Executive Summary

Resting on a convincing body of evidence that violence is not a necessary component of conflict among states and between states and non-state actors, World Beyond War asserts that war itself can be ended. We humans have lived without war for most of our existence and most people live without war most of the time. Warfare arose about 10,000 years ago (only five percent of our existence as Homo sapiens) and spawned a vicious cycle of warfare as peoples, fearing attack by militarized states, found it necessary to imitate them. So began the cycle of violence that has culminated in the last 100 years in a condition of permawar. War now threatens to destroy civilization as weapons have become ever more destructive. However, in the last 150 years, revolutionary new knowledge and methods of nonviolent conflict management have been developing that lead us to assert that it is time to end warfare and that we can do so by mobilizing millions around a global effort.


In this report you will find the pillars of war which must be taken down so that the whole edifice of the War System can collapse. Also in this report you will find the foundations of peace, already being laid, on which we will build a world where everyone will be safe. This report presents a comprehensive blueprint for peace as the basis of an action plan to finally end war.

It begins with a provocative “Vision of Peace” which may seem to some to be utopian until one reads the rest of the report which comprises the means for achieving it. The first two parts of the report present an analysis of how the current war system works, the desirability and necessity of replacing it, and an analysis of why doing this is possible. The next part outlines the Alternative Global Security System, rejecting the failed system of national security and replacing it with the concept of common security – no one is safe until all are safe. This system relies on three broad strategies for humanity to end war: 1) demilitarizing security, 2) managing conflicts without violence, and 3) creating a culture of peace. These are the strategies to dismantling the war machine and replacing it with a peace system that will provide a more assured common security. These comprise the “hardware” of creating a peace system. The next section, strategies for accelerating the already developing Culture of Peace, provides the “software,” that is, the values and concepts necessary to operate a peace system and the means to spread them globally. The remainder of the report addresses realistic steps an individual or group can take, ending with a resource guide for further study.

While this report is based on the work of many experts in peace studies, political science, and international relations, as well as on the experience of many activists, it is intended to be an evolving plan as we gain more and more experience. The challenges outlined in the first part are real, interconnected, and tremendous. Sometimes we don’t make the connections because we don’t see them. Sometimes we simply bury our heads in the sand – the problems are too big, too overwhelming, too uncomfortable. The bad news is that the problems won’t go away if we ignore them. The good news is that there is reason for authentic hope1. The historic end of war is now possible if we muster the will to act and so save ourselves and the planet from ever greater catastrophe. World Beyond War firmly believes that we can do this.

1. Peace activist and professor Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer coined the term “authentic hope” based on the premise that as individuals and collectively we are living in a difficult transition period marked by disruption and discontinuity. This period provides us with an opportunity and responsibility to shape the quality of our future. (Nelson-Pallmeyer, Jack. 2012. Authentic Hope: It’s the End of the World as We Know It, but Soft Landings Are Possible. Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books.)

Main authors: Kent Shifferd; Patrick Hiller, David Swanson

Valuable feedback and/or contributions by: Russ Faure-Brac, Alice Slater, Mel Duncan, Colin Archer, John Horgan, David Hartsough, Leah Bolger, Robert Irwin, Joe Scarry, Mary DeCamp, Susan Lain Harris, Catherine Mullaugh, Margaret Pecoraro, Jewell Starsinger, Benjamin Urmston, Ronald Glossop, Robert Burrowes, Linda Swanson.

Apologies to those who have provided feedback and are not mentioned. Your input is valued.

Cover photo: James Chen; https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/legalcode. The Wall, Israel, Bethlehem. Graf art sprayed on the Anti-terror wall by Palestinians … A wish for freedom.

Layout and design: Paloma Ayala www.ayalapaloma.com

Preface to 2016 Edition

Since its publication in March 2015, the World Beyond War “blueprint for ending war” titled A Global Security System: An Alternative to War – henceforth AGSS – has led to a lot of feedback – positive, negative, but mostly constructive. It became clear that this is not just another report, but a living document, a movement-building tool. We will continue to seek feedback for growth and improvement. The comments suggest that the report is a very useful tool to get people involved in World Beyond War, but more importantly it has inspired people to think about the larger vision of ending all war within the context of their work and has informed and educated them about the viable alternatives to war. All are elements which require a strategic plan for follow-up and continuation.

Why recurring editions?

The world does not stop when our booklet is published. Wars are still waged. In fact, according to the 2016 Global Peace Index, the world has become less peaceful and more unequal. There is work to be done, but we do not have to start from scratch.

By publishing revised editions of this report, we provide a mechanism for meaningful feedback as well as a sense of participation and ownership for contributors. We were able to highlight campaigns and developments and to interact with the readers and build community in our effort to create a world beyond war. We also know that we might not have sufficiently addressed all areas or that we simply failed to address an important perspective. On the positive side, through peace science and other contributions, new insights were developed which we now were able to integrate. With this report as an updated tool, there are opportunities for new presentations, new outreach, new partnerships. It is crucial to move beyond the choir with our efforts and connect the disconnected. World Beyond War and other movement builders can identify areas of focus based on developments highlighted in the report.

In preparing the 2016 edition of this report, we’ve listened to all feedback and integrated as much as possible. Some changes were small, others were simple updates based on new data available, and others were more significant. For example, we now emphasize the important role women play in preventing war and building peace at all levels and specifically point to the perils of patriarchy. Let’s face it, even the norms of peace and security are male dominated. We have also added parts where we identify progress or setbacks. The 2015 U.S./Iran Nuclear Deal, for example, was a highly visible success story where diplomacy prevailed over war. The Catholic Church moved away from its “just war” doctrine and the Colombian Civil War has come to an end after 50 years.


Executive Summary


Preface to 2016 Edition

A Vision of Peace

Introduction: A Blueprint for Ending War

          The Work of World Beyond War

Why is an Alternative Global Security System both Desirable and Necessary?

          The Iron Cage of War: The Present War System Described

          The Benefits of an Alternative System

          The Necessity of an Alternative System – War fails to bring peace

          War is Becoming Ever More Destructive

          The World is Facing an Environmental Crisis

Why we Think a Peace System is Possible

          There is already more Peace in the World than War

          We Have Changed Major Systems in the Past

          We Live in a Rapidly Changing World

          The Perils of Patriarchy are Challenged

          Compassion and Cooperation are Part of the Human Condition

          The Importance of Structures of War and Peace

          How Systems Work

          An Alternative System is Already Developing

          Nonviolence: The Foundation of Peace

Outline of an Alternative Security System

          Common Security

          Demilitarizing Security

          Shift to a Non-Provocative Defense Posture

          Create a Nonviolent, Civilian-Based Defense Force

          Phase Out Foreign Military Bases


          Conventional Weapons

          Outlaw the Arms Trade

          End the Use of Militarized Drones

          Phase Out Weapons Of Mass Destruction

          Nuclear Weapons

          Chemical and Biological Weapons

          Outlaw Weapons In Outer Space

          End Invasions and Occupations

          Realign Military Spending, Convert Infrastructure to Produce Funding Reconfigure The Response to Terrorism

          Dismantle Military Alliances

          The role of women in peace and Security

          Managing International and Civil Conflicts

          Shifting To A Pro-Active Posture

          Strengthening International Institutions and Regional Alliances

          Reforming the United Nations

          Reforming the Charter to More Effectively Deal with Aggression

          Reforming the Security Council

          Provide Adequate Funding

          Forecasting and Managing Conflicts Early On: A Conflict Management

          Reform the General Assembly

          Strengthen the International Court of Justice

          Strengthen the International Criminal Court

          Nonviolent Intervention: Civilian Peacekeeping Forces

          International Law

          Encourage Compliance With Existing Treaties

          Create New Treaties

          Create a Stable, Fair and Sustainable Global Economy as a Foundation for Peace

          Democratize International Economic Institutions (WTO, IMF, IBRD)

          Create an Environmentally Sustainable Global Aid Plan

          A Proposal For Starting Over: A Democratic, Citizens Global Parliament

          Inherent Problems With Collective Security

          The Earth Federation

          The Role of Global Civil Society and International Non-government Organizations

Creating a Culture of Peace

          Telling a New Story

          The Unprecedented Peace Revolution of Modern Times

          Debunking Old Myths about War

          Planetary Citizenship: One People, One Planet, One Peace

          Spreading and Funding Peace Education and Peace Research

          Cultivating Peace Journalism

          Encouraging the Work of Peaceful Religious Initiatives

Accelerating The Transition To An Alternative Security System

          Educating the Many and the Decision and Opinion Makers

          Nonviolent Direct Action Campaigns

          The Alternative Global Security System Concept – a Movement Building Tool



6 Responses

  1. The “2016 A GLOBAL SECURITY SYSTEM: AN ALTERNATIVE TO WAR” .pdf link does not work.

    I would be grateful for the latest .pdf comp of this work

    Best wishes,


  2. Canadians may never be able to be sincere about stopping wars,as long as our political leaders allow the production and sale of the weapons of war by Canadian companions.

  3. Canadians may never appear to be sincere, as long as our political leaders allow Canadian companions to produce the weapons of war for sale or export.

  4. Canadians may never appear to be sincere, as long as our political leaders allow Canadian companions to produce the weapons of war for sale or export

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