Articles, Press Cuttings & Reviews

Indivisible: Peace is Not Boring (November 2018)

Indivisible: Peace is Not Boring
Author: Dr Scilla Elworthy
First Published: November 2018

For many people peace can seem boring; too well behaved, too quiet. These are usually the people who have never been in a war, never witnessed the terror of children watching their parents tortured, never seen a human skull exploding, never heard the screams of a grandfather trapped under concrete beams, never looked into the eyes of a woman who has been multiply raped.

I come from a military family. My father fought in the artillery in the First World War, my eldest brother was a paratrooper, my third brother was in the Royal Navy and was killed when I was ten years old. I learned to shoot with a gun at 11, to fly aeroplanes at 26, and to parachute at 40. In Bosnia I sat at the bedside of a man whose eyes had been destroyed by a sniper’s bullet. In the Congo I quailed before the crazed terror of armed and drunken soldiers out of control. In Japan I watched the faces of those who saw at first hand the untold horrors of the atomic explosion in Hiroshima.

The wounds of war take three generations to heal—at a minimum. Some are not healed even after seven centuries. Even a ‘minimal’action taken in war, for example one sniper squeezing a trigger, a decision of a millisecond, can kill an innocent baker and send an entire family into destitution on the streets.

What is Shared Security

As a peace builder and supporter of other peace builders, to me shared security means above all taking responsibility for the forces that drive armed violence, because that action is essential if those drivers are to be curbed. Then it means recognizing what is already working to build peace effectively at both local and international levels, and scaling up such initiatives worldwide.

The work I do has involved me with people who seem to have a lot of power—physicists who design nuclear warheads, military officers in charge of nuclear weapons, manufacturers who produce and sell missiles and machine guns, strategists who design defense policies, as well as those who sign the cheques—not just in Britain, France, China, the US and Russia, but also in Israel, India and Pakistan.

This work involved bringing these key policy makers to meet each other and their informed critics, and begin to work out agreements to cut nuclear weapons production. It was undertaken by the Oxford Research Group, that I set up in 1982 [1].

After 21 years I handed on that work to others, because I observed a phenomenon happening at the other end of the spectrum of violence, namely the growth of locally-led peace initiatives. These are people who risk their lives to stop other people being killed, trying their best to build peaceful societies.

For this reason, I set up Peace Direct[2]to support their work in areas of hot armed conflict in many parts of the world. I spend a lot of time listening to such people, because they are the new heroes, the unarmedheroes.

The change necessary 

At this point in history, I am strongly aware that humanity has built up looming threats to our security that weaponry cannot even begin to deal with—climate change, the rich-poor divide, migration, over population, terrorism. Therefore, it is time to take a hard look at both the military-industrial complex that drives war, and others for whom war means wealth. It is time to divert their skills and our skills to making what humanity now needs. It’s time to access a better kind of intelligence, to demonstrate how conflicts can be prevented and resolved without armed violence. It is time to build a Business Plan for Peaceand to make peace profitable.

The dream that gives me strength for this work is the capacity of feminine intelligence to come into balance with the masculine. For thousands of years major human decisions have been made by men, and the results are now proving disastrous. I see the possibility that humanity can evolve by recognizing and employing the wisdom of the feminine, available of course to men as it is to women. That wisdom and intelligence includes compassion, inclusivity, caring for the planet that sustains us, outlawing armed violence, and replacing the use of force with mediation.

What keeps me going with this work is two-fold. Daily, I am amazed and humbled by those facing terror, who nevertheless walk towards what they fear. Gulalai Ismael is one of them. She lives in NW Pakistan, one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a woman. Aged 15 she started an organization called Aware Girls to enable females to go to school; Malala Yousefzai was shot in the head for doing just this. Gulalai, undeterred, has now trained 20 teams of young men and women in Pakistan and Afghanistan to prevent other young people joining extremist groups. Using the tools of listening and dialogue, they have reached and dissuaded more than 500 teenagers ‘at risk’of becoming extremist.

Secondly, what sustains me is ultimately the ground. When I come home tired and dispirited, I go out to the garden and get my hands in the earth and think about nothing but helping vegetables to grow. I come back muddy and happy and peaceful.

Those who walk beside me are my family and a large, powerful, highly conscious contingent of friends and colleagues. What has recently inspired me was realizing that we can now, for the first time ever, estimate the costs of preventing war worldwide[3].

This means that we can also demonstrate the impact that ordinary people can have to prevent and resolve conflict, and help make a peaceful world possible. There are skills that we can all develop that enable us to prevent conflict in the workplace, in the community, and in the family too. In The Business Plan for PeaceI wanted to include these skills as well as the human side of things —the mistakes I’ve made, what a crisis felt like at the time, the incredible warmth and courage of the people I’ve been lucky enough to work with, and the times when it has been nourishing and inspiring and even a lot of fun.

What I have seen of war, and the building of peace, convinces me that human beings are well able to find better ways to resolve conflict than by killing each other. It’s not easy, but we now know how to do it. This short book is a first attempt to answer some of the tough questions involved. It is by no means complete or comprehensive, and your improvements and ideas will be welcome.

The response to The Business Plan for Peace has been remarkable. The book has been welcomed by HH The Dalai Lama, praised by Oxford professors and supported by the founder of the Institute for Economics and Peace. In addition, individuals and companies have come forward offering skills, assistance and partnership, with particular reference to 9 of the 25 strategies. That’s what I’m working on now.

Doing this work the key thing I have learned is that power over others is the problem. Power over is attractive to human beings convinced by the seductive idea that ultimate power brings ultimate security. That route leads to armageddon.

Einstein warned us that we cannot solve a problem using the consciousness that created it. So, humanity now has the chance to evolve our consciousness, and develop a different understanding of power, namely power with others. That means re-balancing feminine intelligence with masculine. It means up-grading the value we ascribe to qualities like compassion, inclusivity, caring for the planet, and wisdom. It means insisting that women sit at all decision-making tables, at all levels, equally with men.

It means sharing power, and valuing the brilliance, courage and capacity of (extra)ordinary people to prevent suffering. It means trusting people to resolve problems, by understanding that local people know best what needs to be done in their own areas. Tomorrow I shall get up, S-T-R-E-T-C-H- (very important as I turn 75), and go out into my small garden. There I shall sit on a bench and encourage the vegetables as they grow, and listen to the bees as they work. Then I’ll be ready to work. Tomorrow that work is to help build a strategy to enable Women to Break the Cycle of Violence; training, connecting and mobilizing networks of women, using their power to defuse bigotry, racism and armed violence.

[3]See The Business Plan for Peace,available from

Bruce Nixon – Blog (November 2018)

BLOG – Review and Synopsis of The Business Plan for Peace – Building a World without War
Author: Bruce Nixon
First Published: November 2018

“As I begin to write, it is Armistice Day when we honour the dead on both sides of the conflict. The best way to honour all those who lost their lives in the Great War and subsequent wars would be to commit to end war for good. In her book Scilla Elworthy shows us how this can be done. Her key message is: War is past its sell-by date.

This is a marvellous book both visionary and, as the title implies, hard-headed and pragmatic. It’s based on years of practical experience of peace-making and the prevention of violent conflict.”  Read the full article here.

The Sisters (October 2018)

Peace is Possible
Author: Dr Scilla Elworthy
First Published: October 2018

In this article for The Sisters website, Scilla shares her thoughts on how we can move to a peaceful world and harness the power of feminine wisdom.  Read the full article here.

Scoop Book review (February 2018)

Scoop book review: The Business Plan for Peace – Building a World Without War (Peace Direct, 2017)
Author: David Swanson.
First Published: February 2018

“If you had just asked me if peace needed a “business plan,” I’d have replied, “Sure! Just like it needs a toupeed golfing fascist reality-TV creep in the White House! That’ll just about fix everything! War is over! Thanks!”  Read the full review here.

Paradigm Explorer 2017/3 Book review (March 2017)

Paradigm Explorer 2017/3 Book Review: The Business Plan for Peace – Building a World Without War (Peace Direct, 2017)
Author: David Lorimer
First Published: March 2017

Scilla Elworthy has been nominated three times for the Nobel Peace Prize for her work with the Oxford Research Group
 in developing effective dialogue between nuclear-weapons policymakers, scientists and military, and she has been an active peacemaker for decades. I imagine that many readers would like to contribute 
to peace building themselves, and this brilliant and strategic book spells out exactly how you can do this in the context of a continuing war economy based on mutual fear and threat. We can all step out of helplessness and apply our skills to the challenges we face and, in the words of Nelson Mandela, ‘support courage where there is fear, foster agreement where there is conflict, and inspire hope where there is despair.’ The book is in three parts: the problem of war, how war can be stopped, and who can do this and how. A key initial insight is that humiliation is a key driver of violence, and respect is the strongest antidote to humiliation and the fastest way of reducing a conflict; also that power is essentially human beings making decisions, and in that sense we can all exercise a degree of power.

The global interest in stopping war is in fact a no-brainer, even though we find it difficult because we are suffering from centuries of revenge, terrorism, floods 
of refugees, not to mention children maimed for life. Syria is perhaps a good example of intractability, where more
 than 470,000 people have been killed
 and 12 million people driven from their homes. All this violence is very expensive, totalling an estimated $13.6 trillion in 2015 as compared with UN peacekeeping expenditures of $8.27 billion in the same year – really an unanswerable argument for spending more on peace, all the more so since militarism cannot address future security threats in terms of climate change, migration, water shortage and inequality. Needless to say, the cost of addressing these issues is peanuts beside the annual $2 trillion spent on war or preparing for war.

The psychological drivers of war are aggression, greed, fanaticism, ambition, fear or threat. Global military expenditure has increased by 64% in the period between 1999 and 2016, with annual global arms sales running at $94.5 billion. The five permanent members of the UN Security Council are also the top five arms sellers, and it is an outrageous scandal that the UK has sold arms to 22 of 30 countries on its own human rights watch list since 2010 – notably to Saudi Arabia where UK arms were used to attack Yemen and create a severe humanitarian crisis. Hypocritically, sales approved to these countries are said to be ‘essential for our security and prosperity’ – they should have said that they help perpetuate a vicious cycle of inhumanity and insecurity. Underlying all this is the prevailing defence establishment narrative of security through dominance, and it is revealing to learn that almost all these people are privately educated men advocating what Scilla calls a hardware rather than a software approach, which would involve ‘dealing with people, developing trust, finding common ground.’

Encouragingly, though, we do know how to prevent war and resolve conflict, and there is good training available to develop the requisite skills, the most essential of which is mutual listening where inner power replaces domination power.
This is all explained in the second part dealing with basic principles of dialogue, prevention and early intervention, strategies for building peace, and costing the business plan for peace. Critically, 
this involves intervening in the cycle of violence so that the anger generated by an atrocity does not lead to further revenge and retaliation. Scilla gives 25 diverse strategies, explaining the principle of each, giving an example, and how to plan for its replication. In a number of these, the role of women is crucial, in spite of the fact that 90% of negotiators and those in policy-making positions on peace and conflict are men. One proposal is for 2.5% tax on current annual arms sales, which would yield more than enough money to fund diverse peace initiatives, as costed
in the next chapter. Here, she notes that political will is critical in order to pressure on ministers.

The business plan for peace is a first, 
and it is based on systems that effectively prevent conflict and build peace at local, national and international levels. Each component is explained and costed over a ten-year period, and the total is just under $2 billion as compared with 2016 global military expenditure of $1,686 billion! The essential new approach is understanding how safety and security involve preventing violence at source instead of waiting for conflict to break out. Government thinking is so narrowly and pragmatically based, that we the people have to take things into our own hands, and the third part of the book explains how. The rising generation is more familiar with the shift from me
 to we, representing the application of feminine intelligence and the bringing into balance of masculine and feminine principles. Scilla suggests many potential causes of action for readers to espouse at local, national and international levels, including supporting Simultaneous Policy – see my review of the recent book about this in Books in Brief.

In terms of skills, Scilla has learned 
from experience that inner work is a prerequisite for outer effectiveness, because the quality of our awareness directly affects the quality of results. This means moving beyond self-righteousness, working with emotions and the shadow, and developing our capacity for deep listening. In an alchemical process, aggression can be replaced by presence and integrity. Scilla also gives good practical advice on taking a stand and concludes that ‘the most powerful and lasting way to counter war and violence is to build a culture of peace’, living together and celebrating differences, transforming society from the inside out. This remarkable book distils a lifetime of practical wisdom and provides readers with a comprehensive toolkit including the necessary figures to make the case for building a world beyond war while at the same time creating a truly sustainable society.

Resurgence & Ecologist (May 2017)

Working for a World Without War
Author: Dr Scilla Elworthy
First Published: May 2017

In this article for the Resurgence & Ecologist magazine Scilla considers why war continues, how peace can be built, what it will cost, and who can do it. The broader topic of the May issue is ‘Real Wealth’. Read Scilla’s article here.

Kosmos (May 2017)

Dealing with the Darkness of what Humans do to Humans
Author: Dr Scilla Elworthy
First Published: May 2017

The Spring-Summer 2017 edition of Kosmos asks us to re-examine our notions of ‘activism’ and consider the fabric of our lives and all our actions as opportunities for conscious engagement.

Scilla contributed with an article titled Dealing with the Darkness of what Humans do to Humans. More information about the issue and how to gain access is found here.

Kompass (November 2016)

A Global Strategy For Building Peace : Changing the Way the World Deals with War
Author: Dr Scilla Elworthy
First Published: November 2016

“In an unprecedented overall strategy to prevent violent conflict, Dr. Elworthy develops a whole systems approach to the building of peace worldwide, from the local level to regional and national and global levels.”  The article was published in the first edition of Kompass, a magazine dedicated to cultivating a culture of peace.

OpenDemocracy (April 2016)

Love in a Time of Hatred
Author: Dr Scilla Elworthy
First Published: April 2016

In the article “Love in a Time of Hatred” that appeared on the website OpenDemocracy, Scilla formulates a compassionate, determinate and courageous response that aims to build peace in the face of hate.  It describes the importance of unity, building bridges and empowering local people as well as the important role that women need to play to establish this.

Independent Publication (February 2016)

Perspectives on Values and Love at Work
Authors: Dr Scilla Elworthy & Hein Dijksterhuis
First Published: February 2016

This 7-part Intensive on Love and Values at Work was prepared by Scilla and Hein Dijksterhuis, as a result of a Learning Lab entitled “Strengthening Inner Perspectives In Leadership Development On Love and Forgiveness”.  It took place at Vista Allegre, Brazil, in April 2015, and was funded by the Fetter Institute.

Forbes (October 2015)

A Nobel Spirit
Author: Carlo Taquar
First Published: October 2015

Forbes magazine wrote a wonderful article about one of the projects Scilla visited in the summer of 2015. Read the article here to learn more about Bobby Dekeyser’s inspiring project and Scilla’s impression when visiting the village project in Barangay Bagalnga, the Philippines.

Earthlines (November 2015)

Shifting Values in the 21st Century
Authors: Dr Scilla Elworthy & David Knowles
First Published: November 2015

Scilla & David Knowles co-authored the article “Shifting Values in the 21st Century”. It appeared in the November issue of Earthlines (issue #13). You can access the table of contents and buy the November issue here.

Tea After Twelve (July 2015)

Why is the Future up to Generation Y?
Author: Dr Scilla Elworthy
First Published: July 2015

Scilla elaborates on her perspectives on the role and significance of Millennials in an interview that was conducted just before her keynote to the Deutche Welle Global Forum in June 2015.

“Millennials feel that the moral compass has disappeared. Many express the need for a sense of purpose at work, and to align what they do every day with what’s happening in the wider world. They say they want to make a contribution, to feel there is meaning in what they do.”  Read the full article here.

Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation (June 2015)

Why finding ‘peace within’ is more essential than ever for young people facing an uncertain future…
Author: Dr Scilla Elworthy
First Published: June 2015

“Fostering peace within is more important than ever for young people, particularly when you’re growing up in a world that seems to be without it.” Read Scilla’s article here.

The Huffington Post (March 2015)

Women’s Voices and the Rising Tide of Violence.
Authors: Dr Scilla Elworthy and Anne Baring
First Published: March 2015

“International Women’s Day may be celebrated every year, but in this year of 2015 we women need to wake up and start thinking about what – worldwide – we can do about violence against women.”  Read the full article here.

The Guardian (January 2015)

The tools for a radical new kind of leadership
Author: Dr Scilla Elworthy
First Published: January 2015

“Working with leaders like Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu, Scilla Elworthy has learned that inner work is the most important prerequisite for effective leadership.”  Read the full article here.

The Guardian (December 2014)

Moral compass not quarterly figures must dominate in business
Author: Dr Scilla Elworthy
First Published: December 2014

“Nobel Peace Prize nominee, Dr Scilla Elworthy, says rethinking the definition of success encourages businesspeople to devote their skills to the good of the planet.”  Read Scilla’s article here.

Huffington Post (October 2014)

Pioneering the Possible
Author: Dr Scilla Elworthy
First Published: October 2014

“True pioneers are fuelled by their vision of how a new world could be, and dare to take on what has never been done before. Now, when so few people have any vision at all of the future, the pioneering spirit embodies the kind of leadership so deeply needed on the planet.”  Read the full article here.

Virgin Unite (October 2014)

How to find your Inner Power
Author: Dr Scilla Elworthy
First Published: October 2014

“Want to be the kind of leader our world needs? Scilla Elworthy shares how you can improve your self-awareness and tap into your inner strength…” Read Scilla’s blog post for Virgin Unite here.

Times of India (June 2014‎)

Dartington Tagore Festival celebrates peace
First Published: June 2014

Dr Scilla Elworthy, a three-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee and a recipient of the Niwano Peace Prize will speak about her forthcoming book on inner power for effectiveness in the world at the festival.  Read the article here.

Huffington Post (April 2014)

10 Global Values That Are Old and Stale, and How to Replace Them
Author: Dr Scilla Elworthy
First Published: April 2014

“In April 2014 at the conference on “Love and Integrity in Governance” in Iceland I presented 10 values or norms that have governed our (Western) actions for centuries, and which have contributed to the state of the planet today, and then proposed that we can replace each one with the kind of values that could enable better decisions — decisions that could get us out of the mess we’re in.” Read Scilla’s article here.

Journal of Holistic Healthcare, Volume 11, Issue 1 (Spring 2014)

Authentic Leadership: ten values we have to change
Author: Dr Scilla Elworthy
First Published: Spring 2014

In this article Scilla analyses the current leadership crisis and proposes ten necessary shifts in perspectives and values.  For more information More information about the issue and how to gain access is found here.

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