CND Campaigns Director Sara Medi Jones attended the International Peace Bureau’s World Congress in October 2021. 

After 18 months of cancelled events due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it was a fantastic feeling to gather in person with a thousand other peace activists from across the world in Barcelona, but those participating from home were not forgotten about. The International Peace Bureau – of which CND is a member – truly succeeded in pulling off a fully-hybrid Congress, which energised and informed all who took part.

The event was split into plenaries and smaller workshops, the latter enabling more in-depth conversation. The range of topics covered was vast; from nuclear disarmament to Afghanistan, from indigenous peoples’ campaigns for peace to arms trafficking. But what connected each session was a practical discussion on the steps we need to take for a more peaceful – and safer – world.

CND organised a workshop on how we embrace digital campaigning in a post-Covid world (see the workshop here), where fantastic speakers from ICAN, British Red Cross and Peace Action in the US gave practical advice on how we can advance our work online.

CND hybrid workshop

Guest speakers greeting the conference included the President of Catalonia Pere Aragonès, the Mayor of Barcelona Ada Colau, and CND Vice-President Jeremy Corbyn MP. Corbyn received a warm welcome for his vision of a different world, one without nuclear weapons. We also heard from an Afghan feminist, Palestinian activist and a Hiroshima survivor, among many others.

Also very present in the conference were youth voices. The Congress had pledged for 40% of the speakers to be under 40 and the range of intergenerational experiences heard throughout the weekend was a testament to the success of this policy. Youth and Student CND was well-represented, arranging a workshop and meeting other young activists from across the world to share experiences.

YSCND delegation  and CND Chair Tom Unterrainer with Beatrice Fihn, Executive Director of ICAN

Another important strand of the conference was the need to support voices from the Global South. It was brought up in CND’s workshop on digital campaigning that while we may presume that online activities enable more international participation in our campaigns, we cannot leave behind those without internet access for example.

Climate change was also an important theme of the event, with the need for a more sustainable and a more peaceful planet seen as going hand-to-hand. The event also stood against racism in any form, with Black Lives Matter being awarded the Sean MacBride prize, awarded by the IPB each year to a person or organisation who has done outstanding work for peace.

Karlene Griffiths Sekou from Black Lives Matter accepting the Sean MacBride prize

The IPB published an action plan at the end of the Congress (view here), which will guide the organisation’s work over the following years. CND will continue to support the IPB, and its vision for a more secure world for all.