Towards a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly

Featured

A frequent theme of this blog has been the need for a profound reform of the United Nations so that it is managed more directly by the peoples of the world – through cities or parliaments instead of the present Member States that are inextricably linked to the culture of war.

A significant first step towards such a reform would be the proposed parliamentary assembly of the United Nations (UNPA). As this month’s bulletin of CPNN documents, there are increasing calls for such an assembly, including proposals from the European Parliament, the Pan-African Parliament and an international conference of around 300 chief justices, judges, legal experts and ambassadors from nearly 60 countries predominantly from the Global South.

Such an Assembly would be an important step forward for a number of reasons.

1) A UNPA could make the United Nations more democratic. As stated by the European Parliament, it could increase “the democratic profile and internal democratic process of the organisation and . . . allow world civil society to be directly associated in the decision-making process.”

2) Parliamentarians are often closer to the people than their national goverments. For example, we have seen recently that many parliamentarians and some parliamentary associations support the nuclear ban treaty even when their governments have boycotted the UN negotiations, and we note other parliamentary initiatives towards a culture of peace. Hence a UNPA would be a force within the UN system to move towards a culture of peace.

3) There has been talk of UN reform for many years, but no action, because of resistance by the Member States. A UNPA would set a precedent for change.

4) There has been an erosion of confidence among the peoples of the world that the UN can provide a way forward to escape from the damages caused by the culture of war. A UNPA could begin to restore confidence and inspire further change.

5) If the thesis of this blog is correct that we are approaching a collapse of the present world economic and political structure, a UNPA could become key element in a new global governance structure, which, in turn could help in the development of a new, and hopefully, more equitable, economic order.

So what needs to be done?

Already regional parliaments of Africa and Europe are on record to support a UNPA. We need a similar initiative from the Latin American Parliament, and support from parliamentarians in North America, Asia and the Arab States.

We have seen that organizations of mayors often take progressive positions on the issues related to war and peace. It would be good if they would support the development of a UNPA.

There needs to be a concerted effort by alternative, progressive media to put the UNPA on the agenda for action by the civil society. To the extent that this is done it can stimulate the mainstream commercial media to pick up the issue as well.

International NGO’s should be encouraged to see in a UNPA a potential support for their progressive initiatives, and they should get on board a global movement for a UNPA.

With increased attention to the question, there needs to be further study of the methods and effectiveness of the regional parliaments that exist already, in order to determine how a UNPA should be structured. This was the conclusion of a recent meeting of the organizations already involved in working for a UNPA: Parliamentarians for Global Action, the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the Campaign for a UN Parliamentary Assembly.

The establishment of a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly could move us a step closer to the transition from the culture of war to a culture of peace. No doubt there will be resistance from national governments, and especially the great powers, who will understand the a UNPA provides an alternative to their power that is based on the culture of war. Hence, the struggle will not be easy. But, as Richard Falk reminds us with regard to the nuclear ban treaty and the elimination of nuclear weapons, there is historical precedent for progressive change as a result of “deep commitments, sacrifices, movements, and struggles that eventually achieved the impossible, ending such entrenched evils as slavery, apartheid, and colonialism.”

Mayors and Media for Peace

Featured

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.”

Who are the biggest terrorists?

Featured

Readers of this blog know that I believe that in order to move from the culture of war to a culture of peace, we must develop a new order of world governance in which the United Nations is based on cities or regional parliaments rather than the present system of Member States. This is because the nation state is inextricably tied to the culture of war. More evidence for this comes from the recent United Nations vote on a resolution concerning a treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons.

All the rich and powerful countries are against the resolution, including all the countries that possess nuclear weapons and their allies, including most of Europe, Australia, Canada, Japan and South Korea.

What this tells us is that nuclear weapons are considered essential to the power of the state

This is state terrorism.

Let me explain.

The definition of terrorism is the achievement of political goals through violence or threat of violence against innocent populations.

What can better describe the possession of nuclear weapons than to call it terrorism.

The only times they have been used, they slaughtered the populations of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 for political goals. Some think it was to end the war earlier. Others, having examined the evidence, say that it made no difference in ending the war, but was rather meant as a threat against the Russians which evolved into the Cold War. In any case, the populations of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were mostly civilians, not military.

Since 1945, nuclear weapons are used as a threat against whatever enemy a state happens to have. During the Cold War it was the American against the Russians, and it seems now that a new Cold War is being developed, especially by the American “deep state” that supported the Hillary Clinton candidacy. The weapons of France and the UK are jusitified by their membership in NATO which is on the American side of the Cold War. Then there is the antagonism between India and Pakistan which is used to justify their weapons. And between Israel and North Korea and their enemies which seems to be much of the world.

Nuclear weapons do not distinguish their victims. That means that in all these cases, the threat is against the populations of the enemy country, without regard for the fact that most are not engaged militarily. This is terrorism. State terrorism.

Why do I say that this is essential to the state?

After considering the history of the culture of war in my book by that name, I come to the conclusion that over the course of history, the state has come to monopolize the culture of war. No one else is allowed to make or prepare for war except the state. Not cities, as was the case in the Middle ages. Not indigenous peoples, as was the case before they were conquered and subjugated around the world. Not private armies or armies of religious sects (although sometimes states with a state religion are allowed to have nuclear weapons as in the case of Israel, but not Iran).

In the same way, the state monopolizes nuclear weapons. No other institution is allowed to develop or possess them.

In fact, the culture of war, if we include the defense and limitation of trade and travel at its borders and the raising of taxes (mostly to pay for the culture of war), is one of the few functions that can only be performed by the nation-state. Other vital functions, such as healthcare, education, housing, transportation and communication services, etc. can (and often are) regulated at a higher and lower level. For example, aviation and maritime shipping are regulated at the level of the United Nations. As for healthcare and education, the United Nations has specialized agencies that are capable of regulating them (WHO and UNESCO). At the same time, many of these functions can be effectively regulated at lower levels, as is done for education in the United States.

The culture of war is the defining characteristic of the state. As stated clearly by the great sociologist Max Weber the state is defined as the organization that has a “monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory.”

The next time you see reference in the commercial media to “terrorists,” ask the question, “who are the biggest terrorists?” And join the ranks of those who are struggling to abolish nuclear weapons. In the short run, the struggle is being carried out with states from the Global South at the United Nations. But in the long run, we need a new United Nations run instead by cities or regional parliaments.

Where are we in the course of history?

Featured

I have long believed that we are at the point of human history where we can make the transition from the culture of war which has dominated us for 5,000 years to a new culture, a culture of peace. As I prepare the CPNN review for 2016 and compare it to the CPNN review that I wrote one year ago for the year 2015, it gives me the chance to reflect on the question: where are we in this transition?

I frame my response in the context of my novella, “I have seen the promised land“, in which I have tried to imagine the stages by which the transition to a culture of peace could take place.

In the novella, I suppose that the system of nation states, led by the Amerian empire, which have come to monopolize the culture of war, will crash, first as an economic collapse, then follwed by a political collapse (such as I witnessed in the Soviet Union during the 1980s). It will be accompanied by attempts to impose fascist governments, such as occurred during the great depression of the 1930’s. To move forward, we will need strong nonviolent movements to resist the movement towards fascism. I imagine that after the crash, governments will abandon the United Nations and leave a void in which cities, which no longer have a culture of war, can take change of a renewed United Nations and thereby manage the transition to a culture of peace.

In my blog last month, I remarked that “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.” More details are provided in the recent CPNN article that quotes the human rights chief of the United Nations, “‘Fascist Rhetoric’ Becoming Commonplace in US and Europe: UN” Let us recall that fascism is simply the extreme form of the culture of war, with all of its eight aspects exaggerated.

In other words, we are already seeing signs of political collapse, even though the global economy continues to struggle along. At the same time, there is no let-up in the various economic contradictions listed by Johan Galtung as the basis of his prediction that the American empire will crash by the year 2020. These contradictions include: 1. between growth and distribution: overproduction relative to demand, 1.4 billion below $ 1/day, 100.000 die/day, 1/4 of hunger [i.e. the widening gap between rich and poor]; 2. between productive and finance economy (currency, stocks,bonds) overvalued, hence crashes, unemployment, contract work; and 3. between production/distribution/consumption and nature: ecocrisis, depletion/pollution, global warming. Not to mention the ever increasing balance of payments deficit of the United States as it imports without exporting, and the economic burden of its military bases around the world.

Another sign of political collapse is suggested in recent speculations that the new government in the United States, may withdraw its support for the United Nations.

As I concluded in last month’s blog: “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.”

Now, let us look at the CPNN reviews for 2015 and 2016. Do they give us cause for optimism? In the reviews, we have given particular attention to the transition to peace in Colombia, as well as advances elsewhere in Latin America. However, as we have discussed previously, the transition to a culture of peace will ultimately have to be global in scope if it is to succeed.

On a global level, our reviews present some evidence that the social consciousness of the people is developing rapidly enough to resist fascism in the coming years? In particular, we see advances in the practice of nonviolence and the development of peace education, as well as continually expanding participation in the International Day of Peace. We have seen advances in confronting terrorism without violence, and, most recently, the strengthening of sanctuary cities, universities and churches in the face of threats by the new Presdient of the United States.

But, as we have often considered, consciousness is not enough. It needs to be accompanied by the development of a new institutional framework, if we are to replace the nation states in a reformed United Nations. Here, it seems we are lagging. There are calls for UN reform, but they do not seem radical enough. There is growth in peace cities, as reviewed by CPNN, but it seems that the growth is not yet sufficient to play a determining role.

Some things can be done immediately. In particular, I have previously proposed the establishment of an Alternative Security Council composed of mayors or parliamentarians from all regions of the world. Such a “Shadow Security Council: 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. It would provide a first step towards the eventual institutional change that is needed.

There is important work to be done!

Success of the United Nations

Featured

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.

Proposal for a Radical Reform of the United Nations

Featured

As it is structured now, the United Nations is controlled by national governments, with their military institutions and military budgets. Over the course of history, national governments have come to monopolize war. As a result, if we are to make the transition from a culture of war to a culture of peace, we need a radical reform of the United Nations. Instead of being controlled by the Member States, it should be controlled by “We the Peoples,” the words that begin its Charter.

Before making a proposal for such a radical reform, we need to consider the following:

1) The national governments of the world increasingly ignore the United Nations when faced with global problems. Just this last month the major countries failed to send heads of state to the United Nations Humanitarian Summit. We first saw this trend with the global economic crisis of 2007-2008; the powerful states, meeting as the G-7, ignored the relevant financial institutions of the United Nations, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, and responded to the crisis with meetings of their finance ministers. Then in 2010, the powerful countries ignored the United Nations Non-proliferation conference and met in Washington in a parallel conference called by President Obama. Only Iran sent a head of state to the United Nations conference. Finally, even when the national governments attend a United Nations summit, the results are not adequate, as illustrated by the conferences to confront global warming in 2012 in Rio and 2015 in Paris.

2) The global system of national governments periodically fails, leaving a void where other institutions can take their place. During the 20th Century this occurred twice with World Wars I and II, as well as during the global economic crisis beginning in 1929, and (for half of the world) with the economic, then political collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989. There is a growing awareness that the world is due for another economic (and political?) collapse, including a collapse of the American Empire, which may leave a temporary void in international decision-making. It may provide a “window of opportunity” for radical change.

With this in mind, let us consider what a radical reform of the United Nations could look like.

Let us begin with the proposal of the Pan-African Parliament, as reprinted in this month’s CPNN bulletin, for a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly. This would have the advantage that parliamentarians have less vested interest in the culture of war than do the representatives of national governments. Parliaments do not have military forces, although they may vote on military budgets. As the Parliament’s President explained, “It is long overdue that ‘We, the Peoples,’ as the UN Charter begins, have more say in global affairs.

But the real problem is the Security Council. As the bulletin describes, there are many proposals to reform it, but they all continue to assume that it should be controlled by representatives of the Member States. Instead, we need a global organization where the decisions are made by “We, the peoples”. I can imagine two possibilities: a Security Council controlled by the mayors of the world, or one controlled by the parliaments of the world.

Since such a reform cannot be achieved under the present system of national governments, it must await the “window of opportunity” of their next crash. In the meantime, 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.

There are several ways that mayors and parliaments are organized globally, any of which could be represented in an Alternative Security Council:

1) Regional organizations of parliaments such as the European Parliament, the Latin American Parliament and the Pan-African Parliament or of cities such as the Council of European Municipalities and Regions and the Arab Towns Organization.

2) Global organizations of parliamentarians for peace such as Parliamentarians for Global Action or of mayors and cities for peace, as described in a recent CPNN bulletin.

3) Global organizations of parliamentarians in general such as the Inter-Parliamentary Union or of cities in general such as the UCLG: Global Network of Cities, Local and Regional Governments.

All that is needed in order to establish an Alternative Security Council at the present time is;

a) an institutional host for the ASC, preferable a recognized international body that promotes a culture of peace;

b) an agreement for membership of the ASC, which could be established with any one of the organizaions of mayors or parliaments mentioned above;

c) a small secretariat to manage the Council by email (rather than actual meetings which would not be convenient, both because of the cost and because the members would not be free from their other tasks)

d) a means to disseminate widely the decisions of the council, i.e. a network of partners for publicizing these decisions.

e) a small budget which would be minimal if the sponsoring organization were receptive and if the secretariat and ASC members were volunteers.

The time is now to prepare a new system that will be ready to install during the next window of opportunity. If we wait for the crash of the present system, it will be too late. The time is now for radical action. And here is an action we can do now: an alternative security council.

A United Nations without government interference: Could it manage a culture of peace?

Featured

The latest CPNN bulletin provides good evidence that the answer to this question is “Yes!”

We are not surprised that air traffic, postal services and telecommunications are managed effectively by agencies of the United Nations.  Why should we be surprised that a culture of peace could also be effectively managed?

Let us begin with the two articles about initiatives supported by UNESCO: 1) the establishment of a network of peace research institutions for the promotion of a culture of peace in Africa, and 2) the project to develop shared histories in Southeast Asia that promote peace and mutual understanding.

Having worked at UNESCO between 1992 and 2001, I know very well the roots of these initiatives, including  staff and partners of UNESCO that understand the need for a transition from culture of war to culture of peace and who, when they can obtain the necessary resources, are perfectly capable of moving from theory to effective action.

The only question is whether the Member States of UNESCO, who determine the organization’s finances, are capable and willing to provide the needed resources.  These resources are quite modest when compared with what they spend on the culture of war.

At the meeting of the Global Alliance for Ministries and Infrastructures of Peace we learned that the unit of the United Nation Development Program (UNDP) headed by Dr. Ozonnia Ojiello has been working in Africa to develop peace structures.  These structures are as effective as their model that was so well developed in South Africa during the transition from Apartheid to democracy twenty years ago.  This again illustrates how the UN system has staff and partners capable of making the transition to a culture of peace.

But let me turn to the pointed question of Shale Sofonea from Lesotho, who congratulated UNDP for having helped the civil society from Lesotho to overcome the violence associated with national elections, but who asked pointedly if Africa would be able to depend on help from UNDP well into the future.

My experience at UNESCO makes me especially sensitive to Shale’s question.  In the early 90’s we developed effective programs in El Salvador and Mozambique for a transition from their civil wars to a culture of peace through cooperation by the former enemies in programs for education, culture, communication and science.  However, the Member States of UNESCO were unwilling to finance these programs, preferring to finance other development programs that would serve their own interests rather than the interests of the countries concerned.

For this reason, I have always counseled those working for progressive initiatives at the United Nations and its agencies to work with modest resources and  remain “under the radar” so that the Member States would not interfere with their development.

Let me recall the words of Anwarul Chowdhury, who initiated the High Level Forum on a Culture of Peace at UN Headquarters last month: “I find it is the governments and power structures which are the most persistent foot-draggers with regard to advancing the culture of peace through policy steps and action . . . The United Nations has shown great vision by adopting its historic, norm-setting Declaration and Program of Action on the Culture of Peace in 1999, but has not been organised enough in making the document a system-wide flagship effort of the world body.  I am a believer that the world, particularly the governments, will come to realise its true value and usefulness sooner than later.”

Although I am more skeptical than Chowdhury that governments will ultimately support the culture of peace at the United Nations, I am optimistic that someday we be able to achieve a United Nations that is based directly on the people (as proposed in the UN Charter that begins “We the peoples…”) and that such a United Nations will be quite capable of managing the transition from the culture of war to a culture of peace.

The United Nations and the Culture of Peace

Featured

My ten years working in the United Nations system left me with a sweet and sour taste. The sweet side was the universality of the UN, both its staff and mandate, and its great significance for raising the consciousness of the peoples of the world. The sour side was the jealousy of the Member States who make sure that the UN does not encroach on their freedom to rule over their own citizens, as well as people in other countries that they may dominate through neo-colonial relations. This became crystal-clear to me when the United States delegate, during the informal meetings of the UN General Assembly in 1999, opposed the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace, saying that it would make it more difficult for them to start a war. In fact, throughout history, war (call it “defense” if you prefer) has always been the most fundamental “right” of the state.

With this in mind, I have been pleasantly surprised by the extent to which the UN system has once again taken up the culture of peace as a priority, as shown in this month’s CPNN Bulletin, just as it was a priority in the Year 2000 when I was the director of the UN International Year for the Culture of Peace.

Of course, this does not happen by chance, and great credit belongs to two men who played key roles for the Year 2000, Federico Mayor Zaragoza, who made the culture of peace a priority of UNESCO, and Anwarul Chowdhury, who played the role of midwife at the UN General Assembly, guiding the culture of peace resolution through nine months of opposition by the powerful states. Once again, this last month, these two men motivated and spoke eloquently at the High Level Forum on a Culture of Peace at the UN.

As always it was the countries of the South who supported the initiative (see the CPNN article of September 24 and its discussion), but at least this month it was not blocked by the powerful states.

In fact, it is my impression that the powerful states pay less and less attention to the United Nations. When there was a financial crisis a few years ago, the powerful states did not turn to the UN agencies , the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, but set up their own temporary system of finance ministers. When it came time for the review of nuclear non-proliferation, President Obama held his own meeting with heads of state in Washington and ignored the UN conference where the only head of state to speak was that of Iran. And the US has pulled out of UNESCO entirely, forcing drastic cuts in its budget.

In fact, the lack of attention by the powerful states may provide the UN system with an opportunity to push the agenda of the culture of peace without their opposition. Let us hope that the UN can take advantage of this.

Of course, in the long run, the UN, or any other institution, cannot mandate a culture of peace. Instead, the culture of peace can only grow from the consciousness, both understanding and action, of the peoples of the world (see last month’s blog below). That’s why the role of the UN for consciousnes-raising is ultimately its greatest contribution!