Part 1: We Seek a World Free of War and the Threat of War
Friends long have found inspiration in George Fox's words that we should live "in the virtue of that life and power that [takes] away the occasion of all wars."1 We believe that peace throughout the world is God's will and is attainable. True security results from a culture of peace, including a healthy environment, a fair and sustainable economic life, democratic participation, an educated population, personal well-being, and healthy families. Peace and security can be achieved only by peaceful means.
As we seek to remove violence from our lives, we recall the words of John Woolman: "May we look upon our treasures, and the furniture of our houses, and [our] garments… and try whether the seeds of war have any nourishment in these our possessions…."2 To prevent violence, we must address the roots of conflict. These include economic deprivation, intolerance, humiliation and inequity, oppressive power, spending on weapons and armed forces at the price of civil development, and war itself. Those who have been caught up in a spiral of violence, both oppressors and oppressed, often carry within themselves the seeds of further violence. We support efforts to address the suffering caused by past injustices, repressive regimes, and ethnic and other oppression.
Section 1. Building the Framework for Peace
Friends are called to help build a framework for world peace. This goal depends on cooperation among nations and peoples, forged within a global framework of law, justice, human rights, and orderly social change. International cooperation requires strengthened global and regional institutions, with fair representation of all concerned parties.
We recognize the importance of treaties and covenants among nations as instruments of world order. While acknowledging the role of official dialogue and the efforts of regional bodies, we also call for inclusion of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and community-based groups in peacemaking efforts.
We support the United Nations (UN) and its role in pursuing world order and peace. We urge full and meaningful participation by the United States in the work of the UN, its programs and its specialized agencies, demonstrating respect and support for the rule of international law and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We recognize the need for equitable sharing of power within the UN.
Section 2. Reducing Armaments
Although national security is widely perceived to depend on military strength, more weapons do not provide enduring security. Military expansion provokes fear and potential retaliation. Threats tend to increase the hostility and distrust that lead to war.
We believe that nations must move toward comprehensive disarmament. We urge the elimination of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. We urge arms control and restrictions on the production, transfer, marketing, and sale of conventional weapons, including small arms.
We urge multilateral disarmament, supported by the conversion of military industries to the production of civilian goods and services, and the retraining of personnel toward that end. We also advocate that the United States take unilateral steps toward its own disarmament, believing that other nations will respond affirmatively to this example. The risks of disarmament are far smaller than the risks involved in the current course of weapons stockpiling and development.
Section 3. Preventing and Resolving Violent Conflicts
Because violence degrades the sacredness of life, we seek alternative forms of conflict resolution. We support active non-violent responses to prevent or transform violent conflict at all levels. The cycles of violence perpetuated by acts of terror and the armed overthrow of governments serve as warning against the use of force, while the examples of nonviolent movements for change provide concrete alternatives. No war is justified. We call for our country to renounce doctrines of first-strike war, whether preemptive or preventive.
The United States should participate in and comply with international tribunals, courts, and treaties, including the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice. Funding must be transferred from the military to organizations using nonviolent methods of conflict resolution.
The United States should assist in humanitarian and emergency response efforts outside its boundaries. The military is not the appropriate mechanism for such assistance. The United States should develop and support nonmilitary assistance programs in partnership with appropriate international and independent non governmental organizations. We support the development of professionally trained international civilian police under UN auspices to restore civil order, protect civilians, and ensure access for humanitarian relief.
Challenge:3 In situations of genocide or intense conflict, how should Friends respond to the use of UN or other multilateral military forces to impose order or settlement?
We affirm our opposition to military conscription, and we reaffirm our support of conscientious objection to military service and conscientious objection to military taxation. We oppose the militarization of U.S. foreign policy, including the training of foreign military or paramilitary personnel.
Sanctions as a means of furthering negotiations and changing governmental behavior may sometimes be the least offensive means available for ending injustice or aggression. Any proposed sanction must be carefully considered and, if used at all, be focused to minimize impacts to the daily lives of innocent people and used only when there is a broad multilateral consensus. The objectives of the sanctions must be clear and consistent with international law, be proportional to their objective, and be monitored and reported by a neutral international body.
Section 4. Building Mutual Understanding and Trust
We believe that peace within and among nations depends in part on replacement of ignorance and unjustified fears with mutual understanding and trust. Educational, cultural, scientific, commercial, and other exchanges among nations and peoples build such mutual understanding. We support civilian programs that promote peace by encouraging service in national and international humanitarian organizations. An effective and compassionate response to the root causes of hunger, deprivation, and conflict builds trust. This response must include greater support for participatory and sustainable development programs,5 equitable trade policies, debt relief, and fiscal and monetary policies that improve the fair distribution of resources. National and global security is enhanced by relieving extreme economic inequities and enabling self-reliant efforts to satisfy basic human needs.
Because women and children carry an undue share of the burdens imposed by poverty and war, increased respect for and attention to the human rights of women and children - including adequate nutrition, education, health care, noncoercive family planning, and economic security - are crucial for a better world community. We support agreements to eliminate slavery, trafficking in persons, the use of child soldiers, and the exploitation of child labor worldwide.
3. Challenges: A number of serious issues that confront Congress and the people of the United States also challenge the Religious Society of Friends. Many of these issues are not clearly addressed in the Scriptures, in the traditional testimonies of our Religious Society, or in recent statements of official Quaker bodies. Sometimes the controversies derive from different religious convictions or different ethical judgments. Others may more closely reflect the customs and historical traditions of the particular sector of society in which we participate. Furthermore, information bearing on these issues is neither uniformly shared nor interpreted alike by different people. FCNL invites Friends and others to enter into loving dialogue on these matters, remembering that Friends must continuously search for truth, light, and clarity as we face the urgent problems in our world.Next Section: We Seek a Society with Equity and Justice for All Download the FCNL Policy Statement.