United For Peace and Justice (UFPJ) is an anti-war coalition consisting of more than 1,300 local and national groups joined together “to protest the immoral and disastrous Iraq War and oppose our [American] government’s policy of permanent warfare and empire-building.” The coalition’s Unity Statement denounces “the ‘pre-emptive’ wars of aggression waged by the Bush administration” in its “drive to expand U.S. control over other nations and strip us of our rights at home under the cover of fighting terrorism and spreading democracy.”
In an effort to diminish the potential calamities that might result from what UFPJ characterizes as America’s aggressive pursuit of world domination, the coalition has launched a Nuclear Disarmament Campaign. “The world,” it says, “is destined to find itself in a state of perpetual war so long as the United States maintains its bloated nuclear arsenal. Nuclear disarmament must become a core issue on the global peace movement’s agenda.”
UFPJ was officially created on October 25, 2002 in the Washington, DC offices of People For the American Way. Its initial membership consisted of approximately 70 organizations. Prior to UFPJ’s founding, the anti-war movement had earned a reputation as a hodgepodge of radical elements. All the large-scale peace demonstrations to that point had been held under the auspices of International ANSWER, an organization aligned with Global Exchange, headed by the longtime pro-Castro communist Medea Benjamin; Not In Our Name, a project organized by Ramsey Clark and fellow leaders of the Revolutionary Communist Party; and the Marxist-Leninist Workers World Party. United For Peace and Justice was created explicitly to put a milder face on the anti-war movement, although from its inception UFPJ shared with the aforementioned groups a passionate hatred for the United States and for capitalism.
The Co-Chair and principal leader of UFPJ is Leslie Cagan, an original founder of the Committees of Correspondence (a remnant organization created by the American Communist Party upon going out of business) and a strong supporter of Fidel Castro since the 1960s; Cagan proudly aligns her politics with those of Communist Cuba.
The breadth of UFPJ’s agendas extends well beyond anti-war activism. Passionately anti-American, this group condemns virtually every aspect of U.S. foreign policy and domestic life. It impugns America’s “daily assaults and attacks on poor and working people, on women, people of color, lesbians/gays and other sexual minorities, the disabled, and so many others.” It asserts that “the government treats all immigrants as potential terrorist threats until proven innocent, in violation of the Constitution,” thereby “expanding the scope and depth of racial injustice within the U.S.”
In July 2005, UFPJ joined a coalition including individuals and organizations such as Eve Ensler, Gloria Steinem, the Center for Constitutional Rights, Code Pink, the Culture Project, and Not In Our Name — who together demanded the closure of the Guantánamo Bay prison camp and an “immediate independent investigation into the widespread allegations of abuse taking place there.” On January 11, 2008, UFPJ helped lead a Washington, DC rally again calling for the prison camp’s closure. Among the co-sponsors and endorsers were Action LA, After Downing Street, the American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International, the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, the Center for Constitutional Rights, Code Pink, Global Exchange, the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, Pax Christi USA, Peace Action, Peace Majority Report, Progressive Democrats of America, Psychologists for Social Responsibility, U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, Veterans For Peace, the War Resisters League, Women Against War, the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, and World Can’t Wait.
UFPJ has campaigned against American support for Israel’s construction of an anti-terrorist security fence in the West Bank, which it describes as an illegal “apartheid wall” that violates the civil and human rights of Palestinians.
UFPJ is also a sponsoring organization of the Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride Coalition, which seeks to secure ever-expanding civil rights and civil liberties protections for illegal aliens, and policy reforms that diminish or eliminate all restrictions on immigration to the United States.
The UFPJ steering committee is a somewhat fluid collection of nearly four-dozen individuals; in recent years this committee has included representatives of such organizations as the American Friends Service Committee, Code Pink, the Communist Party USA, Global Exchange, Historians Against the War, the Independent Progressive Politics Network, the Institute for Policy Studies, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Military Families Speak Out, Not In Our Name, Peace Action, September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, Tikkun Magazine and Community, the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, Veterans For Peace, and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. Among the individuals serving on the steering committee are Medea Benjamin, Van Gosse, Kevin Martin, and Rania Masri.