The Perpetual Peace Project begins from the understanding that for many politicians and policy experts, today “peace” is a poorly defined word that has many meanings in different contexts. Similarly, when used in public discourse peace is often dismissed as an empty rhetorical gesture, or as an abstract and unsustainable concept. It persists more pragmatically through short-term processes to mitigate suffering or end ongoing hostilities, or as the desired outcome of supposedly necessary wars. Yet this resigned acceptance of strife, and this dismissal of peace as an esoteric or irrelevant exercise, seems paradoxical in a world that has long dreamed for things to be otherwise.
This project is a partnership between the European Union National Institutes of Culture (EUNIC), the International Peace Institute (IPI), the United Nations University, Slought Foundation, and Syracuse University. It joins theorists and practitioners in revisiting 21st century prospects for international peace. The project finds its public form in symposia, exhibitions, lectures, as well as a feature film organized around Immanuel Kant’s foundational essay “Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch” (1795), which itself takes the form of an international treaty exploring the possibility of permanent peace. Positing peace as an unnatural state that must be enforced by international laws and governing bodies, Kant effectively anticipates multilateral institutions like the United Nations and the European Union. Though the essay’s ironic tone suggests the impossibility of this vision, one of its ultimate goals is to nevertheless challenge the politicians who mock the concept as “a childish and pedantic idea,” and to create in their place a newly discursive space for discussing peace and international law.
Web site: http://perpetualpeaceproject.org/