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To build peace

While the Foreign Ministry's section for peace and reconciliation spends one and a half billion a year, the Armed Forces budget exceeds 44 billion. What is the lesson of others who have created their own Ministry of Peace?


One of the UN's goals for sustainable development towards 2030 is peace, justice and robust institutions. An international network of activists is working to ensure that institutions with peace as their main goal become part of the solution.

Scotty Bruer is the founder of, which has launched a campaign to get the world's authorities to invest in peace-building institutions: “We don't have all the answers. We know that the way we do things today doesn't work. The one-and-a-half billion the world spends on the military per year, could fund education, clean water and food for everyone, and give people hope and opportunities. ”

As of today, there are only five countries in the world with their own Ministry of Peace.

Currently, the campaign has received 100 000 signatures. User's somewhat hairy goal is to get one billion people to sign during the campaign and become ambassadors for peace.

The idea is that peace is not just the absence of war and conflict, but something that one must actively strive for and build in order for it to be sustainable. It requires resources and efforts to resolve conflicts peacefully and to build a peace culture where conflict resolution becomes the norm. Bridges draws on UNESCO's constitution, which states that "as war begins in the human mind, in the human mind the defense of peace must be built".

Demobilized Maoist guerrillas. At present, there are only five countries in the world with their own Ministry of Peace. Little Solomon Islands was the first to establish in 1995.

Manish Thapa is from Nepal. He is currently a professor of peace studies at the UN Peace University in Costa Rica, and tells Ny Tid about the process leading up to the establishment of a peace ministry in his home country Nepal: “From 2005 we had a political crisis. "Maoist rebels had gained control of almost 70 percent of the country, and the king curtailed democracy to consolidate his power," Thapa said. After the king declared a state of emergency in the country and formed his own government, the Maoists joined forces with the other political parties to restore democracy in a process known as the "April Revolution". Nepal's Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction was established in 2007 following the signing of a peace agreement between the government and the Maoist party. Among other things, the new ministry was given the task of implementing the peace agreement.

"We had a defense ministry and a justice ministry that never talked about peace, despite the civil war. The peace talks gave us a golden opportunity to lobby for the establishment of a peace ministry. We were in contact with both the government and the Maoists, and both sides liked the idea. To this day, it is one of the most prominent ministries in Nepal, ”says Thapa, who founded the Nepal Peace Initiative Alliance and was one of the drivers of the establishment of the Ministry of Peace. “Since we had an ongoing civil war, it was easy to sell the idea to the politicians. All people wanted was to live in peace, ”he says. Among other things, the ministry has worked on demobilization, disarmament and reintegration of the Maoist guerrillas, reconstruction, establishment of truth commissions, dialogue between various ethnic, religious and political movements. In addition, the holding of elections and job training for women affected by the conflict to strengthen their financial independence. A peace fund has also been set up to support peacebuilding initiatives.

"When state power is deliberately used to promote peace, peace is more likely to be achieved."

Adapt to the challenges. Although the historical circumstances surrounding the establishment of Nepal's Ministry of Peace were special, Thapa believes this may be relevant in several places. “Most countries that are recovering from a conflict have many of the same challenges. The Nepalese Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction is one of the most cited references in the recent peace process between the FARC and the government of Colombia, ”says Thapa (see separate case page 19).

In Costa Rica, the idea of ​​a peace ministry has been steered more towards preventing crime. The Ministry of Justice and Peace, which was established in 2009, is working, among other things, on conflict resolution and violence prevention. The country also has peace in the curriculum in the school system. “There are two different realities, and the Nepalese and Costa Rican ministries deal with different challenges. There are some similarities, but the two ministries largely have their own, tailor-made mandates, ”explains Thapa.

At home, it is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that is responsible for working with peace and reconciliation. Norway has long had an active role internationally, including in the peace process in Colombia. According to Bruer, a peace ministry is an old idea, but so far there has never been a broad political will to put it into practice. “This was a common political idea at the time the American Constitution was written. One of the constitutional fathers, Benjamin Rush, argued for a Department of Peace as a balance to the War Department, ”says Bruer. Today, the idea is promoted by a global peace ministry and infrastructure alliance, GAMIP, which is partnering with on the campaign for the establishment of peace institutions. “It goes without saying that when state power is deliberately used to promote peace, peace is more likely to be achieved. What we focus on is always growing bigger. Throughout history, humanity has excelled in perfecting methods of war, while hardly any effort has been made in how to build peace. It should just be that we start spending as much time and money building peace as we do in waging war, ”says Bruer.

The difference in resource allocation is also visible in the peace nation Norway. While the Foreign Ministry's section for peace and reconciliation spends about one and a half billion a year on its work, Norway spends over 44 billion on the Armed Forces.

"All we need to do is start spending as much time and money building peace as we do in waging war."

Will take several generations. For, setting up peace ministries alone will not be enough. They also want to create an economy that underpins peace, and to bring in conflict resolution and peacebuilding as a natural part of basic education for students around the world. Only then will it be possible to achieve a global peace culture. A 1999 UN Declaration describes peace culture as a set of values, attitudes, traditions, habits and ways of living that are based on respect for everything living, and the promotion of understanding, tolerance and solidarity between all civilizations, peoples and cultures. Bridges also emphasize that there is a long way to go to a world where peacebuilding is prioritized as heavily as warfare. “We are impatient when it comes to peace, but at the same time we know that this must be a movement for several generations. It will require a constant effort. ”

Also read: Nordic peace work

Tori Aarseth
Tori Aarseth
Aarseth is a political scientist and a regular journalist at Ny Tid.

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