United for Peace and Justice [UFPJ] 2014 Annual Report

2014 was a devastating year in terms of the challenges to global peace and justice –
the rise of ISIS and the humanitarian and human rights crises in Syria and Iraq;
tensions between Russia and the U.S. and its NATO allies centered on the conflict in
Ukraine; tensions with Iran over sanctions and nuclear policy and attempts to
undermine promising diplomatic openings to Iran; the continued presence of U.S.
troops in Afghanistan; Guantanamo is still not closed; the U.S. “pivot to the Pacific”
added to an incendiary mix of confrontations over borders and trade in the Western
Pacific, involving three old nuclear powers—the U.S., Russia, and China – and a new
addition to the nuclear club, North Korea.

Amidst these deeply concerning developments, there was one very positive
development: the growing support for negotiations with Iran and the lifting of the
sanctions that have so devastated the Iranian people. UFPJ will be focused on
promoting negotiations in the coming year.

2014 was also the year of two extraordinary developments: the rise of national
protests of police use of deadly force and the militarization of policing following the
tragic killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO and the climate change mobilization
that took place in New York City in September. The energy of these two powerful
movements for social justice and sustainability presented opportunities for our
peace and justice network to build new bridges between progressive U.S. forces that
we aim to continue to develop in 2015 and 2016.

UFPJ responded to all of these challenges and opportunities by organizing national
educational calls, by producing resources and promoting the sharing of resources
produced by our member organizations, and by offering individuals opportunities to
join in protests and undertake other actions to effect change in our national policies.
UFPJ’s all-volunteer, Coordinating Committee worked hard to increase our capacity
– as an all-volunteer network – to keep our member groups and dedicated activists
linked together for effective action and impact!

As Michael McPhearson, Veterans for Peace Interim Executive Director and former
UFPJ National Coordinator underscored during a UFPJ briefing call in October: “It is
our charge as peacemakers and justice-seekers to stand with the people of Ferguson
and all those who are victims of state violence as we make clear the connections
between the war at home and the wars abroad, such as the renewed U.S. bombing of
Iraq and Syria.”

UFPJ was able to plan in advance for activities surrounding the People’s Climate
March. We were a key partner in the “People’s Climate Convergence for People,
Planet and Peace Over Profit” and organized a path-breaking workshop, “Uniting
Our Strategies to Stop War and Save the Planet.” In addition, UFPJ was able to take
advantage of the presence in NYC of so many of our network’s members to convene
a “Peace and Justice Assembly” of member groups, friends and allies to discuss the
synergies between opposing militarization and war at home and abroad, and
promoting sustainability and reducing climate change.

UFPJ has pushed hard on many issues: ending U.S. military operations around the
world, abolition of nuclear weapons, slashing the immoral U.S. military budget,
redirecting resources to urgent issues like climate change and sustainable
development, and standing in solidarity with those across the nation who are
peacefully rising up against racism and militarization of the police. We continue to
promote “Nuclear Free Future Month” and ongoing action to achieve the global
elimination of nuclear weapons and nuclear power – building on the traditional
August 6 th and 9 th Hiroshima – Nagasaki commemorations.

UFPJ’s Legislative Action Group regularly monitored U.S. actions and reactions,
especially the threat of military action, in order to send out information about
legislation on foreign policy, military spending, social justice, and other issues
related to UFPJ’s mission. In addition to our regular information on such legislation
as the NDAA and spending on the War in Afghanistan, UFPJ is actively promoting
“Opposition to Military Action in Syria and Iraq,” and “Diplomacy Not War With
Iran.”

UFPJ is making plans to hit the ground running in 2015! We are working with the
Canadian Peace Alliance to commemorate the February 15 th anniversary of the
momentous global protests in 2003 against the U.S.-led war on Iraq in the context of
today’s wars and militarism. In the pipeline are briefing calls on Iraq/Syria, Iran, and
alternatives to war, as well as a national networking call for our member groups.
Continuing our efforts to educate the public about the need to end foreign wars and
to promote justice at home, UFPJ will be supporting and promoting the Global Day of
Action on Military Spending the week of April 13. We’re also gearing up for the
Spring 2015 Mobilization for a Nuclear-free, Fair, Democratic, Ecologically
Sustainable and Peaceful Future in New York City.