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Challenge militarism in Australia

Statement on WILPF Response to the Australian Government’s 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper

WILPF Australia notes in its response to the Foreign Affairs White Paper its disappointment that the White Paper has missed the opportunity to adopt a gendered lens in elucidating Australia’s approach to security, peacebuilding and confliction prevention, especially in our own region.

In areas of particular interest to WILPF Australia - security and defence, diplomacy and ‘soft power’, and the Women Peace and Security Agenda - there are questionable claims and a limited focus.

WILPF sees current Australian government policies and practices, both domestic and foreign, as leaning towards increasingly militaristic approaches to dealing with threats.

We would like to see the development and implementation of policies and practices that emphasise peacebuilding over militarism and, crucially, ensure the participation of women in all such processes. This means looking at conflict prevention through different eyes including increasing the focus on disarmament and recognising the role of women in disarmament efforts. It is disappointing that so little attention has been paid to these aspects in the White Paper.

Australia is in the process of developing its second National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security. WILPF Australia hopes the second National Action Plan will have the focus on a gender approach to security, peacebuilding and confliction prevention that the Foreign Affairs White Paper did not.

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WILPF Australia prioritises peace over warfare

The announcement by the Turnbull Government that we, the citizens of Australia, are going to help finance the manufacturing of armaments for export is both a surprise and an outrage. 

Prioritising peace over warfare

The announcement by the Turnbull Government that we, the citizens of Australia, are going to help finance the manufacturing of armaments for export is both a surprise and an outrage.

On moral grounds alone, this initiative is appalling. On practical grounds, there are also doubts that Australia will break into the top 10 of arms manufacturing exporters who include major states such as the US, UK and France, as suggested by Andrew Davies of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute in the Guardian (Australian government underwriting arms exports is ‘baffling’, expert says’ The Guardian 31.01.18). Davies also points out that there is no apparent need for government financing in this industry, as there is currently adequate financing from private sources.

As an organisation focused on fostering peace and nonviolence, we, the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom Australia, strongly oppose any such move by the government. If the amount proposed –$3.8 billion- is available, it would better be used to support peace initiatives in our region. The need for a defence capability that apparently we cannot fully fund without exports is in effect an outcome produced by our buying into the increasing militarisation worldwide, and particularly in our region. This trend is a major threat to us all. There can be no better way to increase the level of violence worldwide than by increasing the spread of weapons – a principle much celebrated when the Howard government acted to limit gun ownership in Australia.

In the last decade most countries have increased their military expenditure. Global military spending in 2016 was USD 1686 billion – almost twelve times higher than development aid allocations from OECD-DAC countries of USD142.62 billion.

Are we so greedy that we want a piece of this sort of action that leads not to security but to perennial insecurity?

As citizens, we prefer to work with the potential for peace not the potential for war. We want our government to promote peace by supporting measures to disarm state actors, not feed them the means for further violence.







Challenge militarism International Campaigns

WILPF’s international disarmament work is coordinated through its Reaching Critical Will program.

WILPF created Reaching Critical Will in 1999 in order to promote and facilitate engagement of non-governmental actors in UN processes related to disarmament.

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 "There is no way to peace; peace is the way."  
Edith Greene Balch, founding member of WILPF and Nobel Peace Prize winner, 1946.