- Seeks to promote “a better understanding of the social and economic factors that develop a more peaceful society”
The Charitable Foundation (CF) is an Australian Private Ancillary Fund that was established in 2001 and is dedicated to “substantially improving the lives of the poorest of the poor through the delivery of developmental assistance and working towards creating a more peaceful world.” Partnering with a diverse group of domestic (Australian) and foreign non-governmental organizations and foundations, CF supports a broad range of projects in the areas of: Water and Sanitation; Health and Disability; Education; Housing; Agriculture and Livelihoods; Emergency Aid; and Peace. These projects are carried out in 26 different countries, mainly in Southeast Asia and East Africa. Particular focus is directed toward Myanmar, Cambodia, Lao PDR, East Timor, Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania. CF has also funded initiatives in Afganistan, Bangladesh, India, Papua New Guinea, North Korea, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Among the Foundation’s partners are such groups as the Australian Multicultural Foundation, Care Australia, Habitat for Humanity Australia, Oxfam Australia, and, most notably, the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP).
IEP is dedicated to “promoting a better understanding of the social and economic factors that develop a more peaceful society.” Toward this end, the Institute has developed “new conceptual frameworks” – most importantly, the Global Peace Index (GPI) – to define and quantify the relative “peacefulness” of countries around the world.
The information underlying GPI was compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), a research organization affiliated with the publisher of The Economist magazine. Drawing on the efforts of some 650 contributors around the world, the EIU research team factored into its calculations more than 8,000 data points on such considerations as each nation’s military expenditures, relations with neighboring countries, and rates of crime and incarceration. Within a month of its publication, the Index was featured in over 500,000 Internet articles, and the GPI website was visited by more than 250,000 people. Further, the Index was highly praised by Jimmy Carter, the Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu, and Harriet Fulbright (who served as executive director of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities under Bill Clinton), among others.
But some criticized the Index for counting high military expenditures as a negative variable; i.e., one that could lower a nation’s overall “peace” rating. As The Economist noted, this “may seem to give heart to freeloaders: countries that enjoy peace precisely because others (often the USA) care for their defense.” Critics also argued that, by not including indicators specific to violence against women and children, the Index overstated the peacefulness of many societies, including Egypt (where most women are subjected to genital mutilation), China (where female infanticide is widespread), and Chile (where more than one-fourth of all women have suffered at least one episode of domestic violence).
In an effort to help shape the worldview of high-school students, IEP has developed education modules such as Building Blocks of Peace, a series of free teaching materials on issues related to global peace. Downloadable in PDF format, these modules come complete with teacher notes, lesson plans, student handouts, assessment suggestions, and extension activities, as well as links to interactive teaching resources. The lessons are designed for students aged 14 to 16.
IEP also works closely with a large number of universities and business schools around the world, aiming “to inspire and facilitate deeper research into peace and its value to commerce and the global economy.” One of IEP’s most notable affiliates is the International Crisis Group.
Both CF and IEP were founded by Steve Killelea, who spent more than three decades in the information-technology industry. He currently serves on a number of advisory boards, including those of the International Crisis Group, the Alliance for Peacebuilding, and the OECD’s Global Project on Measuring Progress of Societies. An international trustee of the World Council of Religions for Peace, Killelea in 2006 asked the Australian filmmaker Tim Wise to help him start a film company that would promote the cause of nonviolence. Soon thereafter, the duo established One Tree Films (OTF), which produces documentaries and other forms of media with a strong focus on social issues. In 2008, OTF released Soldiers of Peace, a documentary exploring both the individual and societal mindsets upon which genuine peace can be built.
CF is a member of the Peace and Security Funders Group, an association of foundations, charitable trusts, and individual philanthropists who “make grants or expenditures that contribute to peace and global security.”