Quakers in the World

Quakers in the World

AFSC and Peace Building


Peace building is a key concern for the American Friends Service Committee. Starting from a conviction that peace and security can never be achieved through violence, AFSC advocates for economic and social systems grounded in nonviolence.

Peace Policy Advocacy

Quakers believe that the U.S. needs a more ethical, effective, and less costly foreign policy that seeks to protect our planet, reduce violent conflict, advance social justice, and meet global needs. They fund QUNO New York as part of their work on these issues.

Through the AFSC, Quakers have put forward a new vision for US foreign policy. The key elements of this vision include:
  • Moving away from global military domination and toward shared problem-solving;
  • Giving a stronger voice to institutions such as the African Union;
  • Upholding and expanding  international law;
  • Signing / ratifying global treaties on arms control and human rights;
  • Renouncing torture;
  • Committing to cooperative international problem-solving.

AFSC has campaigned for the abolition of nuclear weapons since the immediate aftermath of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings. A recent priority was to seek to influence the 2015 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference.

AFSC's Peace & Economic Security Program (PES) works with US, Asian and European peace and nuclear weapons abolition initiatives, to address peace, justice and security issues. Its key aims are:
  • Abolishing nuclear weapons and dismantling nuclear stockpiles.
  • Urging alternatives to a renewed Asia/Pacific arms race between the US and China;
  • Preventing and ending US  wars and occupations;
  • Reducing military spending in order to prevent war, fund essential services, create a green economy and  address climate change;
  • Developing peaceful alternatives to  NATO.

The AFSC also campaigns against the use of drones in surveillance and military attacks, including their use in patrolling the US/Mexico border, believing that ending drone warfare is a necessary step toward building a more peaceful world.

In Somalia, the AFSC is partnering with local organisations that train young people to become entrepreneurs – recognising that economic hardship, often more than ideology, fuels enlistment in armed groups. However counter-terrorism legislation can limit their engagement – preventing them from working in areas deemed to be under the control of a terrorist group, for example. The AFSC advocates for changes in the law that would allow them to reach out to all parties.

The AFSC’s Dialogue and Exchange Program (DEP) brings together grassroots / youth leaders and others, especially in Africa, South America and the Middle East, and provides a safe space for discussion and learning.

In Israel and Palestine, AFSC supports boycott and divestment campaigns targeting companies that support the occupation, settlements, militarism, or any other violations of international humanitarian or human rights law. They also worked in Gaza in the aftermath of WWII.

Community Peace Building, Healing and Reconciliation

AFSC works to promote community-wide healing and restorative forms of justice.

In Syria, they support the Syria Peace Project, a network of Syrians who, in the midst of the devastating civil war, are committed to non-violent means to end the conflict and rebuild their society.

In Burundi, they work with local faith-based organizations that are reaching out to communities, using a three-pronged approach of economic reintegration, social cohesion, and trauma healing. In particular they work with AGLI (the African arm of Friends Peace Teams), and supported the development of Healing and Rebuilding our Communities (HROC), which focuses on trauma healing.

In Maine, USA, the AFSC has worked with the Wabanki people to establish a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to uncover the stories of indigenous children taken from their homes and placed in boarding schools or foster homes, something which it is now recognised to have caused lasting trauma.

In Maryland, mentoring programmes have been established in prisons to help prisoners escape the cycle of violence.

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Further Reading and Credits