Search for Peace

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In England, Prime Minister Lord North fell from power in the wake of Yorktown (Fall 1781) and was replaced by the Marquess of Rockingham, a figure dedicated to concluding peace with the Americans.Early negotiations were slowed by diplomatic maneuvering, particularly with Britain attempting to isolate American issues from French ones. An accord (the Treaty of Paris) was reached between England and the former colony, but implementation was delayed until the other European powers came to terms with Britain.

In the creation myth recorded by Harry Johnston, Kintu appears on the plains of Uganda with a cow which was his only possession and he fed on its milk and cow dung before being rewarded bananas and millet from the sky god, Ggulu. Before his encounter with Ggulu, Kintu meets a woman named Nnambi and her sister who had come from the sky. They first take his beloved cow to Ggulu to prove his humanness and to seek Ggulu's permission of his admission into the sky. Once arriving in the sky, Kintu's humanness is tested by Ggulu through five consecutive trials, each one trickier and more difficult than the last. However, Kintu is able to come out of each trial victorious with the assistance of an unidentified divine power. Ggulu is impressed with Kintu's wit and resilience, rewarding his efforts with his daughter Nnambi and many agricultural gifts as dowry which included: bananas, potatoes, beans, maize corn, ground-nuts, and a hen. From this point, Kintu was given the basic materials to be able to create life in Uganda. However, before leaving the sky, Kintu and Nnambi were warned by Ggulu not to come back for any reason as they made their journey back to Earth for fear that Nnambi's brother, Walumbe (meaning "disease" and "death" in Bantu), would follow them back to Earth and cause them great trouble. Kintu and Nnambi disregarded Ggulu's warning and Kintu returned to the sky to fetch the millet the hen had to feel on while on earth that Nnambi had left behind and in his short time there, Walumbe had figured Nnambi's whereabouts and convinced Kintu to allow him to live with them on Earth. Upon seeing Walumbe accompanying Kintu on their way down from the sky, Nnambi at first denied her brother but Walumbe eventually persuaded her into allowing him to stay with them. [3]

The three of them first settled in Magongo in Buganda where they rested and planted the first crops on earth: banana, maize corn, beans, and groundnuts. During this time, Kintu and Nnambi had three children and Walumbe insisted on claiming one as his own. Kintu denied his request, promising him one of his future children however, Kintu and Nnambi proceeded to have many more children and denied Walumbe with each child causing him to lash out and declare to kill each and every one of Kintu's children and claim them in that sense. Each day for three days, one of Kintu's children died by the hands of Walumbe until Kintu returned to the sky and told Ggulu of the killings. [4] Ggulu expected the actions of Walumbe and sent Kayiikuuzi (meaning "digger" in Bantu), his son, to Earth to attempt to capture and bring Walumbe back to the sky. Kintu and Kayiikuuzi descended to Earth and were notified by Nnambi that a few more of their children had died during Kintu's trip to the sky. In response to this, Kayiikuuzi called upon Walumbe and the two met and fought. During the fight, Walumbe was able to slip away into a hole in the ground and continued to dig deeper as Kayiikuuzi tried to retrieve him. These gigantic holes are believed to be in the present day Ntinda. After relentlessly digging, Kayiikuuzi tired out and took a break from chasing Walumbe. Kayiikuuzi remained on earth for two more days and ordered silence among all things on Earth during that time (before sunrise) in an attempt to lure Walumbe out of the ground. However, just as Walumbe started to get curious and came out from under the ground, some of Kintu's children spotted him and screamed out, scaring Walumbe back into the Earth. Tired and frustrated with his wasted efforts and broken orders, Kayiikuuzi returned to the sky without capturing Walumbe, who stayed on earth and is responsible for the misery and suffering of Kintu's children today. However, Kayiikuuzi is still chasing Walumbe and every time earthquakes and tsunamis strike, it is Kayiikuuzi is almost catching Walumbe.

In the early 1900s, two similar oral traditions of the Kintu creation myth were recorded and published. One oral tradition recorded by John Roscoe differs from other myths in that Kintu was said to have been seduced by Nnambi into going with her to the sky. [5] In addition, after completing the trials Ggulu tasked him with, he was given permission to marry Nnambi and returned to Uganda with various livestock and one plantation stalk to begin life on Earth. [5] Furthermore, in this version Kintu was the one to try to capture Walumbe, not Kayiikuuzi.

The other oral tradition recorded by Sir Apolo Kaggwa differed from other Kintu creation myths in that it focused more on the contributions that Kintu had on the political aspects of Buganda. According to this oral tradition, Kintu formed the political and geographical foundations of the nation by setting the physical boundaries of the nation, founding the capital, and creating the first form of politics in Baganda society through royal hierarchy. [5]

Kintu is also present in The Oral Tradition of Baganda of Uganda. [6] However, in this version of the Kintu creation myth, the importance of the story is placed upon Nambi in the beginning of the myth, it is Nambi who falls in love with Kintu upon their first meeting in Baganda and convinces Kintu to seek approval from her father in order to get her hand in marriage. [6] For this reason, Kintu's worthiness was tested by Nambi's father Ggulu through a series of trials over the course of four days. From this point, this version of the oral tradition differs from others in that Ggulu instructed Nambi to take one female and one male of each living thing in order to begin life on Earth. [6] Ggulu also warned her not to forget anything while packing because she would never be able to return to the sky in fear that her mischievous brother Walumbe would follow them to Earth and bring hardships upon them. [6]

The name Kintu, meaning "thing" in Bantu, is commonly attached to the name Muntu who was the legendary figure who founded the Gisu and Vukusu tribes. [2] Kintu is believed to originate from the east, west, and north bringing with him the first materials to begin life on earth. These materials consisted of millet, cattle, and bananas. [2]


According to Nobel's will, the Peace Prize shall be awarded to the person who in the preceding year "shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses". [8] Alfred Nobel's will further specified that the prize be awarded by a committee of five people chosen by the Norwegian Parliament. [9] [10]

Nobel died in 1896 and he did not leave an explanation for choosing peace as a prize category. As he was a trained chemical engineer, the categories for chemistry and physics were obvious choices. The reasoning behind the peace prize is less clear. According to the Norwegian Nobel Committee, his friendship with Bertha von Suttner, a peace activist and later recipient of the prize, profoundly influenced his decision to include peace as a category. [11] Some Nobel scholars suggest it was Nobel's way to compensate for developing destructive forces. His inventions included dynamite and ballistite, both of which were used violently during his lifetime. Ballistite was used in war [12] and the Irish Republican Brotherhood, an Irish nationalist organization, carried out dynamite attacks in the 1880s. [13] Nobel was also instrumental in turning Bofors from an iron and steel producer into an armaments company.

It is unclear why Nobel wished the Peace Prize to be administered in Norway, which was ruled in union with Sweden at the time of Nobel's death. The Norwegian Nobel Committee speculates that Nobel may have considered Norway better suited to awarding the prize, as it did not have the same militaristic traditions as Sweden. It also notes that at the end of the 19th century, the Norwegian parliament had become closely involved in the Inter-Parliamentary Union's efforts to resolve conflicts through mediation and arbitration. [11]

Nomination Edit

Each year, the Norwegian Nobel Committee specifically invites qualified people to submit nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize. [14] The statutes of the Nobel Foundation specify categories of individuals who are eligible to make nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize. [15] These nominators are:

  • Members of national assemblies and governments and members of the Inter-Parliamentary Union
  • Members of the Permanent Court of Arbitration and the International Court of Justice at the Hague
  • Members of Institut de Droit International
  • Academics at the professor or associate professor level in history, social sciences, philosophy, law, and theology, university rectors, university directors (or their equivalents), and directors of peace research and international affairs institutes , including board members of organizations that have received the prize
  • Present and past members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee
  • Former permanent advisers to the Norwegian Nobel Institute

The working language of the Norwegian Nobel Committee is Norwegian in addition to Norwegian the committee has traditionally received nominations in French, German and English, but today most nominations are submitted in either Norwegian or English. Nominations must usually be submitted to the committee by the beginning of February in the award year. Nominations by committee members can be submitted up to the date of the first Committee meeting after this deadline. [15]

In 2009, a record 205 nominations were received, [16] but the record was broken again in 2010 with 237 nominations in 2011, the record was broken once again with 241 nominations. [17] The statutes of the Nobel Foundation do not allow information about nominations, considerations, or investigations relating to awarding the prize to be made public for at least 50 years after a prize has been awarded. [18] Over time, many individuals have become known as "Nobel Peace Prize Nominees", but this designation has no official standing, and means only that one of the thousands of eligible nominators suggested the person's name for consideration. [19] Indeed, in 1939, Adolf Hitler received a satirical nomination from a member of the Swedish parliament, mocking the (serious but unsuccessful) nomination of Neville Chamberlain. [20] Nominations from 1901 to 1967 have been released in a database. [21]

Selection Edit

Nominations are considered by the Nobel Committee at a meeting where a shortlist of candidates for further review is created. This shortlist is then considered by permanent advisers to the Nobel institute, which consists of the institute's Director and the Research Director and a small number of Norwegian academics with expertise in subject areas relating to the prize. Advisers usually have some months to complete reports, which are then considered by the committee to select the laureate. The Committee seeks to achieve a unanimous decision, but this is not always possible. The Nobel Committee typically comes to a conclusion in mid-September, but occasionally the final decision has not been made until the last meeting before the official announcement at the beginning of October. [22]

The Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee presents the Nobel Peace Prize in the presence of the King of Norway on 10 December each year (the anniversary of Nobel's death). The Peace Prize is the only Nobel Prize not presented in Stockholm. The Nobel laureate receives a diploma, a medal, and a document confirming the prize amount. [23] As of 2019 [update] , the prize was worth 9 million SEK. Since 1990, the Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony is held at Oslo City Hall.

From 1947 to 1989, the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony was held in the Atrium of the University of Oslo Faculty of Law, a few hundred meters from Oslo City Hall. Between 1905 and 1946, the ceremony took place at the Norwegian Nobel Institute. From 1901 to 1904, the ceremony took place in the Storting (Parliament). [24]

Some commentators have suggested that the Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded in politically motivated ways for more recent or immediate achievements, [25] or with the intention of encouraging future achievements. [25] [26] Some commentators have suggested that to award a peace prize on the basis of the unquantifiable contemporary opinion is unjust or possibly erroneous, especially as many of the judges cannot themselves be said to be impartial observers. [27] The Nobel Peace Prize has become increasingly politicized, in which people are awarded for aspiration rather than accomplishment, which has allowed for the prize to be used for political effect but can cause perverse consequences due to the neglect of existing power politics. [28]

In 2011, a feature story in the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten contended that major criticisms of the award were that the Norwegian Nobel Committee ought to recruit members from professional and international backgrounds, rather than retired members of parliament that there is too little openness about the criteria that the committee uses when they choose a recipient of the prize and that the adherence to Nobel's will should be more strict. In the article, Norwegian historian Øivind Stenersen argues that Norway has been able to use the prize as an instrument for nation-building and furthering Norway's foreign policy and economic interests. [29]

In another 2011 Aftenposten opinion article, the grandson of one of Nobel's two brothers, Michael Nobel, also criticised what he believed to be the politicisation of the award, claiming that the Nobel Committee has not always acted in accordance with Nobel's will. [30]

Criticism of individual conferments Edit

The joint award given to Lê Đức Thọ and Henry Kissinger prompted two dissenting Committee members to resign. [45] Thọ refused to accept the prize, on the grounds that such "bourgeois sentimentalities" were not for him [46] and that peace had not been achieved in Vietnam. Kissinger donated his prize money to charity, did not attend the award ceremony and later offered to return his prize medal after the fall of South Vietnam to North Vietnamese forces 18 months later. [46]

In 1994, Kåre Kristiansen resigned from the Norwegian Nobel Committee in protest over the award of the prize to Yasser Arafat, whom he labeled "world's most prominent terrorist". [47]

Notable omissions Edit

The omission of Mahatma Gandhi has been particularly widely discussed, including in public statements by various members of the Nobel Committee. [50] [51] The committee has confirmed that Gandhi was nominated in 1937, 1938, 1939, 1947, and, finally, a few days before his assassination in January 1948. [52] The omission has been publicly regretted by later members of the Nobel Committee. [50] Geir Lundestad, Secretary of Norwegian Nobel Committee in 2006 said, "The greatest omission in our 106-year history is undoubtedly that Mahatma Gandhi never received the Nobel Peace Prize. Gandhi could do without the Nobel Peace prize, whether Nobel committee can do without Gandhi is the question". [53] In 1948, following Gandhi's death, the Nobel Committee declined to award a prize on the ground that "there was no suitable living candidate" that year. Later, when the Dalai Lama was awarded the Peace Prize in 1989, the chairman of the committee said that this was "in part a tribute to the memory of Mahatma Gandhi". [54]

As of November 2020 [update] , the Peace Prize has been awarded to 107 individuals and 28 organizations. 17 women have won the Nobel Peace Prize, more than any other Nobel Prize. [55] Only two recipients have won multiple Prizes: the International Committee of the Red Cross has won three times (1917, 1944, and 1963) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has won twice (1954 and 1981). [56] Lê Đức Thọ is the only person who refused to accept the Nobel Peace Prize. [57]

James C. Juhnke and Carol M. Hunter, The Missing Peace: The Search for Nonviolent Alternatives in United States History

The Missing Peace, a one-volume survey of U.S. history from Native American origins through the end of the Cold War, offers an ambitious reinterpretation of both familiar and lesser-known events in the nation’s past. Juhnke and Hunter prompt readers to consider the legacies of violent historical events and institutions–wars and slavery, for example–as well as the alternatives proposed by peaceminded leaders along the way. Is it conceivable that the birth and development of the nation from the 1770s onward could have occurred without war? In the nineteenth century, might it have been possible for the nation to abolish slavery and ensure African-Americans’ freedom and rights without the fighting of the Civil War? Throughout the work, the authors reexamine assumptions about the inevitability of violence. They suggest interpretations that both unmask legacies of violence and highlight the contributions of historical figures who sought reconciliation and justice through nonviolent means.

One of the authors’ intriguing phrases is that “peace broke out.” During a 1968 reenactment of the Washita massacre in Oklahoma Territory a hundred years earlier, Cheyenne descendants of those killed in the massacre reconciled with the descendants of Custer’s Seventh Cavalry. Peace broke out when a Cheyenne peace chief placed a blanket over the shoulders of the leader of the military re-enactment, leading to a symbolic exchange of gifts that signified reconciliation over the century-old legacy of senseless killing. Another of Juhnke and Hunter’s examples, drawn from early national history, asserts that “peace broke out” between adversaries France and the United States in 1799. In that episode, President John Adams, supported by army commander George Washington, took steps to avoid a seemingly inevitable war with France over naval hostilities and expansionist rivalry. Readers of American history are accustomed to hearing about the outbreak of war, but rarely if ever about an outbreak of peace. This book attempts to shift the readers’ acceptance of sanctioned violence toward an alternative vision of the past.

This is a conceptually ambitious work. The authors acknowledge that they have been “relentlessly revisionist” in covering events from the colonial period through the late twentieth century (p. 7). Their thesis may surprise and vex readers accustomed to accepting certain notions about American history most notably, that the nation’s wars have been inevitable. The authors offer a conceptual approach that pricks reader consciousness in three ways. First, they critique the repeated use of violence by asserting its legacies of escalating violence. Second, they frame historical events in terms of how well those events measured up to goals of reconciliation and justice (rather than self-willed triumph). And third, they highlight the historical experiences of people who worked for nonviolent alternatives. In short, the authors assert, “we want to rethink the notion of ‘success’ and reclaim the hidden heritage of a ‘nonviolent America'” (p. 13).

Most of the book’s thirteen chapters follow a chronological narrative of the nation’s founding, development, and gradual shifting of position in world affairs. But as the authors interpret and analyze event after event with their three-pronged approach of exposing legacies of violence, highlighting struggles for justice, and introducing peacemakers, they make the further argument that the teaching of history has usually been inadequate. In the book’s preface, the authors ask whether American history “really is only carnage and inhumanity–or is this a problem with the way in which history is taught and sold?” (p. 10). The authors come down firmly on the side of the latter, saying that their purpose “is to begin the process of emancipating U.S. history from the tyranny of our violent imaginations . . . [through which] the linkage of violence and freedom in U.S. experience has grown into a powerful national myth” (pp. 11-12).

Thus, the book is provocative at several levels, for it requires readers to test preconceived ideas about various subjects against the authors’ interpretations of those events. Simultaneously, readers are drawn to consider the ways in which they themselves have long absorbed American history–in classrooms, as readers, and as participant-citizens–in the vein of what Juhnke and Hunter are calling national mythology.

All of this is to say that the book, fascinating as it is, does not make for comfortable reading. The authors assert that they are offering a new perspective that rejects the grand triumphalism of traditional historical narrative, and so they are. They also argue that their interpretive lens offers a more cohesive vision of the United States’ past than does radical New Leftist scholarship, which often fails to move beyond critique. Juhnke and Hunter claim to offer “a perspective of constructive nonviolence as an alternative to triumphalist nationalism and destructive cultural criticism, both of which often assume that violence is redemptive” (p. 270). Despite this analytic ideal, however, the book’s authors are much closer ideologically to Howard Zinn and other radical critics of American culture than to sentimentalistic purveyors of the past.

Among the strengths of this book is its accessibility to general readers ready to consider the book’s interpretive challenge. The Missing Peace is geared toward college-level and general audiences, with discussion-oriented questions woven throughout the text. For example, in considering Native American history: who contributed more to the survival of this minority culture over centuries of encounters with whites–Indian warriors, or peacemakers and prophets? Or, in studying the history of the Revolutionary War: how does the rising tide of mob violence help to explain links between war, freedom, and democracy? With regard to the abolitionist movement, did nonviolent attempts to oppose slavery really fail?

The authors’ forays into the realm of speculative history, in which they offer “what if” scenarios as alternatives to the past, open up imaginative thinking. And yet, at times they seem to meander into wishful thinking. In these instances, the possibilities with which they present us do not adequately satisfy our desire to make sense of the past. For example, in a chapter dealing with the first half of the nineteenth century, the authors rightly describe the war against Mexico in 1846-47 as a particularly grievous example of aggressive national expansion. As they point out, some Americans at the time regarded the war an outgrowth of the ideals of manifest destiny. But for today’s students of nineteenth-century America, the United States’ invasion of Mexico is difficult to justify. In comparison with the American Revolution and the Civil War, the war against Mexico seems a greedy and shameful conquest. Is such an assessment realistic and warranted? It probably is. But the authors of The Missing Peace, aiming to offer an alternative vision to 1840s-style American militarism, go on to suggest that we “imagine that a separate nation might have come into existence on the west coast, and that the Republic of Texas and a Republic of California might have joined with the United States in a confederation less addicted to violence and expansionism than was the American nation” (pp. 73-74). Most readers will be hard-pressed to imagine such a scenario, for it seems to offer more of a whimsical vision than a usable one.

And yet, on balance, the many merits of The Missing Peace include its realism. Who can argue with the notion that violence permeated twentieth-century American life and that public and private fascination with violent images continue to influence our collective memory? Why is it that so many Americans can only conceive of fighting violence by responding with more violence? And how do we draw out the strands of our cultural, national, and religious heritage that symbolize resistance to violence and the affirmation of human worth? The Missing Peace addresses these questions head-on and gives us authentic images of people who have long yearned for peace.

Rachel Waltner Goossen
Department of History
Washburn University
Topeka, Kansas

Towards a Transpersonal History of the Search for Peace 1945-2001

This thesis contributes to the intellectual history of the period from 1945-2001 in the specific regard of the search for peace, among selected groups of intellectuals, academics and thinkers, during the cold war epoch. It concerns itself both with the quest for peace in relation to that complex, global, bipolar conflict, and also more generally. It examines this search in 4 specific fields of knowledge, namely historiography, philosophy, religious studies and theology, and psychology. The thesis also highlights a methodological lacuna that emerged during the course of the research. It was felt that a new meta-historical discipline, transpersonal history, might assist the work of trying to make sense of our epoch and, particularly, provide a useful historical special sub-discipline, which might hopefully help shed light on the causes of religious and inter-cultural conflicts, and their possible resolutions, in the post 9/11 world.

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1. Rowe , John A. “ The Purge of Christians at Mwanga's Court ,” JAH , 5 ( 1964 ), 68 .CrossRefGoogle Scholar

2. Low , D. , Buganda in Modern History ( London , 1971 ).Google Scholar Unomah , A.C. and Webster , J.B. , “ East Africa: The Expansion of Commerce ” in Cambridge History of Africa , ed. Fage , J.D. and Oliver , Roland ( Cambridge , 1976 ), 5 : 304 –09.Google Scholar

3. Roscoe , John . The Buganda ( New York , 1966 ), 460 –64.Google Scholar

4. Kiwanuka , M.S.M. The Kings of Buganda, by Sir Apolo Kaggwa ( Nairobi , 1971 ), 1 – 14 .Google Scholar

5. In describing the place of myth and symbols, Clifford Geertz argues that they not only provide an explanation of present social reality, but that they give guidance in making decisions and serve as a social DNA to transmit contemporary ideas, attitudes, and practices to the next generation. Geertz , Clifford , The Interpretation of Cultures ( New York , 1973 ).Google Scholar

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Untapped potential: Civil society and the search for peace

Hassan Abdel Ati traces the history of (mainly northern) Sudanese civil society from its anti-colonial origins, to the rise and fall of strong trade unions, to the development of a less politically engaged service-oriented sector. Under the present regime, independent civil society has faced many threats to its existence and has had little opportunity for direct influence the peace processes, despite a range of initiatives documented. The author discusses the peacebuilding roles civil society might assume in the post-agreement period, and the challenges it will face. He calls for internal reforms, a more supportive political environment and effective, non-dependent partnerships with international organisations.


Until the 1980s, Sudan had a relatively strong and well-developed civil society based primarily in the north of the country. However, politically-engaged civil society organisations (CSOs) like trade unions have increasingly been restricted by the state or supplanted by new welfare-based or issue-based organisations encouraged by the regime or by international development and relief agencies. These new organisations do not have the political role or power once held by trade unions and their capacity for influencing Sudan's peace process has been relatively weak. Sudan's civil society sector now faces significant challenges in fulfilling a peacebuilding role in the wake of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).

The origins of modern civil society are in the semi-formal trade unions and religious groups of the early 20th century, and the societies and educational organisations that resisted British colonial rule in the north (which was administered separately from the south). An example is the White Flag Society: brutally suppressed in 1924, it was a seed for the modern politically-oriented CSOs that culminated in the formation of the Graduates' Congress in the late 1930s. The Graduates' Congress led the resistance to colonial rule until independence and prompted the emergence of modern political parties.

From the 1940s, trade unions were particularly influential in the anti-colonial struggle, and after independence led the toppling of the military dictatorships of Ibrahim Aboud in 1964 (when workers' and farmers' unions were the main force of change) and Jaafar Nimeiri in 1985 (when the uprising was led by professional, urban-based white collar unions since the workers' and farmers' unions had been weakened by the Nimeiri regime). In both cases, university students, notably the Khartoum University Student Union, were critical to spearheading and coordinating the revolt.

The decline of an independent civil society

After 1985, the political parties that had benefited from the trade unions' revolutionary spirit turned their back on the unions, thereby exposing democratic rule to further military coups. A new generation of civil society organisations started to emerge in response to drought, famine, the large-scale displacement and destitution caused by the renewal of the war in the south, as well as the large numbers of international NGOs (INGOs) and relief agencies that arrived. This contributed to the marked increase in modern intermediary NGOs (intermediaries between donors and target groups) which directed their efforts to serving the victims of famine and war. Government inability to address the situation contributed to a short period (1985-89) of cooperation, encouragement and some state support of national voluntary organisations and the creation of a favourable environment for INGOs operating in the country. Most of these national organisations, however, were Khartoum-based, largely non-political, service-oriented and dependent on external funding from INGOs and UN agencies, a characteristic that has remained constant ever since.

Since the 1980s there has been a proliferation of NGOs in the south, which did not have the same strong civil society tradition as the north. Most of those that existed in SPLM/A-held areas were Nairobi-based, engaged in service delivery, and affiliated to the SPLM/A (with a few notable exceptions such as the Southern Sudan Law Society). The development of CSOs in southern Sudan was a response to the presence of aid agencies, driven by the requirement of INGOs to work with local CSOs.

Following the 1989 coup, the new regime dissolved all political parties and trade unions and NGOs were required to re-register on new conditions that prohibited political engagement. The coordinating agency for voluntary work, later named the Humanitarian Affairs Council (HAC), was transformed into a security organ, imposing heavy restrictions on NGOs. The government prohibited NGO engagement in political issues like human and civil rights and governance, restricting their activities to service delivery. Yet the National Islamic Front (NIF), which was behind the new regime, had been one of the first political parties to invest in and work through civil society for its own ends. It had started by winning control of student unions in schools and universities and gradually infiltrated certain trade unions and created a base in the army. In power, it replaced freely-formed unions with organs associated with the one-party system, and interfered directly in selecting the leadership of independent organisations ranging from sporting clubs to the Sudanese Red Crescent Committee. Its strategy was to pre-empt the functions of existing independent organisations, supplanting them with its own bodies. Several 'Islamic' organisations were formed, supported by the state and primarily funded from the Gulf. Sudan's support to Saddam Hussein in the Gulf war halted most of the funding from the Gulf states and only the strongest and heavily state-supported survived, such as the Zubeir Charity Foundation and el-Shaheed. But given the utility of CSOs as a vehicle for receiving donor money, the number of registered organisations shot up again as Sudan's international isolation began to recede after 2002, most of them nonetheless still linked to the state and the ruling party.

In the 1990s, as well as trying to restrict an independent civil society sector, the government succeeded in transferring its social and economic responsibility for groups such as displaced persons, children and the urban poor to national and international NGOs. Amidst Sudan's isolation, the consequences of natural disaster, growing violent conflict and the short-term negative impact of economic liberalisation policies, NGOs were left to address the gap left by the 10-year ban on political parties and the weakness of state governments. Meanwhile their agenda was being reshaped by increased interaction with international organisations, precipitating new visions and methods of civic action, and the spread of new development concepts like grassroots empowerment, participation and peacebuilding.

Civil society and the pursuit of peace

In the absence of legitimate trade unions and political parties, CSOs have long been active in trying to promote a peaceful settlement to the conflict in southern Sudan.

Little space was given to CSOs in formal peace initiatives, though it should be remembered that the first significant high-level talks involving the SPLM/A, the Koka Dam talks in 1986, were rooted in an initiative by University of Khartoum staff associations and trade union associations, who started the initial talks in Ambao. In more recent years CSOs have found ways to contribute to the broader peacemaking process through public lectures, workshops, newspaper articles and training sessions on peace. Fuelled by the prevalent war fatigue, the initiatives included, among others, Sudan First Forum, Nadwat al-Ameed (Ahfad), Women's Peace Network Initiative, the Group of 10, the el-Sheikh el-Gaali Initiative, and the Sudanese Initiative to Resolve Sudan's Governance Crisis. The latter, a proposal for a comprehensive settlement to Sudanese conflicts made by a number of civil society groups in 2000, was based on the conviction that cultural diversity can form a strong basis for national unity and tackling root causes like unbalanced development, the absence of political participation and representation, and inequalities in the distribution of wealth. Peace organisations like the Sudanese Women's Peace Network and the National Civic Forum were among the first to establish direct contact with CSOs in the SPLM/A-held areas and in the diaspora. Many received external support, for example through Justice Africa's Civic Project, the Dutch government, the Heinrich Böll Foundation, the Friedrich Ebert Foundation or the United Nations Development Programme.

Civil society influence on the Naivasha process that led to the CPA was ultimately very limited. Like the northern opposition political parties, civil society was marginalised, perceived by the government as backing SPLM/A positions on the main stumbling blocks in the negotiations: religion and the state, wealth redistribution, democratic transformation and accountability. Moreover, the other Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) countries shared similar views to Sudan on the roles and rights of civil society, whose engagement in briefings and informal sessions was only made possible after the wider international community became involved. Various civil society meetings and fora created for civil society actors, such as the series of meetings convened by Justice Africa in Kampala from 1999, were to a significant extent a response to the exclusion of civil society groups from the peace talks.

Peacebuilding challenges

Following the CPA and subsequent peace agreements, civil society's immediate challenges lie in peacebuilding and democratic transformation. Meeting immediate needs must be balanced with engaging in structural change and long-term programming. CSOs can bridge the gap between what the Sudanese people want, and what the negotiating parties and the international community perceived they wanted.

Many Sudanese have yet to see a peace dividend. CSOs can contribute in many ways by:

  • encouraging dialogue and promoting peaceful coexistence and cooperation between ethnic and religious groups
  • promoting civic education, democratic values and a culture of peace and human rights at the community level
  • assisting community planning and drawing attention to local, national and international problems
  • promoting regional and local development and more equal distribution of wealth and opportunities between regions and social groups
  • promoting transparency and accountability, and monitoring the use of rehabilitation and reconstruction resources
  • providing education on the environment, resource use and management, and promoting economic alternatives to reduce the pressure on resources and the likelihood of conflict
  • reducing pressure on resources though direct service provision (water, medical and veterinary) to returnees and war-affected communities.

CSOs represent the main national forces working with communities to counter the impacts of war, mismanagement of resources and poor policies. Their resources for peacebuilding include external links and extensive experience in negotiation over the last two decades, which have enabled them to survive in a hostile environment. Yet CSOs in Sudan are faced with challenges relating to government restrictions, internal failings and external conditionalities.

The government continues to try to curtail the independence of CSOs. It uses its own parallel organisations to undermine existing CSOs, especially those working on rights issues, swamping meetings held in the presence of international or UN representatives. New legal restrictions on CSOs include the Organisation of Humanitarian and Voluntary Work Act (2006), which requires Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs approval of all CSO proposals before they are submitted to donors. The Ministry can also ban any person from voluntary work.

Economic deterioration, debt, political instability and ongoing conflict contribute to diverting CSOs' efforts towards addressing symptoms rather than causes, at the expense of influencing policy and legislation. CSOs lack a long-term strategic vision for their programmes and the in-depth research needed to guide their plans and priorities. The work is reactive and vulnerable to external influence by the state or donors: the regime has sought to divert civil society attention from important issues such as human rights violations in southern Sudan and Darfur, while oil production and revenues form a 'no-go area' for CSO activity.

The dependence on foreign funding and a lack of specialisation among CSOs has undermined the formation of effective networks, making them competitive rather than cooperative. Donor conditionality is sometimes imposed at the expense of local priorities. Stereotyped and mostly imported methods have been adopted for example, credit and women's empowerment programmes are common throughout Sudan but rarely adapted to its varying local contexts. As a result, large segments of civil society, such as Sufi sects and tribal associations, are not well integrated into the civil society sector, notwithstanding some emerging interchange between tribal-level organisations and NGOs in local peacebuilding initiatives.

If the peacebuilding potential of CSOs to be realised, a more effective civil society sector needs to be created that holds sufficient power to provide checks and balances to the executive. The government should legislate to support CSOs – or at least create a more supportive environment for them. CSOs need to improve their coordination and cooperation, building new alliances free of political polarisation and dependency. They will need to build their capacity to generate accurate information upon which proper long-term planning of interventions can be made. For this they must link better with research institutions and persuade donors to finance research and surveys.

Experience from other countries shows that, to immunise itself from the state's pre-emptive and restrictive measures, civil society needs self-discipline, ethical codes and an internal commitment to the values of democracy, transparency and accountability it preaches. This will help international donors identify genuine partners. Effective, non-dependent partnerships with international organisations, the private sector and the state should be based on mutual trust and shared experience, not just financial support.

“In international relations, the great feature of the growth of the last century has been the gradual recognition of the fact that instead of its being normally to the interest of each nation to see another depressed, it is normally to the interest of each nation to see the others elevated.” So argued a Nobel Prize-winning president at an international meeting called to deal with a growing environmental crisis.

After calling upon those gathered to closely cooperate for the common good of all, he concluded: “I believe that the movement that you this day initiate is one of the utmost importance to this hemisphere and may become of the utmost importance to the world at large.”

These words were uttered 100 years before President Barack Obama went to Copenhagen to attend the climate-change meetings. Their source? Theodore Roosevelt.

Roosevelt was the keynote speaker at the 1909 North American Conservation conference, the first international conference on conservation policy. From the dais, he challenged his audience to think about the global threat posed by the too-rapid consumption of natural resources.

President Roosevelt and Gifford Pinchot on the Inland Waterways trip in 1907. The Inland Waterways trip was one of several efforts by the president and Pinchot to generate media attention for the cause of conservation.

This conference succeeded in focusing attention on the need for conserving timber, coal and water resources in North America, and the president was eager to expand this concept to the world, committing the U.S. to supporting a world conservation conference to be held in the Netherlands in September 1909. Thirty nations had already accepted invitations to attend when Roosevelt’s successor, William Howard Taft, canceled it.

The driving force behind the White House’s commitment to international cooperation was Gifford Pinchot, the first chief of the U.S. Forest Service and an enormous influence on the first Roosevelt’s conservation policies. After studying forestry in Europe in the early 1890s, Pinchot briefly served as George Vanderbilt’s forester at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, where he demonstrated how judicious logging could rehabilitate the land at a time when loggers (and tax laws) favored clear-cutting forests and moving on to the next patch of land.

At the same time, Roosevelt was a rising star in New York’s political scene who had witnessed the damage loggers and farmers had done in the Northeast as well as in the Dakota Territory and much of the West. He shared Pinchot’s concern for the future of America’s natural resources.

The two first began working to change the physical as well as the political landscape when Roosevelt became governor of New York in 1898. When Roosevelt took over the presidency in 1901, he immediately embraced Pinchot’s plans for saving the public lands, and together they introduced conservation to the nation.

After the cancellation of the world conference in 1909, for the next 30 years Pinchot carried the idea for a world conservation conference to every president until the second President Roosevelt – Franklin – backed the idea. Pinchot had been talking with FDR about the need for such an international conference when war broke out in Europe in 1939. That’s when Pinchot began arguing that conservation was the only route to a “permanent” peace.

Although war had long been “an instrument of national policy for the safeguarding of natural resources or for securing them from other nations,” Pinchot argued in Nature (1940), this need not be the inevitable fate of human society: “International cooperation in conserving, utilizing, and distributing natural resources to the mutual advantage of all nations might well remove one of the most dangerous of all obstacles to a just and permanent world peace.”

Five years later, when the U.S. dropped atomic bombs on Japan, Pinchot – nearly 80 years old – expanded his thinking to consider atomic energy as another natural resource to be included in his peace plan. If he was able to think beyond the immediate ravages of war, what is hindering us – in this much-more peaceful age – from acting to save the world?

Pinchot’s world conference plan eventually resulted in the 1949 U.N. Scientific Conference on the Conservation and Utilization of Resources. It was held at the dawn of the Cold War (and three years after Pinchot’s death). Conference attendees focused on how “the earth’s resources and the ingenuity of man can provide an almost unlimited potential for improved living standards for the world’s population” – the critical application of science to the pursuit of global peace. It was what Pinchot had envisioned and what should have been a goal for last month’s conference in Copenhagen – and afterward.

Obama apparently agrees. His acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize echoed Pinchot’s assertion of the pressing need to build a just and lasting peace. Obama declared: “[As a result of climate change], we will face more drought, more famine, more mass displacement – all of which will fuel more conflict for decades. For this reason, it is not merely scientists and environmental activists who call for swift and forceful action – it’s military leaders in my own country and others who understand our common security hangs in the balance.”

Pinchot was well aware of the precarious balance that conservationists must maintain as they fight to preserve natural resources and the human communities that depend on them. And he would remind us that any resolutions that come from the Copenhagen meetings are but first steps toward a long-delayed discussion about our global responsibilities. As Pinchot wrote in 1940, “The conservation of natural resources and fair access to needed raw materials are steps toward the common good to which all nations must in principle agree.”

Let’s hope that the president and other Copenhagen delegates remain as steadfast in their commitment to meet the common threat that potential climate changes pose for us all.

The Search for Peace in the Arab-Israeli Conflict

Finding the way to peace in the Middle East continues to be one of the great challenges of international diplomacy. The Search for Peace in the Arab-Israeli Conflict is a comprehensive volume of all relevant documents on the Arab-Israeli conflict over the past century.

Amid a growing documentary literature on this topic, this book is unique for its holistic and multidimensional lens. It offers annotated peace agreements peace proposals and relevant Israeli, Palestinian, regional, and UN documents since the Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916. It also presents an account of key moments in the recent history of the Middle East peace process and includes a set of newly commissioned maps by the former chief cartographer at the United Nations.

The book demonstrates that many brave attempts have been made to bring peace to this troubled region. It will also serve as a useful record and reference tool for students, analysts, policymakers, and negotiators seeking to learn from and draw on the experiences of the past, in the hopes of finding a conclusive peace agreement that will close the book on the oldest and most complicated conflict in the Middle East.

The Search for Peace in the Arab-Israeli Conflict is a project of the International Peace Institute, published by Oxford University Press.

I. Peace Agreements and the Disengagement from Gaza
II. Peace Proposals and Ideas
III. UN Documents on the Question of Palestine
IV. Regional Documents
V. Israeli and Palestinian Domestic Documents

Doing History, Doing Peace? Contested History, the Work of Historians and the Search for Reconciliation in the Balkans

Date: Monday, February 23, 2009 / Time: 5:00am - 7:00am

How can contesting visions of the past, as well as efforts to instrumentalize history for nationalistic purposes, be addressed in the interests of socio-political reconciliation? What role can scholars play in this process, and what are the dangers and opportunities in bringing together historians from opposing sides of a conflict offer for those seeking to promote peace and dialogue?

Through the support of a grant from USIP, a group of Serbian and non-Serbian scholars from across Europe and North America came together in dialogue to examine key documentary evidence about the underlying causes and tragic course of the Yugoslav catastrophe.

The major goals of the project included forging permanent links among these scholars employing shared research methods to resolve key controversies that have erected barriers to mutual understanding and transmitting the work of the dialogue to the public sphere. One of the outcomes of this effort is the edited volume in English and Serbo-Croatian, Confronting the Yugoslav Controversies: A Scholars' Initiative, co-edited by Charles Ingrao and Thomas A. Emmert.

Charles Ingrao will discuss the challenges of the project and its outcomes. Dr. Watenpaugh will contrast the role of history and historians in reconciliation in the context of the Middle East, including Armenia-Turkey disputes over history. Dr. Cole will consider recent projects convening international historians in order to de-nationalize history and make it a tool for communication rather than hostility.

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Online Databases

Paid subscription databases on this website are available at NARA computers nationwide.

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  • ProQuest Research Library (articles)
  • ProQuest Historical New York Times
  • ProQuest Historical Washington Post
  • ProQuest History Vault
  • Archives Unbound
  • Biography and Genealogy Master Index (BGMI)
  • Declassified Documents Reference System
  • Over 106,000 bibliographic citations.
  • Strong collection in the following areas:
    • Archival administration.
    • American history and government.
    • Administrative history.
    • Biography.
    • Information management.
    • Government documents.

    U.S. Serial Set Digital Collection
    The U.S. Serial Set is a collection of U.S. Government publications compiled under directive of the Congress. It contains comprehensive and often detailed information on an extremely wide range of subjects. The U.S. Serial Set Digital Collection contains hundreds of thousands of documents and over 52,000 maps, ranging from 1789 to the present.
    Ancestry is a subscription service offering extensive resources for researching family history including databases containing billions of digitized historical documents, message boards, educational materials, and family trees contributed by individual researchers.

    Fold3 (Formerly
    Fold3 presents digitized historical documents that can be searched and browsed. The site covers a wide variety of topics, including Civil War records, Native American resources, newspapers, photographs and much more.


      ProQuest Research Library includes:
      • Citations, abstracts, and/or full text of over 1000 newspapers and journals, including:
        • Newspaper abstracts and/or full text from 1985-
          (including the full text New York Times for the most recent 90 days).
        • Full text of the Washington Post from 1877-2004.
        • Full text of the New York Times from 1851-2017.
        • Abstracts for over 1000 journals from 1986-.
        • Full text for over 700 journals from 1992-.
        • 36 collections of searchable, digital images of NARA records related to the American West, including:
          • American Indians and the U.S. Army: Department of New Mexico, 1853-1866.
          • Apache Campaign of 1886: Records of the U.S. Army Continental Commands, Department of Arizona.
          • Indian Removal to the West, 1832-1840: Files of the Office of the Commissary General of Subsistence.
          • Letters Received by the Attorney General, 1809-1870: Western Law and Order.
          • Major Council Meetings of American Indian Tribes.


            Archives Unbound presents topically-focused digital collections of historical documents that support the information needs of researchers and staff members. Collections include:
            • Afghanistan and the U.S., 1945-1963: Records of the U.S. State Department Central Classified Files.
              • This collection of U.S. State Department Central Classified Files relating to internal and foreign affairs contain a wide range of materials from U.S. diplomats, including special reports on political and military affairs, foreign policymaking, interviews and minutes of meetings, and much more.
              • Consists of State Department telegrams and White House backchannel messages between U.S. ambassadors in Saigon and White House national security advisers, talking points for meetings with South Vietnamese officials, intelligence reports, drafts of peace agreements, and military status reports.
              • These generals’ reports of service represent an attempt by the Adjutant General’s Office (AGO) to obtain more complete records of the service of the various Union generals serving in the Civil War. In 1864, the Adjutant General requested that each such general submit "…a succinct account of your military history…since March 4th, 1861."
              • The rosters, which are part of the Records of the War Relocation Authority, consist of alphabetical lists of evacuees resident at the relocation centers during the period of their existence. The lists typically provide the following information about the individual evacuees: name, family number, sex, date of birth, marital status, citizenship status, alien registration number, method of original entry into center (from an assembly center, other institution, Hawaii, another relocation center, birth, or other), date of entry, pre-evacuation address, center address, type of final departure (indefinite leave, internment, repatriation, segregation, relocation, or death), date of departure, and final destination.
              • Primarily Department of State cables and CIA intelligence information cables concerning South and North Vietnam. Topics include the Vietnam War, U.S.-South Vietnam relations, South Vietnam’s political climate, opposition groups, religious sects, ethnic groups, labor unions, corruption, press censorship, the North Vietnam’s military and economy, peace negotiations, and events in Cambodia and Laos.
              • There is essential and unique documentation on a wide variety of topics relating to Japanese internal affairs, including national preparedness, militarism, Sino-Japanese war and the home front, and much more.
              • This publication comprises two collections related to Holocaust Era Assets. The first includes Records Regarding Bank Investigations and Records Relating to Interrogations of Nazi Financiers, from the records of the Office of the Finance Division and Finance Advisor in the Office of Military Government, U.S. Zone(Germany) (OMGUS), during the period 1945-1949. The second comprises Records Regarding Intelligence and Financial Investigations, 1945-1949, from the Records of the Financial Intelligence Group, Office of the Finance Adviser. These collections consist of memorandums, letters, cables, balance sheets, reports, exhibits, newspaper clippings, and civil censorship intercepts.
              • This publication consists of documents of an administratively-sensitive nature, arranged according to subject from President Nixon’s Special Files collection, comprising the Confidential and Subject Files. These documents provide an in-depth look into the activities of the President, his closest advisors, and the administration.
              • This collection provides researchers with the opportunity to explore a unique period in China’s struggle toward a modern existence through the International Settlement in Shanghai.
              • The records in this collection relate to political relations between China and Japan for the period 1930-1939. The records are mostly instructions to and despatches from diplomatic and consular officials the despatches are often accompanied by enclosures.
              • This collection reproduces the six principal Military Intelligence Division (MID) files relating exclusively to China for the period 1918 to 1941 (general conditions, political conditions, economic conditions, army, navy, and aeronautics). Also includes documents created by other U.S. Government agencies and foreign governments from the records of the MID.
              • This collection contains materials related to the diplomatic and military response by the United States (as part of a multi-national force) to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait on August 2, 1990.
              • It was within the context of evidence collection that the War Crimes Branch received copies of documents known as "SAFEHAVEN Reports." In order to coordinate research and intelligence-sharing regarding SAFEHAVEN-related topics, the War Crimes Branch received SAFEHAVEN reports from various agencies of the U.S. Government, as well as SAFEHAVEN-related military attaché reports, regarding the clandestine transfer of German assets outside of Germany that could be used to rebuild the German war machine or the Nazi party after the war, as well as art looting and other acts that elicited the interest of Allied intelligence agencies during the war.
              • The U.S. State Department’s Office of Chinese Affairs, charged with operational control of American policy toward China, amassed information on virtually all aspects of life there immediately before, during, and after the revolution. Declassified by the State Department, the Records of the Office of Chinese Affairs, 1945-1955, provide valuable insight into numerous domestic issues in Communist and Nationalist China, U.S. containment policy as it was extended to Asia, and Sino-American relations during the post-war period.
              • This publication consists of studies, analyses, testimony, talking points and news clippings which detail the origins of the S&L crisis and outlined solutions to the growing crisis in the late 1980s and early 1990s. In essence, this publication provides an analysis of the causes and political perspectives on the Savings and Loan Crisis.
              • The Subject Files from the Office of the Director, U.S. Operations Missions, document the myriad concerns and rationales that went into the control and direction of U.S. economic and technical assistance programs, as well as the coordination of mutual security activities, with respect to Vietnam.
              • This collection consists of the letters received by and letters sent to the War Department, including correspondence from Indian superintendents and agents, factors of trading posts, Territorial and State governors, military commanders, Indians, missionaries, treaty and other commissioners, Treasury Department officials, and persons having commercial dealings with the War Department, and other public and private individuals.
              • This digital collection reviews U.S.-China relations in the post-Cold War Era, and analyzes the significance of the 1989 Tiananmen Square demonstrations, China’s human rights issues, and resumption of World Bank loans to China in July 1990.
              • This collection contains Bush Presidential Records from a variety of White House offices. These files consist of letters of correspondence, memoranda, coversheets, notes, distribution lists, newspaper articles, informational papers, published articles, and reports from the public, the Congress, Bush administration officials, and other various federal agencies primarily regarding American Middle East peace policy and the United States’ role in the many facets of the Middle East peace process.
              • This collection contains documents from Record Group 472, Records of the United States Forces in Southeast Asia, 1950-1975, Records of the Military Assistance Advisory Group Vietnam, 1950-1964, Adjutant General Division.
              • This collection identifies the key issues, individuals, and events in the history of U.S.-Southeast Asia relations between 1944 and 1958, and places them in the context of the complex and dynamic regional strategic, political, and economic processes that have fashioned the American role in Southeast Asia.
              • The program of technical cooperation in Iraq, prior to the Revolution of 1958, was frequently cited as an example of the ideal Point Four program. The overthrow of the established government led naturally to questions concerning the "failure" of American technical assistance in that country. This collection comprises, in its entirety, the Primary Source Media microfilm collection entitled Records of U.S. Foreign Assistance Agencies, 1948-1961: U.S. Operations Mission in Iraq, 1950-1958.
              • The Axis occupation of Greece during World War II began in April 1941 after the German and Italian invasion of Greece was carried out together with Bulgarian forces. The occupation lasted until the German withdrawal from the mainland in October 1944. This collection comprises, in their entirety, the Scholarly Resources microfilm collections entitled Records of the Department of State Relating to Internal Affairs, Greece, 1940-1944 and Records of the Department of State Relating to Internal Affairs, Greece, 1945-1949.
              • Comprehensive index to nearly 12 million biographical sketches in more than 2700 volumes.
              • Provides online access to over 500,000 pages of previously classified government documents covering major international events from the Cold War to the Vietnam War and beyond.

              America: History & Life
              This database offers access to:

              • Complete bibliographic reference to the history of the United States and Canada from prehistory to the present.
              • 490,000 bibliographic entries for periodicals dating back to 1954.
              • Over 2,000 journals published worldwide.
              • Produced by ABC-CLIO.
              • Also includes access to ebooks history collection of thousands of titles on all aspects of US and world history.
              • Click on subscription access link to browse the database.

              Digital National Security Archive
              The Digital National Security Archive contains 38 collections consisting of over 94,000 declassified government documents totaling more than 650,000 total pages.

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