Why the War Abolishers Awards Are Needed

August 30th, 2023 - by David Swanson/ World BEYOND War

The War Abolisher Awards of 2023
And Why They Are Needed
David Swanson/ World BEYOND War

(August 29, 2023) — World BEYOND War has just announced the four winners of its third-annual War Abolisher Awards. All are relatively unknown individuals or organizations working from different angles at the giant task of ridding the world of war.

Before explaining who they are, I’d like to offer a very brief explanation of why such awards are needed. It’s not because Alfred Nobel got something wrong in creating the Nobel Peace Prize, but precisely because he got it right.

Alfred Nobel’s will left funding for a prize to be awarded to “the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.”

You couldn’t pay most recent Nobel Peace Laureates to say they support the abolition or reduction of standing armies. Some of them are actual advocates for or participants in warmaking (such as the European Union). One of them (Barack Obama) gave a pro-war acceptance speech.

Many of them have clearly been selected with a bias toward those already most famous or powerful rather than with the goal of raising up those who should become better known. For example, the prize was given in 2016 to the President of Colombia for reaching a peace agreement, but not to anyone he’d reached it with, much less to anyone who’d advocated peace in Colombia for many years.

Alfred Nobel

Many Nobel Peace Laureates have done terrific work that had little or nothing directly to do with peace — neither for nor against it. Examples include Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousafzai for promoting education, Liu Xiaobo for protesting in China, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and Al Gore for opposing climate change, Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank for economic development, etc.

Alfred Nobel lived in an era when war abolition campaigns were more acceptable. His fellow antiwar, war-profiteer, philanthropist Andrew Carnegie established an Endowment for International Peace to work on eliminating war, as the most evil institution in existence.

But once war had been eliminated, the Endowment was to determine what the next most evil institution was, and begin working to eliminate that. Instead, the Endowment long ago explicitly turned away from war abolition, joining the Nobel Committee in depriving the peace movement of much-needed resources.

World BEYOND War lacks the kind of resources such institutions can disburse. But it does have some ability to spread awareness of deserving awardees. The War Abolisher awardees are honored for their body of work directly supporting one or more of the three segments of World BEYOND War’s strategy for reducing and eliminating war as outlined in the book A Global Security System, An Alternative to War. They are: Demilitarizing Security, Managing Conflict Without Violence, and Building a Culture of Peace. So, without further ado, here are the awardees of 2023.