Wales is now investigating setting up a Peace Institute, along the lines of the Belgian Peace Institute first proposed in 1973, set in motion by the Flemish parliament in 2004, and operational since 2006.
The idea was to provide MPs with information about the arms trade, violence in society, and international peace.
The board of the Belgian institute comprises nineteen members. Each political party can nominate members and peace organisations can nominate six, while the remainder come from trade unions and even the arms industry.
While the duty of the Institute is “to speak truth to power”, its authority comes from the quality of its research. The board decides the range of work, but if parliament requests advice on a particular issue, the Institute must respond. If it produces a recommendation, then Parliament must explain if this is not adopted.
In Wales the possibility of a Peace Institute is being actively pursued by civil society, academics and parliamentarians, particularly Jill Evans MEP who facilitated my visit to Belgium as a member of a Wales delegation.