All of the awardees are honored for their body of work directly supporting one or more of the three segments of World BEYOND War’s strategy for reducing and eliminating war: Demilitarizing Security, Managing Conflict Without Violence, and Building a Culture of Peace.

By David Swanson

World BEYOND War has given its Organizational War Abolisher of 2023 award to Wage Peace Australia.

This organization is a leading global inspiration to many peace-related campaigns, including those working to close down giant arms fairs. Wage Peace Australia accurately describes its approach: “We jump on tanks, blockade weapons factories, occupy arms dealers’ offices and reclaim military bases as well as engaging in public discourse and other more conventional campaign methods.”

peace sign at rally

Wage Peace Australia’s campaign to disrupt the largest weapons bazaar in Australia, the Land Forces International Land Defence Exposition, has been so successful that the arms fair will no longer return to Brisbane. It will, of course, likely be held in a different city, but if people learn from the nonviolent, educational, disruptive activism used in Brisbane, then this arms fair and every other one could be chased out of every location on the planet, leaving those whom Wage Peace Australia refers to as “Harms Dealers” nowhere to do their harming.

Wage Peace is also involved with a campaign to resist the involvement of weapons companies in Australian education. Currently underway is a Wage Peace podcast: “Get Your Armies Off Our Bodies.” Written by Matt Abud with Zelda Grimshaw, the podcast offers an accessible and fresh look a the weapons industry in Australia, presenting militarism through the eyes of Wage Peace people and their friends.

Wage Peace Australia works with peace groups in West Papua, and has helped World BEYOND War to do the same. Wage Peace Australia created the War on West Papua website. Wage Peace Australia is known for its selfless work in collaboration with other organizations. It needs to be known to a broader world.

Wage Peace Australia’s educational and activist endeavors are explicitly aimed at abolishing war, and its members do outstanding work on demilitarizing security and building a culture of peace, two pillars of World BEYOND War’s strategy for creating a global security system free of the scourge of war.

World BEYOND War has just published a video of an awards presentation conducted over Zoom. On the video, which includes numerous images of colorful activism, Wage Peace Australia’s Margie Pestorius, in accepting this award, said “We view people-powered disruptive action as being key to shifting the value base and bringing ordinary people into engagement on militarism, defence, war, international relations, and foreign affairs discourses.”

“We recognise and commemorate the Frontier Wars,” Pestorius added, “which rolled out across Australia from 1800 to 1930. This involves organising and promoting people-to-people events and ceremonies that respond to the horrific violence inflicted by the British military with settler communities over 140 years – and we acknowledge the strong, organised resistance of First Nations peoples in this Land.”

Pestorius and other members of Wage Peace Australia take time in the video to credit their influences and to provide activist strategies that they have found successful. Pestorius describes their work as bringing ordinary people into fields they are typically excluded from. Miriam Torzillo describes their activities as maintaining a culture of learning in which they are all gaining knowledge from each other. Lilli Barto explains the importance in organizing activism of leaving elements undone and undecided so as to allow others something to do. She labels one strategy “festival organizing,” which involves creating a space in which to be creative in multiple ways.

Wage Peace Australia is the second recipient of an Organizational War Abolisher award. The 2022 Organizational War Abolisher award went to the Whidbey Environmental Action Network (WEAN), based on Whidbey Island in Puget Sound. The 2021 awards, which were the first, did not include the Organizational award.

There are four recipients of War Abolisher awards in 2023. The other three are:

Argentinian Peace organization Fundación Mil Milenios de Paz, recipient of the Organizational Lifetime War Abolisher Award of 2023.

Saharawi nonviolent human rights activist from Western Sahara Sultana Khaya, recipient of the Individual War Abolisher Award of 2023.

Australian filmmaker David Bradbury, recipient of the David Hartsough Individual Lifetime War Abolisher Award of 2023.

Bradbury and Wage Peace Australia are familiar colleagues in peace work, and the presentations of those two awards are found in the same video, in which the two winners discuss each other’s work.

All of the awardees are honored for their body of work directly supporting one or more of the three segments of World BEYOND War’s strategy for reducing and eliminating war as outlined in the book A Global Security System, An Alternative to War. They are: Demilitarizing Security, Managing Conflict Without Violence, and Building a Culture of Peace.