IPRA Secretaries-General Christine Atieno and Matt Meyer (IPRA/Matt Meyer)

Welcome from IPRA’s Co-Secretaries General

Now is the time to get involved with IPRA, as it strives for greater heights in global peace research.
IPRA Secretaries-General Christine Atieno and Matt Meyer (IPRA/Matt Meyer)

The International Peace Research Association, or IPRA, is proud to launch this “Peace Search” community page in conjunction with Waging Nonviolence, as we broaden and deepen our research and organizing in pursuit of lasting peace with worldwide justice for all. Though this site dos not replace IPRA’s official web page or our newsletter, we are excited about the opportunities that this site offers to students, grassroots practitioners and academics alike. Through the news, stories, announcements and shared work we feature here, a widening group of activists and scholars — including people not yet members of IPRA — can learn from and engage with one another. We look forward to hearing from you with your comments, critiques, ideas and writings. 

Matt Meyer and Christine Atieno were elected co-Secretaries General at the December 2018 IPRA conference held in Ahmedabad, India. In addition to a Global Governing Council, their work is facilitated through the activities of five regional associations: the Latin American Peace Research Association (Consejo Latinoamericano de Investigacion para la Paz: CLAIP); the European Peace Research Association; the Asia-Pacific Peace Research Association; the Africa Peace Research and Education Association; and North America’s own Peace and Justice Studies Association.  One of Atieno and Meyer’s first acts as leaders of the global movement was to put forth this joint statement as part of their vision for the future of the field.

Christine Atieno: 

Fellow peace researchers, I take this opportunity to thank you for entrusting me with the enormous task of being your leader. I am extremely humbled by this gesture. Wisdom from our forefathers and mothers beholds that leadership is about service to humankind and not vice versa.

Peace research is infinite. Sustainability of peace may be threatened at any given time. Our current world faces myriad of disheartening vices that are threatening peace. As peace researchers we are called upon to continuously advocate for dialogue through peaceful means. It is our global duty to seek redress towards innovative pragmatic solutions to address and resolve conflicts within all spheres of the global order.

The responsibility of co-existing peacefully is bestowed upon us individually as human beings. I urge each one of us to constantly seek inner peace in order to exude the same to humankind and surrounding environment. Let us protect the environment because we all belong to the earth. As Wangari Maathai said, “If you destroy nature, nature will destroy you.” Let us focus beyond our continental confines and embrace the ideals of a global outlook so that together we can achieve milestones in inter-continental peace relations.

The International Peace Research Association strives for greater heights in global peace research. We must synergize our energies and efforts in peace research, build on quality research work and initiate continental programs and produce multiple publications that would influence global peace policies in different disciplines. Through our (you and I) cohesive deeds and collective empathy, we envision a better world for the generations to come. But first, as Gandhi said, we must take the individual step to “be the change you want to see in the world.” 

Peace-mongers we are and peace-mongers we shall remain to be!

Matt Meyer:

Peace and Conflict Studies “founding father” Johan Galtung famously predicted the collapse of the Soviet Union 10 years before its fall, and — in 2004 — put forth a series of 14 empirical reasons why the U.S. empire was in a state of irreversible decline. 

In Galtung’s view, the U.S. republic would continue post-empire, but go through a period of fascism unless or until a grassroots-based series of participatory and justice-based institutions (what Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. referred to as “beloved communities”) would turn the republic towards more truly democratic and socialist endeavors. 

From a U.S. perspective, especially but not solely based on the last several years, it is easy to see signs of the turn towards right-wing populism. It would neither take exhaustive research nor a biased perspective to find ample evidence of increased domestic as well as international militarization; outbreaks of consistent xenophobic and ethno-nationalist violence; increased sexism, racism, anti-Semitism, and anti-intellectualism; increased repression, especially of human rights’ defenders; rampant corruption while protecting and increasing corporate power; Christian zealotry aligning with other religious fundamentalisms; increased fraudulent or questionable elections, the scapegoating of Muslims (especially Muslims of African descent): in short, the basic characteristics of fascism, according to political scientist Lawrence Britt. 

The U.S. empire is surely in drastic political and economic decline, but it is striking out in all directions as it gasps its death throes.  

Organizing and educating for peace with justice within the United States today requires a special seriousness; being elected Secretary-General of a global scientific movement such as the International Peace Research Association brings that responsibility, for me, to an entirely new and personal level. It is clear that the empires and former empires of the Global North owe our neighbors, colleagues, and human family a debt of immense and almost incalculable proportions. Solidarity and reparations must be more than a materialist or fiscal reality; we must work together to resist: to repair and to reconcile generations of people caught up in unjust treatment, oppression on the most basic levels of essential survival. We must turn the world upside down.

On the positive flip-side, it is up to all of us to imagine and to create constructive programs of economic, political, educational, philosophical, sociological and empirical alternatives. While those of us living in countries rich with the trappings of wealth might appear to have the privilege of special insights and creative opportunities, it is more often true that the richness of community-based contact — of indigenous, experiential transcendence over short-term individualistic competitions — contributes more heavily to emerging peace endeavors. Peace studies founding mother Elise Boulding urged us to “begin learning from Africa, not just about it,” and it is high time we took Elise’s perspectives and example to heart.

There can be no question that one of the reasons I enthusiastically accepted the nomination for and election to IPRA’s top position was because of my excitement about working with young scholar-practitioners from Africa, Asia and Latin America. My Co-Secretary General, Christine Atieno, not only has the academic strengths to lead in the growth of IPRA, she is deeply rooted in Kenyan and African movements for positive social change. Even in the short time since our tenure in office began, we have led seminars on intense trips through Rwanda, Nigeria, Nepal, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and India. We are joined by an extraordinary team of Council members and colleagues ready to grow the field and the organization along with it.

Right now is a great time to get involved … there is enough good work for everyone!

One job of the IPRA Secretaries-General, as Christine and I both asserted at the time of our election, is to maintain clear, consistent, positive and open lines of communications. But we assert that positive communication and cooperative work is a two-way street! We look forward to hearing from you, and to pave new roads by working and walking together.

This story was produced by IPRA Peace Search

Founded in 1964 to advance research on the conditions of peace and the causes of war and violence — with five regional associations covering every corner of the planet — the International Peace Research Association (IPRA) is the world’s most established multi-disciplinary professional organization in the field of peace, human rights and conflict studies.

Waging Nonviolence partners with other organizations and publishes their work.