This article is authored by Andrew Greig, Coordinator of the Nonlethal Security for Peace Campaign.
Many organisations and individuals are seeking ways to reduce armed conflict across the world. The most important approach is to prevent conflict breaking out in the first place. Knowing the causes of war is one very important way.
The Nonlethal Security for Peace Campaign argues that, in the immediate future at least, some armed conflict will continue, either within nations or between nations. Our current technology of warfare – lethal weaponry – has been useful up to the present in defending against aggression but is now obsolete.
Many of the tools commonly used in violence and conflict are weapons that kill – bullets, shrapnel and explosives and the guns, bombs and missiles that deliver them. Death and injury, cause huge grief and pain. They also lead to much anger and hate and this prevents long-term reconciliation and peace. Lethal warfare often doesn’t work, even in the short-term. The military might of the United States and its allies has been defeated repeatedly - in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan - by home-made bombs and small arms, operated by determined local combatants.
Just as we’re now moving away from generating energy by burning fossil fuels, in the area of international security we need to move from outdated lethal devices to nonlethal technology.
Nonlethal security technology is still in its infancy, but there is an increasing range of devices under development by various European military agencies and by the US Non-Lethal Weapons Program (These include stun guns (like Tasers), ‘active denial’ devices which operate on millimetre wave technology and ‘running gear entanglement systems’. Research and development of nonlethals compared to the hundreds of billions of dollars invested in developing lethal weaponry is minuscule but growing.
If military forces around the world can commit to avoiding death and injury the culture of violence associated with the military is likely to reduce. This will add support to the many other peace initiatives around the world.
The Nonlethal Security for Peace Campaign is working to alert and educate the community about the potential of nonlethal technology in maintaining international security, justice and peace without death and injury.
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