent outbreaks of armed conflict; instead, they react to them. Responding to dislocation, destruction, and loss of production and trade, the industrial countries and voluntary organizations spend billions of dollars on economic rehabilitation of war-ravaged areas, humanitarian aid, refugee relief, peacekeeping forces, and in some cases military intervention. Instead of repeatedly financing these costly forms of remediation, which are usually too little and too late, governments and voluntary organizations should invest in war prevention.

Today we have a rare opportunity to mobilize government and public support for a comprehensive approach to war prevention. Working relationships among the world's top military powers (the United States, Russia, France, Germany, Great Britain, Japan, and China) have created an unprecedented opportunity for cooperation to strengthen UN and regional conflict resolution and peacekeeping and to reduce global arms deployment, production, and trade.

This may be a waning opportunity. Unless preventive action is taken over the next 10-20 years, we may see renewed armed confrontation between the most heavily armed nations (the United States, Russia, and China). Moreover, other nations are poised to acquire new armaments that neighboring countries may find threatening. Today, when there is no near-term risk of major war, is the time to prevent the rise of new military threats.

In addition, innovative concepts for war prevention, forged during major conflicts ranging from World War I through the Cold War, offer powerful new tools to help prevent war. These include confidence-building measures, transparency and information exchange, mutual constraints on force deployments and activities, negotiated reductions in armed forces, and restrictions on arms holdings, production, and trade. Equally important are constructive new measures for peacekeeping: pre-conflict early warning and action, including diplomatic intervention, mediation, judicial processes, and preventive deployment of armed force; and post-conflict peace-keeping and peacebuilding. Another innovation is the trend toward linking international loans to limits on military spending.

Thus far, these useful approaches to preventing war have been applied separately and incompletely; none has been fully successful, and none is likely to be so if they remain separate projects, unconnected by a larger framework. In the 1960s, the United States and the Soviet Union proposed plans for general and complete disarmament combined with improved UN peacekeeping; but these plans were shelved in favor of separate programs for partial arms limits and reductions. For nuclear arms, this approach has worked, even if slowly, because the many issues into which nuclear arms control has been divided - testing, bilateral reductions, nonproliferation, ending production of fissile material, and disposing of fissile material - are all supported by strong public rejection of nuclear weapons. For conventional forces, in contrast, the disaggregation of disarmament into separate projects has fragmented public and government interest, dividing support among many worthwhile measures, such as limits on arms transfers or cuts in military spending. Moreover, while nuclear war is considered avoidable, many people and governments have an anachronistic attitude toward the inevitability of 'conventional' war. Peacekeeping has been completely separated from efforts to reduce conflict through arms control. The areas where there has been some progress - the 1990 Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe, and recent efforts to ban landmines and control small arms - have been exceptional in generating broad support.

Now, instead of striving for peace in fragments, it is time to bring together the diverse approaches - conventional force reductions, limits on arms production and trade, cuts in military spending, measures to stop proliferation and build confidence, training for peaceful conflict resolution, and means for conflict resolution, peacebuilding, and peacekeeping - in a unified program to prevent war.

A comprehensive approach is needed both to be effective in reducing armed conflict and to mobilize sustained public pressure for new policies. Such an approach will strengthen existing peacemaking and arms control programs by building a broader coalition of interested publics and government officials to support them. Once convinced that a practical program to prevent war exists, people and governments will eagerly champion it.

Equally important, by lowering the world level of armed conflict, the Global Action program will fulfill an essential requirement for eliminating all nuclear weapons. In fact, neither program can be fully implemented without the active contribution of the other. Unless there is a nuclear weapon catastrophe, achievement of nuclear disarmament will require both reduced levels of conflict worldwide and effective ways of reducing the conventional forces of the major powers, especially their force projection capability. On the one hand, countries like China, Russia, and India will not relinquish their nuclear weapons if the main effect of doing so is to enhance the already large conventional superiority of the United States. On the other hand, governments will not be ready to drastically cut national armed forces unless nuclear weapons are on their way to elimination.

A Phased Program for Change

To succeed in mobilizing broad support, a program of action to prevent deadly conflict should meet several criteria: it should be careful not to inadvertently increase some risks of war while reducing others; it should engage and strengthen commitment to nonviolent conflict resolution; it should offer substantial economic benefits; and it should include means of overcoming domestic resistance to change rooted in inertia, ignorance, and vested interests.

The Global Action program seeks to meet these criteria. Militarily, it proposes a series of gradual changes, carefully designed not to create new situations of uncertainty in which the risk of war might rise. Morally, it underscores commitment to the rule of law and peaceful dispute resolution in international and domestic affairs in two ways: it limits the accepted uses of armed force to deterring and defending against aggression, genocide, and other forms of mass violence, and it replaces the use of national armed forces in what may be arbitrary, self-interested ways with UN and regional forces for use in a non-partisan fashion.

Economically, this program should bring major savings to both the potential victims of armed conflict and the potential donors of emergency relief and reconstruction aid. In addition, by cutting the world's largest conventional armed forces and major weapon systems - which take 95 percent of world military spending - the program should release enormous resources for non-military uses. In the case of the United States, which accounts for one-third of world military spending, initial cuts in conventional forces and weaponry could save over $75 billion per year (out of the current $250 billion annual military budget), and longer-term reductions could save more than $150 billion per year. Other countries, including both industrial countries and developing 'middle powers', would save comparable proportions of their current military budgets - which in many cases are now higher than national budgets for health or education. After an initial period of transition and conversion, these savings could be directed to nationally-adapted combinations of tax cuts, domestic programs, international debt relief, and development aid.

With respect to potential internal obstacles to change - employment in defense-dependent communities, profits in arms industries, the careers of senior military officers, and so on - a gradual process of change will enable a smooth transition to non-military employment and production. It will mobilize local as well as national support by ending local 'boom-and-bust' cycles of funding for arms production, strengthening economic growth, and releasing a large fraction of government spending for other needs.

Many of the procedures and institutions proposed for Phase I already exist in some form. Global Action to Prevent War will not be starting from zero, but rather building on positive recent developments.

  • Phase I: First Treaty to Reduce Armed Conflict, TRAC I, 5-10 year duration

Phase I has two main goals: first, to reduce the frequency of genocide, ethnic conflict, internal wars, and border wars by strengthening the global and regional institutions for preventing and ending organized armed violence; and, second, to begin to address the longer-term risks of major international war by starting negotiations on global cuts in conventional arms holdings, production, and trade, while instituting a freeze on, and greater transparency in, these elements of military power. The two approaches are mutually reinforcing: Reducing the frequency of internal wars will reduce great power intervention and facilitate cuts in their large standing armed forces; and this, in turn, will facilitate cutbacks in arms transfers and help defuse regional conflicts.

There are several reasons to begin by focusing on internal wars: they are the main source of bloodshed today; measures to prevent such wars, though well known, are underdeveloped and sporadically applied; and success in strengthening these measures will build confidence in the ability of the international community to prevent all types of armed violence.

Phase I provides for an initial Treaty to Reduce Armed Conflict (TRAC I), in which participating nations promise to work to reduce organized armed conflict by significantly enhancing means of conflict resolution and by limiting the size and uses of national armed forces.

Many steps to strengthen global and regional conflict prevention, peacekeeping, and peace enforcement capabilities are urgently needed to prevent and end internal wars, genocide, and other large-scale armed violence. Many such measures already exist in rudimentary form. For example, there are global agreements on human rights, on dispute resolution by the International Court of Justice, on cooperation to prevent terrorism, and on the establishment of an International Criminal Court. Many countries have begun to institute programs on nonviolent conflict resolution in schools and local communities. The UN Secretary-General has an informal system for diplomatic intervention to prevent disputes from escalating into armed conflicts; the UN Security Council has considerable experience with post-conflict peacekeeping; and a few initial international readiness brigades and headquarters units are prepared for intervention to deter or end aggression or genocide. There are also universal-membership regional organizations in Europe (OSCE), Africa (OAU), and Latin America (OAS), which provide a starting point for building effective, trusted regional security organizations on all continents.

These institutions and processes for preventing the outbreak of armed conflict can and should be greatly strengthened. The network of regional security organizations should be filled out and each organization should develop some peacekeeping capability of its own. The UN should expand its early warning capability, establish a professional mediation corps and humanitarian aid service, and increase the pool of civilian police trained for peacekeeping and related missions. Service in peacekeeping and mediation corps should be made an alternative to military conscription. An international code of minority rights should be created; and future treaties should provide for participants to submit disputes about them to international arbitration or adjudication.

Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) have programs in several of these areas, including mediation, arbitration, and the unarmed intervention of 'peace brigades.' Such activities, which have been growing rapidly, are likely to be increasingly useful in future as NGOs become more experienced and innovative.

Progress on these measures will help the Security Council, the Secretary-General, and the regional security organizations to undertake a pro-active role in preventing armed conflict. The UN and its regional counterparts will be expected to act quickly to advise and warn, and assist governments encountering difficult political and economic problems, and to assure that the UN Human Rights Commission and regional commissions are active in easing ethnic and minority frictions. Governments should promote fulfillment of human rights covenants by agreeing to unconditionally admit and facilitate visits of UN observers. At the same time, the UN General Assembly should set up a mediation and conflict prevention committee to supplement the work of the Security Council on a less formal plane.

As the UN's role in preventing war grows, it will be necessary to take steps to build widespread confidence in the impartiality of UN decision-making on matters of war and peace. One way to do this may be to make the Security Council more representative of the international community by expanding its membership, and more likely to undertake decisive, impartial action by restricting the use of the veto to threats to the territorial integrity of the country issuing the veto. Another way to achieve impartial action, also without changing the UN Charter, would be for the Security Council to establish new committees or agencies to deal with specific aspects of security, replacing the veto with 'super majorities' in these organizations. For fuller accountability, the President of the General Assembly should have a seat on the Security Council, allowing him to report Assembly views to the Council and vice versa. To further enhance accountability, a practice of judicial review by the International Court of Justice over precisely defined areas of Security Council competence could be gradually introduced.

Finally, steps should be taken to strengthen dialogue between member government representatives at the UN, UN officials, regional organizations, and NGOs and people's assemblies, which have been playing an increasingly important and useful role in shaping government security policies.

To reduce the longer-term risks of major international war and further reduce the risks of internal war, TRAC I participants will take several additional major steps: begin talks on global reductions in armaments, and make a commitment not to increase any key element of military power while the talks are under way (or for at least 10 years); support the talks by providing full transparency (publicly available information) regarding their own current and planned future armed forces, military personnel and spending, and arms production and trade; apply a prescribed set of confidence-building measures, including constraints on force activities, in all bilateral relationships that have the potential to lead to war; and, establish a coordinating committee to oversee implementation and verification, patterned on similar committees in START I and II, the CFE Treaty, and the Chemical Weapons Convention. The responsibilities of this committee will increase in later phases.

  • Phase II: Second Treaty to Reduce Armed Conflict, TRAC II, 5-10 year duration

Phase II will continue to strengthen the means available to the international community for preventing and ending genocide and smaller wars. For example, governments would commit themselves to obligatory arbitration or submission of disputes to international courts. Phase II will, however, focus on steps to reduce the risks of major regional or global war. A second Treaty to Reduce Armed Conflict, TRAC II, will make substantial global and regional cuts in key elements of military power (force structure, inventories of major weapon systems, military personnel, and spending), and in arms production and trade.

Aiming ultimately at low levels of national armaments in all parts of the world, TRAC II will make proportionately larger cuts in countries with larger armed forces. For example, countries with aggregate inventories of major weapons [combat aircraft and armed helicopters, tanks, armored personnel carriers, heavy artillery and missiles, and naval ships over 1,000 tons] numbering over 10,000 (the USA, Russia, China) might reduce their forces by one-third, while those with inventories totaling 1,000-10,000 would cut by one-quarter, and those with inventories under 1,000 by 15 percent. [Note: There are about 20 military 'middle powers' which would cut by 25 percent: Germany, Britain, France, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Poland, and Ukraine in Europe; Japan, India, Pakistan, North and South Korea, and Taiwan in Asia; and Israel, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iraq, Iran, and Syria in the Middle East. All other countries (about 170), which have very small armed forces, would cut by 15 percent.]

These global cuts will be supplemented by additional confidence-building arms reductions in areas plagued by long-standing regional conflicts. Obligatory cuts in arms production and trade will accompany the global and regional cuts in forces. Since arms acquisition during reductions will be minimal, there will be more than proportionate cuts in production and trade and in arms industries. Reduced armaments will be destroyed unless they can be used to replace permitted but unserviceable weapons, thereby avoiding production of replacement systems.

At the same time, participants will finally implement their obligations under Articles 43 and 45 of the UN Charter to make available to the Security Council pre-designated trained and equipped ground, air, and naval personnel, ships, and planes. An individually-recruited all-volunteer force will also be established; and the standing peacekeeping forces at the disposal of the UN and regional security organizations will undertake a gradual transition from national contingents earmarked for multilateral use to the growing all-volunteer force. Little by little, reliance on national military contingents will be phased out except for large operations. Participants will also implement their obligation under Article 47 to establish a functioning Military Staff Committee to provide strategic direction of these forces on orders from the Security Council, and will establish regional Military Staff Committees. Efforts will continue during Phase II to strengthen institutions for conflict prevention and resolution, and to prevent the outbreak of civil wars, violent ethnic conflicts, and genocide. The entire program up to this point - including the cuts in arms holdings, production, and trade - will support a shift, which takes place mainly in Phases III and IV, from national to multilateral means of military intervention to preserve or restore peace.

The growing international means of conflict prevention will be funded starting in Phase II by a tax of one one-hundredth of one percent of all international financial transactions over $10,000.

  • Phase III: Third Treaty to Reduce Armed Conflict, TRAC III, 10-year duration

In a third Treaty to Reduce Armed Conflict (TRAC III), participating countries, including the major powers, will test the effectiveness of the expanded global security system by making a provisional commitment not to deploy their armed forces beyond national borders except as part of a multilateral deployment under UN or regional auspices. By the beginning of Phase III the UN and its regional security counterparts, which will have expanded their peacekeeping capabilities in Phases I and II, should be willing and able to take responsibility for these tasks. In other words, they should be prepared to take steps, authorized by the Security Council (or a regional counterpart), to launch rapid multilateral non-military intervention or, as a last resort, military action aimed at preventing or ending the outbreak of war, genocide, and other forms of deadly conflict. When considering armed intervention in internal conflicts, the Security Council will decide on a case-by-case basis whether intervention is justified, using criteria such as the threat of genocide, threats to international security, or the failure of governments to meet the requirements for stewardship of their citizens' security and welfare.

At any time during Phase III, if participating nations conclude that their security is endangered by a failure of the global security system, they will have the right to withdraw from TRAC III; and since TRAC II cuts will reduce national forces by no more than a third, capabilities for unilateral military action will still exist.

Withdrawal from TRAC III will not vitiate the commitments made under TRACs I and II, but a successful TRAC III trial - a decade with no withdrawal and no unilateral military action by nations with large armed forces - will be a prerequisite for proceeding with TRAC IV. During the TRAC III trial, talks will take place on another round of cuts in conventional forces and military spending to be carried out in Phase IV, when there is full confidence in the effectiveness of the global security system.

By the time the TRAC III is agreed, nuclear disarmament should have reached a point at which the small remaining stocks of warheads and delivery systems have been immobilized by being placed in internationally-monitored storage - that is, the last step before the complete abolition of nuclear weapons. In this case, the TRAC III trial transfer of responsibility for military action from national to global and regional hands, preceding the permanent transfer, would parallel the trial immobilization of nuclear weapons preceding their complete abolition.

  • Phase IV: Fourth Treaty to Reduce Armed Conflict, TRAC IV, indefinite duration

Following the trial run in TRAC III, the TRAC IV agreement, a treaty of indefinite duration, will complete the transfer of the responsibility and capability for peacekeeping and protection against genocide (but not for defense against cross-border aggression) from individual nations to the global security system operated by the reformed UN and regional security organizations. This transfer will permit and require further cuts in national forces like those in TRAC II (one-third, one-quarter, and 15 percent, respectively, for countries with very large, large, and small forces). It will also require a further increase in the scale of the peacekeeping and defense forces maintained by the UN and regional security organizations. Production of major weapons will be restricted to systems needed by individual nations for defensive security (defense of national territory) and those needed by the UN and regional organizations for peacekeeping and for multilateral defense against genocide and aggression. The UN and its regional counterparts will complete their transformation to all-volunteer forces. This means that force-projection capabilities - air, naval, and logistical forces that permit military attacks on the territory of nations far from national borders - will be dropped from national arsenals, in whole or in part.

  • Ultimate Goals - Phase V

As confidence in the global security system grows and military threats diminish, further changes will be desirable and should be possible. These changes, which may occur quickly or slowly, can be considered the fifth and final phase of the multi-phase process.

The initial long-term goal is for all nations to convert fully to defensive security, by limiting national armed forces strictly and narrowly to territorial defense (air defense, defense of coasts and coastal waters, and border defense), and making the UN and regional security organizations alone capable of large-scale military intervention beyond national borders.

Efforts to achieve this goal are likely to be mutually reinforcing. As confidence in the global security system grows and national armed forces shrink, the multilateral forces needed to deter and defend against cross-border aggression and other forms of large-scale violence will be both smaller and more likely to succeed. At the same time, as expectations of peace grow, nations and national leaders will become more comfortable with the idea of limiting their armed forces to defense of national territory. In particular, the major military powers (especially the United States), which would be giving up their capabilities for large-scale military action beyond national borders, will have concluded that their security is better served by the new system, and will actively support it.

Eventually, the world's nations may reach a degree of commitment to peaceful conflict resolution such that the UN and regional security organizations will have only police functions: verifying adherence to defensive security limits by individual nations, and preventing the use of violence for gain or for political intimidation by non-State actors such as terrorists and criminal syndicates. At this point we could reasonably say that war had been abolished."

© 1999 The Acronym Institute.

Return to top of page

Return to List of Contents

Return to Acronym Main Page