Principles of the Committee of 100 in Finland

Accepted in the Autumn meeting on 11 November 2013

1. Peace is the Way

Peace is true

Peace is cooperation. It is a skill which one can learn with vigilance, duty and responsibility, and maintain with active nurturing.

Peace is concrete and tangible. Peace is not an abstract utopia for the distant future but peace – or the lack of it – is visible in everyone’s life every day. Peace cannot be taken for granted; it requires effort. Can you make your way to work in peace? Is there coffee in your cup without a fight? Are there walls around your house? Has your neighbour escaped a war?

Peace is true so is violence. It does not happen somewhere, it is not a game, it is not a play. It hits, it touches, it hurts – if not you then someone like you.

War and violence are not the opposites of peace, but laziness, ignorance, selfishness and oblivion – qualities that we should uproot from ourselves as well as others.

Peace is the way – and there is a way to peace

Peace is a vital necessity for many commonly accepted things. Peace contributes to the emergence of human rights, civil liberties, evenly distributed welfare, equality, democracy, steady economic growth and environmental resilience. Peace creates a foundation on which a sustainable, functioning and equal society can be built.

On the other hand, these things are a way to peace. Peace is strengthened by justice, opportunity to influence, fulfilment of basic rights and adequate subsistence. Peace is threatened by injustice, silenced voices, absolute poverty and ruined living opportunities. Thus, peace is a way to something better, but peace is built on that same road: by improving people’s living conditions, opportunities to influence and justice.

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.”

Dwight D. Eisenhower

2. The Committee of 100 in Finland

The Committee of 100 works to make the world of peace possible. The Committee of 100 is a pacifist and anti-militarist organisation whose fundamental goal is world peace; a state where there are no wars, where no one suffers from violence and where no fight is ignored. Utopian but therefore necessary.

The Committee of 100 works for a world without arms. We want to take the power from weapons to the people and to get rid of the politics of fear. We want security not to be used to justify acts of violence and we want no victim of violence to be deemed necessary. We do not, under any circumstances, support violence.

The Committee of 100 believes in non-violent action. Peace does not arise by itself, nor from above; it results from non-violent action by the people. Peace creates peace. The strongest is the one who responds to violence with peace, not the one who uses the strongest force.

The same foundation has carried us forward since 1963. The Committee of 100 was born into the Cold War world where the threat of the war was close and in the minds of people. The need for a peace movement arose from the escalation of the nuclear arms race and the global bipolar confrontation.

In 21st century Finland, the threat of war is neither concrete nor near. The threat of war has been outsourced to distant lands, to a computerised reality TV programme which you can watch from your living room. Despite and because of that we need a peace movement now and in the future. We want peace in our homes, on our streets, in our schools. We need peace around the whole world. Peace in our homes, on our streets and in our schools will not be achieved without world peace.

We talk about peace instead of war. We do not want security policy to remain in the hands of the few when peace and peacebuilding affect everyone. Security policy is not the policy of war, but the fundamental question should be how we create peace.

The Committee of 100 was born from the idea that building peace requires everyone’s efforts. Governments or international organisations alone cannot and will not create of world of peace. It requires all of us. The Committee of 100 needs you and this age needs The Committee of 100.

3. A World of Peace

Peace among people

Growing up to build peace requires a peaceful environment. Peace begins with every person. Violence on individuals generates violence within communities. Violence that takes place at home, in schools and on streets creates a culture of violence. Peace requires a peaceful environment and people to grow up to build peace. We must say no to all violence.

Peace through cooperation

The state of peace has strengthened but violence and conflicts are still part of our everyday lives. We live simultaneously in two different eras: the old realpolitik based on power politics and a new interdependent world.

Some still trust power politics and weapons although these cannot bring lasting benefits anywhere. Power politics is also incapable of responding to global challenges, such as climate change, population growth and economic crises. Responding to these threats requires cross-border cooperation and jointly agreed actions; the pursuit of the common good instead of self-interest.

Borderless peace

The UN system has weakened the threat of inter-state wars and the role of military action in security policy has diminished. The countries of the world are bound together by countless strands. Their economic interdependencies in particular undermine war and strengthen peace.

Security is not about drawing borders and guarding them. Regions and borders need to convey and promote interaction and not to prevent it. International cooperation must aim for security zones where war is impossible, and all armament is absurd.

The European Union and the Nordic countries are examples of successful security zones. Wide cooperation and networking within the fields of economy, labour, politics, culture and the civil society create trust and prevent conflicts from escalating. Impassable borders between European countries should be considered a strange transient feature in the 20th century history.

In the Nordic countries a shared identity has grown stronger alongside national identities. Instead of differences we emphasise rather what we have in common and instead of national projects we have built shared Nordic welfare.

European integration is a peace process that has erased wars between states. Free movement within the Schengen area, increased social interaction and the euro as a shared currency reinforce Europeanness. Institutions and bureaucracy must not be obstacles to the strengthening of transnational identities: EU citizenship should be allowed alongside or instead of national passports.

Finland is international

Finland does not face a threat of war. During its independence Finland has been attacked once – in the middle of a World War. Nothing in Europe hints to a new world war.

The hero myth of the Winter War of a small nation standing on its own does not resemble today’s situation. Inciting support for national defence when the threat of war is diminishing is making a lot of noise about a non-existent threat in the fear of internationalisation. Security policy must be based on the actual security situation and not on bolstering a fading national feeling.

A true miracle is the story of Finland during peace time, an increasingly firm understanding that Finland is not alone. Finland is Nordic and European. In Finland there is a stable tradition of equality, democracy, civil action and internationalism which is a good basis for working towards peace.

The celebrations of the Finnish Independence Day are nowadays not focused on independence but on remembering war. Why build identity on violence when the foundation could be positive achievements? Let us celebrate all the good things that Finland has achieved: Nordic welfare state, equal fundamental rights, international Finland. Our history is more than war. We could for example remember how in the beginning of the 20th century Finnish people refused to be enrolled to the Russian army. The awakening of Finnishness was nourished with peace work, not war.

Freedom from military conscription

The current form of military conscription should be abolished. It maintains a culture of violence and militarism. It raises people to a harmful hierarchy. Military conscription has a negative impact on the image of being a man; at its core it maintains one-sided and limited masculinity. The current male conscription reinforces the artificial gender division and a belief in gender differences.

Finland is not threatened by anything that could be solved with a mass army. Today’s threats are natural catastrophes, epidemics and unexpected acts of violence. Upon ending military conscription, civilian service and the punishment of total conscientious objectors must end. Our long-term goal is the abolition of armies.

World without weapons

Finland does not need more arms or new expensive weapon systems. On the contrary Finland must set an example and disarm unilaterally. It is necessary to urge other countries to invest in promoting welfare and combating poverty and environmental problems instead of armament. Finland must stop arming the rest of the world and stop arms exports altogether.

Nuclear weapons must be abolished. Pouring enormous sums of money into the development of weapons of mass destruction in Europe that prides itself for civilisation is incredible in all its hypocrisy. We must demand disarmament from nuclear weapons states under the Non-Proliferation Treaty. The UN must negotiate a treaty to ban nuclear weapons.

The accelerating automatization of war and killing must be stopped. Death and violence are always humane tragedies and technology must not distance us from this fact.

Harnessing information networks to a cyber war threatens people’s everyday welfare. Any cyber-attack on people’s basic needs and functions that enable everyday life, such as food and water maintenance and household heating systems is a war crime on the civilian population, and even planning such an attack should be criminal. Global information networks must be free and open, and they must serve the whole world and welfare of the population. There is a need for global cyber disarmament.

The NATO, a military alliance, must be abolished. The abolition of the NATO would strengthen the UN system and structures of the civil society that strengthen regional security.

The Åland Islands have been demilitarised; let us next demilitarise the Nordic countries.

Homes free of guns

People do not need weapons. There is no place for guns for self-defence or to produce a sense of security. Guns significantly increase the risk of death and injury.

Reducing the number of guns and minimising the risks caused by them must be a cross-cutting policy goal. The large number of guns in Finland causes risks in everyday life, for example in the form of worsening domestic violence, school shootings and unpremeditated suicides as well the easy access to guns without a proper purpose.

Guns are not a part of childhood. Children must not be brought up to violence and killing. As an example of this kind of upbringing, some children learn to shoot, and shoot with hunting rifles. A person who has learned to use a gun can also pick up the gun more easily to misuse it.

We want to get rid of the guns at homes. On the way to a world without guns the existing weapons must be stored safely and for example the police should have the right to inspect the safe storage of guns in the same manner as cars are inspected. There must also be a system of Pigovian taxes for guns just like any products that harmful to people.

Peaceful resolution of conflicts

The aim of crisis management must be enhancing human security. The UN is the most trustworthy organisation when it comes to crisis management. Regional actors, like the EU, the AU or the OSCE, as well as local and international civil society actors can play their role.

Civilian crisis management should be the primary objective, also when the conflict has already escalated, and it can no longer be prevented. At the end conflicts will always be solved without soldiers because only peaceful conflict resolution is sustainable. Military actors should always work under the civilian crisis management.

Civilian actors may foresee the escalation of conflicts when there is enough time to investigate their root causes and try to find a solution through legislation, mediation, negotiation and targeted economic assistance. The financial cost of prevention is very small compared to the direct and indirect economic and humanitarian costs of a war on the society and population.

Violence, hierarchies and inflexibility are part of the logic of military action. At worst, military presence can provoke more violence and weaken the parties’ belief in a peaceful solution. In addition, the high cost of military action causes a bias within the operation and obstructs the chances of peaceful solutions by civil society actors. Violence is not a solution to a conflict. We need to fight models of action where violence is answered with violence.

In good crisis management the action of military forces should not be extended to the areas where civilian action is more efficient. In crisis management where military actors are also involved, soldiers must join the operation last and leave it first. Civilian actors must be responsible for the operation as well as the allocation of adequate resources.

Us and others

No one is on this earth alone. We are tied to each other, other creatures and the globe itself. That tie should be visible in our actions. We must act in a way that is ecologically, financially and socially sustainable. In order to achieve peace, we must take care of everyone’s living conditions: prevent climate change from getting out of hand, take care of clean water, provide everyone food, safeguard animal welfare, prevent the building of our welfare at the expense of others. Insufficient resources and their unequal distribution easily create conflicts. In order to create peace, we must also create justice and sustainability.

Peace does not arise by itself. It requires hard work – from everyone. Peace must be built on all levels of action. We must fight for peace in the international fora, at schools, in businesses and in meetings. Peace also requires examples. Above all, peace requires commitment.

The UN has agreed that states, together and separately, have a duty to protect people with appropriate and necessary means, not only against crimes against humanity, but also against inciting those crimes. States consist of people, so this responsibility touches everyone.

As citizens of states and more importantly as individuals we also have the responsibility to live our own lives in such a way that our actions do not provoke or enable crimes against humanity and that through appropriate means we prevent these crimes and their incitement. Responsibility for our actions has not shifted to the state, but it remains with all of us. We have the right and the obligation to non-violently oppose the abuses of power and violence.

We are all responsible not only for our own actions, but also for the actions of entities that we belong to, such as the state. This responsibility is enormous because can never monitor all members of a community all the time. We can never know for sure which of our actions lead to incitement or crimes against humanity. However, we must do our best to take care of each member in our communities in such a way that we share responsibility for each other.

Ignorance does not eliminate the responsibility and even if our brothers or sisters decide to do wrong, we must ask ourselves if we could have prevented it. Like the state and the international community are responsible for protecting every individual, it is also the responsibility of every individual and community to protect everyone who shares the same world, because if we are free, we are free only as long as someone else protects us. That is peace.

4. Demands for decision-makers and us all

Domestic policy

  1. Defence expenses must be reduced, and unilateral disarmament must be started.
  2. The current military conscription must be renounced, the civilian service as form of punishment must be abolished and total objectors must be absolved.
  3. The budget for development cooperation must be at least one per cent of the gross domestic product.
  4. Security policy decision-making must be public already in the preparatory phase.
  5. Products with adverse effects are taxed in many ways. A new category of Pigovian tax, the gun tax, must be created for guns.
  6. Peace education must be included in the school curricula.
  7. All foreign policy must be consistent, for example when working for disarmament and human rights at the negotiation table, arms trade to strengthen dictatorships must be stopped.

International politics

  1. The NATO and other military alliances must be abolished.
  2. The focus of peacekeeping in Finland and in the EU must be shifted to civilian crisis management. There must be a specific allocation for civilian crisis management in the state budget.
  3. Finland must resolutely support all initiatives aiming at disarmament in the United Nations and join agreements that require changes Finnish defence policy.
  4. All parties of a conflict must observe the Geneva conventions and other rules of warfare. All war criminals must be brought to international justice.
  5. A cyber-attack against civilian society is a war crime and even preparing such an attack should be banned internationally. We need global cyber disarmament and a comprehensive international agreement on cyber security.
  6. Halting climate change and climate justice are conditions for achieving peace. We must draw a binding international climate agreement that curbs global warming to a tolerable level.

Civil society

  1. Peace work and conflict management must be actively supported in Finland and internationally at all levels of action.
  2. There must be no military parades during peace. War must not be brought to the everyday life.
  3. On the Independence Day, instead of war, we should remember all the peaceful development that has been achieved in Finland.
  4. We encourage reservists to refuse arms. Reserve objectors must not be obliged to complete civilian service trainings.
  5. Internationalisation and cross-border non-national identities must be strengthened. EU citizenship should be made possible alongside or instead of national citizenship.

Arms trade and guns

  1. Finland must end arms trade altogether and give up arms industry.
  2. Weapons are not a part of an open society. Finnish gun legislation must be tightened in its entirety.
  3. The conditions for the storage of guns must be tightened significantly and police has to be given the right to inspect on their storage. Recreational shooting and equipment storage must be confined to the specific spaces allocated for it.
  4. The conditions for acquiring a firearm must be tightened significantly, the age limits must be higher and there must be a limit to the number of guns an individual can have according to the purpose. All gun permissions must be issued on a temporary basis.