QCEA builds on 350 years of Quaker peace witness

Witnessing to peace has been central to Quaker faith since the origins of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in the seventeenth century. Quakers are therefore recognised as one of the historic peace churches. The founder of the movement that became Quakerism, George Fox, said, ‘We are called to live ‘in the virtue of that life and power that takes away the occasion of all wars’. Quakers are convinced that there is ‘that of God’, a divine spark, in everyone, that peace is created by people following the promptings of love and truth in their hearts, and that God’s Spirit of love will never move us to kill another human being. We therefore advocate creative, non-violent responses to conflict. Our peace testimony has evolved over the past 350 years and been expressed in writing from time to time in varying circumstances.

QCEA’s role

Quakers are now actively engaged in peacebuilding in many parts of the world. QCEA’s role is to promote the devotion of resources to peacebuilding rather than weaponry and armed services by engaging in advocacy towards the European Union (EU) and the Council of Europe.

QCEA’s peace programme is founded on the basic premise that the EU and the Council of Europe were conceived as peace projects, and that peace should remain the guiding principle in all that they do.
QCEA’s publication Be Patterns, Be Examples brings together a number of historical and more recent texts on peace, both from Quaker history and from an analysis of the European approach to security policy from a peacebuilding perspective.


QCEA has been working for many years on the role of the EU in peacebuilding worldwide. Much of this work is now done with others through the European Peacebuilding Liaison Office; QCEA is particularly involved in the programme areas relating to Peacebuilding and the EU Institutions and Funding for Peace.

Current Work

Promoting peacebuilding, discouraging militarism
QCEA advocates prioritisation of civilian peacebuilding over military activity and support for the arms trade. The EU can be most effective in the world if it focuses on civilian-led approaches that support economic and political cooperation and development. The European Union is itself an example of international cooperation. Its civilian peacebuilding missions have helped to promote human rights and the principles that underpin fairer societies, such as the rule of law.

In particular QCEA is monitoring the EU’s development of remotely piloted aircraft systems (drones). By looking to the military to fulfil its foreign policy objectives, the EU is enlisting a discredited approach to global interaction. It thereby risks undermining the EU’s important role in soft power (to attract and co-opt rather than coerce) and example as a peace project. Read this year’s peace blogs.

Trade and peacebuilding

One of QCEA’s active areas of work is the impact of EU funding on conflict prevention and natural resources. We engage with the European Investment Bank (EIB) which funds projects in line with EU values. In 2014, QCEA staff met with EIB directors and commented on the Bank’s revised transparency policy. We have emphasised the need for the EIB to build on the lessons learned through its recently revised complaints procedure, and to ensure projects are screened and assessed with regard to social and environmental impact. [link to Economic justice section and publications]

Past work

What drives EU foreign policy? (2011-2012)
One of the important questions in identifying the rationale behind European Union action as ‘a global player’ is: What drives EU foreign policy? This is a complex question because EU foreign policy is an area where the EU acts on an intergovernmental basis, but which is also affected by policy areas such as trade, external relations, energy, migration and asylum, agriculture, fisheries, development assistance and humanitarian aid.
Peace Tax (2003-2011)
QCEA seeks the establishment of a legal right to conscientious objection to the use of one’s tax money for military purposes. We have produced a series of briefing papers addressing this subject