Jody Williams is an emotional, strong-willed and determined woman. She
is also passionate and not averse to yelling, swearing or pounding on
the podium when it comes to creating a peaceful world.
"We can only be secure when justice and the sharing of resources in the
world are present," said the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize recipient to an
audience of nearly 400 at the annual Great Lakes PeaceJam held last
weekend at Western Michigan University.
"Human security, not national security will bring security to everyone
in the world."
Williams won the Peace Prize for her work in starting and heading up
the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (www.icbl.org) in 1992.
Five years later she and a team of activists persuaded 121 nations to
sign a treaty called "the Ottawa Convention" to ban the use,
stockpiling, production and sale of landmines, which at the time was
considered a legal weapon for military arsenals in over 80 countries.
As of March 2008, there are 156 member states and 39 states that remain
outside the treaty including two signatories that have not yet
ratified, according to ICBL. Unfortunately, the United States, China,
Egypt, Finland, India, Israel, Pakistan and Russia did not sign the
treaty. But that has not stopped Williams from continuing her effort
to rid the world of violence.
In fact, she has stepped up her campaign for human security by
participating in PeaceJam's "Global Call to Action"
(www.peacejam.org). The program involves several Nobel Peace Prize
laureates who work with and inspire the youth of the world to be
involved in a decade-long quest to effect change by addressing the
* Providing equal access to water and other natural
* Ending racism and hate
* Halting the spread of global disease
* Eliminating extreme poverty
* Fighting for social justice and human rights
* Promoting rights for women and children and their roles as leaders
* Restoring the earth's environment
* Controlling the proliferation of weapons
* Breaking the cycle of violence
Many governmental leaders believe that they need a mighty military
machine to make their people safe and secure, said Williams. As
important as the military is, having "the biggest, most muscular
missiles and defense in the world" is not the path to increased
To illustrate the hapless pursuit of national security, Williams noted
that on September 10, 2001, the United States had the strongest
military presence the world had ever seen. On September 11, after
Americans "freaked out" over four hijacked airplanes, $44 billion was
allocated to the Pentagon "to make our country more secure."
"We talk about U.S. interests being advanced by the military," she
said. "The military is supposed to be our last resort when diplomacy
has been lost. We make all sorts of calculations and analyses of our
military actions but forget to analyze the impact we make on the people
For example, she is concerned about President Obama's decision to step
up the war in Afghanistan and send drones to bomb Al Qaeda terrorists
"Won't the people who are bombed there try to send some drones over
here?" she asked.
She also urged the audience to consider the effect gross inequality has
on the world.
"There is something wrong when 20 percent of the world's population
controls 80 percent of the planet's resources," she said. "Or when 1.5
billion people are without clean drinking water. There is something
wrong when a handful of billionaires have more wealth than all of
sub-Saharan Africa. That's why people strap on a bomb and blow it up."
Williams warned her audience that peace activists are considered by too
many people to be "kumbya, guitars, doves and rainbows." Instead, she
urged her audience to commit themselves to a brand of activism that is
bigger than just being against war.
"They call us peaceniks and tree-hugging liberals," she said. "That
means that we are little wimps who don't understand what makes peace in
the world. It implies that we can't deal with the complexities of
national security like the big-time policymakers do."
Instead, she advised activists that they would get more done if they
joined together with activists of different peacemaking causes and
"realize that we're all part of the same thing" when we contribute to human
PeaceJam participants donned gray t-shirts with a Williams' quote
printed on their backs: "Emotion without action is irrelevant."
"Emotion is the first step," said Williams. "But if it's not channeled
positively, it is a waste."