Promoting Enduring Peace
|Formation||1 January 1952|
|Founder||Dr. Jerome Davis|
|Legal status||501(c)(3) Organization|
PEP was founded in 1952 by Dr. Jerome Davis. Its original purpose was resisting the ideology of ceaseless aggression and nuclear terror that characterized the Cold War. It was incorporated as a tax-exempt educational organization in 1958 and reincorporated as a 501(c)(3) charitable-educational organization in 2008. It is a United Nations non-governmental organization (NGO).
Its principal programs have been peace education, citizen diplomacy, and the awarding of the Gandhi Peace Award to recipients such as Eleanor Roosevelt, Cesar Chavez, Daniel Ellsberg, and more recently Amy Goodman (2012), Bill McKibben (2013), and Medea Benjamin (2014).
PEP is a membership organization, with "activist" (voting) and "supporting" (non-voting) members. Because assets have accumulated from decades of member donations sufficient to cover modest administrative costs, donations to PEP from individuals can be allocated entirely to programming.
PEP's mission, reformulated in 2007 to fit the post-Cold War circumstances of the 21st Century, is to contribute to transforming the reigning social paradigm from one of competition to cooperation, from a culture of violence and war to a global commonwealth devoted to the wellbeing of all who share it. The updated mission statement anticipates a convergence of dangers previously considered as separate and discrete, in which each danger compounds the others, paralleling the convergence of systems that characterizes globalization. It states that a rapid and peaceful transition is required from an unsustainable civilization steeped in institutionalized violence, exploitation, and profligate consumption to a commonwealth based on universal harmony, mutual respect, and a love of the Earth and all beings who call it home. The mission statement also states that PEP intends to devote significant effort and resources to achieving a fusion of peace, environmental, and social movements, in the belief that these causes are interdependent and none can succeed unless all succeed.
Gandhi Peace Award
The Gandhi Peace Award has always been accepted in person by the recipient during a ceremony held for that purpose in Connecticut or New York City, usually once each year. Since 2011 the Award has come with a cash prize. Nominations are accepted from PEP members; nominees are distinguished by having made, over a period of years, a significant contribution to the promotion of an enduring international peace founded on social justice, self-determination, diversity, compassion, and environmental harmony, achieved through cooperative and nonviolent means in the spirit of Gandhi. On March 13, 1959, PEP founder Jerome Davis formally proposed that a yearly award be given “for contributions made in the promotion of international peace and good will.” Brief bios of every Award recipient: PEPeace.org/gandhi-peace-award
Other peace education activities
PEP's peace education activities include publishing daily and weekly peace news updates. Emphasizing the connection between peace and environmental harmony, and co-sponsoring a daily environmental news update. Additionally, it makes available articles and other peace resources online.
Prior to the Internet PEP mailed out packets of articles to all who requested them; during the Vietnam War period alone PEP mailed over 10 million articles encouraging peace to educators and organizers in numerous countries. In 1975 PEP presented "Uncloaking the CIA" at Yale University, the first national conference exposing the dangers posed by unregulated CIA activities in 1976, from which a book of the same name was developed and published in 1978 (Ed. Howard Frazier). A principal conference organizer was Dr. Martin Cherniack, then a student at the Yale School of Medicine, who later served as president of the organization for 18 years. A conference is planned on the integration of the peace and environmental movements toward the transition to a sustainable, peaceful civilization.
Citizen diplomacy activities
By organizing groups of Americans to visit the USSR, Cuba, Costa Rica, China, and Mongolia during and after the Cold War, PEP has given ordinary citizens a chance to get to know "the Other," leaving them with positive, lifelong memories, new friendships and hope for a peaceful world. As an example, in 2002 a PEP citizen diplomacy delegation journeyed to Vietnam to contribute to healing the deep scars left by the 1960-74 U.S. invasion. Its largest and most well-publicized event was the reciprocal tours of the Volga River in Russia and the Mississippi River in 1978 by citizen delegations from the Soviet Union, the United States, and other nations.
Fusion of progressive movements
PEP co-sponsors numerous events conducted by other peace, environmental, and social justice organizations, such as the conference on human rights held at Quinnipiac University in 2008. The stated strategy is to take the "long view" rather than only respond to each new crisis as it occurs, as when Dr. Jerome Davis anticipated the dangers Cold War in the late 1940s and founded PEP in response. In 2003 PEP coordinated with other Connecticut peace groups to provide trains conveying thousands of people to the demonstrations in New York City opposing the Bush Administration plan to invade Iraq. PEP is developing a long-term "think tank" activity intended to create cogent source documents encouraging the productive interaction and mutual support of the peace, environmental, and social justice movements.
Links to Christian Left
Though it is a secular organization, its roots are in the Christian Left and it continues to cooperate with members of the progressive religious community. In its early years PEP was led by Davis and Dr. Roland Bainton, both Yale professors (Religion and Divinity School, respectively), and its executive directors were retired Christian ministers. Howard T. Frazier, the first president of the Consumer Federation of America, served as PEP's longest-serving Executive Director. He developed and conducted the programs and activities from 1978 until his death in 1997, with the assistance of his wife and, later, co-director Alice Zeigler Frazier.
PEP's activities were interrupted from 2005 to 2008, when a few members affiliated with other groups, led by an attorney affiliated with a group whose professed goal is the destruction of progressive and public organizations, attempted to have it dissolved so that its assets could be distributed to those groups. The attempt was blocked by the Office of the Attorney General of Connecticut and a court order providing for the continuance of PEP and the establishment of the Peace and Social Justice Fund at the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven, endowed by a portion of PEP's assets, to award grants for projects substantially similar to PEP's traditional activities (peace education, citizen diplomacy, and work toward a sustainable world peace). Groups seeking funds from PEP are referred to that Fund.
- PEPeace.org homepage
- PeaceNews.org (not to be confused with Peace News (UK))