Over the years I've slowly learned not to generalize from an n of 1. My anecdotal understanding was not based on asking him to define our field nor upon his stated definition of it. I began to meet Peace and Conflict professors who held to the Just War doctrine, something I felt was clearly a blatant rationalization for mass murder. Others were oriented toward supplying graduates into the State Department or other US government agencies who were formulating, promulgating and implementing foreign policy that served the narrow economic and political interests of a corporate elite sitting on top of a patronage-based war system dedicated to preserving inequality. The word peace fuzzed into meaninglessness in many cases and my sense of a division of values within the field of Peace and Conflict Studies grew.
Still, we are at least, I would hope, all committed to upholding basic human rights. Other disciplines have begun to make serious statements in response to the grotesque governmental abuses of human rights begun anew during the Bush regime (and continue, most distressingly, in the 'new' Obama program). The American Psychological Association has made specific rulings on what is permissible for their members in regard to participation in activities that violate human rights. That was prompted by the revelations that US psychologists had been working with torturers in places like Abu Ghraib.
In addition, US anthropologists began serious reflection on a related issue once it became embroiled in the controversial Human Terrain System project in Afghanistan. Their professional association, the American Anthropological Association, rejected participation in that military collusion.
In the US and Canada, our academic association is the Peace and Justice Studies Association. PJSA has no formal position on anything in this regards. I think we should, since the other disciplines have had to react to egregious violations of good practices, and we would rather be proactive, if possible.
Do I have any brilliant ideas of how this should be done? Nope. But I can begin a list of possible pitfalls for our practitioners, which include faculty, students doing practica and field research, and our graduates. And I can make a barebones bottom line beginning toward an organizational statement. Then I would hope others would make my beginning more intelligent and practical.
Possible situations to avoid:
- Association with any illegal activity under the international laws on Human Rights, War, Torture, and all Crimes Against Humanity.
- Providing services that result in the deaths or harm to noncombatants.
PJSA members are ethically and professionally expected to not seek nor accept employment or engage in any personal or professional practices that would aid in the violation of international laws on Human Rights, War, Torture, and all Crimes Against Humanity, and would be expected to act in a whistleblowing capacity if such practices were discovered or made known to that member. Our members are also expected to refrain from personally or professionally providing services--either gratis or for compensation--that would likely result in harm to noncombatants.
So, I'm sure a legal scholar or organizational genius could rework this toward a more meaningful, practical, legal and logical statement. I certainly invite comments.