150+ Civil Society Groups Issue Global Call For ‘New—and Improved—Normal’ For Post-Pandemic World

"Now is the moment to reflect on the world as it is and consider a better alternative for the future," the groups say in the letter.
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Over 150 groups on Thursday called for a “new normal” post-pandemic in which the human and economic costs of military spending are slashed, mulitlateralism is boosted, and inequality is uprooted in order to center true human security.

The call comes in an open letter whose original endorsers include the International Campaign to Ban Landmines  and the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, both Nobel-winning groups.

As of this writing, the letter has been signed by 156 organizations representing a wide range of issues. Global backers include the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, the Cluster Munitions Coalition, and Mayors for Peace. U.S.-based groups including CodePink and Peace Action have signed, as have the West African Action Network on Small Arms and the Arab Human Security Network.

“Now is the moment to reflect on the world as it is and consider a better alternative for the future,” the groups say in the letter.

The organizations are calling for civil society and world leaders to take and broaden an approach known as “humanitarian disarmament,” which has its roots (pdf) in the origin of the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty. Humanitarian disarmament, the groups explain, “seeks to prevent and remediate arms-inflicted human suffering and environmental damage through the establishment and implementation of norms.”

Taking that approach forward post-coronavirus means national budget priorities have to change. The letter says “governments and industry should stop investing in unacceptable weapons as well as strengthen the protection of civilians from the use of weapons and ensure arms transfers comply with international law.”

Those funds should instead be directed towards “humanitarian purposes, such as healthcare or social spending,” and, in line with remediation, “governments should redirect money to programs that assist victims, restore infrastructure, clear explosive ordnance, and clean up conflict-related pollution.”

The pandemic has “exposed and exacerbated” existing inequalities, the letter adds, including access to healthcare. That issue must be addressed in part through promoting “more sensitive programs than existed before” and including a broader range of voices in decision-making.

When Covid-19 subsides and when in-person meetings can safely resume, “the international community could increase inclusivity and accessibility by permitting meaningful online participation at multilateral meetings” and bring in voices from people, “including survivors and other persons with disabilities, who are unable to travel due to lack of funding,” the letter says.

Further, “international cooperation should become a standard way to address global issues,” the groups say.

An improved world, the letter says, is possible.

“The international community should prioritize human security, reallocate military spending to humanitarian causes, work to eliminate inequalities, ensure multilateral fora incorporate diverse voices, and bring a cooperative mindset to problems of practice and policy,” the groups urge. “Together we can reshape the security landscape for the future and help create a new—and improved—’normal.'”

The “Open Letter on Covid-19 and Humanitarian Disarmament” echoes the kind of thinking found in a number of calls to leave behind business-as-usual and instead “build back better” post-pandemic, with individuals and organizations worldwide demanding various forms of a People’s Bailout, Just Recovery, Healthy Recovery, Green Recovery, Green Stimulus, and Global Green New Deal.

Andrea Germanos is senior editor and a staff writer at Common Dreams.

This article first appeared on Commondreams.org is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

Since the letter opened for signature in June 2020, it has been signed by the following 209 organizations:

Global Campaigns:
Campaign to Stop Killer Robots
Conflict and Environment Observatory
Control Arms
International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons
International Campaign to Ban Landmines–Cluster Munition Coalition
International Network on Explosive Weapons

Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy
Action on Armed Violence
Centre for Armed Violence Reduction
Centre for Feminist Foreign Policy
Centre for Peace & Development, Security, and Armed Violence Prevention (CPS-AVIP)
Conflict Awareness Project
Ethics in Technology
Global Campaign on Military Spending (G-COMS)
HALO Trust
Humanity & Inclusion
International Campaign for Responsible Technology
International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons (ICBUW)
International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations (IFMSA)
International Fellowship of Reconciliation (IFOR)
International Peace Bureau
International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW)
Jesuit Refugee Service
Landmine Free 2025 Campaign
Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
Mayors for Peace
Mercy International Association, Global Action
Mines Advisory Group (MAG)
Movimiento por un Mundo sin Guerras
Nonviolence International
Norwegian People’s Aid
Parliamentarians for Global Action (PGA)
Pax Christi International
PeaceQuest International
Recherches et Documentation Juridiques Africaines (RDJA)
Shadow World Investigations
Sir Bobby Charlton Foundation
Soka Gakkai International
TRANSCEND Media Service (TMS)
United Methodist Church–General Board of Church and Society
Veterans For Peace
Vision GRAM-International
Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF)
World BEYOND War

Action for Women and Children Concern (AWCC)
African Council of Religious Leaders–Religions for Peace (ACRL-RfP)
Association of Medical Students of Namibia
Cameroon Youths and Students Forum for Peace (CAMYOSFOP)
Centre d’Encadrement et de Développement des Anciens Combattants (CEDAC)
Civil Society Advance Forum on Sustainable Development
Ecumenical Service for Peace (SeP)
Environmental Protection Promoters Initiative
Fellowship of Christian Councils and Churches in the Great Lakes and Horn of Africa (FECCLAHA)
Femmes des Médias pour la Justice au Congo (FMJC)
Groupe d’Actions pour la Consolidation de la Paix (GACP)
International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations–South Africa (IFMSA South Africa)
Jireh Doo Foundation (JDF)
Kikandwa Rural Communities Development Organization
Liberia Action Network on Small Arms (LANSA)
Ligue Internationale des Femmes pour la Paix et la Liberté–RDC (WILPF-RDC)
Mécanisme pour l’Initiative de la Recherche de la Paix et le Développement (MI-RPD)
Medical Students’ Association of Malawi
Noble Delta Women for Peace and Development
Peoples Federation for National Peace and Development (PEFENAP)
Regional Centre for International Development Cooperation (RCIDC)
Reveil Communautaire d’Assistances aux Victimes (RECOVI)
Sierra Leone Action Network on Small Arms (SLANSA)
Somali Human Rights Association (SOHRA)
Southern African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (SACCORD)
Survivors Recovery and Rehabilitation Organization (SRaRO)
West African Action Network on Small Arms (WAANSA)
Women’s Right to Education Programme
Zimbabwe Medical Students Association
Zimbabwe Open University

Americas and the Caribbean:
24-0 México
Arias Foundation for Peace and Human Progress
Armed Conflict and Civilian Protection Initiative (ACCPI), Harvard Law School
Artistes pour la Paix
Asociación Mexicana de Médicos en Formacion A.C. (AMMEF A.C.)
Bay Area Women in Black
Bolivian Women’s Efforts
Campaña Colombiana Contra Minas
Canadian Voice of Women for Peace (VOW)
Caribbean Coalition for Development and Reduction of Armed Violence (CDRAV)
Centro de Estudios Ecuménicos
Centro Interdisciplinario de Estudios Estratégicos para la Seguridad y el Desarrollo Social (CIESED)
Comisión Mexicana de Defensa y Promoción de los Derechos Humanos (CMDPDH)
Comité Central Menonita (CCM) México
Denman Island Peace Group
Direção Executiva Nacional dos Estudantes de Medicina (DENEM Brazil)
Environmentalists Against War
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Hibakusha Stories/Youth Arts New York
Instituto de Ecología Política
Instituto Sou da Paz
International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations–Brazil (IFMSA Brazil)
International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations–Québec (IFMSA Québec)
International Physicians for Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) Canada
Legacies of War
Mines Action Canada
Mouvement Québécois pour la Paix
Nuclear Age Peace Foundation
Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility
Pax Christi Northern California
Peace Action
Peace Education Center
Peace Resource Center, Wilmington College
Physicians for Social Responsibility
Plataforma Global El Salvador
Popular Resistance
Project Ploughshares
Proud Students Against Landmines and Cluster Bombs/West Virginia Campaign to Ban Landmines and Cluster Bombs (PSALM/WVCBL)
Religions for Peace Canada
Religions pour la Paix Québec
Rodeemos el Diálogo (ReD)
Science for Peace
Seguridad Humana en Latintoamérica y el Caribe (SEHLAC)
Serviço de Paz (SERPAZ)
Students Taking an Active Role in Society (STARS) USA
World Federalist Movement–Canada

Ban Landmines Campaign Nepal (NCBL)
Center for Peace Education, Miriam College
Centre for Peace and Conflict Resolution Cambodia
ChangeMaker: Society for Social and Economic Development
Family Studies Circle, Miriam College
Indian Institute for Peace, Disarmament and Environmental Protection
International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations–Japan (IFMSA Japan)
International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations–Pakistan (IFMSA Pakistan)
Japan Campaign to Ban Landmines
Jesuit Service Cambodia
Medical Students Association of India
Pax Christi Philippines
Poovulagin Nanbargal
Punarchith Collective
Rotary Club Visakhapatnam
Society of Malaysian Medical Association Medical Students (SMMAMS)
Women for Peace and Democracy Nepal

Állítsuk meg a Gyilkos Robotokat
Associació d’Estudiants de Ciències de la Salut
Associazione Culturale Il Villaggio di Esteban
Associazione Nazionale Vittime Civili di Guerra
Campagna Italiana Contro le Mine
Changemaker Norway
Comisión General Justicia y Paz
Comitato Senzatomica
Coordinadora d’ONGD i altres Moviments Solidaris (aMS) de Lleida
Coordinamento contro l’Atomica, tutte le Guerre e i Terrorismi (AGITE)–Piedmonte
Coordinamento Interconfessionale “Noi Siamo Con Voi”
Den Internasjonale Kampanjen for å Avskaffe Atomvåpen (ICAN) Norge
Don’t Bank on the Bomb Scotland
Facing Finance
Forum Peace Ethics (FFE) within the Evangelical Church of Baden, Germany
Fundació Catalunya Voluntària
Fundació per la Pau (FundiPau)
Hellenic Medical Students’ International Committee (HelMSIC)
Istituto Buddista Italiano Soka Gakkai
International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons–France (ICAN France)
International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) Norway
Irish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament
Macedonian Medical Students’ Association
Movimento Internazionale della Riconciliazione (MIR)
No Borders Refugees
Organization of Amputees UDAS
Pax Christi England & Wales
Pax Christi Flanders
Pax Christi Italy
Pax Christi München
Pax Christi Scotland
Plataforma Benvinguts Refugiats Menorca
Pressenza–International Press Agency
Rete Antirazzista Catanese
Rete Italiana delle Donne in Nero
Rete Italiana per il Disarmo
Sadankomitea (Committee of 100 in Finland)
Secure Scotland
Scientists for Global Responsibility
Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament
Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society
UK & Ireland Nuclear Free Local Authorities
Women in Black Vienna

Middle East:
Arab Human Security Network
Landmines Resource Center (LMRC), University of Balamand
Peace and Freedom Organization
Yemen Mine Awareness Association

Aotearoa New Zealand Campaign on Military Spending
Christians for Peace Newcastle Australia
Disarmament and Security Centre
Foundation for Peace Studies Aotearoa/New Zealand
Hunter Peace Group
Independent and Peaceful Australia Network
Marrickville Peace Group
Medical Association for Prevention of War (Australia)
Pacific Small Arms Action Group (PSAAG)
Paddle Now
Pax Christi Aotearoa, New Zealand
Peace Movement Aotearoa
SafeGround Inc
Victoria Regional Meeting of Quakers