In the year 697 AD, the Synod of Birr (Co. Offaly, Ireland) enacted a law to protect clergy, women and youths (those yet too young to engage in war) during times of war.  This law, Lex Innocentium (The Law of the Innocents), was also known as Adomnán’s Law, after St. Adomnán, Ninth Abbot of Iona, who proposed it.  It has also come to be known as the First Geneva Convention and the Geneva Convention of the Gaels (see our history section).  Our mission is to write a new Lex Innocentium – a Lex Innocentium for the 21st Century. 

As we write this mission statement, we find ourselves obliged to witness horrendous and shocking wars in Ukraine, Gaza, Sudan and many other places across the world.  Right now, the Geneva Academy of International Law and Human Rights is monitoring 110 armed conflicts;  the Military Industrial Complex is growing ever-more influential and powerful; international laws on the conduct of war are being ignored and broken in a most blatant manner, and Earth herself is facing very real threats from climate change and a host of other problems.   It is with feelings of anxiety, helplessness and frustration against this background that we look to the original Law of Adomnán, as well as to other ancient and more recent laws relating to the conduct of war from all around the world, to our own long tradition of education, humanitarian aid and peace-keeping across the world, and to peace strategies and peace agreements here at home in Ireland, for inspiration for our time and for the future.  

The horrific nature and destructive power of modern warfare and modern weaponry now pose a very real existential threat to humanity and to all life on Earth.  The vast wealth of the war industry, the false glory of apparent heroism, and the false glamour of modern weaponry have blinded and seduced many of our political leaders and our political systems and have resulted in immeasurable waste of resources.  The fear-funding cycle of the Military Industrial Complex has also impaired our critical thinking and reason.  It has corralled us into an unrealistic, irrational, unworkable and unhealthy fear-and-defence mentality. 

We believe that it is now time to extend Protection of the Innocents to all Non-Combatants, to the Earth and to the Future.   This is the aim of Lex Innocentium, 21st Century – to Protect Innocent Non-Combatants; to Protect the Earth; and to Protect the Future from War. 

We hope that like-minded people (individuals and groups) in these western outposts of Europe and all around the world will join us and will subscribe and commit to our people’s law, Lex Innocentium, 21st Century – an International People’s Law to protect humanity and the Earth from war.

While we have and fully support international laws for the protection of people and the environment in war, we wish to write this new law, a moral law; a bottom-up, soft-power law, a law of and for people around the world who are concerned about the current situation world-wide and the very real threats that war and the arms industry pose to all of us, and to our beautiful planetary home. 

This law is written As a Gesture of our commitment to the innocent and the powerless throughout the world now and in the future; and As a Gesture of our commitment to the welfare of our planet and all her varied and extraordinary ecosystems and living creatures.

We are aware that this is not a law in the true sense of a Law.  We cannot enact or enforce it.  It is a people’s law.  But we will use this law, with all of its subscribers and the weight of their numbers, to encourage others; to let governments know our feelings; to provide a useful, practical and accessible bottom-up, soft-power tool in the struggle against war and the war industry, and in the protection of the natural environment; to show solidarity with innocent victims of war now and in the future; and to leave a message of love and care for future generations.  We hope that this, our people’s law, will be another step in bringing about an end to war and the war system and the war industry altogether. 

Our ultimate goals are:

  • To advance ourselves, as individuals, and our society towards a greater level of civilization, maturity and wisdom, free of war, and skilled in the art of the peaceful resolution of conflict when conflict arises;  with fairness, kindness, justice, respect and mutual regard across all people;  and with more equitable distribution of wealth and access to food, health, wellbeing and education across the world;
  • To put an end to the waste of money and resources, including intellectual resources, on war and on the military industrial complex that would be better used for the just and equitable welfare of all humanity and the protection of the Earth and all her ecosystems and living creatures;
  • And to procure safety, health, peace and dignity for all of humanity and for the Earth. 

In proclaiming this people’s law at a time when international law is largely ignored, and when many governments and international agencies are out-of-touch with their people, we hope to create a global movement that remains alert and informed, that watches, speaks out and acts, and makes accountable anyone in breach of this law. 

In pursuing our aims under this law, we will work in peaceful, non-violent ways to spread the message of peace, harmony and mutual respect and regard across humanity; and love, respect and protection for our beautiful planetary home.

Lex Innocentium, 21st Century can be signed by all those who attend its launch at Redwood Castle on the 21st of September 2024, as official signatories.  These signatures will be kept with the official law as a legacy document.  After the launch, friends from all over the world are invited to become subscribers to the law on our website, www.lexinnocentium21.ie.  There, they can sign their names to the register of subscribers, retrieve their subscriber number and download and sign their official Certificate of Commitment and Subscription.  The Website will become the hub of the signatories and subscribers to the law, where information and ideas can be shared and projects, activities and campaigns can be planned.

Birr, 29th April 2024

Seán English, Elizabeth Cullen and Marian Naughton