There are many roads to peace. But conflict resolution has the advantage that if well done it can have immediate impact: a conflict solved, less frustration, less aggression, less violence, more peace
[Johan Galtung, a professor of peace studies, dr hc mult, is rector of the TRANSCEND Peace University-TPU. He is author of over 150 books on peace and related issues, including ‘50 Years-100 Peace and Conflict Perspectives,’ published by the TRANSCEND University Press-TUP. Interview conducted on the occasion of IPRA’s 50th anniversary celebration at the Istanbul Conference, Turkey, August 11-15, 2014.">
Q: Prof. Galtung, please compare IPRA's relevance, impact and consequence in 1964 and 50 years later in 2014. What have been its influence and concrete achievements?
JG: I do not think IPRA as such has impact, but it has impact on participants from all over the world, and they may have impact academically, in NGOs, in some cases in foreign offices.
Q: What are the affinities between peace research and conflict resolution theories and practices? Their impact on the world both as a whole, upon leaders and people?
JG: There are many roads to peace, like to health; better travel all of them! Conflict resolution is one, so is reconciliation, so is a peace culture and many others. But conflict resolution has the advantage that if well done it can have immediate impact: conflict solved, less frustration, less aggression, less violence, more peace; from one day to the other. At the marital level, from one minute to the next.
Q: After WWII the world order changed dramatically. Governments seem no longer in charge of sovereign states but rather servants of capital, which prostitute their loyalties in order to get elected and stay in power by any means necessary. Banks, central banks, federal reserves, the Bank for International Settlements, and financial institutions are the real movers and shakers plus the undeniable power behind the global military establishment. What are the prospects for peace, conflict resolution, mediation, nonviolence, etc for a meaningful impact on world affairs in the foreseeable future?
JG: Well, I agree, but a little too strongly stated. Yes, we are in for a long struggle to tweeze politics from the jaws of economics. What happens is that the hyper-capitalism creates its crises and needs the state to bail them out. The state may learn to say no, and the people may learn self- employment and cooperatives and not sell their labour to capitalist labour-buyers called employers.
Q: Hypothetically, having done extensive research and predicted the fall of the US empire by 2020, can you compare, had the Nazis won WWII with the state of the world under the US empire of capital?
JG: There is a big similarity between Nazism and US imperialism: they did not know how to stop but just went on and on till they accumulated more enemies than they could manage. Stalin was better at stopping; during the Cold War he pulled out of Norway, Finland, Denmark (Bornholm) Austria (Staatsvertrag), Azerbaidzhan in Iran, and was willing to pull out of East Germany for an Austrian solution--but USA-Adenauer did not want that solution. Kind of interesting that there was more control over wild processes in foreign affairs under Stalinism, as can be seen by comparing the number of military interventions abroad USA:USSR in the 1949-89 period.
Q: After 2020: another empire on the horizon, or regionalization -- BRICS, CELAC, AU, ASEAN, EU, OIC, and so on?
JG: These are regions, not empires; there may be dominant economic powers but not one that also dominates politically, militarily and culturally, deciding, intervening, cloning others.
Q: How does the field of mediation fare relative to a jurisprudence aiming exclusively at punishment (and cruelty at that)? Any dents on the system?
JG: Alternative dispute resolution is catching on for domestic law, but not yet for international law. And the US slogan, win-win, only means something acceptable; it does not include going beyond, building ever higher levels of peace--as spelt out in details in A Theory of Peace, TRANSCEND University Press-TUP.
Q: What about SABONA, your method for conflict resolution for school children? The Norwegian experiment: Successful?
JG: Highly successful -- as the rector of the main school said, it is not that there is zero bullying, there is much less, but we know how to handle it.
Q: Any final thoughts on IPRA and similar organizations around the world? Ministries of peace? In academy?
I, like many others, think that IPRA needs a more permanent secretariat, somewhere, and people with more full time dedication. IPRA could establish itself as an organization to be consulted by media and political bodies--governmental and nongovernmental.
Read a complement to this interview on: International Peace Research Association at 50, TRANSCEND Media Service-TMS.
*Antonio Carlos Silva Rosa is the editor of the pioneering Peace Journalism website, TRANSCEND Media Service-TMS, an assistant to Prof. Johan Galtung, and Board Secretary of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace, Development and Environment. He has a Ph.D. completed coursework in Political Science-Peace Studies and graduated with a Master’s degree in Polsci-International Relations from the University of Hawai’i. He is originally from Brazil and presently lives in Porto, Portugal. He was educated in the USA where he lived for 20 years; in Europe/India since.
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