The Swedish Peace- and Arbitration Society (SPAS) is a religiously and politically independent organization that works to abolish all wars and preparations for war and to create the necessary conditions for sustainable peace.
SPAS considers it its mission to produce and disseminate knowledge about the causes of armed conflicts and military build-ups. SPAS shall also work politically to bring about changes in security priorities toward a direction that benefits peace and disarmament, both nationally and internationally. The organization shall work to promote public interest and involvement in peace-related questions and for a more comprehensive debate on peace and security-related matters.
We believe that a lasting and sustainable peace can best be achieved without the use of armed violence and we work from the assumption that humans both want and can live in peace. We are convinced that a world without war is possible.
The political concept of security has traditionally been built around military strength and deterrence. History, however, holds up a number of examples of states and groups that have successfully established lasting peaceful relations without relying on military power.
Sustainable peace means a relationship between two or more states or groups that is characterized by an absence of military buildups and preparations for war. When sustainable peace prevails, the parties have a shared conviction that an armed conflict between them is unthinkable and that future conflicts will be resolved through cooperation by peaceful means.
Today there are large areas characterized by this kind of sustainable peace, particularly in the industrialized part of the world. But many other regions too are taking steps toward disarmament, cooperation and development that may in the long run result in
SPAS work entails actively supporting such factors as contribute to the growth of sustainable peace. These factors include democratization and respect for human rights, international cooperation, developing methods for conflict management, strong international laws and disarmament.
Poverty, environmental destruction, improvident use of natural resources and large economic disparities within states and regions also contribute to conflicts and prevent the growth of sustainable peaceful relations. Poverty also undermines democratic development. SPAS therefore supports initiatives that will lead to ecologically sustainable development and improved living conditions for the world’s poor.
Democracy and human rights
Experience from the time that modern democracies emerged shows that democratic states rarely if ever launch military aggressions against one another. They also respect their own citizens’ basic needs and human rights to a much greater extent than do dictatorships. Continued democratic development throughout the world therefore represents a very important goal for peace activists.
There are however stable democracies that nonetheless offer support to dictatorships, violate human rights, maintain structures of international trade that disfavors poorer states and counteract peaceful development by engaging in a large-scale arms trade. Democracies however make it possible for criticize to try and change such regrettable policies. SPAS strives to bring attention to and counteract such acts from democratic states as may lead to a negative development in other parts of the world.
Intolerance and segregation between different groups is a source of conflict and in the long run also a threat to peace and democracy. SPAS advocates an open society that provides opportunities for people from widely diverse backgrounds and aims to promote increased respect and understanding between different groups. An open, multicultural society must be built on a strong foundation of democratic values and respect for every person’s human rights.
Security policies and efforts at conflict resolution have traditionally been dominated by men. In many cases, this has resulted in both inaccurate analyses and that the needs, knowledge and experiences of women have been marginalized. SPAS therefore considers egalitarianism a very important goal, not only as a fundamental democratic principle in itself but also as a peace-promoting factor.
Armed conflicts and the arms trade are significant reasons why people are forced to become refuges and SPAS consequently supports the right for people to seek asylum in our country.
SPAS also defends the right to refuse to carry arms and the right to refuse to participate in armed conflicts.
SPAS works to promote greater international commitment to conflict resolution. We advocate further improving the many civilian efforts by both states and nongovernmental organizations. Methods for peaceful conflict-resolution and nonviolence play a central role here.
The primary goal must be early prevention to keep conflicts from becoming violent and turning into armed conflicts in the first place, something that can be achieved through, for example, mediation, poverty-reduction, disarmament, democracy-promotion, international observers and economic aid. Even in acute conflict situations, peaceful methods must be prioritized.
After armed conflicts have ended, a large-scale international support is needed for efforts aimed at achieving sustainable and lasting peace in conflict-ridden societies, to prevent the return of violence. Examples of such peace-building efforts include support for the establishment of democratic institutions and a well-functioning judiciary, the holding of democratic election, reconstruction and processes of reconciliation.
Experience from those regions where sustainable peace has prevailed is that different forms of political and economic cooperation have played a positive role in the peaceful developments. SPAS aims to help regional and international partner organizations that work against militarization and undemocratic developments.
A system of strong and credible international laws minimizes the need for national armament and contributes to making the world safer. The foundation for such an international judicial order can be seen found in the UN charter and international courts of law.
SPAS wants to see a security concept where the focus lies on human security and not solely on national security. National security focuses on defending the state from foreign aggression, while human security means protecting individuals and populations from political violence.
A strong international judicial order requires a strong and well-functioning world organization. SPAS therefore works for a more efficient and democratic UN, empowered to act forcefully to forestall armed conflicts and to maintain peace and stability.
Military buildups in themselves often contribute to conflicts, and to armed conflicts taking violent and destructive turns. Conversely, disarmament has in many cases been an important factor in processes that have led to sustainable peace between states. Therefore, SPAS works for a radical Swedish and global disarmament, and to have resources that are today being squandered on military buildups redistributed to initiatives that can help prevent armed conflicts.
The international arms trade is a driving force behind military buildups, and therefore a contributor to armed conflicts. SPAS wants to end the Swedish and international arms trade. We demand an immediate end to all sales of arms to nations involved in armed conflicts, conflict regions, dictatorships and states that grossly violate human rights. The organization also works for stricter legislation and better oversight of the arms trade, both nationally and internationally.
As long as the great powers and military alliances build their security policy on nuclear deterrents, humanity will always live under the prospect of total annihilation. SPAS therefore demands a halt to all development and testing of new nuclear weapons, that further proliferation is prevented and that the nuclear powers as soon as possible begin dismantling their nuclear arsenals.