Learning about the work of the First World War Peace Forum

One of the first events I was invited to attend as the Campaign Worker for Conscience: Taxes For Peace Not War was a meeting of the First World War Peace Forum.

The Forum was a coalition ‘formed following a Peace Pledge Union initiative in February 2012 with the objective of presenting the story of resistance to the First World War and challenging the militarist bias of Government commemoration of the Centenary’.

Eleven organisations took part in the Forum: Anglican Pacifist Fellowship, Conscience, Fellowship of Reconciliation, Movement for the Abolition of War, Network for Peace, Pax Christi, Peace News, Peace Pledge Union, Quaker Peace and Social Witness, Right to Refuse to Kill Group, and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.

The meeting was a celebration and evaluation of the work of the Forum from 2012-2019. It was a wonderful opportunity to meet, listen to, and learn from representatives from such a range of pacifist organisations.

A pictorial summary of the joint activities of the Forum during that time can be found here: http://paxchristi.org.uk/wp/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/2019-Report-Forum.pdf

A particularly special event was International Conscientious Objectors’ (CO) Day on 15 May 2015. About 150 descendants of 70 or so First World War Conscientious Objectors, and of a few women peace campaigners, gathered together. Speakers included Mary Dobbing (grand-daughter of a CO) and Lord John Maxton (son of a First World War CO). Families named and brought photos of their relatives, and lay flowers. There was huge nationwide media coverage of CO Day that year.

The meeting I attended was actually the last meeting of the First World War Peace Forum. However, many of the same organisations have agreed to come together in a new group, with a new name, to plan and support activities around International Conscientious Objectors’ Day 2020.

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