Australia first called for a Ministry for Peace in 1937 through the voice of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. This call was sounded again in 1982 when Dr. Stella Cornelius, for the United Nations Association of Australia (UNAA), launched a vigorous campaign for a Ministry for Peace at an Australian Federal Government level.
“An Australian Campaign for a Ministry for Peace- A Worldpeace Initiative,” published in 1984 (ISBN 0 9499652 02 4) was written by Dr. Keith D. Suter as a result of Stella’s campaign for a Ministry for Peace. In the book’s acknowledgements Dr Suter says:
“The inspiration behind this book came initially from Stella Cornelius. It was through the work of the UNAA Peace Program, that the Ministry proposal first arose and Stella, more than any other person, has been responsible for maintaining the momentum behind the campaign.
This is a fitting opportunity to thank Stella for her work generally in the cause of peace as well as congratulating her specifically on the Ministry for Peace campaign.”
Dr. Stella Cornelius is the founder of the Conflict Resolution Network (CRN) in Australia of which she is still a co-director. One of CRN’s major achievements is to give free access (through their website) to a wide range of training materials thereby establishing an invaluable resource for the world wide Conflict Resolution movement. From 1984 -1986 Stella served the Australian Government as Director of the UN International Year of Peace 1986.
Stella Cornelius (in 1983) proposed that a Ministry for Peace be established in order to administer an Australian World Peace program and, in 1984, the Department of Foreign Affairs established a Peace & Disarmament section under the leadership of Tonia Shand. Since this time the Conflict Resolution Network has maintained the initiative and never lost sight of the vision of a Ministry for Peace.
In 1983 our Department of Foreign Affairs appointed Mr. Richard Butler as the first Ambassador for Disarmament. This initiative was to improve government/community communications by the regular publication of a Disarmament Newsletter. The Department of Foreign Affairs made an initial grant toward the establishment of Australian peace research. Together with the Department of Education it made a commitment to Peace Education. This was largely influenced by the work of Professor Frank Hutchinson and his wife Lyn Waddell, both of whom continue to be engaged in innovative initiatives in this field. (Professor Hutchinson author of “Educating Beyond Violent Futures” Routledge London 1996)
Department of Peace Campaign USA- 2001
World wide interest has been revived with the dynamic campaign of the Hon. Dennis J. Kucinich Democrat Congressman for Cleveland Ohio, USA. On 11 July, 2001 Congressman Dennis J. Kucinich introduced H.R.2459 a bill to create a Cabinet-level Department of Peace which would embody a broad-based approach to peaceful, non-violent conflict resolution at both domestic and international levels.
The Department of Peace would serve to promote non-violence as an organizing principle in our society, and help to create the conditions for a more peaceful world.
Ministry for Peace Campaign Australia – 2003
Biannca Pace took the role of Chairperson for the Ministry of Peace Australia in March 2005. She first heard of Congressman Kucinich in March of 2002 and contacted him to congratulate him on his work for peace. He responded and when the Share the Spirit of Peace – Peace Summit (held at the University of Sydney on 1 March 2003) was being planned in late 2002, suggested to the organisers that he be invited. At this Sydney Summit co-hosted by the Australian Democrats, Australia’s four major political parties were invited to attend and “share a platform for Peace.”
In November 2004 Biannca, then State President of the Australian Democrats, (Aug 2004-Dec 2005) initiated and co-chaired two meetings of the Ministry for Peace- Australia with Dr Stella Cornelius.
Creation of a Global Alliance
In May, 2005 Biannca was invited to attend the First People’s Summit for Departments of Peace , held in London UK. Forty delegates from 12 countries attended and another step towards peace was taken. Australia was represented by two delegates.
The two day summit held on the 18th and 19th October was preceded by two days of training (16-17 Oct) in the latest developments in the area of peacebuilding and conflict transformation worldwide.The training was facilitated by Kai Brand-Jacobsen, co-founder of TRANSCEND.
The Australian Democrats sent letters of support for an Australian Department of Peace and indeed for DOP’s worldwide. These were sent by the Leader of the Australian Democrats- Senator Lyn Allison, Foreign Affairs Spokesperson- Senator Natasha Stott-Despoja and the Hon. Dr Arthur Chesterfield-Evans MLC.
The countries that participated included Australia, Canada, Israel, Palestine, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Spain, Romania, United Kingdom, Jordan and USA. Written support was received from Nepal, Nigeria and Uganda.