The International Day of Peace

Featured

The International Day of Peace (IDP), as officially proclaimed by the United Nations, is certainly the most universal action for peace in our times, and there is no doubt that it contributes greatly to the consciousness throughout the world that we need to turn from the culture of war to a culture of peace.

With this in mind it would be good to be able to measure the IDP actions each year, to know if they are increasing or not, and to know if this is occuring throughout the world, or more in some regions than in others.

During the first decade of this century, extensive international surveys were conducted by the Culture of Peace Initiative (see suveys from 2005 and 2009 as documented in Wikipedia), but they were discontinued, and there was nothing to replace them until 2017 when I conducted the first IDP survey from CPNN, searching for articles by Google and using other, less complete surveys.

This is now the third time that I have done the survey – not an easy task requiring something like 100 hours of labor – and I continue to find hundreds of events throughout the world, with the largest number from USA/Canada and Western Europe.

There is no doubt that, despite my best efforts, we continue to under-estimate the number and scope of actions involved. Many actions are not put on the internet. In addition to the languages recognzed by the United Nations (English, French, Russian, Arabic, Chinese and Spanish), I have searched via Google in Ukrainian, German and Portuguese, but no doubt there are actions described in articles in other languages as well.

There are other surveys of IDP events, but it is difficult to assess their data in some cases.

Pathways to Peace, the successor to the Culture of Peace Initiative, provides a map where people can enter their actions for the IDP. This year’s map has 642 entries, but perhaps half of them are from 2018, and perhaps half of the entries from 2019 are marked as meditation (not action in the sense defined by CPNN). The others from 2019 that are marked as music, march or multiple actions have been included in the CPNN survey.

The Campaign for Nonviolence lists CNV 3314 total actions, mostly in the United States, but this includes multiple actions by the 205 sites listed on their map. I have included all the 205 sites in the CPNN data.

One Day One Choir says that for the International Day of Peace “since we started in 2014, more than a million people around the world have connected with us to sing for peace and unity,” There are almost a thousand entries on their map of the world, but I could not use the data because it seems to be an accumulaton of all the events since 2014, with no indication in what year or years the action occurred.

The website of Montessori schools says that “In 2017, “Sing Peace” involved over 150,000 children from some 65 different countries.” The site provides a listing of 1141 schools “signed up to sing” and these are shown on a map of the world,, but as in the case of OneDayOneChoir, it is not clear if this is an accumulation of data over many years or if it refers to actions in 2019.

In addition, I should mention the website of Peace One Day which states that “throughout the years, millions of people have been active on Peace Day in every country of the world. . . In 2016, after several years work with global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company, it was estimated that 2.2 billion people had been exposed to the Peace Day message, that 940 million were aware of the day and that 16 million behaved more peacefully as a result.” But since the website provides no listing or source for particular events, I don’t see how its claims. can be verified.

Failing to realize that the data from One Day One Choir and Montessori Sing Peace were not necessarily up-to-date, I included their data in the totals last year (2018). For that reason it makes no sense to compare this year’s CPNN total of 655 to last year’s total of 835. Although it is not possible to be precise, it seems likely that the number of IDP actions listed on CPNN might be as much as doubled if it were possible to obtain up-to-date information from One Day One Choir and the Montessori Schools.

Despite the incompleteness of the quantitative data, there is plenty of qualitative information to be found in the CPNN survey, as described in this month’s CPNN bulletin, and I think this justifies the labor involved. For example, it turns out that data cited from Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, France, Ukraine, and Yemen are not reflected in the other surveys mentioned above.

What really happened in Zimbabwe

Featured

On September 7 the New York Times carried several very long articles about former Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe who had just died, saying that he was a “tyrant” and that he “presided over the decline of one of Africa’s most prosperous lands.”

At one point they describe his seizure of white-owned farms. “By 1998, although Mr. Mugabe had promised new land for 162,000 black families, only 71,000 white households had been resettled. Then came a dramatic turn. Starting around 2000, Mr. Mugabe’s lieutenants sent squads of young men to invade hundreds of white-owned farms and chase away their owners. The campaign took a huge toll. Over two years, nearly all of the country’s white-owned land had been redistributed . . . The violent agricultural revolution had come with a heavy price. The economy was collapsing as farmland fell into disuse and peasant farmers struggled to grow crops without fertilizer, irrigation, farm equipment, money or seeds.”

But we get a different story about this if we look for an African source, in this case The East African.

“However, the land grab was instigated by Britain itself when it went against the spirit of the 1979 Lancaster House Agreement that stated that the former colonial power was to provide the funds for compensating Zimbabwean British settler farmers who were willing to sell their land back to the government. This agreement was signed by the Conservative Party under the leadership of Margaret Thatcher.

“When New Labour came to power in 1997 under prime minister Tony Blair, the UK government unilaterally scrapped the arrangement.

“President Mugabe was then adamant that his government would not initiate a land buy-out scheme for what had been stolen and taken for free from Africans. These facts were corroborated by the current British premier, Boris Johnson, when he was still a journalist.

“Mugabe then launched the so-called “Land Grab” that attracted economic sanctions from Western countries, making Zimbabwe a pariah nation, collapsing almost every sector of the economy.”

The New York Times article mentions only in passing the Lancaster House Agreement that ended colonial rule and provided for Zimbabwe’s independence, and they do not mention that part of the agreement was that the UK (and the US) would provide funds for land reform.

Nor do they mention that the UK unilaterally scrapped the agreement.

And in describing “the decline of one of Africa’s most prosperous lands”, the Times does not mention that Zimbabwe was the victim of economic sanctions.

In other words, “blame the victim!”

More detail is available in an article by Thabo Mbeki who succeeded Nelson Mandela as President of South Africa:

“When the war veterans and others began to occupy white-owned farms, we intervened first of all with Prime Minister Tony Blair in 1998 to encourage the UK Government to honour the commitment that had been made at Lancaster House in 1979 to give the Government of Zimbabwe the financial means to carry out the required land redistribution in a non-confrontational manner.

“This led to the September 1998 International Donors’ Conference on Land Reform and Resettlement held in Harare, which the British Government attended, but whose very positive decisions were not implemented, thanks to the negative attitude adopted by the very same British Government.

“Unfortunately, contrary to what the Conservative Prime Ministers Margaret Thatcher and John Major had agreed, Tony Blair’s Secretary of State for International Development, Claire Short, repudiated the commitment to honour the undertaking made at Lancaster House.”

Reacting to the death of Mugabe, Thabo Mbeki gives us a very different assessment of his role in Africa:

“Mugabe will be remembered as outstanding fighter for the liberation not only of the people of Zimbabwe but also all other colonially and racially oppressed peoples”, Mbeki said. . . . “Zimbabwe has lost a father of the nation! As Africans, we have lost an eminent leader of our victorious struggle for national liberation!”

As for the New York Times, we should question their claim to print “All the News That’s Fit to Print.”

“Slow News” vs “Fast History”

Featured

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 . . .

African Leadership for the Culture of Peace

Featured

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.

Africa as a model for culture of peace

Featured

Imagine ! …

…if we could apply in Europe and North America initiatives such as those described from Africa including the contributions of Nelson Mandela, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa, the Gacaca in Rwanda, etc….

Imagine ! …

…that networks of mass media, radio and television, devoted to the culture of peace, like those described this month from Africa would be made available to everyone on a daily basis at a grassroots level…

Imagine ! …

…that governments and the CEOs of the tourism industry, including hotels, airlines and tourist agencies would develop tourism based on people-to-people understanding and sustainable development

Imagine ! …

…that our educational systems would make it a priority to develop and use manuals for culture of peace and human rights written in such a way to speak directly to local communities, and that these were developed as a network that unified the peoples across national boundaries….

Imagine ! …

…that UNESCO or the UN could develop international networks of youth, women and research institutions for a culture of peace like those being developed in Africa…

Imagine ! …

…that elections were not a contest of winner-take-all power, but rather an opportunity for the people to be listened to and their demands translated into governmental decisions based on the collaboration of all political parties and candidates…

Imagine ! …

…that the forces of the culture of war would accept these advances, knowing that in the end it could lead to a transition from the culture of war to a culture of peace….

Thank you, Africa, for showing us where we need to go.

 L’Afrique comme modèle pour la Culture de la Paix

Imaginons ! …

…que nous puissions réaliser  en Europe et en Amérique du Nord des initiatives comme celles qui ont été faites en Afrique, telles que les contributions de Nelson Mandela, la Commission Vérité et Réconciliation en Afrique du Sud, le Gacaca au Rwanda etc..

Imaginons !…

…que les réseaux de médias, radio et télévision, consacrés à la Culture de la Paix puissent être disponibles et rendus accessibles chaque jour, à tout le monde, à tous les niveaux…

Imaginons !…

…que les gouvernements et les PDG de l’industrie du tourisme, y compris les hôtels, les compagnies aériennes et les agences de tourisme puissent développer un tourisme basé sur la compréhension des peuples entre eux et sur le développement durable

Imaginons !…

…Que nos systèmes éducatifs aient pour priorité le développement et l’utilisation de manuels pour la Culture de la Paix et pour les Droits de l’Homme, rédigés pour être parlés et compris directement par les communautés locales, et que ces systèmes grandissent comme un réseau unifiant les peuples de pays différents, sans frontières nationales…

Imaginons !….

… que l’UNESCO ou l’ONU puissent développer les réseaux internationaux de jeunes, de femmes et d’institutions de recherche pour une culture de la paix comme ceux qui se développent en Afrique…

Imaginons !…

…que les élections ne sont pas la conquête du pouvoir « le gagnant prenant tout « , mais plutôt une occasion pour les peuples d’être écoutés et leurs demandes traduites et comprises dans des décisions gouvernementales basées sur la collaboration de tous les partis politiques et des candidats…

Imaginons !…

…que les forces de la culture de guerre puissent accepter ces progrès, sachant qu’à la fin cela pourrait  amener la transition d’une culture de guerre à une culture de la paix.

Merci, Afrique, de nous montrer la route où nous devons aller !…

 

Networking for a culture of peace

Featured

When we drafted the Declaration and Programme of Action for a Culture of Peace at UNESCO in 1998, adopted by the UN General Assembly a year later as Resolution a/53/243, we envisaged that progress towards a culture of peace could be achieved through the following:

– Partnerships between and among the various actors [including civil society] as set out in the Declaration should be encouraged and strengthened for a global movement for a culture of peace. 

 – A culture of peace could be promoted through sharing of information among actors on their initiatives in this regard. 

As readers of this blog know, the communication function is being provided by CPNN and other such Internet websites.

And now we begin to see the development of the first function of partnerships, through development of civil society networks for a culture of peace.

At Yamoussoukro, Côte d’Ivoire, UNESCO and the Network of Foundations and Research Institutions for the Promotion of a Culture of Peace in Africa co-sponsored the 25th Anniversary of the founding of the UNESCO initiative for a Culture of Peace, and met to refine and implement their Programme of Action. I was privileged to represent the Culture of Peace Corporation (the parent organization of CPNN) at this meeting.

Their initial Programme of Action was adopted last September in Addis Ababa and includes the following :

– Coordinate actions in order to ensure a common understanding and community of practices in pooling our resources in the implementation of our actions

– Strengthen the visibility of our organizations and our activities among citizens and institutions at national and international level;

– Contribute to the implementation of the Luanda Action Plan by the elaboration and implementation of joint programs;

– Endeavor to implement the African Union’s 2063 Agenda and the UNESCO Intersectoral Programme on Culture of Peace;

– Expand the network to African and non-African organizations with similar objectives.

More details, including the Luanda Action Plan may be found in the UNESCO brochure Sources and Resources for a Culture of Peace in Africa.

This network parallels and interacts with the new network dedicated to “Women for a culture of peace in Africa” that was established in March of this year. There are plans to establish yet another such network next year dedicated to African youth organizations.

Indeed, we see in the pages of CPNN that around the world the consciousness already exists of the need for radical change, and that the necessary actions are taking place, but so far the consciousness and actions are too isolated.

In order to achieve an effective Global Movement for a Culture of Peace, networks like those in Africa need to be developed in other continents.  Given the advanced state of consciousness and action for a culture of peace in Latin America, let us hope that it can be next.

Leadership of the Global South will be difficult for the North to accept

Featured

Is it by chance that the leadership for the culture of peace is coming from the continents of Latin America and Africa, continents of the Global South? The detailed evidence for this may be found in many CPNN articles, some of which are summarized in the CPNN bulletins for March 1 and April 1 this year, as well as bulletins from previous years (February 1, 2013 and August 1, 2012).

It is not by chance that these are the continents that have suffered for centuries from the colonialism of the North: Africa from European colonialism and Latin America from US domination and military interventions?

It is not by chance that many of their best leaders were assassinated, directly or indirectly, by the colonial powers? I am thinking Samora Machel, Patrice Lumumba and Amilcar Cabral in Africa, or Salvador Allende, Che Guevara and Maurice Bishop in Latin America.

The transition to a culture of peace requires a complete reversal of the domination and exploitation of poor states of the South by the rich states of the North. It is by means of the culture of war that the North has amassed its wealth. And it is their continuing profit from the culture of war that makes it impossible for them to move towards a culture of peace. On the other hand, Africans and Latin Americans have everything to gain by such a complete reversal.

The coming years will also be difficult for the North, because, over time, they will continue to lose not only their power, but also their wealth that has been maintained through the culture of war. There is a great danger, more and more visible in national elections in Europe and North America, that voters will turn to fascist political parties in their desperate search for a solution.

But perhaps the most difficult thing for the North will be the psychological aspect of this historical transition. The people of the North, particularly their intellectuals and political leaders have developed a racist belief in their superiority. The loss of that illusion will be a difficult thing to swallow, as the leadership of history passes into the hands of the people of the South.

Rather than trying to save the rest of the world, progressives in the North should try to save their own societies from racist and chauvinist illusions, and from economies based on exploitation. In this regard they should adopt some of the approaches suggested by Johan Galtung in his analysis of the Fall of the American Empire: to work at the local municipal level instead of trying to change national policies, to organize local cooperatives and local food production instead of importation and agro-business, local banks instead of investment banks, local construction of affordable housing to provide jobs as well as housing.

The transition to a culture of peace needs to be a universal struggle. By working locally for a culture of peace, the people of the North can take their place along with activists of the South in this universal, historical, nonviolent, yet revolutionary struggle.

 

Nelson Mandela and Africa’s Contribution to the Culture of Peace

Featured

As the other peace leaders in this month’s CPNN bulletin testify, Nelson Mandela provided us a model of leadership for a culture of peace. He left us “a vision of a new and better life and the tools with which to win and build it.”

20 years ago in Psychology for Peace Activists, I wrote: “At the present moment of history it is possible that an additional step is being added to those of consciousness development: a step of vision. Mandela exemplifies a new generation of peace activists whose actions provide a vision for a peaceful world. Not content to struggle against the vicious, anti-human system of apartheid, Mandela and his fellow activists in the ANC had the courage and foresight to develop the Freedom Charter which provides not only a vision for South Africa, but by extension for the rest of the world as well.

“As Mandela describes, the Freedom Charter was developed by a process that evoked suggestions from ordinary people throughout the country. The responded to a call asking them ‘How would you set about making South Africa a happy place for all the people who live in it?’ The Freedom Charter ‘captured the hopes and dreams of the people, and acted as a blueprint for the liberation struggle and the future of the nation.’

“The vision in the Freedom Charter is remarkably similar to that of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which was formulated in those years by the United Nations. It is at once specific and universal, practical and visionary.

“The vision of the Freedom Charter was further elaborated later by the ANC in preparation for the first free elections in South Africa. As Mandela says, ‘Some in the ANC wanted to make the campaign simply a liberation election and tell the people vote for us because we set you free. We decided instead to offer them a vision of the South Africa we hoped to create.’

“Today, to paraphrase Mandela, peace activists can do more than just be against the war system, but they can at the same time act to bring a universal vision closer to reality. In opposing the culture of war, today’s activist can help construct a culture of peace.”

It is not by accident that the vision of a culture of peace should come from Africa. The expansion of the culture of war and its monopolization by empires and states did not take place in Africa; instead it was imposed on Africa by Islam and the European colonial powers. The difference can be seen in the pre-colonial traditions of African justice, as exemplified in recent years by the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that took place under Mandela’s presidency in South Africa. Pre-colonial African justice was not like the justice as developed by monotheistic empires in which the state seeks out the suspect, finds the person guilty and punishes the criminal in the name of the law. Instead, African pre-colonial justice was arrived at through a process of dialogue of the entire community gathered perhaps under the community tree. As I learned from one culture when I worked in Mozambique, “we take whatever time is needed to find a solution to a conflict that is acceptable to everyone. Even if it takes a long time, the milano [the process] does not rot.”

As I concluded in my blog of August 2012, “we should recognize that the African people, with their unique peace-making traditions, can make a major contribution to the world historical transition to a culture of peace.

 

Africa’s Contribution to a Culture of Peace

Featured

It is not by accident that there is so much news from Africa for a culture of peace (see CPNN bulletin for August).  It reflects their cultural history.  Like people on other continents, the Africans always had culture of war at a tribal level, but with the exception of the Nile River Valley, they did not use war to create empires until the arrival of the Arabs and the Europeans.  And even then the division of Africa into warring nation-states was imposed by the Europeans.

Instead of the authority of empires, pre-colonial Africa was ordered by effective peace-making traditions of dialogue and mediation at the community level, often called the “palabre” (word).  They were based on respect for the elders (both men and women) and compromise among the many animist spiritual forces, unlike the supreme authority of monotheism imported by the Arabs and Europeans.

These traditions re-emerged during the freedom struggle in South Africa, both in the Peace Process involving local peace committees and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission which was presided over by Bishop Tutu.  And this month on CPNN, we see it re-emerging in the peace process in Somalia and the Gacaca commission in Rwanda, not to mention the work of the Elders, an initiative that was launched several years ago by Nelson Mandela in the African peace-making tradition.  We also see it in recent CPNN articles on a culture of peace featuring African women, artists, especially musicians, educators and journalists.  Wouldn’t it be great if the commercial media of the North could imitate the media in Africa that are dedicated to news for a culture of peace!

I say that the traditions are “re-emerging” because they were largely suppressed by the Europeans when the conquered Africa.   We came face to face with this when I was working at UNESCO and we started working on a National Culture of Peace Program for Burundi.  In pre-colonial times, there was a tradition of the Bashingantahe, elders who did mediation and  peace-making.  But they were systematically assassinated by the colonial power.   After all, peace-making is a kind of power since it unites people, and it is difficult to conquer a people that is united.  So what we did was to seek out a few Bashingantahe who were still functioning and help them to train a new generation.  As far as I know this initiative is still underway almost 20 years later.

I was at UNESCO during the years when the freedom movement of South Africa succeeded in creating a non-racist government, and we wanted to find financing to keep the Peace Process going, since it needed to be independent of the government.  Unfortunately, it was not possible to find money and the institutions lapsed.  However, the lessons gained at that time are still bearing fruit throughout Africa, and hopefully we will learn from them throughout the world.

In conclusion, we should recognize that the African people, with their unique peace-making traditions, can make a major contribution to the world historical transition to a culture of peace.   It remains to be seen how this may take place in the coming tumultuous years.  One thing seems certain to me – that it will not take place at the level of state power.  We have seen recently that the African elder, Kofi Annan, was unable to apply African peace-making methods to the situation in Syria.  He resigned because his advice was not heeded by the Europeans and Americans who preferred a military “solution.”  We have seen this before:  20 years ago Mohamed Sahnoun, the Algerian diplomat worked as the UN representative for the reconstruction of Somalia by involving elders, teachers and religious leaders in a true African peace-making approach.  His work was ruined by the American decision to “send in the marines.”  Like Kofi Annan, he resigned with a public denunciation of the military “solution.”

Once again, we cannot escape seeing that the transition to a culture of peace must involve new democratic structures instead of the nation-state with its “military solutions.”