To Prevent Or Stop Wars - What Can Peace Movements Do?


This book is based on seven examples of peace movements of the last 110 years. It looks at the impact these movements may have had on the prevention or the ending of wars their own governments were engaging in. These examples are:

- Norway-Sweden 1905

- the movement against the Vietnam war in the 1960s and early 1970s

- the movement against the support of the Contras in Nicaragua in the 1980s

- the peace movement of the 1980s against nuclear weapons

- the case of the Women in White in Liberia in 2002-2003

- the movement against the Iraq war in 1991 [a.k.a. 'Persian Gulf War' or Gulf War II]

- the movement against the Iraq war in 2003 [a.k.a. Gulf War III]

The main finding of the comparison is that to prevent or stop wars is probably the most difficult objective a social movement may set itself. With the exception of the early Scandinavian case which was a case of successful war prevention, some of the movements against wars impacted both the conduct of the conflict and its eventual end but none of them could be attributed with stopping it alone. Besides this result, evidence was found that the respective movements had a long-term influence on public opinion and helped to raise public awareness on issues of wars and so-called “humanitarian intervention”.

However, there was also clear evidence that the respective movements had a long-term influence on public opinion. They helped to raise public awareness on issues of wars and so-called “humanitarian interventions.” This, in turn, had an influence on later crises and how governments dealt with them in regard to engaging or not engaging in war.

A German version of the book has been published as a paper by the Institute for Peace Work and Nonviolent Conflict Transformation. It can also be ordered at our shop here.