Pioneers of peace through the ages
Bertha von Suttner (1843 – 1914) Czech-Austrian author and Nobel Peace Prize winner (1905). She wrote the influential pacifist novel Die Waffen Nieder! (“Lay Down Your Arms!”), founded the German Peace Society, and was an influential figure in the Pre-war movement to lay down arms and avoid war.
Émile Arnaud (1864–1921)
Émile Arnaud was an ardent pacifist who helped to coin the term pacifism in the late Nineteenth Century. Arnaud codified his beliefs into the ‘Code de la Paix’ in 1901. He advocated humanism, charity, tolerance and non-violent conflict resolution.
Mahatma Gandhi (1869 – 1948)
Inspired Indians to independence through a path of non-violence. To Gandhi, the road to the goal was as important as the goal itself.
Bertrand Russell (1872 – 1970)
A British pacifist who campaigned against conscription. He was sent to jail for six months for speaking against America’s entry into the First World War in 1917. Russell did support the war against Nazi Germany, but after WWII he joined the campaign for nuclear disarmament.
Nelson Mandela (1918 – 2013)
He made a significant contribution to peace in South Africa. Although imprisoned for fighting apartheid, he was released and became the first democratically elected President. Mandela sought to forgive and work with the former white minority. Mandela became a global symbol of goodwill and how people can make a real contribution to peace. Awarded Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 (jointly with F.W. de Klerk)
Uri Avnery (1923 – 2018) Israeli peace activist who founded the Gush peace movement and advocated talks with Palestinians and a ‘generosity towards Arabs’ as a way to broker peace between the two peoples.
Noam Chomsky (1928 – )
American linguist, philosopher, prolific writer and political activist. Chomsky is one of the leading intellectual figures in the US – campaigning on many issues, including the Iraq War – and supporting the Occupy movements. He was arrested in the 1960s for opposing the Vietnam War.
Martin Luther King (1929 – 1968)
Non-violent civil rights leader. King promoted an end to discrimination through an inclusive philosophy of non-violent protest and mutual co-operation. He also spoke out against the Vietnam war.
Yoko Ono (1933 – )
US artist and musician. Married John Lennon, star of the Beatles. In the late 60s, they took part in peaceful protests against the Vietnam War. She also performed with Lennon, the iconic anti-war song “Give Peace a Chance”.
Joan Baez (1941 – )
Joan Baez was a singer-songwriter who held a deep conviction in the value of non-violence and pacifism. She was jailed on several occasions for protesting the Vietnam War. She travelled around the world to support human rights campaigns. Her music inspired a generation of anti-war and anti-racism campaigners.
Betty Williams (1943-2020)
Williams along with Mairead Corrigan co-founded the Community of Peace People – an organisation dedicated to promoting a peaceful resolution to the Northern Ireland conflict. She was jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize with Corrigan in 1976.
Leymah Roberta Gbowee (1972 – )
A Liberian peace activist. She helped to found and develop the Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace – a non-violent movement that helped bring an end to the Second Liberian Civil War in 2003. In 2011, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize with Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Tawakkul Karman.
Tegla Laroupe (1973 – ) Kenya marathon runner and peace activist. Widely praised for promoting peace amongst African tribes. In 2003, Laroupe created an annual series of Peace Marathons sponsored by the Tegla Loroupe Peace Foundation.