What is peace? How can it be achieved? Human beings have been struggling with these questions ever since they walked out of Eden. Over the millennia, many solutions have been tried, and even more proposed. One of the latest is to establish a U.S. Department of Peace and Nonviolence, as a cabinet level department ofthe US government, which would seek to resolve conflict and promote human rights both at home and abroad.
Legislation to establish the Department of Peace (DOP) is currently before congress as HR 808. The goals of this bill are very wide ranging. The Department of Peace would cover both domestic issues, such as domestic violence and hate crimes and international issues such as treaty negotiations, and nuclear disarmament, as well as promoting human rights and sustainable development both domestically and internationally.
How would this organization accomplish such broad goals, and what resources would it have on hand to do so? The amount of funding stipulated in H.R. 808 is at least 2% of the annual budget of the Department of Defense. (The DOD's budget was $419.3 billion in 2006, which would have provided the DOP with at least $8.39 billion.)
What programs would the DOP fund with this $8.39 billion? First of all, some existing agencies, including the Peace Corps and the Gang Resistance Education and Training Program (currently operated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) would be transferred to DOP control.
Even more ambitious than such interdepartmental shuffling are plans for a United States Academy of Peace, modeled after U.S. military academies. The Peace Academy would offer a Baccalaureate in Peace Education. Graduates would then be required to dedicate 5 years of public service in either international or domestic nonviolent conflict resolution. Grants would also be provided to establish Peace Studies departments in American universities and colleges.
Universities and colleges would not be the only educational beneficiaries of DOP largess. Educational curriculums for elementary and secondary schools would also be provided. These programs would include studies of both the US and international Civil Rights movements, and studies of peace agreements and examples of how and where peaceful means have successfully resolved conflicts.
Such ambitious goals could not be successfully reached by the DOP alone. DOP employees would thus work with other governmental departments, such as the Department of Education, the Department of Defense, and the State Department to accomplish its mission. Cooperation with non governmental organizations (NGOs), and the UN would also be vital.
Such cooperation would be on the local level as well. For example, ideas and initiatives from religious groups and local communities would be encouraged and successful community programs (e.g. domestic violence counseling, school violence prevention) would be funded and nationally publicized. Among other initiatives, ethnic, religious and racial tolerance would be promoted and police-community disputes would be mediated.
The potential effects of the DOP are thus broad and deep on both local and national levels. Great care and caution should therefore be taken in its implementation. Otherwise, it could become one of many post-Eden failed solutions, or even (a la George Orwell)the opposite of what would purport to be. Whether or not the DOP is established,it is ultimately up to us as individuals to find and make peace for ourselves, our communities, and eventually our world. No government can do that for us.
Kucinich, D. , Abercrombie, Andrews, Baldwin, Brown, C., Carson, Clay et al. (February 5, 2007). HR 808: To establish a Department of Peace & Nonviolence. Retrieved April 11, 2007 from
Office of Management & Budget. (2006). Department of Defense. Retrieved April 13, 2007 from