This letter argues that humanitarian disarmament can lead the way to an improved post-pandemic world and calls on states, international organizations, and civil society to follow its lead to create a “new normal.” It is open for signature by civil society organizations.
The pandemic is a crisis that entails both a threat to marginalized communities and an opportunity for radical social change. To take that opportunity we need to rethink how we work in social movements, and carefully craft a strategy forward through broad alliances, mass mobilizations of direct action, and an understanding of "constructive resistance".
Israel is a highly militarised state with a highly militarised society, and the COVID-19 pandemic interacts with this militarisation in a variety of ways – from the way it has been used as a cover and an excuse for violence against Palestinians1 to the way it has served as a pretext for enhancing authoritarian trends in general.
“Shoot them dead.” These were the orders of Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte, on how the countries soldiers and government should use a “martial law-like” approach to enforcing the strict lockdown imposed to limit the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
In Chile in October 2019, a historic social uprising took place, unexpectedly for the vast majority. More and more people were joining the protests every day. The current government, tried to soften and ease the diffuse protests that occurred almost every day. Those attempts were so clumsy from a strategic and political point of view that finally a state of emergency and curfew were enforced. This resulted in the presence of the military on the street, reminiscent of the dictatorship era. In March, as these events continued to unfold, the first Covid-19 cases appeared. As the number of cases went up and fear overcame the population, the government saw a great opportunity to move attention away from the protests and toward the health emergency.
$1,917,000,000,000. Or $1.9 trillion. Any way you write it, that’s a lot of money. All of which has been spent on militarism: on weapons production and development, on soldiers, on wars, on bases, on command and support systems, on repression.
Up to now, Colombia’s response to the pandemic - the Common Enemy - has been one of a familiar nationalist and militarist rhetoric, a staunchly-upheld, militarized response that is unfolding in Colombia’s towns and cities.
The UK Ministry of Defence is using the Covid-19 pandemic to reverse a long-term recruitment crisis, which has seen it miss its enlistment targets for the past six years, and to repair damage to its reputation from the military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Brazil could have followed the path of several Latin countries in combating the covid-19 pandemic: the use of force. Surprisingly, there are no troops imposing quarantine on national territory during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This week marks the non-opening of the world's largest arms fair - Eurosatory - in Paris. Despite the impressive array of fabulously rich backers who look forward to this biennial showcase for the latest and most sophisticated offerings in death and destruction, the salon has been cancelled.
As towns and whole countries shut down in order to “flatten the curve” of outbreaks of the coronavirus, we are at risk of choosing the wrong analogy for what we collectively need to do in these perilous times. “Waging a war” is the most deceptively alluring analogy for mobilizing private and public resources to meet a present danger. We should, however, resist that allure.
The Covid-19 pandemic is a time of great stress for all, but on the other side, it also creates time for reflection to build a more positive future. Here are a few examples of how peace organisations are raising awareness of the impact of Covid-19 and challenging militarised responses to it.