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Discovering the Nonkilling Paradigm


One of the joys of acknowledging world citizenship and travelling abroad is the gems we find in getting to know the stranger. For me, an invitational trip in 2007 to Hawaii was an eye-opener about a unique way of looking at peace, peace-making, and nonviolence.

The gem was called nonkilling. Its proponent was my host Professor Glenn D. Paige, global political scientist, innovator, author of his seminal work Nonkilling Global Political  Science (2002, 2009), followed by the establishment of a Center for Global Nonkilling in 2008 which was awarded Special Consultative Status with the UN Economic and Social Council in 2014.

As a Canadian peace activist, I discovered the nonkilling paradigm in Hawaii at the First International Leadership Forum of Nonkilling, attended by some 40 wisdom people from around the world.

My own contribution was a paper on Lev N. Tolstoy, the conscience of humanity. Tolstoy absolutely condemned all wars and influenced my ancestors the Spirit Wrestlers / Doukhobors to burn their guns in 1895; he also influenced Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. Glenn Paige used these and many other sources in developing a fresh approach to a new world order of loving and caring global citizens with a vision of nonkilling. It is this vision that I brought to Canada.

Nonkilling is the measure of human progress. Killing stops the progress, but when killing is stopped, human progress resumes. Reverence for life is fundamental to survival and continuity of humanity. Without nonkilling, everything else is meaningless whether we are talking about environment, poverty, health or security.

With a scientific bent, Paige sought precise formulations that could be examined, analyzed and tested. For him, peace, nonviolence and nonkilling were not interchangeable, although they were part of the same family. Nonkilling is measurable with zero killing being its ultimate goal. The nonkilling paradigm defines politics in a complete new way from the usual Hobbesian focus of politics on violence and state power.

As the WHO Report on Violence and Health (2002) concluded that ‘violence is a preventable disease’, so Glenn Paige discovered that ‘nonkilling societies are possible’. What we need is new creative alternative institutions with life enhancing mandates and new cooperative ways of problem solving for realizing nonkilling societies. As with the international space station and the Genome successes, this may require a multinational concentrated effort of changing our ways and beliefs from lethality to non-lethality.

Perhaps the UN needs to reinvigorate its Peacekeeping Operations as part of its mandate to show nations how creative peacebuilding policies and programs can be introduced in the 21st century.

Since returning home from Hawaii, my colleagues and I have lobbied the Canadian government to establish a cabinet-level Department of Peace in Parliament. After two private member’s bills, no action has followed. However, as the world order is threatened with nuclear suicide, a shift from nation-state to a global society is gradually emerging. There is a growing realization that survival of ourselves and our civilization urgently requires new thinking.

Thanks to my Hawaii trip and meeting wise people, the gift of nonkilling that I brought to Canada is a model for sustainable peace that is urgently needed in our fragile world. Let’s hope that more wise people will take up the cause for the creation of a nonkilling society.


Koozma J. Tarasoff, anthropologist, ethnographer, historian, writer and peace activist. (

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