Around 300 people registered for the national conference of the United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC), which was held at the People’s forum in New York City over the weekend of February 21 – 23.  This was the fifth national conference that was held by UNAC, which is also celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2020.  The conference, which was titled “Rise Against Militarism, Racism and the Climate Crisis – Building Power Together,” brought together a range of experienced antiwar leaders and younger activists who are stepping into leadership of our movement. 

Participants at the conference came from 27 states and 4 other countries.  The conference was livestreamed.  The livestreams were viewed by more than 5,000 people              and are at the end of this report.


The conference itself represented a big step forward for the antiwar movement.  It took place during the 2020 election period when candidates are refusing to address the continual wars abroad, which not only have taken the form of invasions and occupations of other countries, but of economic warfare and sanctions, drone and air wars, and with increased use of proxy forces and mercenaries as well as propaganda wars and coups.  These wars have taken place against countries that have stood up to the dictates of Washington and Wall Street and their neo-liberal policies. 

The wars in all their forms were discussed at the conference including the imposition of crippling US imposed economic warfare, and sanctions that have killed millions in the past years, as well as massive interference in the internal affairs of other countries through regime change agencies such as the National Endowment for Democracy, US AID and other U.S. affiliated agencies and NGOs.  A panel was held on “Opposing Sanctions,” which discussed the effects of sanctions on countries such as Cuba, Venezuela, Iran, Zimbabwe and all 39 countries that the US has imposed sanctions on in an attempt to try to get the people to turn against their governments.  Other regime change operations were discussed in the workshop called, “Identifying U.S. Regime Change Campaigns,” which included speakers on Syria, Nicaragua, Bolivia and the DPRK.  The conference supported the days of protest against sanctions, which will take place in local areas on March 13 – 15.  Information on the March 13 – 15 actions can be found here.

The connections between war, racism and the climate crisis were emphasized by the conference.  One workshop called “United States’ Military’s Role in Exacerbating Environmental Degradation” pointed out that the US military is the biggest institutional user of fossil fuels in the world and has a greater carbon footprint than all but 8 countries, yet it is exempt from being considered as part of the carbon footprint of the US, unlike the military in other countries, which have to report their military carbon footprint as part of their overall carbon emissions.  Additionally, with the globalized economy, many US goods are manufactured in other countries to take advantage of cheap labor, poor environmental legislation, and lax labor laws.  Therefore, the manufacture of these good are not counted as part of the US carbon footprint, but instead that of the country they are manufactured in. This is essentially offshoring US pollution. 

The wars at home, and the racism that drives them, was also discussed at the UNAC conference including in the workshop called, “Resisting Militarism in Our Communities.”  UNAC has also taken a strong stand in supporting migrant rights, and at the end of the conference many joined a march from the conference to the Port Authority bus terminal to protest against the Greyhound bus company which has been letting ICE agents onto their buses to search for people without documents.  Thanks to continued pressure – including from the bus driver’s union - during the conference Greyhound announced that it no longer will cooperate with ICE and no longer let them on the buses.  However, the protest at the Port Authority still took place to acknowledge this victory and continue our protests against deportations, walls and family separations.

A panel was held called, “Defending our Movement,” which was chaired by Margaret Flowers of the Venezuelan Embassy Protectors. They are being prosecuted for attempting to keep the right-wing coup organizers from Venezuela out of the Venezuelan embassy.  This panel also heard from Clare Grady of the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 who are facing up to 25 years in prison for their nonviolent protest at a trident nuclear submarine base.  You can sign a petition in support of the Plowshares 7 here.  Other speakers included Kevin Zeese of Popular Resistance and the Venezuelan Embassy Protectors, Michael Smith an attorney who has edited a book on Julian Assange and helped with his defense and Frank Chapman, Co-chair of the newly re-founded National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression.

Other panels during the weekend included “Make Peace an Election Issue” which was organized by UNAC affiliate Black Alliance for Peace (BAP).  BAP has been organizing a candidate pledge, which is for local State and Federal candidates to take a pledge against U.S. interventionism.  The conference decided to help get the pledge disseminated. The pledge can be seen here.  Additionally, we heard from UNAC member groups that are organizing protests at the Republican and Democratic national conventions and UNAC voted to support and build these actions. 

A keynote address was given to the conference by Glen Ford, executive editor of the Black Agenda Report and a long-time supporter of UNAC.   A video of Glen Ford’s talk is at the end of this report.

Other panels during the weekend included “Opposing Imperialist Wars” and “Militarism, Racism and the Climate Crisis.”  On Saturday night, we viewed the film, “Gaza Fights for Freedom,” and heard from the film maker, Abby Martin and her collaborator Mike Prysner.   A plenary session was also held at the conference where UNAC updated its Principals of Unity (see them here) and developed a proposal that outlined actions which we will be supporting in the coming months (see them here).  These included support of the March 13 – 15 protests around US imposed sanctions (see here), the protests at the Democratic and Republican conventions, support for the International Conference for the Normalization of US-Cuba Relations (see here), support for the Black Alliance for Peace candidate pledge (see here) and more.

A listing of the entire conference program can be found here

This conference was an important step forward for the antiwar movement especially during this election period when antiwar voices are excluded from the elections in any meaningful way.  If your group is not a member of UNAC, we urge you to join by clicking here.

One of the presenters, Siu Hin Lee produced a 5-minute film on the conference that you can see here.

Livestream of Day 1 (Friday night)

Livestream of Day 2

Glen Ford’s talk (in written and video form)

Livestream of Day 3