The UN Resolution for the Culture of Peace

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(Une version française suit en dessous)

This summer and fall is seeing an increase in the number of international conferences dedicated to the culture of peace and basing their analysis on the Declaration and Program of Action for a Culture of Peace that was adopted 20 years ago by the UN General Assembly.

The UN resolution provides a holistic, positive view of peace. For each of the eight aspects of the culture of war, it proposes the alternative as described here. The resolution proposes specific actions to promote each of these eight program areas. And furthermore, it calls for a global movement for a culture of peace through partnerships between an among international, national and civil society organizations promoted through sysems of information exchange (such as the Culture of Peace News Network) on their initiatives.

The struggle for a culture of peace could gain much more force if this resolution were used as the basis for analysis and practice by more organizations around the world, but unfortunately it is relatively unknown.

The situation reminds me of the use of another landmark UN document, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UNDHR).

The adoption of the UNDHR by the UN General Assembly in 1948 did not immediately yield results. For the first 40 years the document sat on the shelf and was rarely mentioned, as shown in the following graph which shows the citations of human rights in academic publications as monitored by the Science Citation Index. It has only in recent years that references have exploded into thousands of times per year.

Figure drawn from my book World Peace throught the Town Hall.

Now over 70 years after its adoption, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights has been taken up by thousands of other organizations and struggles in all social movements as a powerful tool for justice.

We may assume that the increased attention to human rights after the 1970s was largely due to the Nobel Peace Prize of 1977 to Amnesty International because of their efforts for human rights.

Hopefully, we will not have to wait another 20 years for such effective use of the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace. The work for culture of peace has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in recent years, and if it were to be recognized by the Prize, that could help produce the kind of universal recognition and historical impact as that of the UNDHR.

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La résolution des Nations Unies pour la culture de la paix

Pour cet été et cet automne, le nombre de conférences internationales consacrées à la culture de la paix a augmenté. Leur analyse est souvent basée sur de la Déclaration et Programme d’action pour une culture de la paix adoptés il y a 20 ans par l’Assemblée générale des Nations Unies.

La résolution de l’ONU offre une vision globale et positive de la paix. Pour chacun des huit aspects de la culture de la guerre, il propose une alternative (voir ici). La résolution propose des actions spécifiques pour promouvoir chacun de ces huit domaines de programme. En outre, il appelle à un mouvement mondial pour une culture de la paix par des partenariats entre des organisations internationales, nationales et de la société civile, promues par des systèmes d’échanges et d’informations (comme CPNN) sur leurs initiatives.

La lutte pour une culture de la paix pourrait gagner beaucoup plus de force si cette résolution était utilisée comme base d’analyse et de pratique par plus d’organisations dans le monde, mais malheureusement, elle est mal connue.

La situation me rappelle l’utilisation d’un autre document historique des Nations Unies, la Déclaration universelle des droits de l’Homme (DUDH).

L’adoption de la DUDH par l’Assemblée générale des Nations Unies en 1948 n’a pas immédiatement donné de résultats. Pendant les 40 premières années, le document était sur l’étagère et rarement mentionné, comme l’illustre le graphique ci-dessous, qui montre les citations des droits de l’Homme dans des publications universitaires suivies par le Science Citation Index. Ce n’est que ces dernières années que les références ont explosé des milliers de fois par an.

[Figure tirée de mon livre “Paix mondiale à travers les municipalites”.]

Aujourd’hui, plus de 70 ans après son adoption, la Declaration universelle des droits de l’Homme a été reprise par des milliers d’organisations et de luttes dans tous les mouvements sociaux, en tant que puissant outil de justice.

Nous pouvons supposer que l’attention accrue portée aux droits de l’Homme après les années 1970 était largement due au prix Nobel de la paix de 1977 attribué à Amnesty International en raison de ses efforts en faveur des droits de l’Homme.

Espérons que nous n’aurons pas besoin d’attendre encore 20 ans pour une utilisation aussi efficace de la Déclaration et du Programme d’action pour une culture de la paix. L’œuvre pour la culture de la paix a été nominée pour le prix Nobel de la paix ces dernières années. Si elle devait être reconnue par le prix, elle pourrait contribuer à produire le type de reconnaissance universelle et d’impact historique de la DUDH.


 

Consciousness + Institutional Change = Culture of Peace

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People are taking to the streets to defend human rights and demand democracy around the world, including Hong Kong, Russia, Sudan, Algeria, Czech Republic and Brazil as described on the pages of CPNN and reviewed in this month’s CPNN bulletin.

They join the millions of people who have taken to the streets for human rights and democracy in the last few years in France , Germany and the United States.

And perhaps most important, it is the new generation that has often taken the lead, as we have seen in the global student movement to demand that we change the policies that are contributing to global warming. This is the new generation that is on the front lines every year to celebrate the international day of peace.

We see the development of a global, universal consciousness. But is it strong enough to counter the rise of authoritarian governance that is also developing at this moment of history, whether in the rich counties or in the poor countries?

In my little utopian novella I have imagined that people will take to the streets to resist the imposition of fascism after the present system crashes. It was fascism that was installed when the financial system collapsed in the 1930’s?

I come from the generation of the 60’s which also saw people taking to the streets to oppose the American war in Vietnam. In fact, in the 1990’s when we looked around the table of UNESCO workers developing the Culture of Peace Program, it turned out most of us had been involved in the movements of the 60’s in one way or another in France, Ecuador, Costa Rica and the United States. The consciousness developed in the 60’s came to fruition in the 90’s.

But consciousness is not enough. We need institutional change towards a culture of peace such as the initiative developed thanks to the leadership of Federico Mayor at UNESCO in the 1990’s. The United Nations resolution for a culture of peace which he inspired will have its 20th anniversary this September and will be celebrated at the annual High Level Meeting on the Culture of Peace at UN headquarters.

To see and understand these institutional changes, we cannot depend on the commercial media to which they are almost invisible. This was the case with the UNESCO culture of peace initiative, which was never mentioned in the American press at the time despite our signed agreements with two American institutions with 50 million members, the American Association of Retired Persons and the National Council of Churches, and the 75 million signatures on the Manifesto 2000 obtained around the world.

At CPNN we provide an alternative media that seeks out news about institutional change towards a culture of peace. A good example is the adoption of restorative justice princiiples and practices by the entire judicial system of Brazil, as described this month in CPNN. Over the years we have followed this initiative that was largely due to the work of Judge Leoberto Brancher. I don’t think it is by accident that prior to this he was involved in the development of city culture of peace commissions that came out of the UNESCO program and the UN Decade for a Culture of Peace.

We need more such institutional change if we are to harness the consciousness of people in the coming decade when the global financial system has crashed and a window of opportunity opens for us to move from the culture of war to a culture of peace.

Roadmap for peace activism

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In this month’s bulletin of CPNN we try to identify those to whom we can look for peace leadership in these turbulent times. Let us consider their actions and advice.

Let’s listen first to the new generation of youth activists.

The Panafrican Panafrican Youth Network for the Culture of Peace has provided a roadmap for actions in Gabon, which can serve as a model everywhere. It includes promotion of a culture of peace, support for the UN SR resolution 2250 on youth, peace and security, and development of social enterprises for youth employment.

The Resolution 2250 is especially important because provides a link between the developing global youth movement which has taken the lead in the fight to save the climate to global warming (see blog this April ) and the United Nations which, despite its weakness at the present moment of history, is still our best hope for a future institutional base for the culture of peace (see blog on the paradox of the United Nations). Resolution 2250 was adopted as the result of several years of intensive lobbying by youth organizations for the UN to recognize and guarantee the role of youth in peacebuilding and violence prevention.

At the same time, let us also listen to “the Elders.” Mary Robinson, now President of the Elders, formerly President of Ireland and UN Commissioner for Human Rights, recalls the founding of their organization by Nelson Mandela in 2007. “At first I was quite skeptical. Isn’t it a bit arrogant to want to be elders for the global village. But as soon as he [Nelson Mandela] sat with us and talked, it was as if we had a mandate that was overwhelmingly important.”

The Elders continue to be involved as peacemakers around the world and to give us good advice. Most recently in Ethiopia, they have lauded efforts to establish universal health care. As stated by Mandela’s widow, Graça Machel, “Health is a human right, and health workers are human rights champions.” Among other priorities identified by the Elders are the development of Green economies, the continuation of the Colombia peace process, multilateralism as now championed by China (while it seems increasingly abandoned in the West), and a solution to the terrible suffering in the Middle East by means of a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine.

And let us listen to those who have won the Nobel Peace Prize. The Nobel Women’s Initiative recently brought 50 women from over 20 countries together in Monrovia, Liberia to discuss feminism, power, activism and peace. According to one of the participants, “the overarching theme was that we (women) are powerful and worthy; that we must claim our space, we must use our voice and we must not ask for permission to do so.”

One of the themes at Monrovia was the need for “self and collective care, wellbeing and healing as critical components in our struggles for rights, justice and peace. We heard from Jody Williams and Rigoberta Menchú Tum on how they look after themselves and how they continue to do the work that they do. Jody mentioned how easy it is to feel overwhelmed by urgency and righteous indignation, however with time she has learned the value of granting herself personal time and space. By exposing their own humanity and vulnerability, these powerhouse women let the young people in the room know that it’s ok to not feel strong sometimes.”

Another major theme at Monrovia was the need for alliance building, tapping into different networks on a local and global scale. There was a commitment to feminist leadership, to multi-generational organising and to building communities of care.

Alliance-building was also an important theme in the work of the Panafrican Youth Network for Peace Culture; they are urged to collaborate with other youth organizations for greater synergy and social impact.

A concrete example of alliance-building comes from the plans for the 17th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates. In addition to at least 21 Nobel Laureates, the meeting expects to include representatives of the following Institutions: American Friends Service Committee, Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet, International Peace Bureau, Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, Albert Schweizer Institute, International Campaign to Ban Landmines, Amnesty International, Institute of International Law and the Kim Dae-Jung Presidential Library and Museum.

The preceding themes, activism, affiliation, personal integration and world historic consciousness, correspond to steps of consciousness development identified in the survey of great peace activists described in my 1986 book, Psychology for Peace Activists. They provide a universal roadmap for the development of peace activism.

Let us continue to listen to the youth, to the women, to the Elders, to the Nobel Peace Laureates, and let us strengthen our commitment to activism, affiliation, personal integration and world historic consciousness as we work for the transition to a culture of peace !

CAN STUDENTS BECOME A REVOLUTIONARY FORCE?

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As often remarked in this blog, the world is in such a mess that we need radical action. In fact we need revolutionary change.

But where can it come from? Who can be the revolutionary actors?

A century ago, it was thought by some that revolution would come from industrial workers.

They were constantly and obviously exploited by their capitalist bosses.

They were concentrated in large numbers in factories

They had the power to stop production by going on strike.

Today there are few such factories in the rich countries of the North. Factories have been automated or transferred to China and the poor countries of rhe South.

We don’t hear anymore that factory workers will change the world.

On the other hand, as described this month on CPNN, it seems we are now starting to see student strikes to demand that their governments address the problem of climate change. Can this movement become revolutionary?

Students are beginning to see that their world is being exploited by their governments and that their schools seem to be in complicity with the governments.

Students are concentrated in large numbers in schools.

Their strikes do not stop production in the short term, but in the long term their compliance is necessary if governments are to continue their inaction. At least that is the hope of the American Youth Climate Strike who say in their mission statement that “if the social order is disrupted by our refusal to attend school, then the system is forced to face the climate crisis and enact change.”

Students today have a tool that was not available to workers a century ago. They can connect up rapidly everywhere by means of social media. An example of this is the initiative of Greta Thunberg whose actions have inspired the student movement around the world. Her twitter accounts and her website list events in 1325 places in 98 countries going on strike on March 15, including Washingto DC, Moscow, Mumbai, Shanghai, Lagos, Rio de Janeiro, Sydney, Nuuk, Paris, Nairobi, Santiago, New York, London Hong Kong, Berlin, Tel Aviv, Toronto, Beirut, Zurch, Kyiv, Havana, Cork, Kampala, Buenos Aires, Seoul, Cape Town, Kyoto, Mexico City, Brussels, Por Vila, Los Angeles, Rome, Kuala Lumpur, Madrid, Auckland and Södertälje just to name a few.

What else does this student movement need to become truly revolutionary?

They would become more powerful by broadening their agenda to include other issues related to the question of environmental catastrophe. One such issue should be nuclear disarmament, given that a nuclear war would be even more catastrophic than global warming. In the long run both are important components of a global agenda to move from the culture of war to a culture of peace.

And they need to develop alliances with other movements that contribute to a culture of peace. One such alliance is the movement for equality of women, given that women have always been exploited and kept down by the culture of war and have usually taken the lead in movements for peace.

The largest mobilizations of the student strike movement have taken place in the rich countries of Europe and North America. To be come more effective they need to link up with students in the poor countries of the South, understanding and supporting their needs for education and development. This is not simple, since schools in the North may seem irrelevant, even oppressive, while education in the South is more often seen as liberation.

Insofar as the student strike movement broadens its agenda, other movements would be wise to accept their leadership. It may not always be easy for older generations to accept the leadership of the young. This was a problem in the 60’s in France when the organized workers refused to march with the revolutionary students, and in the US when the older peace activists refused to accept any leadership from the youth such as those of SDS (the Students for a Democratic Society). On the other hand, in South Africa, when the students took up the struggle against apartheid, their leadership was widely accepted by the older generation who were in prison or exile, and, as a result, this led to one of the greatest victories for justice in our times.

All this may seem fantastic in the face of the monolithic American empire and its alliances throughout the world, but, as often remarked this blog, the empire is crashing and we are coming into times of extraordinary change – and opportunity as well as danger. Let us hope that the students can rise to the challenge of leading us towards a better world.

The answer is blowing in the wind

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(Une version française suit en dessous)

During the week (actually it took two weeks) during which I was seeking out the information about the observation of the International Day of Peace, I came across the article published by Unfold Zero about two meetings at the United Nations on the same day concerning nuclear weapons. The major nuclear states (USA, France, UK, China and Russia) all went to a meeting for non-proliferation and boycotted the meeting for nuclear disarmament. As the article correctly concludes, the nuclear states “place very little priority on their obligations to eliminate their own weapons of mass destruction, focusing instead on preventing others from acquiring such weapons.”

The contrast could not be stronger between the actions of these national governments and the great numbers of schools, cities and towns, civil society organizations and individuals everywhere in the world who took part in the International Day of Peace.

Having used more or less the same methodology this year as last year, we can see that the involvement in the International Day of Peace is increasing in most of the world. In fact, this is probably the best measure we have of the increasing anti-war consciousness of the peoples of the world.

Not only does this mean that new people, localities and organizations enter the celebration of Peace each year, but we can imagine as well that for those who have been involved before, there is an accumulation and strengthening of their anti-war consciousness.

And most important of all, the greatest part of the celebrations took place in schools with schoolchildren taking part in the International Day of Peace. This gives us great hope for the future. We are raising a new generation who, hopefully, can finally undertake the abolition of war.

The schoolchildren took part in a wide variety of actions for the Day, but for me the most symbolic was their release of balloons and doves into the sky, and their watching them disperse with the wind, as if they were going around the world. After all, the sky is something we share with everyone else in the world. Symbolically, “the answer is blowing in the wind,” as in the anti-war song written by Bob Dylan in my generation opposed to the Vietnam War.

The continuing growth of anti-war consciousness, as expressed by “the answer blowing in the wind,” is absolutely essential to our hopes for peace, including nuclear disarmament and the abolition of war. Perhaps it is not enough, as I have often emphasized in this blog, since we also need to develop an institutional framework for peace. But even if it is not enough, it still essential and indispensable.

Let us be like the children and launch our balloons and doves and desires for peace onto all the winds and involving all the peopes of our planet ! And knowing that the days are numbered for the national governments that hold onto nuclear weapons as instruments of power, let us look forward to the day when their power has crashed and they are replaced at the United Nations by true representatives of the people conscious of the need for a culture of peace.

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La solution souffle dans le vent

Au cours de la semaine (en fait, cela a pris deux semaines) au cours de laquelle j’ai cherché des informations sur l’observation de la Journée internationale de la paix, je suis tombé sur l’article publié par Unfold Zero à propos de deux réunions le même jour aux Nations Unies sur les armes nucléaires. Les principaux États nucléaires (États-Unis, France, Royaume-Uni, Chine et Russie) se sont tous rendus à la réunion sur la non-prolifération et ils ont boycotté ainsi la réunion sur le désarmement! Comme l’article le conclut à juste titre, les États nucléaires “n’accordent pas de priorité à leur obligation d’éliminer leurs propres armes de destruction massive, mais se concentrent plutôt sur l’empêchement des autres d’acquérir de telles armes”.

Le contraste ne pouvait pas être plus fort entre les actions de ces gouvernements nationaux et le grand nombre d’écoles, de villes et villages, d’organisations de la société civile et d’individus du monde entier qui ont participé à la Journée internationale de la paix.

Après avoir utilisé plus ou moins la même méthodologie cette année que l’année dernière, nous pouvons constater que la participation à cette Journée s’intensifie dans la plupart du monde. En fait, ces chifres sont probablement la meilleure mesure que nous ayons de la conscience croissante des peuples du monde entier contre la guerre.

Cela signifie non seulement que de nouvelles personnes, localités et organisations y participent chaque année, mais nous pouvons également imaginer que, pour ceux qui ont été impliqués auparavant, leur conscience anti-guerre s’accumule et se renforce.

Et le plus important de tout, la plus grande partie des célébrations de la Journée a eu lieu dans les écoles avec des écoliers. Cela nous donne un grand espoir pour l’avenir. Nous élevons une nouvelle génération qui, espérons-le, pourra enfin entreprendre l’abolition de la guerre.

Les écoliers ont pris part à de nombreuses actions pour la Journée, mais pour moi, le plus symbolique a été de lâcher de ballons et de colombes dans le ciel et de les regarder se disperser avec le vent, comme s’ils partaient faire un tour du monde. Après tout, le ciel est quelque chose que nous partageons avec tous les autres peuples du monde. Symboliquement, “la solution souffle dans le vent”, comme dans le chanson anti-guerre écrit par Bob Dylan de ma génération opposée à la guerre du Vietnam.

La croissance de la conscience anti-guerre, exprimée par “la solution qui souffle dans le vent”, est absolument essentielle à nos espoirs de paix, y compris le désarmement nucléaire et l’abolition de la guerre. Comme je l’ai souvent souligné dans ce blog, cela n’est peut-être pas suffisant, car nous devons également mettre en place un cadre institutionnel pour la paix. Mais même si cela ne suffit pas, cela reste essentiel et indispensable.

Soyons comme les enfants et lançons nos ballons, nos colombes et nos désirs de paix dans le vent pour arriver dans tous les coins de notre planète! Et sachant que les jours sont déjà compté avant que les pouvoirs nucleaires tombent dans un crash économique, attendons avec impatience ce jour quand leur pouvoir se sera écrasé et quand ils seront remplacés aux Nations Unies par de véritables représentants des peuples conscient de ce qui soufle dans le vent !

“Slow News” vs “Fast History”

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This month’s CPNN bulletin describes the “slow news” of culture of peace as it has been developing for some time now in Africa. The reforestation of the Great Green Wall and the Plant a Million Trees initiative seem to symbolize the slow pace of the process, especially when one recalls that the pre-colonial peace mechanism of Africa was to meet and resolve conflicts under the village tree.

At the same time this blog last month suggested that history is moving much faster than we think and that the collapse of the American empire is likely to come within the next two years.

This leads me to the question: Can the slow development of the culture of peace make it possible for a transition from the culture of war to a culture of peace when the American empire crashes?

I realize that it is out of fashion since the crash of the Soviet empire, but the best analytic framework to understand history is still that of dialectics as conceived by Hegel, refined by Marx and put into practice by Lenin. As Lenin wrote in his letter to the American workers in 1918: “Historical action is not the pavement of Nevsky Prospekt.” It does not proceed “easily and smoothly.” Instead, it proceeds “by leaps, catastrophes, and revolutions.” Put another way, there are times when the pace of history accelerates.

It seems likely that there will be an acceleration in the development of the culture of peace in the next two years as more and more people realize that the system is collapsing and needs to be replaced. I can see that there has already been such an acceleration in the last year or two, especially since the election of President Trump in the United States. Trump’s policies are the most evident sympton of the process, already many decades in the making, that brings us to the end of the empire. We have entered a period of accelerated history; both negative and positive forces are speeding up.

The key question is whether we are preparing the specific institutional frameworks that are needed for the transition? I have previously suggested that we need international frameworks for culture of peace that are above the level of the individual nation-states.

One such framework could be the African Union (AU) which is included in the “slow news” from Africa this month. As an international body, above the level of the nation-state, the AU is relatively free from the culture of war, and it has already made some initiatives towards a culture of peace.

Of course, the AU does not have many resources. Its previous benefactor, Muammar  Gaddafi, was assassinated at the initiative of the EU and the United States, especially due to the policy of Hillary Clinton who was the American Secretary of State. We don’t know precisely why Clinton undertook this policy, but it seems likely that it was, at least in part, to deprive the AU of Gaddafi’s support. After all, it was during her tenure that the United States was secretly establishing military bases throughout Africa. To some extent the support previously provided to the AU by Gaddafi has been taken up by China, but will this be continued or expanded after a crash of the American dollar? Maybe not, since China is heavily invested in the dollar and may have to reduce its overseas commitments.

For a while it seemed that UNASUR could develop as a regional organization for the culture of peace, but recent developments in Latin America have undermined that possibility. As described in an article from the ALBA movement, the major countries of UNASUR have withdrawn their support for the leadership of Bolivia which was dedicated to the culture of peace: “The sovereign and integrationist vision promoted by Bolivia and the other countries of ALBA-TCP is opposed by the war strategy of other UNASUR members, subordinated – as throughout history – to the imperial powers, at this moment in particular to the United States , whose elite tries to control again what they consider their backyard. For this purpose it is the political, media, economic and military siege against Venezuela and the diplomatic offensive against Unasur and CELAC.” [translation from the Spanish by CPNN.

As long as international organizations are based on nation-states, they are dominated directly by the culture of war (such as the UN, the EU, etc.) or else they are dominated indirectly through sabotage, as in the case of the African Union and UNASUR. This is not surprising when we consider the history of the culture of war and we find that over the course of the centuries it has become monopolized by the state.

At one time, there was some hope that the socialist countries might be able to play a positive role for peace, but they, too, were cultures of war. And in a struggle between a socialist culture of war and a capitalist cuture of war, it has always been the capitalists who win because they profit more from international exploitation. This was very evident towards the end of the Cold War when the Rand Corporation, an American culture of war think-tank, was paid to assess the economic relations betwen the Soviet Union and their “satellite countries” of Eastern Europe. They found that the net flow of wealth was from the center (the Soviet Union) towards the periphery (Eastern Europe), true to the principle of socialist solidarity. This is the opposite of the relationship between the imperial capitalist powers and the countries of the South. This becomes evident when you take into account the economic transactions that are secret and illegal.

For this reason, I have tended to put a priority on institutional frameworks for peace based on regional or global organizations of parliamentarians or cities instead of states, but for the moment it seems that they are also in a “slow mode” of development.

It seems that time is running out . . .

The times call for radical action !

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War and threats of war. Resurgence of fascism. Indicators forewarning a global economic crash. Acceleration of global warming. Wherever you turn, there are signs of dramatic, radical, dangerous change.

What is to be done? Where is the lever that can move history forward? We need radical action, but which action should we put first?

Personally, I’ve been active in all the relevant movements: socialism, ecology, peace, democracy, and each one has its proposals. What should be the priority? Let’s look at the probable sequence, keeping in mind what happened 30 years to the Soviet empire.

Back in 1980 Johan Galtung predicted the crash of the Soviet empire within one year, and now he predicts the end of the American empire within the next two years. If he is correct, the crash of the global economy is likely to come before the threatened wars, before the full development of fascism, and before the full effects of global warming. And if he is correct, it will provide us with a window of opportunity in the next two years to refound the global political system.

The most effective change would be the refounding of the United Nations to be under the direction of the People, not the State. The State is inextricably bound to the culture of war, while the People are increasingly conscious of the need for a culture of peace.

With that in mind, I return to the proposal that I made two years ago for the establishiment and effective functioning of an Alternative Security Council. At the time, the proposal fell on deaf ears, but perhaps the time was not yet ripe for it. After all, it is often the case that radical proposals require a certain moment of history to be put into motion.

Here is what I proposed:

“I propose the establishment of an “Alternative Security Council” (ASC) composed of mayors or parliamentary representatives from all the regions of the world. This ASC would regularly consider the issues faced by the actual UN Security Council and publicize its “decisions” in order to provide an alternative vision of how the issues of war and peace could be managed at a global level.

One can imagine that their decisions would be radically different concerning, for example, nuclear disarmament, approaches to the disasters in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Libya, etc.  This would be a powerful force for consciousness-raising in the general public, and it could provide a model for an eventual radical reform of the UN.”

Along with the proposal two years ago I put forward the need for an institutional host, an agreement for membership, a small secretariat, a means for media dissemination and a small budget.

Have we arrived at a moment of history that is ripe for this action? There are some reasons to think so:

1) the consciousness of the people continues to grow that we need to replace the culture of war by a culture of peace;

2) it becomes more evident every day that the American Empire is crashing, which will provide a window of opportunity for radical change;

3) international organizations of cities are holding high-level meetings devoted to peace.

So far, I have not been able to put the ASC proposal onto the agenda of the meetings of cities, but I will keep trying.

If you are a reader of this blog and you wish to help out with this project, please contact me, either by putting a comment below on this blog or by sending me an email.

Towards a global movement against all violence

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The growing mobilizations by teenagers in the US and Palestine, cited in this month’s CPNN bulletin, remind me of the mobilizations by youth against the War in Vietnam in the 1960’s and by youth against Apartheid in the 1970’s.

If we learn from those mobilizations, now 50 years ago, there is a possibility that they can be expanded into a global movement against all violence.

Both began as localized movements and rapidly spread around the world, especially through the engagement of young people.

I had been active in the anti-Vietnam movement in the mid-60’s in the US and spent a year in Italy in 1968. The students in Italy joined the movement with enthusiasm and enlarged the agenda to include a general demand for education reform. 25 years later, working with the UNESCO team for a National Culture of Peace Program in El Salvador, we discovered that each of us had been radicalized in the movement of the 60’s and active in more than one country (USA/Italy, Nicaragua/France, Ecuador/France, etc.).

The student-led movement against Apartheid in South Africa was picked up by students around the world, including those at my university in the United States which became the first American university to divest its portfolio from companies doing business with the Apartheid regime. I was proud to be their advisor.

At that time there were still active movements of Communist Parties around the world that provided strategic and tactical support to the youth movements, helping them to achieve global networks and inspiration.

The Communists also helped broaden the agendas of action against all sorts of violence. Our actions in the USA against the Vietnam War were linked by the Left to the actions of the Civil Rights movement against the violence of racism. For example, with the help of the Left, a civil rights activist from the South who had been threatened with death in the South came north to help with our political campaign in Connecticut which gained the greatest number of votes of any anti-war candidate in 1966. And in April 1967 Martin Luther King united the civil rights movement with the anti-war movement in two dramatic speeches, one of which he delivered to an anti-war march to the United Nations. Accused of being pro-communist by FBI director J.Edgar Hoover, he was assassinated one year later.

In the 1960’s, It was Communist veterans from the 1930’s who taught us to recognize the agents provocateurs of COINTELPRO, the government agents who tried to infiltrate our ranks with guns and dynamite in order to give the government an excuse to crush our movement with violence.

The movement against the violence of Apartheid produced political leadership of people like Bishop Tutu and Nelson Mandela whose inspiration reached far beyond South Africa, inspiring us all towards a global movement against all kinds of violence and oppression.

Those of us who are veterans of the 60’s and 70’s need to assume the role played by veterans of the 30’s in those years and provide strategic and tactical support to the new generation. We need to help them broaden their agenda to protest all forms of violence and broaden their scope to become a truly global movement.

The time is short. Johan Galtung has repeated his prediction, first made in 2004, that the American Empire cannot be sustained beyond the year 2020. The window of opportunity is soon arriving when the culture of war and violence can be transformed into a culture of peace and nonviolence. The strength is in the hands of the new generation, but the support and advice of the older generation is still needed.

Imagining peace: Latin America

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In 2007, I tried to imagine how the world would make a transition to a culture of peace in the year 2027 and I started to write a novella, I have seen the promised land.

In making the scenario, I imagined that the most important point in the transition would occur in Porto Alegre, Brazil, at a world-wide meeting of peace cities.

Now 10 years later, returning from visits to Brazil and Mexico, I pose the question: if today I were to imagine the transition to a culture of peace, would I still consider that Latin America, and Brazil in particular would play a central role?

If we look only at national governments, it would seem doubtful. Leaders who might have shown some sympathy with a culture of peace are gone, Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, Lula in Brazil and Fidel in Cuba, and their countries are moving to the right. This trend is not limited to Latin America. We have Trump, Putin, Duterte, Erdogan, rise of right-wing, even fascist parties in Europe, loss of the leadership of Mandela and Mbeki in South Africa, fading hopes that were raised by the Arab spring, and lack of any movement in Asia towards a culture of peace. Some might say it is the end of democracy, although I see it more limited as the loss of bourgeois democracy. After all, national elections are now almost solely determined by big money, and big money corrupts. To find progress towards true democracy it is necessary to look at a more local level.

As readers of this blog know, I believe that we cannot achieve a culture of peace through the system of nation-states, so the loss of bourgeois democracy at the national level is not necessarily a negative development. In fact, I interpret it as another sign that the American empire and the global system of states devoted to the culture of war is beginning to collapse.

But are we developing at a local level a new system of global governance to replace the present system when it collapses?

My recent visits to Mexico and Brazil, along with a visit a year ago to Colombia, give me some cause for optimism. Audiences in these countries, especially students, were enthusiastic to hear a message quoting the World Social Forum that “another world is possible” and emphasizing the old slogan of “think global, act local.” And, as described in this month’s CPNN bulletin, I found many local inititives underway that contribute to a culture of peace, including participative budgeting, restorative justice, struggle against the violence against women, and the development of city peace commissions.

I hope to return to Latin America next year and hope to find that these initiatives are continuing to develop. If so, may they serve as a model for other parts of the world.

If I were writing a utopian novella today, would I still imagine the culture of peace being born in Latin America. The answer is “Yes!”

Mayors and Media for Peace

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Imagine what the world would be like if the United Nations was managed by mayors instead of states! And imagine how it would be if the mass media was dedicated to a culture of peace!

We have some hint of how this might be in the recent events covered by CPNN.

While all of the nuclear-armed states and their allies are boycotting the UN conference to draft a treaty against nuclear weapons, we see that mayors have a different point of view.

At their annual meeting the United States Conference of Mayors adopted a resolution that “welcomes the historic negotiations currently underway in the United Nations, involving most of the world’s countries, on a treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading to their total elimination” and they demanded that the US government join the negotiations in good faith. Their resolution concludes with the following remarkable paragraph:

“BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that The United States Conference of Mayors urges all U.S. mayors to join Mayors for Peace in order to help reach the goal of 10,000 member cities by 2020, and encourages U.S. member cities to get actively involved by establishing sister city relationships with cities in other nuclear-armed nations, and by taking action at the municipal level to raise public awareness of the humanitarian and financial costs of nuclear weapons, the growing dangers of wars among nuclear-armed states, and the urgent need for good faith U.S. participation in negotiating the global elimination of nuclear weapons.”

Mayors for Peace already includes the mayors from more than 7,300 cities around the world!

If the mayors of the world were running the UN instead of the states, we could achieve nuclear disarmament! And much more! Once again we come back to the need for a radical reform of the United Nations!

As for the media, some indication of the positive role that they could play can be seen in the role of community radios in the peace process in Colombia. They are supported by funds from the European Union in order to send messages on peace to the territories and to promote reconciliation between the Colombians. The EU initiative not only opens microphones to the people, but also includes workshops in which 200 community radio journalists have been trained in the elaboration of educational content on peacebuilding, as well as 50 broadcasters receiving technical assistance and donations of recording equipment.

Similarly, in Uganda, community radio stations continue to work for peace. Back in 2004, they played a major role in convincing over 22,000 child soldiers and commanders to abandon the armed rebellion of the Lord’s Resistance Army: “In short, the LRA conflict could only be ended after the intervention of peace journalism.” Today they continue to work for peace, especially to give a voice to the massive number of refugees in Uganda.

As The Senegalese writer Aissatou Cissé said at the recent meeting of the Writers’ Union of Africa, Asia and Latin America, which took place in Senegal: What we need are “readings of peace in this world context of turbulence, verbal and physical violence”. “Every morning, when we get up, we read on the Internet, or through a newspaper or a book, and what we read does not promote the culture of peace, it disrupts even more and creates zizanie [discord].”

“Children, adolescents and adults who read us need to read positive things that can boost their creativity, and it is in peace that we can create,” said the Special Advisor to the President of the Republic, Macky Sall.

Thank you, mayors, and thank you, writers and journalists! You remind us that “A better world is possible!” Imagine it!

To quote George Bernard Shaw: “Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine and at last you create what you will.”

Can we learn from history?

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The events reflected in recent CPNN bulletins concerning the voting split in the United Nations and the results of last fall’s elections, remind me of turbulent periods of the 20th Century and raise the question if we can learn from what happened then.

The rise of populist and potentially fascist parties last year remind one of the rise of fascism in the 1930’s. What can we learn from those times?

First of all, we must avoid a Third World War. That requires a unified opposition against fascism and preparations for war such as those that took place in Germany and Spain in the 1930’s. A lesson from the 1930’s is that the opposition was weakened by serious infighting between communists, socialists and anarchists. In France, in the late 1930’s there was a united front under the leadership of Leon Blum (who later played a major role in the establishment of UNESCO), but by then it was too late for united fronts in Germany and Spain.

Lesson 1: the need for solidarity of those opposed to fascism and war.

These times also remind us of the 1960’s and the movements for civil rights and against the Vietnam War. I was part of the new generation at that time in the United States, and our generation was opposed by many peace activists of the previous generation who were influenced by the anti-communism of the government and the media. We were considered too radical! Of course, there were some in the previous generation who worked with us, the Kennedys, Martin Luther King, Jr and Malcolm X. but they paid for it with their lives (to what extent at the hands of government forces remains an open question). In Europe, too, the new generation took a revolutionary stance in the face of opposition for the most part from their elders.

Lesson 2: the need to listen to the new generation and work with their progressive leadership.

Returning to the voting split in the United Nations, we can ask if the Global South can provide leadership at this period of history beyond their votes at the UN. In recent years, this blog has followed progressive trends in Latin America and Africa, but the more a regime is progressive the more likely it will be overthrown by the forces of imperialism. The classic example from a previous generation was the government of Allende in Chile. But now, Venezuela is overturning the left-wing legacy of Hugo Chavez and Brazil has overturned the leftist legacy of Lula. And perhaps most dramatic was the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi, we may assume because of his leadership for African unity to oppose Northern imperialism.

Lesson 3: the need to develop oppposition based in the civil society rather than relying on states to provide the leadership that is needed. Even in Colombia, which has provided leadership for peace in the last year, we have warned that the people should develop a strong civil society and not depend on the government to remain progressive. Even if the government is not overthrown, it may be weakened by corruption as is the case now in South Africa.

As for the reaction to the rise of right-wing politics, we have been following the post-election fightback for human rights in the USA, which can also serve as an example for other countries faced with similar problems. One of the outstanding aspects of the fightback for human rights in the USA is the leadership of cities. Something like 300 American cities continue to maintain their stance as sanctuaries to protect undocumented immigrants against national police raids, despite the threat of the new president to cut funding to those cities. These are the cities that voted against Trump and that mounted huge demonstrations on the day after his inauguration.

Lesson 4: the need to develop an alternative progressive movement based on cities.

These lessons are played out at a local level in my city, where I am writing the annual report, The State of the Culture of Peace in New Haven, for the official city peace commission, of which I am a member. Here are some of the remarks of activists who were interviewed for that report and who were asked about how to respond to the new political situation in the country:

* Ideally, we should unite the widest movement possible to defend the human rights of everyone, beginning with the most vulnerable. And at least, we should struggle against divisiveness, not necessarily to convince the other, but at least to find ways to collaborate.

* Listen to the youth. They have a more holistic view than us adults, especially with regard to sexual orientation. They’re angry and will not tolerate inaction. We need them in public office to push the legislature to defend public services and policies.

* Resistance is needed at every level against hate and persecution. For immigrant rights, the city needs to continue providing leadership and link up to the resistance on a national level. Despite the election results and false news by some of the mass media, we must realize that progressive opinions are those of the majority of Americans.

* Protest is necessary, but with an agenda that is clear and unifying. We need dialogue at every level, engaging the opposition and taking care that legitimate anger does not stifle dialogue. We need the emergence of a moral voice like that of Martin Luther King, with an effective media strategy.

I have presented a rationale previously that we need to develop a movement of progressive cities that can take control of the United Nations if and when there is an economic and political crash that leads the Member States to more or less abandon the UN.

But now we arrive at a major contradiction. On the one hand, cities are more progressive than rural areas, but on the other hand, they are also more vulnerable if and when there is a global economic crash. And there is reason to think that such a crash is imminent. We face the possibility of a sudden and traumatic reversal of the trend towards urbanization that has been developing over recent centuries.

That leads us to Lesson 5: The need to develop links between progressive organizations based in cities (such as City Peace Commissions) and adjacent rural associations that can help us survive a global economic crash.

In this regard, an economic crash at this point in history could be worse than that of the Great Depression, because small, self-sufficient farming has been replaced by industrialized farming dependent on oil deliveries. It is not easy to find an historic precedent or roadmape for how we should respond. Perhaps the closest is the experience of Cuba after loss of oil deliveries following the crash of the Soviet Union when they reformed their agricultural production to be more diversified, more integrated, and smaller in scale.

Entering a watershed period of human history

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(pour la version française, voir en dessous)

“We’ve seen two shocking election results recently: the defeat of the referendum for the peace accords in Colombia, and the election of Donald Trump in the USA based on a racist and xenophobic campaign. What does it mean? It means that voters in the two countries are alienated from their governments – quite simply, they do not trust the government. And they are angry. So what comes next? Do we slide back into war or into fascism? Or do we return to the people, listen to their fears and anger, and organize them in the sense that Martin Luther King told us?: “The supreme task is to organize and unite people so that their anger becomes a transforming force.

Hopefully, we can avoid a nuclear war, which might have been greater if Clinton had been elected.

But at the same time, yes, we are moving backwards.

By looking at the big picture, we can see that this is inevitable. As I describe in my novella, “I have seen the promised land“, the American empire is crashing, and it will bring immense human costs in dislocation and suffering, far greater than we can imagine at this time. As a result, we may assume, as I describe in the novella, that there will be attempts to impose a fascist “solution” much as was done during the greatest economic collapse of the 20th century.

In fact, the election of Trump promises to embolden fascists everywhere. We already see fascism in Turkey, and it is threatened in Brazil and Venezuela. Not to mention fascist political parties on the rise throughout Europe.

Hence, we are aleady challenged to overcome fascism now, before we suffer from the economic collapse. Perhaps that is to our advantage, because the struggle will be more difficult later when economic survival becomes the priority.

In the CPNN bulletin, we list some of the measures being taken already in the fightback against the attacks on human rights in the United States and towards territorial peace in Colombia. The move towards sanctuary universities, cities and states in the USA is especially impressive. Were there such moves when minorities were targeted in Germany during the 30’s? We cannot forget the words of the pastor Martin Niemöller in Germany at that time, “First they came for the communists and I did not speak out— because I was not a communist.” Then the trade unionists. . Then the Jews . . . Then the catholics. “Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”

We note that in both the USA and Colombia, the fightback takes place primarily on the local level, often at the level of cities and towns. At the national level, the corruption of the culture of war continues. We may be slow it down, but it cannot be eradicated there because it is too much entrenched in the structure of national government. At the local level, however, we can be free from the culture of war and free to develop strength for the culture of peace.

In Colombia, there was consideration of a process by which the revised peace accord would be adopted through open municipal councils with direct participation of citizens. Unfortunately, however, there is so much violence and threat of renewal of war that it was decided not to take this route but rather to seek ratification immediately from the national congress. However, in the long run, I have argued elsewhere, the peace will not be sustainable until it is established and maintained at the local and municipal level.

We also note that in both the USA and Colombia, the leadership is being taken by young people. That is inevitable and necessary. As I documented previously in my history of American Peace Movements, each new peace movement must reinvent its methods, because the preceding movement has become rigid and inflexible in its approach. However, that does not mean that the older generation should remain on the sidelines. We have ever more work to do as advisors to the new generation. In that regard, I call your attention to the example of I.F. Stone who served as an advisor to the youth movements of the 1960’s. The new generation of activists will have to look for our advice based on the experience of previous generations, and we must be there alongside them.

To some extent, our advice will be tactical. We must teach the methods of nonviolence and mass mobilization. We must alert the new generation to avoid the influence of agents provocateurs.

But even more so, it is important to provide strategic advice. The most important task is to prepare both the consciousness of the people and new institutional frameworks, so that when the institutions of the culture of war have momentarily collapsed, we can create a new United Nations based directly on the people.

We are entering a watershed period of human history. Although it is being pushed forward by economic factors, the ultimate determining factor can become the social consciousness of the people themselves.

      NOUS ENTRONS DANS UNE PERIODE CRITIQUE DE NOTRE HISTOIRE

    Nous avons vu récemment deux résultats électoraux choquants: la défaite du référendum sur les accords de paix en Colombie et l’élection de Donald Trump aux Etats-Unis après une campagne raciste et xénophobe. Qu’est-ce que cela signifie ? Cela signifie que les électeurs dans les deux pays se sentent aliénés, dépossédés de leurs gouvernements – tout simplement, ils ne font plus confiance à leurs dirigeants et ils sont en colère. 
Alors, que va t-il arriver maintenant ? Allons-nous tomber dans la guerre ou dans le fascisme, ou retournerons-nous vers les peuples ? Serons nous capable d’écouter leurs craintes et leur colère et de nous organiser dans le sens exprimé par Martin Luther King? :”La tâche suprême est d’organiser et d’unir le peuple pour que sa colère devienne une force transformatrice“.

    Espérons que nous pourrons éviter une guerre nucléaire, bien que cela ait été plus probable si Hillary Clinton avait été élue.

    Mais en même temps, oui, nous sommes dans la régression. 

En regardant les grandes lignes, nous pouvons voir qu’une régression est inévitable. Comme je l’ai décrit dans la Nouvelle: «J’ai vu la terre promise», l’empire américain est en train de s’effondrer, et il entraînera des coûts humains énormes dans la dislocation et la souffrance, beaucoup plus grands que ce que nous pouvons imaginer. En conséquence, nous pouvons supposer, comme dans mon roman, qu’il y aura des tentatives pour imposer une «solution» fasciste, comme cela a été le cas lors du plus grand effondrement économique du XXe siècle, en 1929.

    En fait, l’élection de Trump promet d’encourager les fascistes partout. Nous le voyons déjà en Turquie, et il semble vouloir émerger au Brésil et au Venezuela. Sans parler des partis politiques fascistes à la hausse dans toute l’Europe.

    Par conséquent, nous devons lutter MAINTENANT contre le fascisme, avant que nous ne souffrions de l’effondrement économique. Peut-être est-ce à notre avantage, parce que la lutte sera bien plus difficile plus tard lorsque la survie économique deviendra la priorité.

    Nous citerons quelques-unes des mesures qui sont déjà prises pour lutter contre les atteintes aux Droits de l’Homme aux États-Unis et pour aller vers la paix territoriale en Colombie. Les initiatives pour les sanctuaires dans les universités, les villes et les États aux États-Unis sont particulièrement impressionnantes (cf. cpnn). Y a t-il eu de tels mouvements lorsque les minorités ont été ciblées en Allemagne dans les années 30 ? Souvenons nous des paroles du pasteur Martin Niemöller en Allemagne à cette époque : “Quand ils sont venus chercher les communistes, je n ai rien dit, je n’étais pas communiste. Quand ils sont venus chercher les syndicalistes, je n’ai rien dit, je n’étais pas syndicaliste.” Puis ils sont venus chercher les juifs, ensuite les catholiques. “Puis ils sont venus me chercher. Et il ne restait plus personne pour dire quelque chose.”

    Nous notons que, aux États-Unis comme en Colombie, la lutte se fait principalement au niveau local, souvent au niveau des villes. A l’échelle nationale, la corruption de la culture de guerre continue. Nous espérons pouvoir éviter le fascisme et ses extrêmes ; mais la culture de guerre ne peut pas être éradiquée dans la structure du gouvernement national parce qu’elle y est trop ancrée. Au niveau local, cependant, il n’y a pas de culture de guerre et nous sommes libre de développer la force de la culture de la paix.

    En Colombie, avait été envisagé un processus par lequel l’accord de paix révisé serait adopté par des conseils municipaux ouverts avec la participation directe des citoyens. Malheureusement, il y a tellement de violence et de menace de renouveau de la guerre qu’il a été décidé de ne pas emprunter cette voie, mais plutôt de demander immédiatement la ratification du congrès national. Cependant, à long terme, comme je l’ai toujours soutenu , la paix ne sera durable que si elle est établie et maintenue au niveau local.

    Notons aussi que, aux États-Unis comme en Colombie, les jeunes sont les nouveaux leaders. C’est logique, souhaitable et nécessaire. Comme je l’ai documenté dans mon histoire des mouvements pacifistes américains, chaque nouveau mouvement pour la paix doit réinventer ses méthodes, parce que le mouvement précédent est devenu rigide et inflexible dans son approche. Cependant, cela ne signifie pas que les générations précédentes doivent rester à l’écart. Nous avons encore plus de travail à faire en tant que conseillers pour la nouvelle génération. Je me souviens de l’exemple de I.F. Stone qui a servi de conseiller aux mouvements de jeunesse des années 1960. La nouvelle génération de militants devra chercher nos conseils sur la base de l’expérience des générations précédentes, et nous devons être là, à leur coté.

    Dans une certaine mesure, nos conseils seront tactiques. Nous devons enseigner les méthodes de non violence et de mobilisation de masse. Nous devons alerter la nouvelle génération comment éviter l’influence des agents provocateurs.

    Mais plus encore, il est important de fournir des conseils stratégiques. La tâche la plus importante est de préparer à la fois la conscience du peuple et les nouveaux cadres institutionnels, de sorte que lorsque les institutions de la culture de la guerre s’effondreront, à ce moment nous puissions créer une nouvelle ONU basée directement sur le peuple.

    Nous entrons dans une période critique de l’Histoire de l’humanité. Bien qu’il soit poussé par des facteurs économiques, l’ultime facteur déterminant peut devenir la conscience sociale des peuples eux-mêmes.

Success of the United Nations

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We know all too well the failures of the United Nations. At this moment of history, its failures include the wars and potential wars everywhere in the world, including the potential of a catastrophic nuclear war. As we have stated previously, as long as the United Nations is run by the Member States, it will not be able to control their culture of war.

But let us not ignore the successes of the United Nations.

First, it has succeeded in developing around the world a universal consciousness for peace.

This is shown in the celebration of the International Day of Peace, which, as we have documented in this month’s CPNN bulletin, has been taken up by millions of people in all parts of the world. And, as we have mentioned in the bulletin, this follows in a tradition that includes the 75 million signatures on the Manifesto 2000 for the International Year of the Culture of Peace and the mobilization for peade by thousands of organizations of the civil society during the International Decade for a Culture of Peace 2001-2010.

The universal consciousness for peace follows on the heels of the universal consciousness for human rights.

In both cases, a key moment was the adoption by the United Nations General Assembly of a key Declaration. For human rights it was the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, and for peace it was the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace of 1999. The simple fact that all the countries of the world could adopt a resolution has enabled the UN to play a key role in the development of universal consciousness.

In sum, one great success of the United Nations has been its standard-setting function.

Second, the United Nations has succeeded in managing international matters on a global scale when they are not part of the culture of war.

Here are some examples:

In 1967 there were 130,000 cases of smallpox in the world. By 1984, there were no cases and the virus was declared extinct. This was due to the global vaccination program of the World Health Organization, one of the United Nations agencies.

At any given moment there is a bewildering number of airplanes taking off and landing in airports around the world without accident. This is due to the work of the International Civil Aviation Organization, another United Nations agency.

You can mail a letter to any destination in the world by puttiing it in a mailbox in any country. This is due to the work of the Universal Postal Union, yet another United Nations Agency.

In all these cases, success comes because the problems are not political. They are simply technical.

That leaves us with the big question: could the United Nations succeed in bring us a global culture of peace? Not just peace consciousness, but could it achieve a true and universal disarmament, just as dueling, slavery and other such practices were previously eliminated? The problem here is not technical. It is political.

My experiences when I worked at UNESCO tell me that a culture of peace is technically possible. As I have described previously, we were able, as an agency of the United Nations, to involve the people of Mozambique and El Salvador to design national peace programs during the 1990’s following their civil wars, and I believe that they would have achieved peace and disarmament in those countries if the Member States had supported our work. But they did not support our work – for political reasons. I am reminded of that history when I see the progress towards disarmament that is being achieved these days in Colombia, and I hope that they can sustain the peace despite the arrival of political changes.

Yes, a culture of peace is possible. What is needed is a radical reform of the United Nations, putting it in the hands of the people instead of the states.

The dialectical pace of history

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(pour la version française, voir en dessous)

History does not progress at an even rate, but by long periods of slow development punctuated by sudden revolutionary changes, as described by dialectical philosophy.

The news in CPNN this month illustrate the slowness of the development of the culture of peace.

The development of the peace process which led to this month’s signing of a peace accord in Colombia comes after a half century of war and many years of peace negotiations. The case is similar for the progress towards a peace accord with the communist movement in the Philippines. When I took part in the UNESCO international conference for a culture of peace in the Philippines twenty years ago, negotiations were already underway.

Development is similarly slow for city peace commissions. We began the New Haven City Peace Commission in the 1980’s and it is still trying to find its identity. The newest city peace commission, that of Santos, Brazil, was begun six years ago, and only this year has it been officially formalized. As they say: ” It is a long walk on a road that builds itself as we walk over it; we cannot see the end of it, but it is known that the end is a much better place than the one we are living today.”

Human rights are widely recognized and respected today, but the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was ignored and unknown for the first 40 years after its adoption by the United Nations. It was only after the Nobel Peace Prize to Amnesty International in 1977 that it began to get recognition. The equivalent UN resolution for a culture of peace was adopted in 1999. If the same pace is followed as that for human rights, it may not gain universal recognition for another 25 years!

When development is very slow, it is hard to see. As the activists of the new Ashland Culture of Peace Commission state, “we need to acknowledge the important and often unnoticed work that is being done in our community that moves us toward a better world.”

The culture of war has dominated humanity for more than 5000 years. Should we expect it to be replaced by a culture of peace in a short period of time?

On the other hand, at the present time, there are other historical tendencies developing that may come quickly to the point of sudden revolutionary change. In his most recent column, Johan Galtung considers that “the world ‘right now’ [is] so unstable with imbalances everywhere that what we are living is fluxes and jumps. . . . power imbalance that can lead to war ‘before it is too late’, to passive coexistence, or to active coexistence, peace.  Very, very dynamic indeed.  No stability.”

The “peace” mentioned by Galtung would seem to be a relative peace in the sense of the absece of war, caused by the exhaustion of the warring parties. However, even if that comes about, we will still be far from the culture of peace that we need and that is developing much too slowly.

      • Le rythme dialectique de l’histoire

        L’histoire ne progresse pas à un rythme constant, mais par de longues périodes de développement lent entrecoupées de changements soudains et révolutionaires comme le définit la philosophie dialectique.

        Les nouvelles de CPNN ce mois-ci illustrent la lenteur du développement de la culture de la paix.

        Le développement du processus de paix qui a conduit à la signature d’un accord de paix en Colombie ce mois-ci aboutit après un demi-siècle de guerre et de nombreuses années de négociations. Le cas est similaire pour les progrès vers un accord de paix avec le mouvement communiste aux Philippines. Quand j’ai pris part à la conférence internationale de l’UNESCO pour une culture de la paix aux Philippines il y a vingt ans, les négociations étaient déjà en cours.

        Le développement est similairement lent pour les commissions de paix des villes. Nous avons débuté la Commission de Paix de la Ville de New Haven (USA) dans les années 1980, mais elle chereche est encore son identité. La toute derrière commission municipale de la paix, celle de Santos, au Brésil, commencé il y a six ans, n’a été officiellement formalisé que cette année. Comme le disent ses membres: «C’est une longue marche sur une route qui se construit alors que nous marchons dessus, nous ne pouvons pas en voir la fin, mais nous sommes sûr que la fin est un endroit bien meilleur que celui où nous vivons aujourd’hui.”

        Les Droits de l’Homme sont largement reconnus et respectés aujourd’hui, mais la Déclaration universelle des Droits de l’Homme a été ignorée, voire inconnue les 40 premières années suivant son adoption par les Nations Unies. Ce fut seulement après le Prix Nobel de la Paix décerné à Amnesty International, en 1977, qu’il a commencé à aovir une reconnaissance. La résolution de l’ONU équivalente pour une culture de la paix a été adoptée en 1999. Si le même rythme est suivi, nous devrons attendre encore 25 ans pour une reconaissance universelle !!

        Lorsque le développement est très lent, il est difficile de le voir. Comme disent les militants de la Commission de la cultre de la paix de Ashland, “nous devons reconnaître le travail important et souvent inaperçu qui se fait dans notre communauté qui nous pousse vers un monde meilleur.”

        La culture de la guerre a dominé l’humanité depuis plus de 5000 ans. Faut-ils attendre à son remplacement par une culture de la paix dans un court laps de temps ??

        D’autre part, à l’heure actuelle, il existe des tendances historiques en développement qui peuvent venir rapidement au point de changement soudaine et révolutionnaire. Dans sa chronique plus récente, Johan Galtung estime que «le monde en ce moment ‘[est] si instable avec des déséquilibres partout et ce que nous vivons sont des flux et des sauts…. Déséquilibres du pouvoir qui peuvent conduire à la guerre “avant qu’il ne soit trop tard”, à la coexistence passive, ou à la coexistence actif, i.e. la paix. Très, très dynamique en effet. Pas de stabilité.”

        La «paix» mentionné par Galtung semble d’être une paix relative dans le sens de l’absence de guerre, provoquée par l’épuisement des partries belligérantes. Cependant, même si cela arrive, nous serons encore loin de la culture de la paix dont nous avons besoin et qui se développe beaucoup trop lentement.

  • Consciousness, by itself, is not enough; the task is also political

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    We are seeing progress towards a culture of peace on several fronts:

    In this month’s CPNN bulletin, we feature progress in peace education around the world.

    In the bulletin of May, it was progress in the practice of nonviolence.

    As described by the Brazilian pedagogue, Paulo Freire, there is a development of consciousness in the sense of understanding plus action.

    But consciousness, by itself, whether through peace education or the practice of nonviolence, is not enough to change the course of history. If we are to make the transition from the culture of war to a culture of peace, our task is not only psychological, but also political. I have discussed this previously by insisting that peace education, to be effective, must be prepared to confront the dominant culture of war.

    To be political, consciousness needs to be linked up to the development of a new institutional framework.

    As we have previously observed, peace education is an integral part of the peace process in Colombia, but to make a permanent change, it needs to be linked to a network of peace committees at the local and regional levels.

    We can begin to see signs that such a linkage is happening. For example, restorative justice, a key practice of nonviolence and an important aspect of peace education is being promoted by the peace commissions of the cities of Londrina in Brazil and Ashland and New Haven in the United States. Cities are also promoting the practices of mediation and participative budgeting, two other key practices of a culture of peace.

    A great step forward is underway as cities for peace link into global networks such as those described in a recent CPNN bulletin. This process should be strengthened by regularly assessment of the state of the culture of peace by each city (see CPNN February 24) and exchange of their practices and results in this regard.

    The development of networks of cities for peace can be seen as a step towards the development of a global institution of the culture of peace, perhaps a radically-reformed United Nations (as we suggested in a previous blog), or perhaps an entirely new institutional framework at a global level.

    Looking at the headlines of the mass media might make us pessimistic, but we need to keep in mind that a better world is possible and keep working to establish its institutional framework.

    What happens after peace accords are signed

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    Now that there is a ceasefire in Colombia, as described in this month’s bulletin of CPNN, the question arises whether a culture of peace can be maintained afterwards.

    When I was working on the culture of peace in UNESCO, I experienced a similar situation in two countries, El Salvador and Mozambique. Both of them emerged with peace accords in the early 1990’s after civil wars comparable to that in Colombia. In both we established national culture of peace programs to maintain the peace afterwards. They were major efforts, as I will describe, but ultimately they failed. Now, twenty five years later, both El Salvador and Mozambique are once again descending into violence, verging once again on civil war.

    Why did they fail?

    First, consider the efforts. The program in El Salvador is described in a journal article, available on the Internet, written by the three of us who managed the program. To quote from its conclusion: the program transformed “conflict into cooperation by engaging those previously in violent conflict in the joint planning and implementation of human development projects of benefit to all. . .. [it] developed both a set of guidelines accepted by all parties to the previous violent conflict, and institutionalized these guidelines in a National Coordination Council and its Executive Committee which ensure that they are put into practice. In particular, the guidelines are being followed in the implementation of project 507/ELS/01, the production of daily radio broadcasts and non-formal education campaigns for the most needy and neglected women in the country. In the course of the working out of this project, during the period from the summer of 1994 to the present (spring of 1996) the participants, representing the government, community radio stations and nongovernmental organizations including those associated with the FMLN, have internalized the basic principles and guidelines of a culture of peace. While at first they distrusted each other to the point that UNESCO had to play the role of arbitrator and mediator, they have since learned to negotiate and arrived at the point of regular concerted decision-making. Daily radio broadcasts are now being produced which reflect the fruits of this process of dialogue, participation and concertation and which up until now have been well-produced and well-received despite time pressures and the demanding schedules of radio broadcasting. These broadcasts are carried by 24 radio stations around the country, as well as in marketplaces, and they are accompanied by the work of 64 correspondents in the various communities who monitor the broadcasts and provide information from their communities to the technical team that creates the programmes.

    The radio project was only one of 20 human development projects in El Salvador that were developed by the method of concertation described above.

    In Mozambique, a similar process of concertation between ex-enemies resulted in the elaboration of ten human development projects with rural women, demobilized soldiers, schools, youth, mass media, community leaders, etc.

    The process worked. Hoping to develop their country, the ex-enemies could be brought together and could work together.

    But the programmes did not work. The Member States of UNESCO refused to fund the projects, preferring to put their development funds into projects that they could manage themselves for political advantage (including, in some cases, corruption and exploitation).

    Alvaro de Soto, who had mediated the El Salvador peace accords, warned us at the time that it could not work. As part of the accords, the US and Europe had promised to fund land reform and judicial reform in El Salvador, but afterwards they reneged and never provided the funds they had promised. By the way, the same thing happened with the peace accords that established Zimbabwe. The UK never came through with the money they promised as part of the accords, to buy land from the white farmers and distribute to the African farmers. Eventually, President Mugabe got tired of waiting and seized the land and Zimbabwe was punished by international sanctions.

    In general, we came to realize that the powerful Member States of the UN do not want peace. They want to exploit the poor countries of the world and that requires the old method of the culture of war: “Divide and conquer.”

    Hopefully, Colombia can learn from the failures of the past and achieve a sustainable peace. As I have suggested in my previous blog, “Advice to Colombia,” they need to develop a network of local peace committees and keep them strong and independent so that they do not have to depend solely on the national government or United Nations support. Those of us in other countries can help with direct people-to people support; as Amada Benavides says, “Peacebuilding moment starts just now. Today we need more support than ever.”

    Peace, nonviolence, compassion, and culture of peace

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    (Voir ci-dessous pour la version française)

    The various initiatives at the level of the city described in this month’s CPNN bulletin are devoted to these four different goals: peace, nonviolence, compassion and culture of peace.

    Certainly the initiatives are complementary and they have the potential to join in a unified struggle to change the world. But their unity remains to be achieved.

    What are their differences and advantages/disadvantages?

    At UNESCO, when we developed the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace for the UN system, we distinguished culture of peace from the traditional notion of peace. Peace, we reflected, is the period between wars when countries prepare for the their next wars. Culture of peace, instead, is a change in the culture so that wars become unnecessary, even impossible. Culture of peace was conceived as a political strategy to replace the culture of war. Each of the key characteristics of the culture of war was countered by its opposite in a culture of peace. For example, you cannot have a war if you have no enemy. It’s that simple!

    The complementarity of Culture of Peace and Nonviolence was recognized in the title of the United Nations Decade following the International Year for the Culture of Peace the United Nations International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-violence for the Children of the World.

    Whereas culture of peace was conceived specifically as a political strategy, nonviolence may be considered as a necessary tactic. Strategically, a culture of peace cannot be achieved by tactics that are violent. This is an important consideration if we analyze the history of the last few centuries. Revolutionary movements have succeeded in overthrowing cultures of war, but because their tactics were violent, they ended up establishing new cultures of war instead of cultures of peace.

    In this regard, let us recall the reasoning of Mahatma Gandhi. We have no enemies, only opponents whom we have yet to convince. To succeed, the struggle must be carried on at the level of ideas, dialogue and mediation rather than force and violence.

    It seems to me that we should advance under a banner of culture of peace as well as nonviolence. In that way we make it clear that this is a political strategy, not just a tactic, a strategy to replace the culture of war by a culture of peace.

    And what about compassion?

    Let us look closely at the text of the Charter for Compassion:

    “The principle of compassion lies at the heart of all religious, ethical and spiritual traditions, calling us always to treat all others as we wish to be treated ourselves. Compassion impels us to work tirelessly to alleviate the suffering of our fellow creatures, to dethrone ourselves from the centre of our world and put another there, and to honour the inviolable sanctity of every single human being, treating everybody, without exception, with absolute justice, equity and respect.”

    I see at least two aspects of this Charter that make an important contribution to the struggle for a culture of peace.

    First, it is not enough to have very rational strategy and tactics, unless we also have an emotional empathy and concern for “every single human being.” This is the cry of the heart that is needed to accompany the reasoning of the head.

    Second, the movement for a culture of peace should gather force from the millenia of religious, ethical and spiritual struggles that have gone before us to make a better world. While it is true that the concepts of nonviolence and culture of peace are relatively new, the struggle for a peaceful, nonviolent world is as old as humanity. Most of the great religions were established by prophets who rejected the violence of the societies in which they lived. They should be considered as the prophets of a culture of peace and nonviolence.

    Another world is possible! Let us develop the unity of all these initiatives and struggles in order to achieve it!

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    Paix, non-violence, compassion et culture de la paix

    Les différentes initiatives au niveau de la ville, décrites dans le bulletin de CPNN ce mois-ci sont consacrées aux quatre objectifs suivant: la paix, la non-violence, la compassion et la culture de la paix.

    Certes, ces initiatives sont complémentaires et potentiellement capables de se joindre à une lutte unifiée pour changer le monde. Mais l’unité reste à accomplir !

    Quelles sont leurs différences, leurs avantages, et leurs desavantages?

    À l’UNESCO, lorsque nous avons développé la Déclaration et Programme d’action sur une culture de la paix pour le système des Nations Unies, nous avions fait une distinction entre la culture de la paix et la notion traditionelle de paix. La paix, nous avions réfléchi, est la période entre les guerres lorsque les pays se préparent pour leurs prochaines guerres. La culture de la paix, à la place, est un changement dans la culture afin que les guerres deviennent inutiles, voire impossible. La culture de la paix a été conçue comme une strategie politique pour remplacer la culture de guerre. Chacune des principales caractéristiques de la culture de la guerre a été contrée par son contraire dans la culture de la paix. Par exemple, vous ne pouvez pas avoir une guerre si vous n’avez pas d’ennemi ! C’est tout simple !

    La complémentarité de la culture de la paix et de la non-violence a été reconnue dans le titre de la Décennie des Nations Unies pour la suite de l’Année internationale de la culture de la paix: la Décennie internationale de la promotion d’une culture de la non-violence et de la paix au profit des enfants du monde (2001-2010).

    Considérant que la culture de la paix a été conçue spécifiquement comme une stratégie politique, la non-violence peut être considérée comme une tactique nécessaire. Stratégiquement, la culture de la paix ne peut pas s’établir par des tactiques violentes. Ceci est une considération importante si nous analysons l’histoire des derniers siècles. Les mouvements révolutionnaires ont réussi à renverser les cultures de guerre, mais parce que leurs tactiques étaient violentes. Hélas, ils ont fini par établir de nouvelles cultures de guerre au lieu de cultures de paix.

    À cet égard, rappelons le raisonnement du Mahatma Gandhi. Nous n’avons pas d’ennemis. Nous n’avons que des adversaires que nous n’avons pas encore convaincus. Pour réussir, la lutte doit être menée au niveau des idées, du dialogue et de la médiation plutôt que par la force et par la violence.

    Il me semble que nous devrions avancer sous la bannière de la culture de la paix, et de la non-violence. De cette façon, nous montrerions clairement que cela est une stratégie politique, et pas seulement une tactique, une stratégie visant à remplacer la culture de la guerre par une culture de la paix.

    Et qu’en est-il de la compassion?

    Regardons attentivement le texte de la Charte de la compassion:

    “Le précepte de compassion, qui est au coeur de toutes les traditions religieuses, spirituelles et éthiques, nous invite à toujours traiter autrui de la manière dont nous aimerions être traités nous-mêmes. La compassion nous incite à nous engager sans relâche à soulager les souffrances de tous les êtres et à apprendre à ne pas nous considérer nous-même comme le centre du monde, mais à être capable de placer autrui à cette place centrale. Elle nous enseigne à reconnaître le caractère sacré de chaque être humain, et à traiter chacune et chacun, sans aucune exception, avec un respect inconditionnel et dans un esprit de justice et d’équité.”

    Je vois au moins deux aspects dans cette Charte qui apportenaiet une contribution importante à la lutte pour la culture de la paix.

    Tout d’abord, il ne suffit pas d’avoir une stratégie et des tactiques très rationnelles. Il faut également avoir une empathie émotionnelle et le souci de «tout être humain.” Ceci est le cri du cœur qui est nécessaire pour accompagner le raisonnement de la tête.

    Deuxièmement, le mouvement pour la culture de la paix doit s’appuyer entre autre sur les millénaires de luttes religieuses, éthiques et spirituelles qui sont passés avant nous pour un monde meilleur. Il est vrai que les concepts de la non-violence et la culture de la paix sont relativement nouveaux, mais la lutte pour un monde non-violent et pacifique est aussi vieille que l’humanité. La plupart des grandes religions ont été créées par des prophètes qui ont rejeté la violence des sociétés dans lesquelles ils vivaient. Ils doivent être considérés comme les precurseurs d’une culture de la paix et de la non-violence.

    Un autre monde est possible! Développons l’unité de toutes ces initiatives et luttons pour y parvenir!

    African Leadership for the Culture of Peace

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    Africa is featured again this month on the CPNN bulletin, as it has been numerous times before, because of its leadership for a culture of peace.

    The recent articles illustrate what I wrote recently in the article Africa’s Contribution to the Global Movement for a Culture of Peace for the African journal, The Thinker.

    Culture of Peace Consciousness

    “Africa is the leading continent of the world for peace education and media for peace.” This is exemplified by actions described in articles this month from Cameroon, Mali, Tunisia, Congo and Ethiopia.

    Culture of Peace Methodologies

    Africa has shown its leadership in culture of peace methodologies that promote reconciliation and solidarity “with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa and the Gacaca in Rwanda, enabling Africans to overcome bitter conflicts and enter a path of reconciliation.” Recently we see movement towards African solidarity in Morocco, Sierra Leone, Chad and the Gambia.

    As we have often seen at CPNN, it is often the women of Africa who take the lead in culture of peace methodologies.

    Culture of Peace Institutions

    “During the transition period in South Africa following Nelson Mandela’s release from prison, as part of the National Peace Accord, a broad set of regional and local peace committees were established that united representatives from political organizations, trade unions, business, churches, police and security forces to resolve disputes at local and regional levels.”

    Culture of peace institutions are once again beginning to develop thanks to initiatives of the African Union, as indicated by their most recent assembly, their delegation to Burundi and their meeting of the Pan-African Network of the Wise, as well as their support for the UNESCO initiatives such as the African biennial for a culture of peace and the networks for African youth and women for culture of peace.

    Conclusion

    Historically, Africa may be in a good position to take a leadership role in the global movement, because in the course of history, with the exception of the ancient empires of Egypt, Africans did not develop culture of war empires and states to the same extent that they were developed in other continents. And the rich tradition of Pan-Africanism provides an alternative model to that of empires and states. A Pan-African union could be based on a culture of peace rather than culture of war. It would be within the tradition of peace-building by Nelson Mandela. And it would fulfill the dream of that great African-American, W.E.B. Dubois, which he shared at the end of his life with Kwame Nkrumah and the people of Ghana, an Africa at peace with itself and the world.

    Some Advice to the New Generation

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    Kumi Naidoo of Greenpeace and the indigenous elders who came to Paris for the Climate Negotiations are correct in their assessment.

    As the elders say, “We have misplaced our trust in governmental leaders and the leaders of industry. They failed us by trying to maintain their profits, economies and their power over the people . . .  Those seeking profit and power have created a business of war and destruction that now threatens the lives of billions around the world . . . We can no longer wait for solutions from governmental and corporate leaders. We must all take action and responsibility to restore a healthy relationship with each other and Mother Earth.”

    And as Naidoo says, “We need substantial, structural, systemic change – and this change can only be led by the youth, who are not infected by the political pollution of the past.”

    With this wisdom in mind, I should like to offer some advice to the youth who are seeking “substantial, structural, systemic change.”  It concerns two needs: 1) a general raising of consciousness; and 2) the development of new institutions.

    At CPNN we are very familiar with the challenge of raising consciousness.  In contrast to the dominant culture of war that uses the mass media to justify their power and their violence, we are part of a growing movement of alternative media that seeks to provide what the people are seeking: the truth.

    Of course, the truth is not simple.  As Gandhi teaches us, the truth is mountain that we are climbing by many different paths, often invisible to each other.  We may not always understand each other’s truth, but we can always recognize the falsehoods of the propaganda for the culture of war by its emphasis on violence, fear and passivity.

    Never before have so many people come to the truth that we need a world without war.

    What is more difficult is the development of new institutions.  It often seems that the state has already pre-empted the possibilities for institution-building.  But the state, as I have shown in the History of the Culture of War, has come over the centuries to monopolize war to the point that it has become itself the embodiment of the culture of war.  Even when revolutionaries have sought to end war by taking over the state, they have simply ended up by creating new cultures of war.

    However, the state is neither stable nor necessary.

    Several times each century the state system collapses from the contradictions of its culture of war.  In the 20th Century we can point to four such crashes, two of them from the two world wars and two of them from the economic contradictions of the culture of war (the Great Depression and the crash of the Soviet empire).

    Nor are states necessary.  Human needs, as well as care of the environment, can be handled by local and regional government and coordinated at a global level by institutions such as those of the UN system.  For what is the state necessary?  For wars and war preparation and for the guarding of frontiers.

    So here is my advice: don’t worry about the state, but strengthen local, regional and global institutions that can replace the state next time the system crashes, so that we can arrive at a world without war or frontiers.

    The Colombia Peace Process and Education for Peace

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    Several years ago (September 2013 to be exact), I posed the question in this blog, “What Kind of Peace Education?” and responded that an effective program of peace education must begin by analyzing the culture of war. But this approach is strongly opposed by those who hold state power because, in fact, their power is based on that culture.

    Therefore, it was a refreshing change to hear the discussions when I took part last month in the National Encounter for Peace Education for post-conflict Colombia. The people of Colombia know very well what is the culture of violence and war, as they have experienced it for many decades, and now that a peace accord is being reached, they want to change from that culture to a culture of peace.

    An especially clear exposition of this kind of peace education is made by Alicia Cabezudo, who also took part in the Encounter. As she says in her essay, reprinted by CPNN, “violence, and especially the ‘culture of violence’ needs to be analyzed and studied in the content of education for peace because the concealment of violence in the educational system serves to legitimize violence and makes it more difficult to study and understand its causes and search for its roots. The analysis of violence, including the actors and the specific context is needed if we are to identify and select potential solutions to this violence.”

    As Alicia says, “one of the characteristics of education for the Culture of Peace is the social construction of knowledge, following the educational precepts of the famous Brazilian educator Paulo Freire.” Education should be a process of democratic participation: “Not only teachers, but also student representatives, parents associations and relevant members of the education community should be involved in establishment of the curriculum and how it is taught.”

    The National Encounter was organized in a culture of peace manner. Most of the time we sat in small circles in workshops, face-to-face, and exchanged ideas, listening to each other rather than “talking at each other.” As I remark in my description of the event, there was a remarkably high proportion of young people involved in these discussions. It is evident that the youth of Colombia wish to construct a new society of peace. And they realize that it must be “peace” in the broad sense, not just the absence of war but a culture of peace.

    There was a rumor that President Santos might stop by the Encounter on his way back from Havana where he was taking part in the negotiations around the Peace Accord. After all, he was elected President on a platform of peace, and only a week before had taken part in a nationally televised program on peace education with some of the educators who organized our Encounter.

    Although the peace initiatives of the national government are needed and applauded by the people, they realize full well, as Alicia insists, that this “should not be only an agreement between the government and the guerrillas or the paramilitaries – It is and should be an agreement of everyone. It is and should be an agreement in which the civil society participates actively. For that reason, it is an educational theme par excellence.”

    The message that I brought to Colombia from South Africa (see my previous blog) was one that they were ready to hear and take seriously, that they should “develop a network of local peace committees and keep them strong and independent so that [they] do not have to depend solely on the national government to maintain the peace.”

    As Alicia says, peace education has a crucial role in the peace process: “Peace Education should be used as a tool, a way to facilitate the return to peace at the territorial level; the democratization of the political, social and economic system, and the effective practice of social solidarity and equitable justice . . . Never before has a peace process after an armed conflict been accompanied simultaneously by a pedagogy of building a culture of peace as it is being discussed today in Colombia. It’s an opportunity that must not be wasted.”

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    Le processus de paix en Colombie et l’éducation pour la paix

     Il y a plusieurs années (Septembre 2013 pour être exact), je posais la question dans ce blog: “Quelle éducation pour la paix?” et j’ai répondu qu’un programme efficace d’éducation pour la paix doit commencer par analyser la culture de guerre. Mais cette approche est fortement contestée par ceux qui tiennent le pouvoir de l’Etat parce que, en fait, leur pouvoir est fondé sur cette culture.

    Par conséquent, ce fut un changement rafraîchissant que d’entendre les discussions lorsque je pris part le mois dernier à la Rencontre nationale pour l’éducation pour la paix en Colombie post-conflit.  Les Colombiens savent très bien ce qu’est la culture de la violence et de la guerre, parce qu’ils l’ont vécue pendant de nombreuses décennies, et maintenant que l’accord de paix est atteint, ils veulent passer de cette culture à une culture de paix.

    Un exposé particulièrement clair de ce genre d’éducation pour la paix a été fait par Alicia Cabezudo, qui a également pris part à la rencontre. Comme elle le dit dans son essai, réimprimé par CPNN, “la violence, et en particulier la« culture de la violence »doit être analysée et étudiée dans le contenu de l’éducation pour la paix parce que la dissimulation de la violence dans le système éducatif sert à la légitimer, ce qui la rend plus difficile à étudier, à comprendre ses causes et à rechercher ses racines.  L’analyse de la violence, y compris les acteurs et le contexte spécifique est nécessaire si nous voulons identifier et sélectionner les solutions possibles à cette violence.”

    Comme le dit Alicia, “l’une des caractéristiques de l’éducation pour la culture de paix est la construction sociale de la connaissance, en suivant les préceptes éducatifs du célèbre pédagogue brésilien Paulo Freire”:  L’éducation devrait être un processus de participation démocratique: “Non seulement les enseignants, mais aussi les représentants des étudiants, les associations de parents et les membres concernés de la communauté de l’éducation doivent être impliqués dans l’établissement du programme et comment il est enseigné.”

    La rencontre nationale a été organisée dans l’esprit de la culture de paix. La plupart du temps nous nous sommes assis en petits cercles dans les ateliers, en face-à-face, et avons échangé des idées en s’écoutant les uns les autres, plutôt que de parler sans s’écouter.  Comme je le remarque dans ma description de l’événement, il y avait une proportion remarquablement élevée de jeunes impliqués dans ces discussions. Il est évident que les jeunes de Colombie souhaitent construire une nouvelle société de paix. Et ils se rendent compte que ce doit être la «paix» au sens large, et pas seulement l’absence de guerre, mais une vraie culture de paix.

    Une rumeur a couru que le président Santos pourrait passer par notre conference sur le chemin du retour de La Havane où il prenait part aux négociations autour de l’accord de paix. Après tout, il a été élu président sur une plateforme de la paix, et seulement une semaine avant il avait pris part à un programme télévisé à l’échelle nationale sur l’éducation de la paix avec certains des éducateurs qui ont organisé notre rencontre.

    Bien que les initiatives de paix du gouvernement national soient nécessaires et aient été applaudies par le peuple, celui-ci réalise très bien, comme insiste Alicia, que ce “ne doit pas être seulement un accord entre le gouvernement et la guérilla ou les paramilitaires – Il est et doit être un accord de tout le monde. Il est et doit être un accord dans lequel la société civile participe activement. Pour cette raison, il est un thème éducatif par excellence.”

    Comme écrit dans le blog de septembre, de mon voyage en Afrique du Sud, j’ai apporté un message aux gens de Colombie, un message qu’ils étaient prêts à entendre et à prendre au sérieux: “vous devez développer un réseau de comités de paix locaux et garder ces comités forts et indépendants afin de ne pas dépendre uniquement du gouvernement national pour maintenir la paix.”

    Comme le dit Alicia, l’éducation pour la paix a un rôle crucial dans le processus de paix: “L’education pour la Paix doit être utilisée comme un outil, un moyen de faciliter le retour à la paix au niveau territorial; la démocratisation du système politique, économique et sociale, et la pratique effective de la solidarité sociale et de la justice équitable. . . . Jamais auparavant après un conflit armé un processus de paix a été accompagné simultanément par une pédagogie de la construction d’une culture de paix comme il est discuté aujourd’hui en Colombie. C’est une occasion qui ne doit pas être manquée.”