Story of the Declaration – The Youth Gathering

“The world is over-armed and peace in under-funded” 1, was the motto of the congress “Disarm! – For a Climate of Peace” of the IPB (International Peace Bureau) that was held 2016 in Berlin. This is a situation that cannot be ignored, as the use of weapons leads to the destruction of lives, infrastructure and cultural legacy. Many of these destructions are irreversible.

Children and young people are of course most affected by these permanent destructions. But not only the struggle with war conditions on a daily basis ruins the life of the youth on this planet. Also non-physical violence, poverty, patriarchy, radicalisation, and other forms of violence and injustice have long-lasting effects on the life of young people. We, being young people ourselves, thus feel responsible to act upon this situation.

For this reason, we held the “Youth Gathering” as a satellite event of the IPB congress in Berlin. The youth gathering was meant to bring together young people from different backgrounds and with different experiences, be it academic or practical, but with the common vision of a world without war. During the gathering, we had stimulating discussions, shared experiences, learned from each other and, probably most importantly, found new friends with the same cause.

To foster further collaboration, we took a modest but important step, in that we prepared a declaration of our common vision. This “Declaration on Youth and Disarmament” had been drafted before the congress and was refined during the congress days in Berlin. The discussion of the various perspectives and topics of the declaration were intense but extremely fruitful. These discussions also demonstrated how we young people can collaborate in a very dynamic way. On the last day in Berlin, we finalised the declaration and voted for its acceptance, with which we founded the IPB Youth Network.

At this point, it should be noted that out of the 36 persons that were present at the voting, one person did not accept the declaration in the presented form. The reason was that a formulation in that declaration was unclear. However, the declaration is supposed to be a document that can undergo changes and is not cast in stone. So we postponed a change of the formulation for later.

Part of the declaration is that we, the IPB Youth Network, want to hold a world conference on youth, demilitarisation and transformation in 2018. This was made part of the declaration to have a concrete goal towards which we can work, and that encourages collaboration and the formation of working groups. If you want to take part in this, please head over to Getting Involved.

The IPB and the IPB Youth Network acknowledge the power of the youth and its potential in the process of building a climate of peace. Organised, educated and united we can make a change for a world without war! Read our declaration below and share it! Or even translate it into your own language.

So join us and support our cause,
IPB Youth Network

Declaration on Youth and Disarmament

“The world is over-armed and peace is under-funded.”1 According to SIPRI 2, global military expenditure totalled almost 1.7 trillion USD in 2015, of which NATO accounts for more than half. 3 Over the next year several trillion USD will be spend on the so called modernisation of nuclear weapons. The military are taking up more and more resources in the name of peace, security, and freedom. Yet, these cannot be achieved through military means. Indeed military activity actively harms efforts for peace. These resources should be used to provide humans with a decent living, and provide youth with education or a liveable future.

In many ways the world we live in is unjust and inhumane, particularly towards young people. Our social model is established on unlimited economic growth, the depletion of natural resources, the predominance of capital, structures of domination, patriarchy, competition, violence, confrontation, conflict and war. Capitalism and militarism reinforce themselves, destroying the foundations of life. This has a significant and lasting impact on young people, on our lives and our futures. We must transform our activities and social structures to create a sustainable and peaceful world.

Youth are a military target in schools, universities, religious spheres and other social environments. Compulsory military service still exists in numerous countries worldwide and spreads violent and patriarchal values. Militarisation leads to radicalisation and unequal power relations within society.

We want to abolish the military complex, which perpetuates a global culture of violence and inequalities in all fields. Young people should develop and socialise with values based on human rights, gender equality, social justice and solidarity between people.

We, the participants of the IPB Youth Gathering, actively strive for peace and a just future. We believe that justice and peace are possible only with the abolition of militarism and the capitalist system we live in. We need to overcome both and develop new systems based on peace, human rights, gender equality, cooperation, and sustainable development. Thus, we demand complete demilitarisation and transformative steps towards a more humane society.

We call for the promotion of a culture of peace, through formal and non-formal peace education. Education which promotes intercultural knowledge, shared narratives and gender equality. We advocate for organisations, structures and activities that implement such training for young people.

We advocate for the active inclusion and participation of young people in the process of shaping a sustainable future.

We will increase our international cooperation, solidarity, actions and discussion on topics of war and peace and the transformation of our society.

Today we create a Youth Network under the umbrella of the International Peace Bureau, calling for a world conference on youth, demilitarisation, and transformation in 2018. “Those who love peace must learn to organise as effectively as those who love war” 4; a world conference is the next big step towards achieving our aims of a transformed society.

We will facilitate an open and participatory process. We call on all actors, individuals, groups and organisations to join us and participate in the IPB youth network.

Young people account for more than half the world’s population and we truly believe in peace, non-violence and equality. We will find practical approaches to building wholesome, functioning and sustainable societies that promote peace, co-existence and equality worldwide.

There is a future without wars, bullets and guns.

A future with solidarity, justice, equality and humanity.

Berlin, 2 October 2016

Note: The declaration reflects discussions of several open conference calls and of the weekend of the IPB World Congress Disarm! For a Climate of Peace – Creating an Action Agenda”. It is not comprehensive but rather a starting point for future discussions within and beyond the declaration.

1.Ki-Moon B. Opening Speech. Presented at the: Opens Mexico City Conference; September 9, 2009.
2.SIPRI Yearbook 2015. SIPRI Yearbook 2015 | SIPRI. Accessed November 8, 2016.
3.NATO military spending came to 900 billion in 2015.
4.King DML. Speech. Presented at the: Rally against the Vietnam War; March 25, 1967; Chicago.