Peace

The constitution should enshrine peace as a value.

The arms trade will be limited to production for defence of the realm rather than export.

Parliament may authorise the use of armed force abroad for the purpose of aimed at humanitarian, defensive, or anti-terrorist activity, if requested by another state.

The standing army shall be accountable to parliament and citizens' militia shall be permitted for defence purposes, subject to democratic governance.

Moderator: If you like this idea, you may also like 'No one should profit from selling weapons' https://constitutionuk.com/category/#/post/84313

edited on Apr 13, 2015 by James Doran

Fiona Condon Apr 5, 2015

Much as I like this idea, it will be difficult to get agreement to. Unless there is agreement to total pacifism, there would need to be at least some miltary presence in the form of a regular army or reservists. I think it would be difficult to argue that reservists don't need to be overseen by regular soldiers.

James Doran Apr 7, 2015

This isn't about pacifism, but peace. Why have a standing army in peace-time?

Hugh Ryan Apr 7, 2015

Because it's too late to train one to the necessary standard once the brown stuff hits the rotating object.

Lee White Apr 7, 2015

I agree with Fiona and HTR. We need a standing army for our protection and self-defense. Can we not state our commitment to peace in terms of not taking unjustified (e.g. no UN mandate) military action against others?

Cecilia Rossler Apr 8, 2015

If you could think of a way that the idea could be worded in such a way that your views are taken into account that would be very helpful. If an idea has reached this stage of the project, it has been accepted in principle and the aim is now to refine the idea into a succinct clause that could go in the constitution. You may still cast votes, but we ask that you refrain from debating the overall merits of the idea in the comments section.

Cecilia Rossler Apr 8, 2015

At this stage, one possibility is to combine ideas, and I think this idea would go very well with 'No one should profit from selling weapons' (https://constitutionuk.com/post/84313). What do people think?

Fiona Condon Apr 8, 2015

Although there are strong liks with 'No one should profit from selling weapons'they seem to me to be separate ideas.

What about something like this - I'm not sure about specifically referring to the UN?

The British armed forces shall only be used for the maintenance of peace with the the approval of the UN.

Hugh Ryan Apr 8, 2015

I think that's too limiting.

What about: The nation's armed forces shall be used for: the defence of the realm and that of its  overseas dependent territories and protectorates; undertaking or assisting international military operations pursuant to a Resolution of the UN Security Council or at the request of a national government; providing assistance to emergency services in times of need.

 

Saeeda Bukhari Apr 16, 2015

The constitution should enshrine peace as a value.

The arms trade will be limited to production for defence of the realm rather than export.

Parliament may authorise the use of armed force abroad for the purpose of aimed at humanitarian, or protection from occupation by another power, subject to a UN resolution, pending the reform of the UN to reflect the interests and views of the entire international citizenship and not the most powerful states.

That terrorism will be defined, clearly in international law so everybody can understand what it is, and how it demarcates from popular revolution/insurrection, civil war, opposition from occupation by a foreign power, opposition to totalitarianism. That the definition of terrorism clearly identify the targeting or lack of care towards civilian casualties be a marker of terrorism, whether by state or non-state actors. Therefore if British armed forces be involved in combating terrorism they do not reserve the right to kill/lead to the death of more people then would otherwise have died, without their assistance.

The standing army is accountable to the citizens, through parliament and subject to compliance with the constitution. Parliament cannot overrule the constitution, in relation to orders to the army.

That peaceful resolution of conflict be advanced as a body of theory, actively engaged in by the army, and the practice developed and placed in a collective commons ownership available to all international citizens to use.

That the army have stringent guidelines for entry that would include, international respect for all humanity, regardless of race, class, gender, ideology, religion....That their primary goal is their protection and prevention of harm or death.  Promoting well-being, health and happiness.

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Screenname is already in use Apr 9, 2015

The two points in this idea seem to be distinct.

1. Let's enshrine peace as a value in the constitution. [I vote for this, taking peace to be an attitude of respect, co-existence, and positive resolution of difficulties through non-aggressive means].

2. Standing armies need to be agreed on. [HTR's comment seems to be making headway with this].

3. BUT, much conflict and violence that takes place today does so through individual attacks, concealed forces, targeted killings, and torture. The UK, for example, supplies drone components. These happen even when we have no standing armies. Surely this aspect of non-peace needs to be dealt with too? That's where I suggest weapons sales are worth looking at. 

Cecilia Rossler Apr 12, 2015

Thanks for your response, it was just a suggestion, but I can see now it seems sensible to keep the ideas apart.

James Doran Apr 10, 2015

A standing army is a threat to peace. If not domestically then abroad...

John Z Apr 10, 2015

On the contrary, the lack of a well-trained and fully equipped army is a threat to peace.  The UK shouldn't repeat the mistake of declaring "there will be peace in our time" and thus disband the army, while simultaneously being surrounded by terror. 

James Doran Apr 10, 2015

Surrounded by who? Who is going to invade?

John Z Apr 10, 2015

"Who is going to invade" was a likely statement the Americans said on 10 September 2001.  

James Doran Apr 11, 2015

That's not a coherent argument for a standing army. Al Qaida did not launch a war but terrorist attacks. And the standing army is not best placed to counter terrorism threats. Indeed, the actual invasion of other countries by America's standing army is a good example of the threat to peace.

John Z Apr 11, 2015

When did the US ever "invade" (the word you used) a peaceful country which resulted in a "threat to peace"?

James Doran Apr 12, 2015

Uh, Afghanistan in 2001, Iraq in 2003.

John Z Apr 12, 2015

Oh yes, "peaceful" countries.  Afganistan did nothing to provoke the US, is that right?

Saeeda Bukhari Apr 16, 2015

Important point raised. When is war a criminal investigation and therefore needs to change its form drastically. The US has bombed at least three  countries over criminal matters. Panama, Afghanistan and Iraq.

The USA had the legitimate right to pursue the 9/11 attackers. But it did not have the right to kill 200,000 Afghan Civilians, Or depose a government that had no direct involvement in the attacks, regardless if they were bad or abhorrent to its local population.

Its debatable whether the US had the right to depose Saddam Hussain, However lets say, it did for argument's sake. It still did not have the right to Kill 1.5 million civilians via sanctions and 300 to 400,000 through the invasions to chase down a dictator.

The story of Noriega in Panama, is similar to Saddam. A previously supported and backed USA puppet and dictator whom fell into disfavour, and needed to be deposed. 9000 civilians dead, through the invasion.

There is inadequate current institutions/actions/frameworks in place to settle a dispute between individuals, groups which are illegitimate to the local population of the target country and have a legitimate conflict with an injured state. Surely it is possible to come up with something that does not incorporate the "Collateral Damage" of individuals, who are not at fault or not involved.

Scott Wilson Apr 16, 2015

I'd suggest that this is getting into partisan polemical pejoratives that are debatable at best.

The US did not invade Afghanistan to kill civilians, but to overthrow a regime that was harbouring, training and assisting those who were seeking to kill its citizens.  You may debate about individual acts that breached the laws of war, but that is quite different from implying there was a intention to engage in mass murder.  Similarly, it is debatable whether you can grant moral status for any regime that egregiously engages in the enslavement and slaughter of the population that it has conquered.  

To claim the US is responsible for "killing 1.5 million civilians via sanctions" and not the regime that continued to breach international law is highly questionable.  To ignore the significant role of Iranian backed militia and bombers for the responsibility of many civilian deaths is questionable.

International law on war addresses the issue of civilian deaths in war. In cases of just war, they are to be minimised, but it is impossible to prevent because war is war.  This is a legitimate debate to be had, but fundamentally the responsibility of a UK government is to defend the people of the UK from aggression and to minimise casualties of UK civilians and armed forces in doing so.  Those are the people whose rights are primary.  In doing this, the laws of war shall be applied, in that killing civilians in acts that have no reasonable military purpose are to be avoided.  However, I am unsure if anything can or should be done here to address that specifically.

Saeeda Bukhari Apr 16, 2015

A) Nobody said that the US invaded Afghanistan to kill civilians,
B) The US did engage in acts of war which resulted in 200,000 deaths of civilians in Afghanistan.
C) Whatever the character of the regime, the civilians who died, the "collateral damage" were of people who were innocent of all crimes. Labelling them with a title like, "Afghanistan harboured Al-Qa'ida" did not make them guilty. 
D) Nor did it transfer a right to kill them on to any other nation state, including the USA.
E) Dictator by definition, is against the will of the people. Punishing a subjugated people for the acts of a dictator is misguided. Sanctions did not hurt Saddam, it hurt the people of Iraq, who were innocent. Blame, who you will, however the people who paid, where Innocent.
F) Defending the UK and its people, goes hand in hand with world peace. Engaging in acts that result in international instability, is against the interests of the citizens of the UK. The citizens of the UK knew that, that is why most of them were against War.
G) On the statement that, "War is War", It's an old fashioned way of looking at the world, which does not correspond to meeting it's intended aim. My main point,is that we need to rethink engagement on an international level, instead of defaulting to a centuries old approach with better weapons. This is to the interests of UK civilians and armed forces.
H) Humanity and our Planet is primary, all individuals and states need to behave in that context.

Saeeda Bukhari Apr 16, 2015

No, Afghanistan did nothing, most of them were subsistence peasants who worked and lived in the most basic conditions. A bunch of individuals from several countries did do something, a much more targeted response to catch the people required was needed, rather then the bombing of a lot of people who had nothing to do with it. 

John Z Apr 12, 2015

And those who criticize the US over getting involved in Iraq then turn around and criticize the US over not getting involved with Rwanda. 

Saeeda Bukhari Apr 16, 2015

The history of Britain, and economic equality in the world, does not allow it to immediately move to dropping a standing army. Britain has been engaged in war, pretty much continuously for centuries. That legacy will not disappear very quickly. Although ending standing armies is a noble goal for the future.

A first step towards that would be to promote equality and peace, more actively. Strengthening its practice, conditions and institutions.

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Fiona Condon Apr 10, 2015

Taking HTR's woring, how about:

The nation's armed forces shall be used for: the defence of the realm and that of its overseas dependent territories and protectorates; undertaking or assisting international military operations pursuant to a Resolution of the UN Security Council or at the request of a national government in order to maintain or restore peace; providing assistance to emergency services in times of need.

James Doran Apr 12, 2015

Problem: what is the democratic mandate of the UN Security Council? None.

Hugh Ryan Apr 12, 2015

Other than most countries have signed up to the UN and its organisation, maybe? Looking for a 'democratic mandate' for the Security Council is more than a bit of a red herring.

James Doran Apr 12, 2015

Which is why I don't think the wording should mention it.

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King Richard Third Apr 11, 2015

Good citizens,

With all due respect to my honourable colleague, I contend that the Constitution is no place for this type of idea The purpose of a Constitution is to define the powers of the government as originating from the authority of the people.  The Constitution should NOT be a place to advance a special interest.

 

Note from moderator: some inappropriate language has been removed from this comment. 

Cecilia Rossler Apr 12, 2015

Please remember that at this stage we are not debating the merits of an idea, but how best to word it.

Cecilia Rossler Apr 12, 2015

It seems that JamesDoran's main concern is that standing armies would be used for offensive purposes, rather than purely defensive. Others seem to worry that without a standing army we would be defenceless. Would a way of satisfying everyone be to say that a limited standing army would be permitted, but would never be allowed to leave UK territory (or some other condition that ensured the army would never be used to attack anyone)? 

To make the above more general, the clause could be something like: The UK values peace, and therefore will never use its military capacities for anything other than self-defence on its territory.

The reason I suggest saying 'on its territory' is because I can easily imagine a politician arguing for the invasion of another country on the basis of self-defence, and I think that would not be in the spirit of JamesDoran's idea.

Hugh Ryan Apr 12, 2015

This is just emasculating the military; you may as well not bother and forlornly hope for the best.

For example: a group of British aid workers working in NotHereLand are taken hostage by a group of armed fighters resisting the current government. The government's forces are inadequately trained and equipped and admit they have no chance of rescuing the aid workers without heavy casualties on all sides. The government asks Britain for military assistance to rescue & repatriate  the hostages. The British government's response is "Sorry, our constitution does not permit the use of our forces abroad." Is that really where we ought to be?

Cecilia Rossler Apr 12, 2015

Ok, could you suggest a way for peace to be in the constitution that you would be comfortable with? At this stage, we are simply refining the idea, rather than questioning it.

Users tagged:

James Doran Apr 12, 2015

Perhaps the wording should be "parliament may authorise the use of armed force abroad for the purpose of aimed at humanitarian, defensive, or anti-terrorist activity, if requested by another state"? 

Saeeda Bukhari Apr 16, 2015

Special circumstances of hostage rescue would allow a highly trained group of specialists to go in and pick them out, without causing harm to the general population. I.e the value of a life of one person is not to be substituted for the death of another innocent person. This avoids the killing of 9000 civilians to save the life of one person from x country.

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James Doran Apr 13, 2015

I have revised the wording to take account of the views of other participants. Please let me know if this wording meets the requirements.

Hugh Ryan Apr 13, 2015

Not for me it doesn't.

  • 'Peace' as a value - OK with this as an aim on the UK's part. After all, it only takes one side to start a fight.
  • Strongly disagree with the arms trade limitation. This has a massive impact on our defence industries and therefore national economy and is not really relevant
  • "Parliament may authorise the use of the armed forces abroad for [delete: the purpose of aimed at] humanitarian, defensive, or anti-terrorist activity, if so requested by another state or treaty organisation"
  • Where did "citizens' militia" come from?

Cecilia Rossler Apr 13, 2015

Dear JamesDoran, thanks for updating the idea. In my view, you could probably shorten it to simply "The constitution should enshrine peace as a value. Parliament may authorise the use of armed force abroad only for the purpose of humanitarian, defensive, or anti-terrorist activity, if requested by another state."

 

"The standing army shall be accountable to parliament and citizens' militia shall be permitted for defence purposes, subject to democratic governance." - I think this is taken care of by the above.

"The arms trade will be limited to production for defence of the realm rather than export" - there is already another idea about this, so perhaps it would be better to keep them separate?

Users tagged:

James Doran Apr 13, 2015

@Cecilia As you suggested before, the ideas have been merged here.

Cecilia Rossler Apr 14, 2015

Ah, although I did suggest that, I think a few users felt they were actually too distinct to be combined - apologies for having created confusion.

Users tagged:

Scott Wilson Apr 16, 2015

I'd suggest the removal of "if requested by another state".  This explicitly prohibits any form of humanitarian intervention to prevent genocide (and other forms of mass murder) by a state in its own country.  

Yes, there is no obligation to do so, yes it is not always practicable or wise to do so (Parliament after all would debate this), but having the option there is important. Does the UK really have to wait for a third country to say "can you please stop tyrant A's army from slaughtering a significant part of its population?" before it can be done?  

It should also be clear that defensive is not just in relation to states, but also individuals and property, such as in the case of piracy it should be perfectly feasible for the military to use force on the high seas to combat piracy against merchant ships from any country if it so wishes. 

Saeeda Bukhari Apr 16, 2015

Anti-terrorism is currently and in the past been used for any and all intervention. Yet as stands, no definition has been put forward.

This is vital, because armies use violence, deployed by governments for political and ideological purposes. The rights of the civilian are blurred in this language.

Fiona Condon Apr 16, 2015

I agree with removing "if requested by another state" as it doesn't specify what state and "please help us against the country that is invading us" is rather different from "please help us invade another state"

Hugh Ryan Apr 17, 2015

Yes, I agree

James Doran Apr 13, 2015

1. Agreed. Though this been the aim of the UK since it's founding...

2. It was suggested that this subject be added to merge another topic by @Cecilia

3. Citizens' militia existed prior to the founding of the Empire's standing army.

Fiona Condon Apr 16, 2015

I'm not sure about citizens' militia. Are they vigilantes, freedom figters, terrorists, the TA? They sound rather unregulated.

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Cecilia Rossler Apr 17, 2015

To all users: Please note this phase ends in 1 day. By the end of this phase we need a finalised, concise, clear clause that can go into the constitution.Thank you for your contributions; please keep them as focussed on wording (not content) at this stage.

 

At the moment this idea is phrased as: 

 

The constitution should enshrine peace as a value.

The arms trade will be limited to production for defence of the realm rather than export. (note that this is already covered by another idea, which has remained separate)

Parliament may authorise the use of armed force abroad for the purpose of aimed at humanitarian, defensive, or anti-terrorist activity, if requested by another state. (it has been suggested that 'if requested by another state' should be removed)

 

The standing army shall be accountable to parliament and citizens' militia shall be permitted for defence purposes, subject to democratic governance. 

 

At this moment, this idea has a negative vote score. Please note that you can change your vote, many of you might want to given that JamesDoran has been very responsive to people's suggestions in editing the idea.

Saeeda Bukhari Apr 17, 2015

I would change my vote, if terrorism is defined. Currently this term terrorism, is all encompassing, every growing catch-all, which allows every country impunity in their acts toward their opponents. Unless terrorism is defined, this becomes a carte blanc, for never ending war.

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