Consciousness + Institutional Change = Culture of Peace

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.

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