The War Abolisher Awards of 2023 and Why They’re Needed

By David Swanson, World BEYOND War, August 29, 2023

Also published at Popular Resistance.

Thank you also to Junge Welt.

World BEYOND War has just announced the four winners of its third-annual War Abolisher Awards. All are relatively unknown individuals or organizations working from different angles at the giant task of ridding the world of war.

Before explaining who they are, I’d like to offer a very brief explanation of why such awards are needed. It’s not because Alfred Nobel got something wrong in creating the Nobel Peace Prize, but precisely because he got it right. Alfred Nobel’s will left funding for a prize to be awarded to “the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.”

You couldn’t pay most recent Nobel Peace Laureates to say they support the abolition or reduction of standing armies. Some of them are actual advocates for or participants in warmaking (such as the European Union). One of them (Barack Obama) gave a pro-war acceptance speech. Many of them have clearly been selected with a bias toward those already most famous or powerful rather than with the goal of raising up those who should become better known. For example, the prize was given in 2016 to the President of Colombia for reaching a peace agreement, but not to anyone he’d reached it with, much less to anyone who’d advocated peace in Colombia for many years.

Many Nobel Peace Laureates have done terrific work that had little or nothing directly to do with peace — neither for nor against it. Examples include Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousafzai for promoting education, Liu Xiaobo for protesting in China, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and Al Gore for opposing climate change, Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank for economic development, etc.

Alfred Nobel lived in an era when war abolition campaigns were more acceptable. His fellow antiwar, war-profiteer, philanthropist Andrew Carnegie established an Endowment for International Peace to work on eliminating war, as the most evil institution in existence. But once war had been eliminated, the Endowment was to determine what the next most evil institution was, and begin working to eliminate that. Instead, the Endowment long ago explicitly turned away from war abolition, joining the Nobel Committee in depriving the peace movement of much-needed resources.

World BEYOND War lacks the kind of resources such institutions can disburse. But it does have some ability to spread awareness of deserving awardees. The War Abolisher awardees are honored for their body of work directly supporting one or more of the three segments of World BEYOND War’s strategy for reducing and eliminating war as outlined in the book A Global Security System, An Alternative to War. They are: Demilitarizing Security, Managing Conflict Without Violence, and Building a Culture of Peace. So, without further ado, here are the awardees of 2023.

The David Hartsough Individual Lifetime War Abolisher of 2023 award goes to David Bradbury.

David Bradbury is the creator of 28 documentary films that advance our understanding of war, peace, international relations, and peace activism. Bradbury’s films have been broadcast around the world on the BBC, PBS, ZDF (Germany),and  TF1-France, as well as ABC, SBS, and commercial television networks in Australia.

In Bradbury’s latest documentary The Road to War (2023) Australian experts deplore the Albanese Government’s commitment of hundreds of billions of dollars to new weaponry, nuclear propelled submarines, stealth bombers, and missiles, all aimed at China. The film shows why it is not in Australia’s, or the world’s, interests to be dragged into another U.S.-led war. This film draws on Bradbury’s decades of experience and footage to highlight each argument with the record from history: of each U.S. war that Australia has joined in before, of each U.S. ally that the U.S. has sacrificed before, of what U.S. bombers now being given access to Australia have done to their victims before. While Australians were told the war on Vietnam was to prevent the Vietnamese from attacking Australia, the Vietnamese, after winning the war, have still never shown any sign of wanting to invade Australia. Neither has Australia’s top trading partner, China. And yet the push for war with China recycles familiar propaganda, and we desperately need independent films like The Road to War to counter it.

Bradbury accepts his award in this video.

The Organizational Lifetime War Abolisher Award of 2023 goes to Fundación Mil Milenios de Paz.

The Fundación Mil Milenios de Paz is a nonprofit organization, based in Argentina, and founded in 1995. It has through 28 years of creativity and hard work helped to develop a culture of peace in Argentina, in Latin America, and around the world.

Mil Milenios has developed the position of Ambassador of Peace and has appointed more than 1,800 ambassadors, including such well-known individuals as Pope Francis. Mil Milenios successfully promoted the legal establishment in Argentina of the International Day of Peace every September 21st, and has worked with 30 city governments to establish them as Cities of Peace dedicated to promoting a culture of peace. Mil Milenios has advanced awareness of a peace flag and carried out a campaign that placed a thousand peace flags at a thousand schools. The foundation has also created a dictionary of peace that serves to guide the ways in which we use language everyday in service to a culture of peace rather than war.

For World BEYOND War, this work is a model that people around the world could benefit from studying and emulating. Representatives of Mil Milenios accept the award in this video.

The Individual War Abolisher Award of 2023 goes to Sultana Khaya.

Sultana Khaya is a Saharawi nonviolent human rights activist from Western Sahara, the former Spanish colony in North Africa. She has worked tirelessly for years amidst brutal and violent oppression carried out by the Moroccan occupation — an occupation that too few people around the world know about.

At the hands of Moroccan occupation agents, Khaya has had her eye bludgeoned out of its socket, has been hit in the head with rocks, has been injected with unknown substances, raped, beaten, and held under house arrest where she was terrorized for over 500 Days with her sister and mother. Surrounded by the Moroccan occupation forces, Khaya did not go silent. She staged protests on the roof of her house. She invited witnesses from around the world, snuck them into her house, and — together with them — spoke to the world’s media and anyone who would listen. Khaya accepts her award in this video.

The Organizational War Abolisher Award of 2023 goes to Wage Peace Australia.

Wage Peace Australia accurately describes its approach: “We jump on tanks, blockade weapons factories, occupy arms dealers’ offices and reclaim military bases as well as engaging in public discourse and other more conventional campaign methods.”

Wage Peace Australia’s campaign to disrupt the largest weapons bazaar in Australia, the Land Forces International Land Defence Exposition, has been so successful that the arms fair will no longer return to Brisbane. It will, of course, likely be held in a different city, but if people learn from the nonviolent, educational, disruptive activism used in Brisbane, then this arms fair and every other one could be chased out of every location on the planet, leaving those whom Wage Peace Australia refers to as “Harms Dealers” nowhere to do their harming. Wage Peace Australia accepts its award in this video.

This array of awardees in this third-annual War Abolisher Awards, and the laureates of the past two years, includes no presidents or foreign secretaries. Instead, it consists of people and groups whose work, I believe, Alfred Nobel, Andrew Carnegie, Bertha von Suttner, and other abolitionists from another era would have wanted to lift up as champions in need of the world’s support and emulation.

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