Environment and peace were united in 1972


The demonstration at Sergels Torg outside the premises of the Conference, against the environmental murder of Vietnam, the first mass demo at a global summit. Photo Björn Gustafsson

There is something to learn from past experiences as we now face significant global threats. Not least how this awareness was brought about by a popular commitment. When we now celebrate the World Environment Day, June 5, in memory of the opening of the first day of the UN Conference on the Environment in Stockholm in 1972, there is reason to see what lessons we can draw from history.

A population movement for survival emerged in the 1940s and 1950s. That was when the consciousness arose that the nuclear bomb posed a global threat to humanity. A type of threat of total annihilation that mankind has not previously known. Soon enough, the World Federalist Movement could hand over a shovel to the Palace Guard in Stockholm in 1957 and the chairman of the Swedish Peace and Arbitration Association Per-Anders Fogelström talked about the same thing. Redirect the defense budget to support amending hunger and poverty in the world.

In 1972, in conjunction with the first UN conference on the environment in Stockholm, the realization arose that peace and the environment are connected. The concept ”environmental murder” came into use. Olof Palme used it at the conference to the great anger of the United States. Outside at Sergel’s Square, 7000 demonstrated against the poisonng of Vietnam’s forests with Agent Orange. The damage was widespread in this war against nature; to ensure that no one could hide from US helicopters and aircraft the forests of 15 percent of the land area were decomposed. The United States didn’t care about genetic damage to the women when the land was environmentally murdered to win the war. The children born by the mothers who were sprayed are filling the hospitals in Vietnam to this day.


Streets and squares were frequently used by the peace and environmental movements during the conference, as in this case with a poster against the environmental murder of Vietnam. Photo Björn Gustafsson

The popular movements’ demonstrations and alternative forums became a turning point for the environmental movement. So far, the environmental movement had accepted the framework set by the current development model. It din’t want or dare to imagine changing social power relations in society. Instead, it preferred to talk about choosing the right technology and everything would be fine. Therefore, organizations such as the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation and its youth organization the Field Biologists supported nuclear power. How else could you save the last rivers from being exploited? Another view was found only in small marginal groups such as the Working Group on Nuclear Power and the Health Promotion Movement.

The alternative activities surrounding the UN Conference changed this. The driving force behind these was the Powwow group, which took its name from the Indians’ concept of meeting where the peace pipe goes around. This small group of 12 people took the initiative one year in advance to spread leaflets, call for local actions internationally, information meetings and the cooperation organization Folkets Forum, or People’s Forum. In response, the Environmental Forum arose from the initiative of Anglo-American strategists in the secretariat of the UN Conference. It was governed by the Swedish Youth Council and the Swedish UN Association with its chairman Ingrid Segerstedt-Wiberg in the leadership of the entire forum.

The Anglo-American environmental movement with its close ties to the state, large corporations and a de-politicized hippie culture, where drugs replaced social criticism, came to suffer major defeat. So far, it had dominated the international debate. The issue of population growth was said to be the big problem. In the book Population Explosion, Paul Ehrlich pleaded for forced sterilization of men in Third World countries such as India. In a book from the US-initiated international Friends of the Earth before the conference, commons were seen as the major threat to the environment. A widespread view originally from the eco-fascist Garret Harding through the concept “the tragedy of the commons”. The solutions to the environmental issue consisted of population control at least of poor, better morals of the individual and that private ownership advanced at the expense of the commons.

An alliance between Swedish popular movements of all kinds and peoples of the Third World, as well as individual US peace and environmental activists such as Barry Commoner, thwarted the Anglo-American mix of large corporate private profit interests and the concept of too many poor people as causes of environmental degradation. The international contact network of the Young Theosophists was used to invite many environmental activists from the Third World with the help of Ingrid Segerstedt-Wiberg. The Director General of the Swedish Statistics Office demonstrated that rich people’s consumption did more harm to the environment than poor peoples’ numbers, and furthermore that forced sterilization was less efficient than contraceptives to bring numbers down. The Powwow group’s initiative, which criticized the entire UN conference for being a smokescreen in service to those in power, made its mark. The United FNL Groups ensured that there were thousands on the streets and squares willing to protest against the US environmental killings. The dominant position that the pro-capitalist and sometimes eco-fascist ideas conveyed by the Anglo-American environmental movement never again gained the central dominance they had before the UN Conference.

A more unified alternative to the Anglo-American environmental ideology was delayed for some time. But it was in its infancy. In 1973, the Stockholm environmental group Alternative City published the booklet Low Energy Society – but how? Here, the view was presented that both nuclear power and the climate must be saved, which can only be done by changing the power relations so that we get a society in need of less energy. An approach far more radical than most that is brought forth today by the climate movement in Sweden, but prominent in the Friends of the Earth International and global campaigns that demand climate justice. Unlike the environmental movement in 1972, many people nowadays seem to have the illusions that UN conferences will be the starting point for everyone if we are to solve the global social and ecological crisis. To many nowadays, the message is that if we only trust cooperation between business, the state and what is now called civil society, then win-win solutions will save us. Sometimes with civil disobedience on individual issues such as pressure and dissemination of local alternatives.

What became a more immediate effect of the alternative activities in 1972 was that the fight against nuclear power became central in both Sweden and internationally. To this, not least, Ingrid Segerstedt Wiberg, chair of the International Women’s Association for Peace and Freedom, encouraged the environmental movement to realize that peaceful nuclear power was a myth.

But even the Friends of the Earth in the United States had begun to take nuclear power seriously, which now came into its own when the dominant Anglo-American environmental ideology was challenged by Swedish peoples movements and third-world environmentalists. From the Powwow group grew a study circle with Annika Bryn as a driving force who in 1973 published the booklet Alternatives to nuclear power which influenced parliamentarans. In the Riksdag, Center Party member Birgitta Hambraeus had a central role in getting Sweden as the first country in the world to introduce a unanimous moratorium for continued nuclear expansion in new locations, which caught the haughty nuclear industry napping. In the Environmental Protection Group’s National Association, the Liberal Anita Lövgren from the Tyresö Environmental Conservation Association pushed a broad interest in the country’s many environmental groups for the nuclear issue.

1972 thus showed that the peace and environmental movement need each other. What happened also showed that power must be challenged and the question of how the whole of society is organized must be centered. That still applies.

Tord Björk,
once active in the Powwow group as a teenager and today an activist in the Friends of the Earth, Activists for Peace and the People and Peace Network.

The implosion of walls between movements in reaction to COVID19


All main international people’s movement respond with a comprehensive program on the COVID19 crisis including the Pope. The exception is the main trade union organizations but here Trade Union for Energy Democracy has instead addressed a wide range of issues by organizing a global webinar on COVID19. Main international organizations in women’s, small farmer’s, environmental, peace and antiimperialist movements all sees the need of addressing the current crisis in a broad way largely overlapping each others main areas of interest. A new situation have emerged making far more radical people’s movement cooperation across many issues possible. The analysis puts emphasis on class conscious strategies. It shows that the weakest link are the trade unions. La Via Campesina and its call for class alliances between people in rural and urban areas is emphasised as a way forward. The fastest way to strengthen global movement cooperation is to bring closer together the middle class based environmental and peace movements. This would be a more attractive cooperation partner to most trade unions. This would also weaken geopolitical polarizations and make socio-ecological dimensions more central which helps international solidarity and the kind of class alliances asked for by La Via Campesina.

People's movements COVID statements overview

Long time coming

It has been long time coming. With the COVID19 pandemic the main international people’s movements came out of the closet. Each one delivering their answer not only on how to solve the coronacrisis but also the general crisis which the present pandemic has made more explicit.

The interesting thing is that with one exception this implosion of walls do not take place by cooperating across the main movements althoug such cooperation have in many ways preceeded the current situation. It takes place by the fact that each movement to a very large degree also address the concerns of other movements. Thus a foundation is built on which further cooperation can be built on the strength on each movement and not a least common denominator,

This development made explicit by the internationalistic answers to the coronacrisis is presented by Activists for Peace, a Swedish peace organization which is a member of the social forum network Prague Spring 2 (PS2) and the Swedish network Folk och Fred (People and Peace). Statements from main international women’s, small farmers, trade unions, environmental, antiimperialist and peace movement as well as from the Pope have been compared to each other to make it possible to assess what is going on.

The collection of statements was done in the process of organizing the webinar ”Internationalistic answers to the corona crisis” 26th of April 2020. It was initiated by PS2 and organized together with the anti racist network UNITED, Youth Environment Europe (YEE), International Youth Naturefriends (IYFN), Transform Europe and SpED, Czechia, SZAB, Hungary and Activists for peace, Sweden.

The study is made to enable an exchange of experience among movements. Thus it has no ambition to be part of any academic or professional research tradition as the need for movements to get inspiration and learn from each other is here and now. The time for a more systematic study can come further on. The categories used to frame what issues are addressed by different movements can at times be arbitrary or questioned in other ways. Sometimes the problem with the category might be that its essential quality is to cross common categories like militarization which might both be an issue concerning foreign policy but also growing domestic authoritarian tendencies. Quite a few of the categories can be questioned including why some issues becomes very detailed and others broadly defined. But the idea is here rather to make people to go to the source and read more precisely what different organizations says rather then providing an unquestionable taxonomy.

All movements are represented by their main stream organization or maybe one should say man organization. One could say that farmers have stronger organizations than the small farmer organization La Via Campesina International (LVCI). But LVCI have a far larger membership with some 200 million members and a presence in all corners of the world with a similar political program which makes it a key factor for rural communities. International Peace Bureau (IPB) is by far the most established peace organization with its 128 years since it started. Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) has not produced a statement but published more articles on the coronacrisis than any other international people’s movement included in this study and the links to their articles are enclosed. War Resister’s International is also included as they have made a statement on COVID19 and represents a more radical part of the peace movement since the 1920s.

From the environmental movement two organization stands out. One is Friends of the Earth international. This is the biggest democratic international environmental organization with some 2 million members in total in 77 countries. There are other environmental organization with more resources like WWF and Greenpeace but they have no democratic membership base and is of less interest when we discuss how peoples movements react to the coronacrisis. Interesting is also 350.org which is the maybe globally most influential among the signatories to the Demand Climate Justice statement. How this organization is democratically controlled by a membership it is hard to find out. But 350.org has been able to organize already in 2009 local actions in 6000 places on all continents and is still a main organizer of international climate actions. Fridays for Future (FFF) is not included in this study as they have not responded to the COVID19 crisis and is a broad alliance based on a small common ground. But it should be pointed out that FFF is not a single issue movement as it address often with equal importance the protection of biological diversity and oppose art extinction thus challenging fundamentally the focus only on emission and industry so often dominating earlier climate campaigning. Extinction Rebellion also address art extinction in a similar vein while some of their groups have joined the Demand Climate Justice statement.

Global feminism is organized in several ways. World March of Women (WMW) stands out as being mass action oriented and firmly based among populations belonging to the global majority. This feminist movement cooperates closely with other peoples movements as La Via Campesina and anti transnational corporations campaigns. One can compare WMW established in 1998 with Women’s March Global (WMG) established in 2017. While WMW has its constitution and bylaws easily accessible under the Who we are in the menu such democratic clarity is hard to find on new Women’s March Global webpage. This webpage is well designed and local chapters are presented, 2/3 from the North and the rest from the South while proportions for national chapters of WMW is the opposite. The lack of democratic clarity is common among international networks based in the US or UK. Interesting is how this kind of network reacts on the corona crisis which is so far with silence. Thus although these kind of networks are resourceful they seem to respond later if at all when a severe global crisis appears and effects their own area of work.

The exception among the movements is the trade unions. The dominant International trade Union Confederation (ITUC) with some 180 million members has only produced a very narrow statement on the coronacrisis addressing only social rights in sharp contrast to all other movements. The 75 year old World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) has only presented a video with a message from its general secretary equally narrow in its scope addressing the important issue for workers of raised cost for necessities when speculators double or tenfold prices. The same broad approach held by all other movements was instead present at an international webinar on the corona crisis organized by Trade Unions for Energy Democracy (TUED).

Trade Unions, Via Campesina, solidarity movements as well as political parties are members of the International People´s Assembly (IPA) with continental and subcontinental chapters world wide. This cooperation between mass movements especially i Latin America, Africa, Arab countries, South Asia and Southeastern Asia with a European secretariat and network as well can be seen as the newest and in some aspects most well organized multi issue international people’s movement cooperation in the current crisis. It is an anticapitalist and antiimperialist network responding quickly on the coronacrisis by exchanging evaluation of the situation and what to say between the continents. The influence of IPA can also be seen in the so far most spread common statement by several main movements that so far has received almost 500 signatories from organizations world wide: In Light of the Global Pandemic, Focus Attention on the People.

Pope Francis Easter message: our brothers and sisters of popular movements and organizations has also been included. It represents one of the important convergences between movements and religious institutions and is as all above examples a process that has developed in a more comprehensive directions already before the COVID19 outbreak. The language of the Pope is different from the organizations but covers the same subjects. Furthermore it address the strategy forward in a manner were people in common are at the center and both market and state solutions are seen as insufficient which makes this statement important for the future.


Size does not matter

Some conclusion can be made. One is the size does not matter with the exception of the longest of the statements. It is true that two out of the four short circa 1 page statements are more single issue than comprehensive. Both ITUC and WRI have a narrow answer on the corona crisis in the two documents included in the study. But WMW and the Pope have in the same space been able to address as many wide issues as movement statements twice as long. The exception is the statements made by the Global Campaign Demand Climate Justice (DCJ) that thanks to its length address more issues than the other statements.


What areas are included?

Three areas of interest were fairly easy to distinguish between, one being social and economical, here seen as belong to the same group of issues, ecological issues and peace. More problematic was democracy issues. Such issues including the closely related issue of militarization in general of society including domestic conflicts were put together. Finally issues concerning existential question and how to act were added as two issues of interest in themselves.

What becomes clear is that all the movements address social and economic issues and all with the exception of ITUC also calls for a change of the economic system. As one could imagine it is health care the receives the most intense interest while actually social rights more in general is almost given the same importance. Interestingly demands for a change of the economic system in different ways receives great importance from all but ITUC and WRI that do not comment on the subject.

When it comes to environmental issues the attention is more varied. Food sovereignty and similar issues receives more interest than any other issues besides the social and economical field. The cause of the COVID19 pandemic receives surprisingly little interest. The only concerned is the climate justice movement and environmentalists. Climate just a short time ago a main priority for many organizations have drastically fallen behind among other than environmental movements with the exception of IPA.

Peace movement issues have a slightly different pattern. In total the interest is similar but differently distributed. While stopping wars is explicitly mentioned by the peace organizations, WMW, and vaguely by LVCI end armament is mentioned of course by the peace organizations and this time also by IPA and the joint statement by 479 organizations. The biggest difference in the pattern compared to environmental issues is that one of the aspects peace movement issues has not been included by any of the peace organizations. Instead opposing economic sanctions is brought forward by IPA and cooperation partners as well as WMW.

The issues of democracy and militarization causes both concern among WMW, LVCI and environmental organizations while the peace organizations only bring up militarization and the pope only address the need to support those that stands up for their rights. That ITUC and IPA including cooperation partners does not explicitly address none of these issues can rather be seen as that was is self evident that theses organization support must not be mentioned. Now such an argument could be used for making an excuse also for other missing issues but it can be an argument that ig is more telling in the other cases than this.

Finally existential issues and action methods are added. Not because they belong much to the same category or that one can say much about why an organization have mentioned them or not except for the Catholic Church. They are included anyway as a reminder that faced with a pandemic everything is not only politics and the other side of the coin, politics has also to be practised.


Unique qualities

There are some interesting unique qualities when looking at the more detailed account including what actors the organizations focused upon. That several organizations are unique in their area of special interest is not surprising. Standing out are the environmental organizations that together are alone on 6 issues out whom FOEI has unique interest in forestry and energy. When it comes to peace issues it is not the peace organizations that alone address some issues but IPA as they mentions to put an end to foreign military bases. In social and economic issues there is no unique interest, all issues are addressed by at least two organizations.

When it comes to actors the interest is more diverse. The two receiving most attention is small farmers addressed both by IPA et al, LVCI, DCJ, FOEI and the Pope and TNCs opposed by WMW, LVCI, DCJ, and FOEI while seen as a cooperation partner by ITUC. Indigenous people only receive attention from the environmental organizations. The two receiving unique interest is those in rehabilitation centers included by the Pope and prisoners included by the climate justice movement.


The way forward

When looking at the way the different movement address the corona crisis and frame it in a wider context there is one thing that become especially clear. The greatest potential lies in a mutual learning process between the environmental and peace movement. The environmental organizations interest in the three main peace issues stop war, armament and end sanctions is as blank as the peace organizations interest in their statements concerning stopping environmental destruction causing pandemics, climate change or food sovereignty. And yet we know that these movement are grown out of the same interest and have much in common. Now we also know that the interest for climate change is strong in the peace movement and the interest for stopping armament in the environmental movement. But further strengthening of understanding of common interests will strengthen not only both movements but also in general people movement cooperation to address the crisis at its roots. The peace movement have largely been marginalized as a result of growing competition for natural resources were us democracies in demand for oil and cheap food are in conflict with them, the dictators and terrorist. The peace movement has been portrayed as working in the interest unwillingly or willingly of the other side of geopolitical cleavages. The environmental movement on the other side has been embraced as few other movements at the risk of loosing its role as a threat capable of causing substantial change.

Seen from a class perspective the kind of classes that are the main members of environmental and peace organizations are at least in the North what is often called middle classes. They have as been seen in history a capability of mobilizing far wider in society beyond their class limits. Only when in a local community or at national and sometimes even transnational level a larger part of the working classes is involved can there be lasting victories. The working classes in agriculture and forestry in rural areas are especially important for environmental struggles. But workers in industrial economy as well as services and many time the unseen mostly female work behind the scenes to sustain a protest outside workplaces are of equal importance in the struggle against environmental destruction and war. Social struggles can often be carried out successfully when the class in question mobilize itself and receives solidarity from others seeing that it is in their own interest to do so. But quite a few environmental and peace issues get their strength through building of class alliances. Here environmental and peace organization can contribute uniquely to the family of peoples movement by coming more together on a common platform including ending of sanctions which in the time of COVID19 pandemic is of crucial importance.

Concerning social issues there are already a broad common ground and when it comes to democracy, authoritarian rule and militarization such a common ground seems also be fairly easy to achieve. When ot comes to practical ways of doing politics all the movements that made the statements hare well experienced and with further exchange of ideas and testing new ways of achieving mass participation this issue can also be fruitfully addressed. When it comes to existential issues it might be a more private matter. But it is becoming a wider recognition in all movements that it is not enough to resist and construct alternatives but it is also needed to celebrate. In Latin America the movements calls it Mistica, in other parts of the world similar cultural celebrations of what we are and do together by singing, dancing, reading poetry, making posters or street theater and the like is also an issue were we can learn more from each other.

Standing out as a problem are the trade unions or at least ITUC. But also here there might be new ways forward. In its description of the webinar organized by TUED on union responses to the COVID19 crisis with some 70 unions in 25 countries participating. This webinar addressed far wider issues than ITUC in its statement to G20 leaders. Among the issues were attacks on worker rights and health and safety including indirect effects of the pandemic due to the massive disruption to lives and livelihoods, and the threat of food insecurity. These disruptures are pointed out as being ”themselves a result of decades of austerity and increased privatization under neoliberalism, and the severe depletion of public health systems, other public services, and worker rights and protections.” How to advance international solidarity and pro-public solutions to the immediate challenges, was addressed together with solutions to the enduring ecological crisis. As TUED is an important part of the climate movement there are a growing core of organizations in all movements seeing the need to address the current crisis as a whole together with all other democratic peoples movements.

The probably fastest way to strengthen global movement cooperation is to bring closer together the middle class based environmental and peace movements on a class concious basis understanding the need of broader class alliances including indigenous people. This would be a more attractive cooperation partner to most trade unions. This would also weaken geopolitical polarizations and make socio-ecological dimensions more central. It would also strengthen rural workers and small farmers with their strong links to the environmental movement as an important part of the trade union family. The call made by La Via Campesina for class alliances between people in rural and urban areas is in the interest of many. A strengthening of ties between those working in agriculture, forestry, and fishery and those working in industry and services would also strengthening the urban trade unions.

This coming together will make it clear if an organization is more interested in maintaining the walls between different issues an be a junior partner to large well funded less democratic organization and the whims of media or been looked upon with contempt by those in power in spite of being a main organization within its filed of work as the issues the organization address at the moment is not seen as popular.

Organizations lacking a democratic membership base and mostly working with a single issue tactic can be good cooperation partners with democratic movements. An organization as Greenpeace built more like a company rather than association can do unique action were there is not local population like in the Antarctica. Avaaz can be a tool for making more and more single issue online petitions claiming to have more the 50 million members although those members are not having a democratic say in the way the political and economical decisions are made by this type of organization. These kind of organizations can get some attention and make some kind of political actions needed leaving room for peoples movements addressing all levels from the individual or family level to the local community, national and international level while also cooperating with other movements acting together.

The example with WMW and WMG* can be instructive. While WMW address the COVID19 crisis as wide as any other peoples movement the US based secretariat of the WMG has so far not been able to do so. WMG have taken part in main NGO campaigns as divest away from fossil fuels and on world peace day standing up together for peace against the forces of hate and exclusion. Other campaigns have called for an end of family separation, violence against women and slavery, the right to abortion, water rights, and stand with Kashmir. The present campaign address bodily autonomy and Free Saudi activists. In several movements we see this kind of often US or UK led NGOs doing important work but at times lacking coherence in the message so the movement can go forward. In the case of WMG it is not other mass movement which are main cooperation partner but WILPF and support comes from funds as Civicus. That these type of NGOs sometimes can have a very negative impact is the way Human Rights Watch have insistently called for more sanctions on Venezuela and supported the right wing military coup in Bolivia.** It has provided thin humanitarian justification for the war against Libya with devastating consequences. Such organizations often display clear double standards when it comes to which human rights to take into account and which one to ignore. With growing cooperation between international democratic movements the room for such biased way of handpicking which issues should be addressed and which should be not in the interest of donors rather than the democratic membership base will have less influence.


Ideological differences

There are of course clear ideological differences, mostly between ITUC and the rest. Pope Francis uses very different words than all the rest but there is no mistake to be made that he claims thatthe present economic system must change, only he calls it a cult of Mammon or in his more modern words ”the idolatry of money” rather than capitalism and sees people in common as the main agent of change, not representatives of organizations. Only ITUC sees corporations as mainly cooperation partners.

WMW and IPA are both explicitly anticapitalists IPA also antiimperialists. LVCI have a more outspoken class consciousness than any other movement in its statement. They say ”construct solidarity and class alliances, between rural and urban areas” while avoiding the concept capitalism and imperialism which they have used at other occasions. The signatories of the very radical common statement by organization initiated by IPA and signed by LVCI and in total 479 others is also avoiding the concepts capitalism and imperialism while in practice having formulated the probably most specific anticapitalist demands of all statements.

”International cooperation and not confrontation” is the way WRI use to describe its pacifist ideology. IPB talks in similar vein about a culture of peace: ”A peaceful path means that we need a global strategy, a global social contract, and global cooperation to ensure planet-wide support for people.” an ideology that can be interpreted in contrary direction as a way to seek win win solutions with corporations or as opposing such cooperation when corporations promote war. IPB also talks about opposing ”a world driven by financialization, shareholder value, and austerity” which ”has weakened our ability to defend the common good and placed human life in danger on a global scale. They also in a short and effective way combine all main subjects by calling for ”to dramatically reduce military spending in favor of healthcare and all social and environmental needs.”

The DCJ statement is also radical but avoids also words as imperialism and capitalism in general. Instead terms as the dominant economic system is used and years of neoliberalism is seen as a decisive factor behind the crisis both for health and other social issues as well as ecological problems. At one point the concept capitalism is used but in a limited sense: ”The powerful are taking advantage of the crisis to advance disaster capitalism and a new authoritarianism, handing themselves expanding police and military powers, and rushing through extractive projects.”

The FOEI statement use similar concepts as structures of social inequalities or current political-economical system Neoliberal doctrine, privatization, dismantling of worker’s rights and flexibilisation of the work market while increased exploitation of women’s work are accused of causing much of the problems. But also explicitly capitalism: ”The pandemic is unveiling and aggravating the brutal inequalities of capitalism between and within countries”. It also includes the maybe most elaborated ideological explanation of the corona crisis in all of the movements statements: ”COVID-19 is exposing the magnitude of the care crisis in our societies: a crisis that has developed over centuries through the failure of the patriarchal, racist, capitalist system to care for peoples, nature and territories, and its reliance on the work and bodies of women to make up for and fix the damage caused by the capitalist neocolonialist system of exploitation.”

There is also a difference regarding who is primarily addressed. LVCI and the environmental oppose transnational corporations while IPA primarily is state-centric highly critical against imperialist countries in the West. ITUC as we know by now wants cooperation with both states and corporations while the peace movement wants cooperation instead of conflict and is opposing the weapon industry. IPB add opposition to the general purpose of corporations and embrace a new version of the old demands from Tsar Russia, peace, welfare, and environment instead of peace, bread, and land from 1917 while also talking about cultural values thus going beyond political and economic demands putting pressure on corporations or the state.

The message coming from the Pope have probably the clearest view on who to address. He says technocratic paradigms (whether state-centred or market-driven) are not enough to address this crisis. Now more than ever, persons, communities and peoples must be put at the centre, united to heal, to care and to share.Here it is not primarily the state or corporations and the market who are the main actors. As he says in the last paragraph, ”Stand firm in your struggle and care for each other as brothers and sisters.


The languages used

Another question of interest is what languages are used. WMW has more or less all material in both English, French and Spanish as well as LVCI and FOEI use the same languages as WMW in most or all documents and the DCJ statement use these languages as well. ITUC statement is only in English. WFTU video is French with both English subtitles. WRI use English and Spanish. Standing out are the call by 479 organizations translated into English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, and a language with letters unknown to undersigned. Pope Francis message to peoples movements is translated into German, English, Spanish, French, Italian and Portuguese, IPB statements translated into English, Spanish, French, German, Swedish, Finnish, Catalan, Korean, and Japanese and finally IPA statement translated into English, Spanish, Arabic, Portuguese, French, Turkish, Catalan, German, Greek, Norwegian, and Italian. If all the main movements come together more there is an opportunity for a far wider use of language than normally at least for main documents and campaigns.


A window of opportunity is open

This coming together of international peoples movements is a window of opportunity. We know that there are many powerful actors out there willing and able to do the utmost to divide and rule. This time we should not let that happen. The family of peoples movements have thousands of year of experience behind us. If we need to move fast, we can move fast. If we need to move slow to get everyone on board, we can move slowly. As long as we keep together we can make miracles. Our opponents trying to split us apart find themselves in the predicament that when they hunt their enemy down they find themselves when in the mirror. Objectively we are weak but they are weaker if we stick together.

Tord Björk
Kristianstad 2nd of May 2020

Peoples movement COVI19 statements_Sida_1

Peoples movement COVI19 statements_Sida_2


Statements and articles published by main international peoples movements on COVID 19

General movements

IPA – International Peoples Assembly together with 479 organizations in total
In Light of the Global Pandemic, Focus Attention on the People

English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, and a language with letters unknown to undersigned. With 479 endorsements from 70 countries on all continents

IPA: In time of Pandemic, lets turn the week of Anti-ipermailist struggle into a mobilization for the defense of dignified life
English, Spanish, Arabic, Portuguese, French, Turkish, Catalan, German, Greek, Norwegian, and Italian.

Womens Movement

World March of Women

The conflict is between capital and life. We defend life!

Farmers/peasant movements

LVCI – La Via Campesina

#StayHomeButNotSilent – In times of pandemic, peasants are united to feed the people!

COVID-19: Several members of La Via Campesina highlight the vulnerability of peasants and workers: https://viacampesina.org/en/covid-19-several-members-of-la-via-campesina-highlight-the-vulnerability-of-peasants-and-workers/
Migrant farm workers US, Confederation Paysanne, France, Union of Agricultural Work Committee (UAWC), Palestine, Serikat Petani Indonesia, Associazione Rurale Italiana (ARI), Italy, National Farmers Union, Canada, Landworkers’ Alliance, UK, Eco Ruralis, Romania, National Agrarian Confederation (CNA), Peru, MST, Brazil, National Indigenous Peasant Movement (MNC), Argentina, El Frente Nacional Campesino Ezequiel Zamora (FNCEZ), Venezuela, ANAP, Cuba,  Uniterre, Switzerland, FUGEA, Belgium, La Va Campesina South Asia.

Trade Unions

ITUC – International Trade Union Confederation

G20 COVID: Trade Unions Call for Coordinated Action for Public Health, Jobs and Incomes


ETUC – European Trade Union Confederation
ETUC Declaration on the COVID-19 Outbreak

Statement of the European Social Partners ETUC, BusinessEurope, CEEP, SMEUnited on the COVID-19 emergency

WFTU – Wold federation of Trade Unions
Statement of WFTU General Secretary on the Coronavirus Pandemic

TUED – Trade Unions for Energy Democracy: Videorecording of the TUED Global Forum on Union Responses to the COVID-19 Crisis

Environmental movements

DCJ – Global Campaign to Demand Climate Justice: A New Normal

FOEI – Friends of the Earth International
COVID-19 crisis is a wake up call for system change

COVID-19 measures must ensure Human Rights and build the resilient, sustainable food system we desperately need

Peace Movements

IPB – International Peace Bureau
PETITION: Invest in Healthcare Instead of Militarization
Download the statement in English, Spanish, French, German, Swedish, Finnish, Catalan, Korean, and Japanese.
IPB Statement: Call to the G20 to Invest in Healthcare Instead of Militarization
Download the statement in English, Spanish, French, German, Swedish, Finnish, Catalan, Korean and Japanese.

Health Care Instead of Military Exercises

International network “No to war – no to NATO”


WILPF – Womens International League for Peace and Freedom
COVID-19: Exposing the Fault Lines

What has COVID-19 Taught Us about Neoliberalism?
Qué nos ha enseñado el neoliberalismo?

COVID-19: Militarise or Organise?
Μιλιταρισμός ή Οργάνωση

COVID-19: Militarise or Organise?

“Waging War” Against a Virus is NOT What We Need to Be Doing

COVID-19: We are Not Soldiers

COVID-19: We are Not Soldiers

COVID-19: From Ceasefire to Divestment and Disarmament

Turning Swords into Ventilators? Or is it Ventilators into Swords?

Coronavirus Capitalism versus Persistent Activism

The Risks of Relying on Technology to “Save Us” from the Coronavirus

COVID-19: The United Nations Security Council is Doing What Exactly?

WILPF Sections Mobilising to Prevent Pandemic in Africa

COVID-19: A Sustainable Ceasefire Means No More “Business as Usual”

COVID-19: A Sustainable Ceasefire Means No More “Business as Usual”

WRI – War Resisters International
WRI Executive Committee statement on the Covid-19 Crisis

TFF – The Transnational Foundation for Peace & Future Research
TFF The Corona – An opportunity to replace militarist security with common and human security. Part 1, 2 and 3

World BEYOND War
COVID-19 and the Wasting Disease of Normalcy

Pandemics, Social Conflict And Armed Conflict: How Does COVID-19 Affect Vulnerable Populations?

Letter of Pope Francis: To our brothers and sisters of popular movements and organizations
German, English, Spanish, French, Italian and Portuguese

* link to Women’s March Global to compare with WMW
** Criticism of Human Rights Watch


End the sickness of war – NOW!

Who should we be listening to? While Nato’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg based on a fictional enemy, is pleading for continued increased founding for military and militarisation another General Secretary speaks of the importance to put disagreements aside so we all side by side can fight against a real threat to humanity – the corona virus.


On March, 23 United Nation’s Secretary General António Guterres held a speech where he asked for an immediate global cease fire in all corners of the world to give everyone a real chance to fight the corona virus.

He talked about the reality where the virus hit us all. It does not care neither about ethnicity or nationality nor faction or faith; “The fury of the virus illustrates the folly of war.”

Around the world we see a severely cut healthcare system that is trying to deal with more and more people getting ill with COVID-19. Beds, equipment and personnel are missing to treat everyone. In this chaos, Guterres reminds us of something we must never forget; In war ravaged countries have the whole health systems collapsed and health professionals, already few in number, have often been targeted.

Recently, we have also started to hear warnings about what will happen when the corona virus takes an iron grip on overcrowded refugee camps around the world. Guterres states that refugees and others displaced by violent conflict are doubly vulnerable. He calls to;

End the sickness of war… Pull back from hostilities. Put aside mistrust and animosity. Silence the guns; stop the artillery: end the airstrikes. This is crucial… To help create corridors for life saving aid. To open precious windows of diplomacy. To bring hope to places among the most vulnerable to COVID-19.”

We would like to add that also all preparations for war must be stopped immediately and we must start investing in the future of humanity..

We say

  • Stop Defender 20, Aurora 20 and other large scale military exercises in Europe and elsewhere
  • End rearmament and invest in peace, welfare, health and the environment

Activists for peace will every day choose the solidarity that the UN Secretary General raises by calling for an immediate global cease fire; “That is what our human family needs, now more than ever”.

If you agree, sign our call.

Antonio Guterres whole speech follows:

Our world faces a common enemy: COVID-19.

The virus does not care about nationality or ethnicity, faction or faith. It attacks all, relentlessly.

Meanwhile, armed conflict rages on around the world.

The most vulnerable — women and children, people with disabilities, the marginalized and the displaced — pay the highest price.

They are also at the highest risk of suffering devastating losses from COVID-19.

Let’s not forget that in war-ravaged countries, health systems have collapsed.

Health professionals, already few in number, have often been targeted.

Refugees and others displaced by violent conflict are doubly vulnerable.

The fury of the virus illustrates the folly of war.

That is why today, I am calling for an immediate global ceasefire in all corners of the world.

It is time to put armed conflict on lockdown and focus together on the true fight of our lives.

To warring parties, I say:

Pull back from hostilities.

Put aside mistrust and animosity.

Silence the guns; stop the artillery; end the airstrikes.

This is crucial…

To help create corridors for life-saving aid.

To open precious windows for diplomacy.

To bring hope to places among the most vulnerable to COVID-19.

Let us take inspiration from coalitions and dialogue slowly taking shape among rival parties in some parts to enable joint approaches to COVID-19. But we need much more.

End the sickness of war and fight the disease that is ravaging our world.

It starts by stopping the fighting everywhere. Now.

That is what our human family needs, now more than ever.


Guterras, Antonio: “The fury of the virus illustrates the folly of the war”. March, 23 2020, United Nations Coronavirus Communications Team.

Listen to the call:

In the midst of coronavirus pandemic, they want money for games – Join over a thousand from all over the world to stop them


Our call to cancel all military exercises in Europe and the world after corona outbreak

A call to discontinue all large scale military exercise in Europe and the world after corona outbreak has collected over a thousand signatures. Signatories come from all over the world; Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, North America and South America. People from every continent have come together and speak up against the present policies with large scale exercises bringing together tens of thousands of soldiers from different countries as part of a drastic increase in military expenditure.


EUCOM’s statement on Defender Europe 20 from March, 16

Defender Europe 20 is downsized, but some exercises are unfortunately still on. For instance, EUCOM has expressed that “as part of a modified Allied Spirit exercise, they expect an armored brigade combat team already deployed to Europe to conduct gunnery and other combined training together with Allies”. In parallel, we also hear statements that they already have “exercised the Army’s ability to coordinate large scale movements with Allies and partner”. They try to tell a story of success as they, since January, have been moving soldiers and equipment from the United States and equipment from prepositioned stocks in Europe to fulfil the goal of Defender Europe 20; “to build strategic readiness by deploying a combat credible force to Europe in support of NATO and the U.S. National Defense Strategy”. In practice, soldiers and equipment are moved to the east, closer to the Russian border.


Frankfurter Allgemeine on March, 19

Nato’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has confirmed the readiness of the Alliance even though the corona virus tests the resilience of the allies “to the limit”; “our forces remains ready and our work continues”. This includes the multinational combat allies stationed in the Baltic States to conduct airspace surveillance and also the naval allies and all missions from Afghanistan to Kosovo. He also expressed that exercises had to be slowed down or shortened, especially the large maneuver Defender Europe 20, but not discontinued.

It is clear that neither EUCOM nor Nato has any intention to stop or even decrease their presence in Europe. EUCOM explicitly state that changes are anticipated to the deployment timelines of soldiers already in Europe and redeployment of equipment today stationed in the United States. Schedules for future troop rotations in support of Atlantic Resolve are also likely to be adjusted at the same time as efforts are put into “maximizing efforts to advance alliances and partnerships”. Nato’s Stoltenberg also speaks about exercises slowed down or shortened, not cancelled.


USNI News on March, 7

Regarding other large scale military exercise such as Aurora 20 in Sweden and RIMPAC in the Pacific, there are no reports that any changes have been made. These military exercises are planned to be larger and more complex than ever before and also include more participants.

In this context, Nato’s Stoltenberg has acknowledged his main concern. He is worried that member states should decrease their military budgets due to the current corona crisis which has “serious economic impacts” on state budgets. Stoltenberg expects that allies will stick to the goal of “investing more in security” in order to protect themselves in an unsecure world. He says that the military threat has not changed. He prefers fictitious enemies instead of real threats to Europe and the world such as coronavirus pandemic and climate change which destroys whole ecosystems.

We say

  • Stop Defender 20, Aurora 20 and other large scale military exercises in Europe and elsewhere
  • End rearmament and invest in peace, welfare, health and the environment

No more money should be given for games. The money should go to the people by investments in health, welfare, peace and the environment.

If you agree, join over a thousand from all over the world to end rearmament and invest in peace, welfare, health and the environment. Don’t forget to spread the word.

Activists for peace



This is how the military should be used – Cancel all military exercises and end rearmament to make use of the resources for humanity

Yesterday, March 17, German news reported that the German capital Berlin ”has approved plans ahead of a expected spike in corona or COVID-19 infections”. It is planned to make use of the large Berlin Messe trade fair exhibitions grounds in the Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf district; a facility that every year, for instance, hosts the world’s largest farmer trade fair in late January. The plan is that the Berlin Messe will house up to 1 000 patients and both relatively minor corona virus cases as well as emergency respiratory patients will be treated.


Berlin Health Senator Dilek Kalayci said that ”This measure complements the well positioned Berlin hospital system to deal with possible bottlenecks” at the same time as existing hospitals in Berlin will expand their capacity to treat patients requiring ventilation in intensive care.

In parallel, hospitals in Berlin are beginning to postpone scheduled non acute surgeries in order to prepare the treatment of more patients tested positive for the corona virus.

Perhaps the most interesting part here is that German media further reports that the German armed forces, the Bundeswehr, will be drafted to help create the desired facility. We are convinced that this is how the military can and should be used and especially during crises. This time it is definitely something that poses a threat to citizens´ lives. That is the lives that any armed forces are allocated to protect.

In a time when peoples’ movements are restricted, the same should also apply for the military. But, all resources including military resources should also be put to use for humanity without risk of harm to civil society. We are looking forward to learn how this is done as military exercises are discontinued in favour of dealing with a real threat.

We are already aware of further such examples in, for instance, Norway and Sweden, but also in the United States. We plan to publish updates on the subject.

Stay tuned. Don’t forget to support our call and ask others to do the same.


On Tuesday, March 17, Berlin counted 332 of more than 7 500 cases of corona across Germany. The number of corona infected patients increased with 1 500 cases from the day before, Monday. So far 20 have not survived the pandemic virus infection and 500 are hospitalised.


During the next few months, German officials are expecting a much higher volume that will require hospital treatment after being tested positive for the corona virus. To, with the help of the German armed forces Bundeswehr, make use of the large exhibition hall in Berlin is one measure to try to contain the pandemic and ensure that the country’s health sector can cope.

Other measures includes that ”schools have been shut across most of the country, border controls have been tightened and new restrictions put on public and social spaces. Companies are being urged to offer employees remote work”.


However, some parts of the large-scale military exercise Defender Europe 20, i.e. the largest military exercise in 25 years in Europe, seems to still be on. Bundeswehr, which is responsible for host nation support during Defender Europe 20, on Monday, March, 16 said that they already had completed the major maneuvers and EUCOM expressed something similar in an update on Defender Europe 20. At the same time; Italy, a nation severely affected by the corona virus, officially withdrew their participation in the exercise. The United States has said that they are significantly reducing their participation after the Secretary of Defence’s travel bans for American soldiers and personnel went into force on Monday, but they also say “We anticipate the armored brigade combat team already deployed to Europe will conduct gunnery and other combined training events with Allies as part of a modified Allied Spirit exercise“.

Both American soldiers in Europe and senior military officials from at least two European countries who recently attended an annual NATO-meeting at an American military base in Wiesbaden, Germany as well as staff at the NATO headquarter in Brussels have been tested positive for the corona virus. In Europe, in the United states and around the world, cases of corona infected solders are reported. These soldiers and those they have spent time together with are put in quarantine, but some are still expected to conduct military exercises in Europe and elsewhere during the ongoing pandemic.


Write to make a change – Join in to call for discontinuation for all military exercises

During last weekend, Activists for peace submitted a text where we call for discontinuation of all military exercises in Europe in the wake of the corona outbreak. It was sent to Swedish newspapers all over the country and today this text began to be published.

We do this since we want to alert people to what is going on and to create discussion, build opinion and initiate reactions. Of course, we also want to spread the word to get people to support our call.

Skärmavbild 2020-03-18 kl. 01.57.41

This time the text was however written before we published our call where we also, completely reasonable, extended it to cover the whole world. We are working hard to keep us updated and to gather relevant information so that we are able to write more texts. We write texts to update here and to publish on both on our English blog, on our Swedish blog and on our Facebook-page. We are also writing more opinion pieces and letters to the editor.

You can do the same.

We read the comments to this call and we see a lot of potential.

We would like everyone to write a text and submit it for publication somewhere.

Nobody can do everything, but everyone can do something.

If you decide to write a text, please send a copy to us. Send it to aktivisterforfred@gmail.com

You can also send us texts that you have already authored.

All texts can discuss and motivate why we need to discontinue all military exercises and stop rearmament wherever it occurs. They can also tell everyone why we should invest in peace, welfare, health and the environment.

We look forward to hear from you.

Activists for peace


Activists for peace’s text has so far (March, 16 2020) been published by:

Local newspaper Kinda-Posten – Vimmerby Tidning

Local newspaper Kristianstadsbladet

Local newspaper Västerviks Tidning


Defender Europe 20 reduced in size and scope, but much more is urgently needed

All resources are needed for humanity, not for war games. Remember to support our call to cancel all military exercises in Europe and the world in the wake of the corona virus outbreak. To sign, follow this link. Don’t forget to share the call.



EUCOM’s statement on Defender Europe 20 from March, 16.

Today March, 16 EUCOM (The United States European Command) announced that Defender Europe 20 is, due to the outbreak of the corona virus and recent guidelines by the Secretary of Defense, modified in size and scope.

Military exercises linked to Defender Europe 20 are discontinued and this includes Dynamic Front, Joint Warfighting Assessment, Saber Strike (the Baltic States) and Swift Response, which involved paratroops dropping into the Republic of Georgia and the Baltics.

EUCOM however also indicates that some exercises still are on. As part of a modified Allied Spirit exercise, they expect that an armor brigade combat team already deployed to Europe will conduct gunnery and other combined training together with Allies.


News on Defender Europe 20 from Pentagon’s Stars and Stripes.

From Friday March, 13 all movement of personnel and equipment from the United States to Europe ceased. EUCOM states that ”the health, safety and readiness of our military, civilians, and family members is our primary concern” and that ”forces already deployed to Europe for other linked exercises will return to the United States”.

The purpose of Defender Europe 2020 is expressed as ”to build strategic readiness by deploying a combat credible force to Europe in support of NATO and the U.S. National Defense Strategy”. All movement of soldiers and material from the United States to Europe and within Europe already conducted is in this context proclaimed to have ”exercised the Army’s ability to coordinate large scale movements with Allies and partners”. EUCOM state that changes are anticipated to the deployment timelines of soldiers already in Europe and redeployment of equipment today stationed in the United States. Schedules for future troops rotations in support of Atlantic Resolve are also likely to be adjusted at the same time as they are now ”maximizing their efforts to advance their alliances and partnerships”.


Our call to cancel all military exercises in Europe and the world after corona outbreak

We welcome the decision to reduce Defender Europe 20 since it includes discontinuation of related exercises. However, we see an urgent need for much more to be done.

Already deployed American soldiers are said to be on their way back to the United States at the same time as other American soldiers stationed in Europe as part of, for instance, Atlantic Resolve is not mentioned more than that their rotation is likely to be adjusted. Atlantic Resolve is explicit to have a purpose to “deter Russian aggression in Europe” and it’s obvious that the United States is planning to further militarize Europe.

This is not what is needed in these difficult times. As countries around the world appeal to their citizens to return to their home countries, the American soldiers which are deployed based on an imaginary threat as opposed to the corona virus is allowed to, together with certain other deployed soldiers, stay in Europe and they are also planned to increase in the future. Some of the deployed soldiers are even expected to conduct military training in the midst of the corona virus outbreak. This is incorrect use of resources.

In parallel, preparations for Aurora 20 is continuing according to plan. Aurora 20 – the largest military exercise in years which also means a debut for the American Patriot system in Sweden – is due to take place in Sweden May, 11 to June, 7. This military exercise is scheduled to start in less the two months and preparations already include transport of equipment and soldiers to Sweden. NATO has, for example, a large military base in Norway and even if Norway recently closed its border, the border is still open to both Sweden and Finland at the same time as Sweden’s borders are fully open.

In a time when people’s mobility is reduced, the military’s mobility should not be an exception. At the same time, all military resources should be put to work for humanity by combating the corona virus, not some imaginary enemy. The best way to achieve this is to discontinue all military exercises – both ongoing and planned ones – and allocate all resources for humanity.

That’s way we say:

  • Stop Defender 20, Aurora 20 and other large scale military exercises in Europe and elsewhere
  • End rearmament and invest in peace, welfare, health and the environment

If you agree, don’t forget to sign and share our call to cancel all military exercises in Europe and the world after corona outbreak. You find the call by following this link.


Cancel all military exercises in Europe and the world – Now in Spanish


Our call to cancel all military exercises in Europe and the world in the wake of the corona outbreak is translated to Spanish. It is published under a title which says that there is no quarantine for Nato military.


Share the translated text to everyone who speaks Spanish so to they can read and sign the call.

You should not forget to sign yourself

We have published our call for discontinuation of all military exercises in Europe and around the world because we are convinced that this is the only correct decisions to make. These decisions should already have been taken.

Sign the call to show that you agree that we need all resources for humanity, not for war games.

Sign our call to cancel all military exercises in Europe and the world after the corona outbreak


Do you also want to sign our call to cancel all military exercises in Europe and the world after the corona outbreak?

Sign by following this link.

Share this post both in Sweden and elsewhere so as many as possible can help to:

  • Stop Defender 20, Aurora 20 and other large scale military exercises in Europe and elsewhere
  • End rearmament and invest in peace, welfare, health and the environment

Show that the present policies with increased military spendings are out of touch with today’s realities that we demand change.

In Swedish:

Vill du också skriva under vårt upprop om att ställa in alla militära övningar i Europa och på andra platser i världen i kölvattnet av coronakrisen?

Skriv under genom att klicka på denna länk.

Dela inlägget både inom och utanför Sverige så fler kan hjälpas åt att:

  • Stoppa Defender Europe 2020, Aurora 20 och andra storskaliga militära övningar i Europa och på andra platser i världen
  • Avbryt upprustningen och investera i fred, välfärd, hälsa och miljö

Visa att den nuvarande politiken med ökade militära utgifter inte har kontakt med dagens verklighet och att vi kräver förändring.

Cancel all military exercises in Europe and elsewhere


We call for cancellation of all large scale military exercises in Europe and elsewhere. To continue carrying out the largest combination of training of military in a war situation in 25 years is damaging our capacity of addressing the Corona crisis. From the Arctic Sea along the border of Russia all the way to Georgia this combination of simultaneous exercises under names as Defender 20 in Central in Eastern Europe and Aurora 20 in Sweden must be stopped together with military exercises elsewhere.


The exercise Cold Response 2020 in Norway with 14 000 soldiers from Belgium, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, UK and USA was cancelled March 11. It was announced by Lieutenant General Rune Jakobsen, Chief of the operational staff at the Joint Operative Headquarters, at a press conference were he stated: “What is new since yesterday is that the corona virus is out of control in society. We want to preserve the armed forces’ ability to fight so that we are able to support society in the complex period that will follow”. This response came late. When the exercise already had started, a soldier was tested positive for Coronavirus on March 5. Finland withdraw their soldiers already March 8.

On March 10, at least two top European military commanders tested positive for corona after they, together with other senior military representatives, attended a conference on an American military base in Germany. During the meeting it was discussed how to protect soldiers participating in Defender Europe 20 form the corona virus. No decisions were made.


Countries like China, Singapore and South Korea show that it is possible to stop the growth of number of people infected by the corona virus by acting fast and decisive. Unfortunately, Italy and some other countries did not. Today, not the European Union but China helps Italy by sending medical experts and offering 10 000 pulmonary ventilators, 2 million face masks, and 20 000 protective suits. The Italian foreign minister Luigi di Maio, after a conversation with his Chinese colleague Wang Yi, expressed that ”Chinese doctors were the first (to treat the virus) and they can bring their experience”. Yi said that “Although currently China itself still has great demand for medical materials, we will overcome the difficulties and offer material aid, including face masks, to Italy, and increase exports of materials and equipment to meet Italy’s urgent need”.

We call for a change in the way Europe and others worldwide address vulnerability. Rather than starting an arms race and foment enemy images we see the need of cooperation across borders. What we need is peace and welfare to address the common threats to our health, social security and global environment. Not as Western State leaders at the Munich security conferences make China and Russia their adversary.


The large scale exercises bringing together tens of thousands of soldiers from different countries as part of a drastic increase in military expenditure show how out of touch with today’s realities the present policies are. These exercises not only pose and immediate threat in terms of risk for disseminating the corona virus, they are also a misuse of our common resources for addressing the problems in the world today. What we need is not further escalation and polarization between West and East but addressing of social, health and environmental concerns of importance to all of humanity.

This is why we say:

  • Stop Defender 20, Aurora 20 and other large scale military exercises in Europe and elsewhere
  • End rearmament and invest in peace, welfare, health and the environment

If you want to join in on our call to cancel all military exercises in Europe and elsewhere, please follow this link.

Activists for peace

References and links

Activists for peace

Activists for peace blog in English

Activists for peace blog in Swedish

Activists for peace on Facebook

Our international cooperation partner Prague Spring 2 on Facebook

Defender Europe 20

Official Defender Europe 20 information

Nato’s official information about Defender Europe 2020


Hudson, Kate: “US to practice invasion in Europe”. Campain for Nuclear Disarmament, 10 February 2020.

Wagner, Jürgen: “Großmanöver Defender 2020” (In German). IMI, 10 January 2020.

Positive tests for corona in relation to Defender Europe 20


Official information about Aurora20 from Swedish Armed forces


Görgü, Kemal, Nordlund, Harald and Sevéus Harald: “Krigsförberedelser eller fredspolitik?”. (In Swedish). Uppsala Nya Tidning – debatt, 23 February 2020

Cancelled Cold Response 2020

Finland pulls out of Cold Response

Woody, Christopher “Finland pulled troops from an Artic military exercise with the US and 8 other countries over coronavirus concerns”. Business Insider, 8 March 2020.

Cold Response 20 cancelled

Bakkemo Danilov, Peder: “Cold Response 2020 cancelled”. High North News, 11 March 2020.

Nielsen, Thomas: “Norway cancels Cold Response due to coronavirus outbreak”. The Barents Observer, 11 March 2020.

China helps Italy

Boffey, Daniel: “Italy criticises EU for being slow to help over coronavirus epidemic”. The Guardian, 11 March 2020.

CGTN “Italy Criticizes EU for not responding its call for help, ´only China responded bilaterally´“. CGTN, 12 March 2020.

Hume, Tim: “China Is Now Sending Doctors, Masks and Hazmat Suits to Help Italy With Its Coronavirus Outbreak”, Vice News, 11 march 2020.

Wu, Wendy: “China sends team of medical experts, gear to help Italy fight coronavirus”. South China Morning Post, 11 March 2020.