TFF PressInfo # 351: The Nobel Foundation taken to court on the Peace Prize

Lund, December 10, 2015

On the day of the Nobel Peace Prize Award Ceremony at Oslo City Hall

To whom it may concern, including the media

We know – and Alfred Nobel knew – how devastating war and arms races are, and how little security we get for all the money we spend on military forces.

The campaign to reclaim the Nobel Peace Prize is first and foremost a campaign to revive the idea that global peace requires global cooperation on disarmament and replacing the law of force with the force of law. Every day more and more of us see, from the Middle East warfare, from the refugee crisis, and many other chilling reminders, the mandatory urgency of a change in world politics.

Alfred Nobel decided to give one fifth of his fortune for a prize to promote disarmament and resolution of all conflicts through negotiations and legal means, never through violence.

Can such a prize, with a so clearly stated goal, be turned to serve the opposite idea and be given again and again to recipients who promote arms races and believe in militarism and war?

This question will soon be answered, after Mairead Maguire, Jan Oberg, Davis Swanson, and Lay Down Your Arms took the case to the Stockholm District Court on Friday 4th of December 2015. Here is the full text of the summons.
and all other relevant information is available at the Nobel Peace Prize Watch.

Test case: the award to the European Union in 2012

The court case will test one of the most obvious violations of the Nobel idea Read More »

Our 30 years with peace – And what happened to world peace? Part II

By Christina Spannar and Jan Oberg, TFF founders

Part 1 here

TFF was established on September 12, 1985. We think that it’s 30th Anniversary is a fitting occasion to reflect on what has happened in the big world and in our lives with the foundation.

It is also a piece of Lund’s research history in general and of peace research and education in particular.

Part 2

Weak aspects of TFF

• Being outside many networks and institutions – it has become more and more difficult to influence the world if you are small, independent and don’t accept governmental and corporate funds.

• A perception that the interest/commitment of TFF is out of sync with the sentiments of times, of the Zeitgeist. In spite of that we maintain the fundamental belief that peace is essential and that we can forget about the rest if major wars or nuclear exchanges take place.

• Too ‘academic’/theoretical to forge deeper, permanent links with public opinion and movements.

• Too ‘radical’ or ‘idealistic’ to be interesting to governments and most mainstream media.

• A constant very hard work load – resting on a small international group and on the founders in Sweden – vulnerability also in the perspective of us having gotten 30 years older.

• The struggle for funds getting more and more tough and we are much more vulnerable than, say, ten years ago. Being all-volunteer, we still have to pay the bills for what enables us to do things: the Internet, computers, travels to conflict areas, insurance, bank fees, fund-raising, phones, sending out mails, using social media, etc. 
The generosity of yesterday has been replaced by a ”stingy” attitude of being entitled to get things free in the affluent Internet-based society. This attitude implies that it is not my responsibility to finance peace, somebody else does (and the somebody else is never me). Few citizens seem to recognise that they are the taxpayers who de facto finance all the weapons and wars. 
The far majority of those who support us are idealists without particular means – while wealthy people for peace a far and few between.

TFF’s stronger sides

• We are still here, operating with amazing TFF Associates around the world who share the commitment to ‘peace by peaceful means’.

• We have remained faithful over all these years to the original ideals, not succumbing to go mainstream/politically correct to achieve more funds or appearing acceptable to the masters of war, i.e. government – neither by the way in Sweden nor Denmark.Read More »

Our 30 years with peace – And what happened to world peace? Part I

By Christina Spannar & Jan Oberg, TFF founders

Part I

TFF was established on September 12, 1985. We think that it’s 30th Anniversary is a fitting occasion to reflect on what has happened in the big world and in our lives with the foundation.

It is also a piece of Lund’s research history in general and of peace research and education in particular.

Motivation

The 1980s was a decade of gross changes in Europe, the struggle against nuclear weapons in particular.

Lund University was predominantly about education and single research projects – while TFF could be more of an experimental playground. We wanted to do truly free research and not negotiate with higher levels at, say, the university what to do where, in which countries to work and what to say to the media.

Peace has always been controversial and there were – and remain – enough examples of places that become ‘mainstream’ and routine – rather than experimental and radically ’alternative.’

What we did not know back in 1985 was that Lund University wanted to get rid of all inter-disciplinary academic endeavours – women, environmental, human rights and peace studies – and closed down the Lund University Peace Research Institute of which Jan had been the director since 1983, in November 1989.

Being a private undertaking

The HQ is the first floor of a two-family house in a villa area of Lund. Visitors, board members etc. have held seminars there, eaten and often stayed with us. Board members were colleagues and personal friends and new board members were recruited from Associates who were also personal friends, like-minded colleagues or mentors one way or the other.
Our children and other friends were often involved in the things TFF did – including printing newsletters in the basement, gathering them, putting them in envelopes and fix address labels.

Goals

The permanent top priority has been to promote the UN Charter norm that ‘peace shall be created by peaceful means’ (Article 1).
This was promoted through traditional book-based research and later field work – i.e. conflict analyses and mediation and peace plans – in conflict zones, but also through intense public outreach/education such as newsletters, media participation, press releases – and, from 1997, the Internet and then social media.

Secondly, we wanted to integrate theory and practice. While it is good to do basic research in the laboratory, what is peace research really worth if it is never applied to real life’s tough situations?

The first five years we did book projects like everybody else in the trade. But in September 1991 TFF went on its first peace mission to former Yugoslavia. It is safe to say that we were among the first to embark on that in-the-field philosophy and practice it – with all the problems and risks that it entailed.

Foundation and management

The word ‘foundation’ does not mean that we had an endowment to start out with – and funding has been a constant problem every day and year ever since. And getting worse over time.
But it meant flexibility and – being and remaining small – quickly adapting to a changing world.

Being our own and not part of Lund University was another advantage – and a drawback in terms of finding funds. TFF had to build its own reputation from scratch rather than piggyback on that of the university’s. It was quite tough but also more rewarding in the long run.Read More »

Time to give Palestinians their country back

By Miko Peled, TFF Associate

More than the threat of war on Iran, Netanyahu’s re-election is a call for war on Palestinians everywhere.
It is a call for war on human rights and international law. It is a mandate for the Israeli government to murder Palestinians. It gives Netanyahu license to continue Israel’s seven-decade policy of racism and apartheid towards the people from whom they stole the land.
It is also a call for people of conscience to impose boycotts and sanctions to divest and to isolation Israel. No more business as usual – it is time for outrage, for action, the type of action that brought down apartheid in South Africa.
It is a call to finally allow Palestinians to have their country back.
Continued reading in The Hill. Congress Blog

Political instability in Sweden

By Jonathan Power

December 9th 2014

“If all the world were like Sweden there would be no news to report. The last time that Sweden hit the front page was when its foreign minister, Anna Lindh, was knifed to death by a madman nine years ago on the eve of a referendum on Swedish entry into the Euro zone. The time before that was in the distant past.” – from a column I wrote just a couple of years ago.

But now, to everyone’s surprise – both inside and outside Sweden – this quietness of the news has been unexpectedly overturned. A newly elected Socialist government, thanks to the vote of the Swedish Democrats, an anti-immigrant and anti-European party, couldn’t pass its budget and so the prime minister has called for new elections in March. Voters are wondering aloud what has happened to the famed Swedish stability and consensus-making.

Sweden is probably the most successful country in the world – that is if you factor in Read More »

Sweden’s submergency

By Jan Oberg
Dr.hc, TFF director

Jan Oberg

Sweden ends its search for the unmentionable

This morning the Swedish defence solemnly called off its search for whatever it thought it was searching.

That was what was predicted in TFF PressInfo # 285 two days ago:

”For the above reasons the Swedish military will soon call off the whole thing and the affair will have served its purpose – precisely by not stating what it was, who it was or why it was. Or if it was.

What the purpose of the event may be remains to be revealed at some point in the future. Or perhaps never if – the purpose was fearology for increased militarisation.

Somebody somewhere knows what’s going on. And they put citizens’ security at risk for purposes they would never tell you.”

(No Swedish media showed any interest in this PressInfo).

Admittedly it is difficult – very difficult – to find a smaller object and bring it up in daylight – not to speak of handling the problem that may entail with a foreign country.

But not being able or willing to say a word to the public about what it was leaves behind (together with a couple of farcical mistakes) an impression of incompetence.

Investigate the military’s performance

The Swedish people have right to know and not in a language à la ”probable, credible indications of underwater activity by objects about which we make the preliminary – since investigations are ongoing – judgement that…and that is what the limits of operation secrecy permit us to state at this point.”

Swedish parliamentarians ought to investigate the military’s performance. But there are not enough independent experts, media or politicians in today’s Sweden to mount a broad-minded critical debate.

Instead there will be more money for the military after this.

Only one media interpretation

With few exceptions the media have been reckless in hinting and presuming that this must have been a Russian submarine.Read More »

TFF PressInfo 285: Vilken ubåt i Sverige?

Av Jan Öberg

Jan Oberg

Två dagar efter detta skrevs stoppades sökningen – som förutsagt i konklusionen nedan.

Ni har hört att Sverige jagar en “ubåt” och att den “antas vara rysk”. Exempelvis skriver Financial Times om detta den 21 oktober – och meddelar också att den svenska statsministern lovar att öka försvarsutgifterna. Det finns bara tre problem med detta:

1) Det finns inte det minsta bevis för att där finns något militärt att hitta, inte heller att det är ryskt. Read More »

TFF PressInfo # 285: What submarine in Sweden?

By Jan Oberg

Jan Oberg

You have heard that Sweden is hunting a ”submarine” and that it is ”presumed to be Russian”. Here is an example, Financial Times of October 21 – which incidentally also announces that the Swedish Prime Minister vows to increase defence spending.

Not the slightest evidence

There are only three problems with this:

1) There is not the slightest evidence of there being anything military, neither that it is a submarine nor that, whatever the object might be, it is Russian.

2) Even with CNN, BBC and AlJazeera this is nothing but speculative low-grade yellow press journalism. This is possible in the field of defence, security and peace because much less is required of journalists when they write about these matters than when they write about, say, domestic politics, economics, sports, books or food and wine. In these fields you are expected to have some knowledge and media consumers are able to check.Read More »

Questioning Sweden’s ‘bold’ initiative

By Richard Falk

Richard Falk

It was a welcome move, but only in some respects. The new center-left Swedish Prime Minister, Stefan Lofven, in his inaugural speech to Parliament indicated on October 3rd the intention of the Swedish government to recognize Palestinian statehood.

He explained that such a move mentioned in the platform of his party is in accord with promoting a two-state solution, and more significantly, that is to be “negotiated in accordance with international law.” The call for adherence to international law in future diplomacy is actually more of a step forward than is the announced intention of future recognition, which has so far received all the media attention and incurred the wrath of Tel Aviv.

To bring international law into future negotiations would amount to a radical modification of the ‘peace process’ that came into being with the Oslo Declaration of Principles in 1993.

The Israel/United States view was to allow any agreements between the parties to arise from a bargaining process, which is a shorthand for acknowledging the primacy of power, taking account of ‘facts on the ground’ (that is, the unlawful settlements) and diplomatic leverage (allowing the United States to fake the role of ‘honest broker’ while at the same time making sure that Israel’s interests are protected).

I suspect that this hopeful language suggesting the relevance of international law was inserted without any awareness of its importance or relevance. Such an interpretation is in line with Swedish official explanations of their initiative as a way of helping ‘moderate’ Palestinian leaders gain control of diplomacy, thereby facilitating the eventual goal of mutual coexistence based on two states.

It was presumed by Stockholm without any supportive reasoning, and against the weight of evidence and experience, that a Palestine state could emerge from a reinvigorated diplomacy. No mention was made of the settlements, separation wall, road network that have cut so deeply into the Palestinian remnant, which as of the 1967 borders was already 22% of historic Palestine, and less than half of what the UN partition plan had offered the Palestinians in 1947, which at the time seemed unfair and inconsistent with Palestinian rights under international law.Read More »

Aage Bertelsen (1901 – 1980) – Danish educator for peace

By Jan Oberg & Johan Galtung*

Lund and Kuala Lumpur, July 2014

Introduction

He was a tall man and a great man, a visionary, pacifist, civil resister, educator and philosopher. He took life more seriously than most and he could be playful and fun like a child. His life’s guiding principle was ”Engage in your time!” and while he wrote and talked a lot he also did it. His name was Aage Bertelsen, he was born in Denmark in 1901 and died on August 15, 1980.

Bertelsen’s imprint on history is two-fold. First, with his wife Gerda he was a prime mover of one of the groups, the Lyngby Group, which organised the rescue of altogether 7.220 Danish Jews into safety in Sweden in October 1943 during the German occupation of Denmark – more here. The Lyngby Group – Lyngby is north of Copenhagen – got about 1.000 of these in safety by organising their nightly transport onboard small fisher boats over the Sound between Denmark and Sweden.

In this he deserves a place in international contemporary history for its humanity, civil courage and as an example of non-violent struggle against occupation.

Secondly, Bertelsen was an educator of and for peace. His life work educational efforts included his family and friends, his pupils over 22 years at the Aarhus Cathedral School in Aarhus, Denmark, the general public as well as national and international leaders.

He lived in pre-Internet times and very little is publicly available today about this renaissance man. From two rather different, but compatible, perspectives we’ve taken it upon us to remind the world about him – friends and colleagues of his as we happen to be.

Headmaster Aage Bertelsen in 1961 Photo: Elfeldt, Copenhagen

 

Why now, over 30 years after his death? Read More »