Culture of Peace: Are we making progress?

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This month’s bulletin gives us an idea of where progress is being made (or not being made) towards a culture of peace if we compare it to the CPNN bulletins of 2015.

On the good side

Progress is being made at  a grass-roots level by social movements for sustainable development and food sovereignty, often led or inspired by women and indigenous peoples.  Often this involves the return to traditional practices.

On the bad side

The national governments of the world, gathered in Paris, did nothing to reduce the global dependence on fossil fuels which makes development unsustainable, contributing to pollution and global warming.   Despite technical advances which begin to make renewable energy cheaper than fossil fuels, a large portion of technological innovation and development planning continues to favor the old unsustainable energy systems.

On the good side

Increasingly there are political movements against the policies of austerity that have been imposed by international financial institutions and national governments, policies that have accelerated the concentration of the world’s wealth in fewer and fewer hands.

On the bad side

The rich continue to get richer and the poor to get poorer, both within and between countries.  This is not just.  And it is not sustainable!

On the good side

Wise men and women tell us that the scourges of terrorism and displacement of peoples (refugees) cannot be defeated by more violence and xenophobic barriers, but we must address the roots of these problems by rejecting the culture of war and adopting policies corresponding to the culture of peace.

On the bad side

Influenced by the mass media and political demagogues, many people, perhaps a majority in many countries, continue to support policies of violence and xenophobia.

On the good side

After decades of civil war, Colombia is arriving at a peace accord with participation of the entire country and, in fact, all of Latin America.

On the bad side

Wars and civil wars, often fueled by the most developed countries, continue to plague much of the rest of the world.

In sum, are we making progress?  It would seem that we are developing the base for a future culture of peace, but it will not come easily because at the higher levels of the world, things are getting worse.  Where is the United Nations in all this?  What if it could be reformed to really represent “we the peoples”, as stated in the opening lines of its Charter?  Imagine what it would be like if the Security Council were composed of representatives of the mayors of the world.  Do you think they would want to maintain nuclear weapons?  Or to make peace by bombing people?  Look, for example, at the recent approach of the mayors of Madrid and Paris!

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.

Listen to the refugees

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As we have emphasized previously, education for peace, to be effective, must be informed by an incisive understanding of the culture of war.

And who knows better the culture of war than refugees?  In the rich countries  we consider war as a distant event that we see only on the television screens.  Even our warriors now sit in air-conditioned offices in the US where they guide remote-controlled drones that can destroy whole villages on the other side of the world.  But the refugees are coming from those villages.  They know what war is all about.

Let us listen to the refugees!  Let them teach us that we must abolish war, that we must stop the bombing, stop the killing, and find non-violent ways to deal with conflict.

Of course, as the articles this month in CPNN  indicate, it is the right and humane thing to welcome and integrate refugees into our societies, into our homes as Michael Moore demands.

But more than that, our future depends on what we learn from these refugees.  If we do not learn from them to abolish war, our children and grandchildren will be the next generation of refugees.  Our empire is crashing and when the culture of war crashes, it may come about through war (1914, 1939) or through economic collapse (1929, 1989).  In either case it is the common people who suffer.  Cities and regions become unlivable and the people must flee from their homes.  Now this happens on the other side of the world.   But unless we learn and change to a culture of peace, tomorrow it will happen here!

Let us listen and learn from the refugees!

Écoutons les réfugiés !

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Comme je l’ai souligné précédemment, l’éducation pour la paix, pour être efficace, doit avoir  une compréhension incisive de la culture de guerre.

Et qui connaît mieux la culture de guerre que les réfugiés? Dans les pays riches, nous considérons la guerre comme un événement lointain que nous ne voyons que sur les écrans de télévision. Même nos guerriers sont assis dans des bureaux climatisés aux États-Unis d’où ils guident des drones télécommandés qui peuvent détruire des villages entiers de l’autre côté du monde. Mais les réfugiés viennent de ces villages. Ils savent ce qu’est la guerre en direct.

Ecoutons les !  Ils nous enseignent que nous devons abolir la guerre, que nous devons arrêter les bombardements, arrêter les massacres, et trouver des moyens non-violents pour résoudre les conflits.

Comme nous l’indiquons ce mois-ci via CPNN c’est une bonne chose d’accueillir et d’intégrer les réfugiés dans nos sociétés,  de les accueillir dans nos maisons à l’exemple de la demande de Michael Moore.

Mais plus que cela, notre avenir dépend de ce que nous apprenons de ces réfugiés. Si nous n’apprenons pas de leur part la nécessité d’abolir la guerre, nos enfants et nos petits enfants seront la prochaine génération de réfugiés. Notre empire est en train de s’écrouler et nous savons que quand cela arrive aux empires, nous aboutissons à la guerre (1914, 1939) ou à l’effondrement économique (1929, 1989). Dans les deux cas, ce sont les gens ordinaires qui souffrent.  Des villes et des régions deviennent invivables et les gens doivent fuir leur maison.  Maintenant, ça se passe à l’autre côté du monde.  Mais à moins que nous n’apprenions et que nous changions pour une culture de paix, demain cela arrivera ici !
Ecoutons les réfugiés pour apprendre de leurs expériences !

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.”

Advice to Colombia for the Peace Process

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As described in this month’s CPNN bulletin, Colombia is preparing for peace as the peace talks advance between the Government and FARC. Local and regional peace initiatives, as well as a national move for peace education, are taking place in this context. It seems that Colombia will achieve peace accords that allow the election of a unity government that represents all of the people. But we should ask the question about what comes next. Can one trust that a unity government will continue the serve the people, or will it become corrupt?

I am reminded of the situation 25 years ago in South Africa when the peace talks between the apartheid government of South Africa and Nelson Mandela inspired the entire country to prepare for peace. At that time a network of local peace committees was established. At their peak in the early 1990’s, there were 11 regional committees and over one hundred local peace committees, with an annual budget of almost $12 million which enabled the hiring of full time staff for regional offices. These committees united representatives from political organizations, trade unions, business, churches, police and security forces to resolve disputes at local and regional levels. They engaged people directly in conflict management on a grass roots level throughout the country.

Earlier this year, I had the chance to spend a month in South Africa and to meet with social activists who had been active in the anti-apartheid movement. The told me that they regret now that they abandoned the network of local peace committees, because the national government has become so corrupt they can no longer work with it. The corruption is exemplified by the alleged involvement of Cyril Ramaphosa in the massacre of striking mine workers three years ago.

The massacre took place in 2012 at the Lonmin platinum mines near Marikana, South Africa where 41 striking mineworkers were killed and many more injured, mostly by the police, many of them shot in the back. The strike was carried out by workers opposed to the leadership of their union, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), which they considered to have sold out the company interests. The NUM was founded by Cyril Ramaphosa, after which Ramaphosa became the leader of COSATU, the national organization of trade unions, and then leader of the ANC, and now Vice President of South Africa.

Most recently, according to an article in Jeune Afrique, the leader of EFF, the new political party opposed to the ANC, announced the filing of a legal complaint against Ramaphosa, for having had “a decisive effect on the final decision of deliberating the mass murder of the miners at Marikana”. At the time of the massacre, Ramaphosa, in addition to being Vice-President of the country and founder of the National Union of Mineworkers, was also a shareholder in Lonmin. Ramaphosa is accused by the leader of the radical left to have insisted that the police should break the strike. Although there was an official investigation after the massacre, its mandate did not allow it to investigate the role of government members in ordering the police action.

One year after the massacre, one commentator concluded: “Perhaps the most important lesson of Marikana is that the state can gun down dozens of black workers with little or no backlash from ‘civil society’, the judicial system or from within the institutions that supposedly form the bedrock of democracy. What we have instead is the farcical Farlam commission, an obvious attempt to clear the state’s role in the massacre and prevent any sort of real investigation into the actions of the police on that day. In other words, the state can get away with mass murder, with apparent impunity in terms of institutional conceptions of justice and political accountability.”

Meanwhile, Ramaphosa has become one of South Africa’s richest men, with Forbes Magazine estimating his wealth at $275 million. Many believe that he is in line to be elected the next President of South Africa.

Hopefully, the activists in South Africa can revive a network of local peace committees. And hence, my advice to the people of Colombia: develop a network of local peace committees and keep them strong and independent so that you do not have to depend solely on the national government to maintain the peace.

Political will – Will it be there for the global meeting on climate change?

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This is the question posed by this month’s CPNN bulletin with regard to the global meeting on climate change to take place at the end of the year in Paris.

It is generally agreed, at least by the citizens of the world, that we need to reverse the global warming that comes from the exhausts of power plants, automobiles, factories, airplanes, etc.

So what has been keeping national governments from reaching agreements all these years, despite the desires of their citizens? Where has there been democracy?

The first and most obvious reason has been the powerful lobbies of the oil industry and their allies that have tried to deny the obvious fact that there is global warming and that it comes from their pollution. They have tried to convince us with pseudo-scientific articles. By now, however, the peoples of the world have seen through their false propaganda and they overwhelmingly demand action to stop global warming.

But more important, the big corporations have paid legislators not to take action that could reduce their profits. In other words they have corrupted the national governments.

The outcome in Paris will depend on the relative weight of corruption and democracy.

What should we expect?

If nuclear armaments are any precedent, we should expect that democracy will lose, that corruption will win, and that global warming will continue.

After all, we have known for decades that nuclear weapons are an even greater danger than global warming for the future of our planet, and yet there has been no effective action to eliminate them. This year the meeting of national governments at the United Nations in May produced no agreement. Why? Because the United States followed the political demands of Israel that their weapons program should not be questioned.

National governments are corrupted. In my opinion they are hopelessly corrupted. By the culture of war. Over the centuries, for millennia, in fact, they have come to monopolize war and to construct their power on its basis. Their power has been shared with the miltary-industrial complex, and more recently the military-industrial-media complex, since the media also have been corrupted.

For this reason, it is of the utmost importance that cities, provinces and regions, as well as civil society, have taken up the cause of preventing climate change. Unlike national governments, they cannot make war, and hence they are relatively free from the culture of war. This month we recognized climate initiatives by the provinces and regions of the Americas, by the mayors of the world meeting with the Pope, by mayors from Africa and Europe meeting with the mayor of Paris, and by the civil society meeting in Mozambique, as well as election results from the oil-rich province of Alberta, Canada, where voters threw out the incumbent party and elected candidates who pledged to establish tougher policies against climate change.

The leadership of cities, provinces and regions to prevent climate change is a good precedent for their leadership on a more general level, the transition from a culture of war to a culture of peace.

How One Culture of War Begets Another

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In this month’s CPNN bulletin, we read how the “unjustifiable” war in Iraq has been a major cause of the rise of the barbaric ‘Islamic State’ in the region.  This observation comes from two important figures in our time, Ismail Serageldin, head of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, and Mary Robinson, formerly President of Ireland, then High Commissioner for Human Rights, and now one of the “Elders.”

Let us expand on their analysis.  The forces that now lead the Islamic State received their arms from the American Empire (i.e. the United States, NATO, and their allies) in order to take part in the overthrow of President Assad in Syria, and then they captured arms that had been sent by the US to Iraq in order to overthrow President Sadam Hussein.  And then there is Boko Haram and Al-Shabab in Africa who are inspired by the Islamic State even through they lack the heavy weapons.  But let us expand in time as well as in space.  The Islamic State is a successor to Al Quaeda and Osama Bin Laden who got their arms and training in the beginning as part of the war of the American Empire against the Russians in Afghanistan.  And Sadam Hussein was armed by the American Empire as part of their war against the Iran that came after they had overthrown the legitimate democracy of Mossadegh.

And so, over time, the West’s culture of war has reproduced its mirror image in the Middle East – another military empire.  One culture of war has armed, trained and justified another.  One must say “justified” because the Islamic State, like its predecessor Al Quaeda, attracts its recruits by promising to rid the region of the American Empire!

Perhaps, some readers will be shocked to consider the Islamic State as the mirror image of the American Empire.  But think carefully.  Which one has killed the most people?  Which one has produced the most inter-tribal, inter-religious, inter-ethnic conflicts?  And is it better to kill with drones than by beheading?

And now, as the Western Empire prepares its military options in an attempt to destroy the Islamic State, what new monsters will it create?  And are there not already new monsters arising from the ashes of their military intervention to overthrow Muammar Gaddafi in Libya?  Not to mention the military aid and advice provided to fascists in the Ukraine. . .

Where will it end?  Perhaps very simply by the bankruptcy of the West.  These wars are very expensive, and they continue to add to unsustainable national debts.   While it may seem that the production of arms provides jobs to sustain their economies, the people of the American Empire cannot eat or find shelter from the weapons they produce.  As Marx once said, the production of arms is like throwing money into the sea.  Or to quote a more contemporary specialist, the economist Lloyd Dumas, in his book The Overburdened Economy, shows how military production has a general negative effect on the economy.

And as for the Islamic State, perhaps it does not need to worry about bankruptcy, but once it loses its enemy, the American Empire, it will lose its claim to legitimacy, and will not be able to sustain itself.  For, as Hina Jilani reminds us, they are not about religion, but only control.  “It’s not about religion or any attempt to impose any kind of religious values, because those values are obviously values of peace, of tolerance, of humanity. ”

So, what should we be doing?

Planting Seeds for a Culture of Peace

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As stated above, the American Empire and its mirror image in the Middle East, are destined to collapse.  The most important question is what will come next.  Will new empires arise quickly to take their place?  Will they be fascist regimes (extreme cultures of war), which is what happened after the economic collapse that began in 1929?  Or will we have a window of opportunity to make a culture of peace instead of a new culture of war?

The answer depends upon what we do now.  Have we prepared the ground and sowed enough seeds for a for a culture of peace?

In Ismail Serageldin’s “Cultural Program to Reject Extremism and Violence” he refers to the arts as “seeds of hope.”   This is what we should be planting.

A culture of peace is just that:  a culture.  Cultures are not constructed.  They are cultivated, and the first steps of cultivation are preparing the ground and planting the seeds.  In my latest book, Embrace the Fire: Plant the seeds for a Culture of Peace, I consider the myriad initiatives that we have read about in CPNN over the years to be like seeds for a new culture.  Of course, like the planting of seeds in general, not every seed will survive and grow.  But if we continue planting them, eventually enough of them will survive to produce a new culture.   It is not only the culture of war that reproduces itself, but the culture of peace can do so as well – but by a very different method.

I was very impressed by a visit last year to see the giant sequoias in California and to learn that their seeds can only be productive after they have passed through a fire.  And so we may look at the culture of peace like the sequoias.  The seeds we plant will have to pass through the fiery death of the culture of war and survive to start a new culture that will replace it afterwards.

This approach requires patience and a long-range vision of history.  The results do not arrive quickly.  It requires the attitude of the farmer who assumes the cycle of seasons.  It assumes the old prophetic wisdom: “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted. . . ”

As usual, CPNN this month describes seeds of hope.  If we go to the original essay of Serageldin we find many seeds of hope, some of which have been planted already, and some that need resources in order to be planted.  Then look at the work being done by Syrian women: stopping child marriage, uniting refugees and host communities, policing the streets, listening to marginalized groups, reopening schools, helping families survive, reforming corrupt courts, vaccinating children, disarming youth and mobilizing a movement for peace.  If we go to the International Symposium of the Pan-African Centre for Social Prospects for Peace and Development through Interfaith and Intercultural Dialogue, we find the planting of a culture of peace in Africa.   Also in Africa we find graffiti art employed as a tool for social change to promote women’s rights, including equal pay and educational access.

Also, as usual, there are many good examples from Latin America.   Several come from Colombia, where the people have suffered from war for many decades and now there are seeds of peace coming to fruition.  The negotiations between the FARC revolutionary movement and the government are moving forward with the decision to establish a Commission for Clarification of Truth, Coexistence and Non-Repetition.  The national law for teaching peace is in the course of implementation.  And in the Caribbean region of Colombia a regional peace assembly is being developed.

Are we doing enough?  Probably not.  And do we have a lot of time?  Probably not.  I fear that the American Empire cannot last much longer, and when it crashes, its allies and its mirror images will probably crash as well, just as the crash of the Soviet Empire led to the collapse of most of its allies.

Let us redouble our efforts.  We are racing against time.

Food Sovereignty is Culture of Peace

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In CPNN this month, we ask the question “What is the relation between peasant movements for food sovereignty and the global movement for a culture of peace?”

Here is my own response to the question.  It is based on the many articles in CPNN this month about the global movement of peasants for food sovereignty.

Yes, they are an important part of the global movement for a culture of peace, for several reasons.

First, they are the first line of defense against one of the main advances of the culture of war.  As we said in the document that we sent from UNESCO to the UN to define the culture of peace, it “represents a major change in the concept of economic growth which, in the past, could be considered as benefitting from military supremacy and structural violence and achieved at the expense of the vanquished and the weak.”  What better way to describe the advances of a few transnational corporations, supported by so-called “free-trade treaties” who are attempting to monopolize the seeds that farmers use throughout the world and to impose monoculture agriculture based on their seeds and their pesticides?

The transnational corporations are supported by the power (ultimately military) of nation states around the world, not only by the great powers, but also by the governments of the small countries.  An example is Guatemala, where despite pressure from a strong peasant movement to support a Rural Integral Development law, the law is blocked by a coalition of right-wing parties.

Second, the peasant movements are organized not only locally, and to an increasing extent, on a global scale.  Look at the map of protests on April 17, the International Day of Peasant Struggle against Transnational Companies and Free Trade Agreements. There are actions on every continent.

The peasant movements are based ultimately on the wisdom and experience of their ancestors as described in the blog from this February, “Listen to the indigenous people.”  This is clearly stated in the declaration of the 6th Congress of the Latin American Coordination of Countryside Organizations: “We emerged from the heart itself of the 500-year process of indigenous, peasant, black and popular resistance.”

The peasant struggle ultimately concerns all of us.  As we concluded in the February blog, we need to “organize local cooperatives and local food production instead of importation and agro-business . . .  In this way we can protect ourselves against the crash of the American empire and the global economy that it manages.”

Finally, we can say that the peasant movement for sustainable agriculture is not only part of the global movement for a culture of peace, but perhaps its most critical component because it will enable us to survive after the crash and during the period when it may be possible to make a transition from the culture of war to a culture of peace.  For this reason it is especially important that we see more and more young people turning back to small-scale, “human-scale” farming, as described in the CPNN interview this month.

 

Anti-Austerity is Culture of Peace

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This month’s CPNN bulletin refers to CPNN articles on the anti-austerity movements in Greece, Spain, Germany, Ireland, France and Canada, with reference to the fact that for many years already South American governments have rejected the austerity imposed by international financial institutions.

We have posed the following question with regard to these articles: “Movements against government fiscal austerity,  Are they part of the movement for a culture of peace”.

Here is my own response to the question.

In theory they should be considered as contributing to a culture of peace.  The definition of the culture of peace adopted in UN resolution A/53/243, the official culture of peace resolution, includes, among its eight program areas : “Actions to promote sustainable economic and social development”.  It includes the following details which certainly are contradicted by national austerity policies:

. . . appropriate strategies and agreed targets to eradicate poverty. . .

. . . implementation of policies and programmes designed to reduce economic and social inequalities . . .

. . . effective and equitable development-oriented and durable solutions to the external debt and debt-servicing problems of developing countries

. . . ensure that the development process is participatory . . .

In fact, we may consider that austerity measures are part of the culture of war, since they are imposed by the rich in order to protect and increase their wealth which they gain at the expense of the poor.  The culture of war, since its beginnings, has served the profits of the rich, whether by slavery, by colonialism, or by today’s neo-colonialism.  As we said in the document A/53/370 which we sent from UNESCO to the UN General Assembly to prepare for its official culture of peace resolution: the culture of peace “represents a major change in the concept of economic growth which, in the past, could be considered as benefitting from military supremacy and structural violence and achieved at the expense of the vanquished and the weak.”

In practice as well, the anti-austerity movements should also be considered as contributing to a culture of peace.  They mobilize people to fight for justice by non-violence means.  Insofar as people in these movements are able to achieve economic justice, they will be empowered to fight as well for the other aspects of a culture of peace, including human rights, women’s equality, tolerance and solidarity, etc.

In this blog, we have mentioned many times that the transition to a culture of peace will probably come through a breakdown of the present global political and economic system, leaving a space for the institution of an alternative system with the characteristics of a culture of peace.  The economic hardships imposed by the present policies of austerity are only a mild preview of the hardships that are likely to come when the global system breaks down.  Hence, we need all the practice we can get to learn how to overcome such economic hardships and the policies that cause them.  The more we can learn now, the more we will be prepared to make the transition to a culture of peace when the historical time is ripe.

And we should consider that possibility that such an historical turning point is coming very soon.

 

How to recognize women’s leadership

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Over the years at CPNN we have seen the global movement for a culture of peace developing in thousands of articles about initiatives throughout the world.  Looking over these initiatives, we can see that women are usually in the lead, and in any case, they are involved as essential players.  This month’s bulletin illustrates this clearly.  Initiatives of the United Nations for peace, initiatives of the civil society such as Nonviolent Peaceforce, various prizes for peace, in all of these we see the predominant role of women.

As we remarked in an earlier blog, “the linkage between women’s equality, development and peace is essential to replace the historical inequality between men and women that has always characterized the culture of war and violence.

This is not to say that women will save us by themselves.  Instead, what is needed is collaboration between women and men on the basis of equality.  It is necessary that not only women, but also men struggle for the equality of women, and that everyone becomes conscious of its importance.  As a first step, it is necessary that men are involved in the struggle to eliminate violence against women.

When I was working at UNESCO and responsible for developing the initial drafts of the United Nations Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace, many of my colleagues, both men and women, urged me not to include equality of women as a distinct domain of the culture of peace but to include it in a broader category of equality in general, including race, sexual orientation, etc.  Fortunately, I resisted their pressure and we were able to include women’s equality, put simply, as one of the domains of action for a culture of peace.

Of course, it is important to struggle for equality of all people with regard to race, sexual orientation, etc., but we need to recognize the special significance of gender.  From the beginning of humanity, as far as it can be determined, women were excluded from warfare, and hence they were excluded from the power of violence which has continued to characterize human culture up until the present time, and especially the nation-state.  To arrive at a culture of peace, both the subordination of women and the political dominance of violence will have to be reversed, and the two struggles are intrinsically related.

In this regard, we need to take another look at our conception of leadership.  Is it by chance that when we speak of leadership for a culture of peace and we mention Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela, we are mentioning only men?  Where are the women leaders?

In reading this month’s article in CPNN about Ela Bhatt, I recall how I met her a number of year’s ago in Hamilton, Ontario, after giving a talk at Hamilton’s annual Gandhi festival.  I had spoken about Gandhi’s message as being important for a culture of peace.  Afterwards, this little lady, very modest, approached me to say that she had appreciated the message.  I didn’t recognize her, so I asked her who she was.  Ela Bhatt, she replied.  I didn’t recognize the name, but asked if she was involved with the culture of peace.  She told me that she was visiting family in Hamilton, but back in India she did trade union work with women.  I asked more and discovered that she has done amazingly courageous and effective work in organizing thousands (millions?) of women in India into a trade union for their basic human rights.

Ela’s demeanor was so modest, that one had to ask and listen patiently in order to know of her exemplary leadership.

From this we can draw an important lesson about recognizing leadership.  Great leaders are not necessarily in the news.  They are not necessarily involved with the politics of nations.  They may be modest.  And they may be women!

Fortunately, there are those who recognize this.  Go to the website, Theelders.org and and there, at the same time as you can read about the work of Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, Kofi Annan and Jimmy Carter, you can also read about the work of Ela Bhatt, Graça Machel, Gro Harlem Brundtland, Mary Robinson and Hina Jilani.

It was by reading Theelders.org that I found the article about Ela Bhatt.

An Institute to Train for Culture of Peace Tourism

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The following is excerpted from the talk I gave at the recent symposium on Tourism and Peace (See this month’s CPNN bulletin).

Tourism is an enormous enterprise with enormous resources, and it needs a culture of peace.  Tourism is the first industry to suffer when there is violence.  And it has a great potential to promote all the eight program areas of culture of peace.

Acknowledging my gratitude to a good friend here today, Lou D’Amore, who has shared with me this idea, I propose that we should develop an Institute to train workers for culture of peace tourism

As a model for this, let us recall the early years of UNESCO after World War II, when UNESCO helped establish three institutes for training literary workers.  The institutes, located in Mexico, Iran and Egypt, trained a generation of literacy workers, coming mostly from national ministries of education.  The subsequent engagement of these literacy workers led to an great increase in literacy throughout the world.   Even if it is not mentioned in most history books, the drive towards universal literacy should be considered one of the great achievements of the modern era.

It is proposed here to learn from that experience to develop an institute to train a new generation of workers for another kind of literacy, the literacy of peace.  The UNESCO experience provides a reasonable model for such an institute.

First, it could be self-financing with income from tuition paid by institutions such as ministries of tourism, hotel, tourist agency and airline companies who send their workers to get training, as well as young people seeking a career in this field.  The faculty could be recruited from activists and retired officials who believe sufficiently in the challenge of culture of peace tourism that they would work for minimum salaries, and from people on-loan from relevant organizations involved in the tourist trade.

An important lesson was told to me by a veteran of the UNESCO literacy institute in Iran: one should minimize the involvement with buildings and infrastructure by renting space from existing educational institutions rather than building or owning the buildings with its costs of maintenance, cleaning staff, guardians, etc.

Where should such an institution be located?  In Africa, of course.  Nowhere else is tourism so vital to the economy of a continent.  And nowhere else is there so much to offer to tourists and those who host them.

How should we go about establishing such an institute?  First, a sponsor is needed.  The most appropriate would be the United Nations World Tourism Organization.  Then, clients are needed.  The most appropriate would be ministries of tourism.  And finally, we need faculty.  From among the distinguished gathering of experts on tourism for peace gathered here this week in Johannesburg, I’m sure we could find an excellent faculty.

There is another reason that we should locate such an institute in Africa.  In the North, especially Europe and North America, the states have become so linked to the culture of war that they would have a conflict of interest to support a culture of peace.  In Africa, on the other hand, the independent state is a new development dating only from the post-colonial era, and although it is often corrupt, it is not so linked to the culture of war.  Its involvement with culture of peace tourism would point it in a good direction for the future.

To conclude, I hope that together we can develop an institute for culture of peace tourism, and I offer my services to help work on this.    I hope others will join in.

Listen to the indigenous people

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This month’s CPNN bulletin carries remarks by indigenous peoples who are guarding their environment against the destruction brought by our modern civilization:

From Brazil: “We indigenous peoples have shown that we will never allow our lands to be recolonized, invaded or destroyed, even if that means sacrificing our own lives.”

From Canada: “We have one Earth, and unless this government is hiding another healthy Earth somewhere, we need to take care of the one we’ve got, and it’s now, it’s now we have to step up.”

From Colombia: “sooner or later indigenous peoples will be recognized as the true guardians of nature.”

And it is in the same spirit that the most radical environmental law in global history, the “Mother Earth” law, was adopted in Bolivia, a country with a majority of the people indigenous and a President who is indigenous.

We should listen to all of them for several reasons.

They remind us that our very existence depends upon having a sustainable development that does not destroy the earth on which all development depends.   We need to be reminded of this because our lives have become so specialized that we have come to think that food simply comes from a supermarket and that water simply comes from a faucet.   Our civilization puts a priority on exploitation of mineral, oil and water resources without regard to the future, and the imposition of highly-mechanized, monoculture agricultural production which cannot even feed those who produce it.

Indigenous peoples realize that the destruction of their environment will lead not only to their inability to survive as individuals, but even more profoundly, it will lead to the destruction of their culture.  We need to take this seriously for our own culture.

Our culture has become urban over the past few centuries, and we depend upon agricultural systems outside of the city.  Often the agricultural production is so distant that we must depend upon transportation systems that bring their products from hundreds and thousands of miles away.   Meanwhile, small farms, people directly tied to the land, have been run out of business by large-scale, monoculture industrial farming.  We take it for granted that all this will continue.

But we should not take this for granted.  The culture of war, in which we live, is based upon exploitation and exploitation is not sustainable, neither of resources nor of people.  Sooner or later, the culture of war crashes.  This can happen through violence, as it did in the two World Wars of the 20th Century.  Or it can happen through economic collapse as it did in 1929 and for half of the world in 1989.

A global economic crash at this time of history would be far more disastrous than the crash of 1929 because we are more urban, there is less sustainable agriculture, and the transportation of food is, at the same time, more essential and more vulnerable to a financial collapse, because it is largely dependent upon oil transported in tanker ships.

In the face of this possibility, Johan Galtung, the dean of peace researchers, recommends that we “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.”  In this way we can protect ourselves against the crash of the American empire and the global economy that it manages.  And if Galtung is correct that this may happen within the next five years,  we have no time to waste.

During this time there is great danger of war and/or a shift to fascist states.  Hence our work for a culture of peace is crucial, and we can also take lessons on this from some indigenous peoples.  As the indigenous of Cauca have told us, “We survived by struggle, but we are peoples with a culture of peace.”

Not only do we need to listen to to indigenous peoples, but even more we must follow their example.  The very survival of our culture is at stake.  And soon.

Importance of Truth Commissions

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First, Truth Commissions are important because they break the secrecy of the state which is one of the key defenses of the culture of war.

This month, as described in the CPNN bulletin, there are several examples of this.  The US government, and in particular its CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) has kept secret the details of its torture of prisoners in Guantanamo and elsewhere in recent years, as well as its invasion of Panama in 1989.   Despite opposition by the CIA, the torture report by the US Senate has revealed details of the torture, while the upcoming Truth Commission in Panama promises to reveal details of the invasion.   Similarly, despite a law by the Israeli authorities that forbids discussion of the Nakba, the NGO Zochrot has launched a Truth Commission to discuss it.  Other Truth Commissions in Canada, Brazil and Burundi  are revealing atrocities previously previously shrouded in secrecy by their states.

Second, they promote such key aspects of  a culture of peace as human rights and democracy, by revealing and condemning their violations.

And third, Truth Commissions are designed to launch the process of reconciliation, a process that will be necessary for the transition from the culture of war to a culture of peace. The classic example is the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa in the transition from Apartheid to democracy under the leadership of Bishop Desmond Tutu and the presidency of Nelson Mandela.  Since then, according to Amnesty International, there have been truth commission in more than 25 countries (as of 2007), most of them dedicated to reconciliation as well as truth.  The commissions mentioned here continue this important historical trend.

Other than Canada, today’s commissions are still far from the stage of reconciliation.  Those in Burundi and Panama are just getting underway.  The Truth Commission in Brazil is still far from the stage of reconciliation, and there is so much opposition that one doubts that the U.S. Senate will be able to go beyond its initial stage and achieve any reconciliation.

It is not surprising that the cases of Israel and the United States are the furthest from reconciliation.  Israel is supported by the U.S. and the American empire is the center of the culture of war in the 21st Century, having organized torture not only in Guantanamo, but also in countries around the world, especially in Latin America.  See a similar analysis by the dean of peace researchers, Johan Galtung.  The strong defense of state secrecy by the U.S. and Israel  is revealed by the continued house arrest of Mordecai Vanunu in Israel for having revealed its nuclear arsenal and the continuing attempts by the U.S. to capture and punish Julian Assange and Edward Snowden for having divulged its secrets.

In my utopian novel about how we arrive at a culture of peace, I imagine that one of the key moments is when Jerusalem, after a process like that of South Africa (with the involvement of Bishop Tutu), becomes an international city of peace where people of all religions are able to coexist with mutual respect.  As for the United States, I can only that its empire will crash like that of the Soviet Union, giving us the chance to establish a radically new economic and political system in the world.

 

 

Africa as a model for culture of peace

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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 !…

 

The Universality of the Movement for a Culture of Peace

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This month’s CPNN bulletin shows that initiatives for a culture of peace are taking place in most regions of the world.  As discussed in previous blogs, Latin America and Africa are in the leadership, although this may be difficult for the North to accept . The Arab States took two steps forward with the “Arab Spring”, although the turnaround in Egypt moved them one step back.  The only region which seems to lag is East Asia.

The apparent lag of East Asia may be an illusion caused by our different terminologies.  I recall a personal luncheon with the Ambassador from China to UNESCO at the time when I was director of the International Year for the Culture of Peace.  After listening intently to my description of our initiatives for the culture of peace, he said suddenly, “Oh, now I understand.  You are talking about social harmony.”  The terminology of China was molded in the philosophy of Confucius which is quite different from Western philosophy.

The universality of the culture of peace was ensured by the adoption in 1999 of the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace by the UN General Assembly which is the closest we come to a universal forum of humanity.   Just as the 1948 Declaration of Human Rights provided universal recognition for human rights, so, too, the 1999 Declaration and Programme of Action has provided, with its 8 action areas, a universal basis for the culture of peace.

This was summed up by Ambassador Anwarul Chowdhury who shepherded the Declaration and Programme of Action through the difficult process of adoption.  Presenting the document to the General Assembly, the Ambassador said that it brought in subjects that the Assembly had rarely touched in its 50 year history: “I believe that this document is unique in more than one way. It is a universal document in the real sense, transcending boundaries, cultures, societies and nations. Unlike many other General Assembly documents, this document is action-oriented and encourages actions at all levels . . . All people from all walks of life and all sorts of backgrounds can contribute to its implementation.”

As Ambassador Chowdhury correctly stated, one aspect of its universality is its relevance to the everyday actions of people throughout the world.

Another aspect of the universality of the UN declaration was ensured by the manner in which we prepared it.  We began by analyzing and forming the alternative to its antithesis which is another universal culture, the culture of war, which has dominated the world at least since Neolithic times.  It has become, over time, the culture of the state.  As I have often remarked, if you placed Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, Julius Caesar, Napoleon and General MacArthur in a room with interpreters, they would find themselves in complete accord.

Given the universality of the culture of war, the only way we can arrive at a culture of peace is through a universal transformation of one to the other.  In a previous blog, with the title “Can a Culture of Peace be created in only one zone of the world?”, I answered that it has not been possible, because previous attempts limited in scope have been crushed by the culture of war.

Only when the states of the culture of war crash universally will there be a chance to install a culture of peace.  This occurs periodically, including four times in the previous century:  World Wars I and II, the Great Depression, and (in half of the world) the crash of the Soviet Empire.  And it will no doubt occur fairly soon again in this 21st Century.

But when the next crash comes, will we be ready to establish a culture of peace universally?  That is the key question.  If we only establish the culture of peace in one or two regions, it is likely that the culture of war will be re-established and once again return to crush our attempts at a culture of peace.

L’universalité du Mouvement pour une culture de paix

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Le bulletin de CPNN fait apparaître ce mois-ci que les initiatives pour une culture de paix viennent de la plupart des régions du monde. Comme nous avons vu dans les blogs précédents, ce sont l’Amérique latine et l’Afrique qui en sont leaders, même si le Nord ait du mal à le reconnaître.   Avec le « printemps arabe» , les États arabes ont fait deux pas en avant, bien que, en Egypte, l’évolution de la situation leur a fait faire un pas en arrière.  Seule, l’Asie orientale semble en dehors du circuit.

Le décalage apparent de l’Asie orientale peut être une illusion causée par nos différences de terminologie. Je me souviens d’un déjeuner personnel avec l’ambassadeur de Chine à l’UNESCO quand j’étais directeur de l’Année internationale de la culture de la paix. Après avoir écouté attentivement la description de nos initiatives dans ce domaine, soudainement il a dit, “Oh, maintenant je comprends. Vous voulez parlez d’harmonie sociale.”  Le vocabulaire chinois a été modelé par la philosophie de Confucius, ce qui diffère tout à fait de notre approche occidentale.

L’universalité de la culture de paix a été assurée en 1999, lors de l’adoption par l’Assemblée générale des Nations Unies de la Déclaration et Programme d’action sur une culture de la paix. L’ Assemblée générale est la forme la plus proche pour parvenir à un forum universel de l’humanité. Tout comme la Déclaration Universelle des Droits de l’Homme de 1948 a permis la reconnaissance universelle des droits humains, la Déclaration et Programme d’action de 1999 a fourni, avec ses huit domaines d’action, une base universelle pour la culture de paix.

Ceci a été résumé par l’Ambassadeur Anwarul Chowdhury qui a piloté la Déclaration et Programme d’action à travers le difficile processus d’adoption. Dans sa présentation du document à l’Assemblée générale, l’ambassadeur a dit qu’il avait rapporté à l’Assemblée, des sujets rarement soulevés en 50 ans d’histoire. “Je crois que ce document est unique à plus d’un titre.  C’est un document universel dans le sens réel qu’il transcende les frontières, les cultures, les sociétés et les nations. Contrairement à de nombreux autres documents de l’Assemblée générale, ce document est orienté vers l’action et encourage les actions à tous les niveaux … Tous les gens de tous horizons et de toutes sortes de milieux peuvent contribuer à sa mise en œuvre ».

L’ambassadeur avait raison: l’un des aspects de l’universalité, c’est la pertinence des actes quotidiens des gens partout dans le monde.

Un autre aspect de l’universalité de la culture de paix a été assurée par la manière dont nous avons préparé la Déclaration. Nous avons commencé par l’analyse d’une autre culture universelle, celle dans laquelle baigne notre humanité depuis au moins le Néolithique : la culture de guerre.  Elle est devenue au fils du temps, la culture de l’Etat.  Ensuite, nous y avons projeté et construit une alternative: la culture de paix.  Comme j’en ai souvent fait la remarque, si vous pouviez placer Alexandre le Grand, Gengis Khan, Jules César, Napoléon et le général MacArthur dans une chambre avec des interprètes, ils se trouveraient tous en complet accord !

Compte tenu de l’universalité de la culture de guerre, la seule façon par laquelle nous pouvons parvenir à la culture de paix passe à travers une transformation universelle de l’une à l’autre.  Dans un blog précédent, avec le titre “Est-ce qu’une culture de paix peut être créé dans une seule zone du monde?”,  j’avais répondu que jusqu’à aujourd’hui cela n’avait pas été possible, car chaque tentative localisée a été écrasée par la culture de guerre.

C’est seulement quand les Etats guerriers échoueront universellement qu’il y aura la possibilité d’installer une culture de paix. Des tels échecs arrivent périodiquement: par example, dans le siècle dernier, cela s’est produit quatre fois: -Les deux guerres mondiales, la grand dépression, et la chute dans la moitié du monde de l’Empire Soviétique.  Et cela va sans doute se reproduire bientôt.

Mais quand le prochain crash arrivera, serons nous prêt pour établir une culture de paix de manière universelle?  Si nous établissons une culture de paix dans seulement une ou deux régions, ce sera insuffisant, parce qu’il est probable que la culture de guerre reviendra et l’écrasera.

Networking for a culture of peace

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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.

History is moving dialectically

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The CPNN bulletins for August 1 and September 1 illustrate how history is moving dialectically.  Two opposing tendencies exist and interact simultaneously, the culture of war and the culture of peace.  At the same time the culture of war advances towards self-destruction, the culture of peace is slowly growing.  While the commercial media drowns us with news about the culture of war (Ukraine, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Afghanistan, Israel/Palestine, etc.), they have nothing to say about the growth of the culture of peace.   Fortunately, however, we are able to show on CPNN that there is progress in the various domains of the culture of peace, most recently in terms of participatory budgeting and restorative justice.

The more that Israel carries out terrible attacks on Gaza, the more the calls for peace are mounting, even with Israel itself as we have seen this month.  As described in the blog for July, progress comes out of conflict.  Increasingly there are international calls for divestment similar to the campaign that finally led to the end of South African apartheid.  And the more that NATO provokes Russia in the Ukraine, the more the demand that NATO should be abolished.

The confrontation in the Ukraine between the US and NATO on one side and Russia on the other side may or may not end up causing such massive destruction and suffering as we have seen, for example, in Syria (and hopefully, no use of nuclear weapons!), but it is certain to have serious consequences on the economies of both sides.  The world economy is already weakened and vulnerable as a result of excessive speculation, government austerity and military spending, and in this context the curtailing of trade between Russia and the West may turn out to be an economic disaster for all concerned.  It may, in fact, hasten the collapse of the American empire, as predicted by Johan Galtung and quoted in a CPNN discussion..

We may expect even more dramatic changes in the near future, if we keep in mind the principles of dialectics that were first developed by the German philosopher Hegel and subsequently elaborated by the major revolutionary figures:

–   all aspects of historical events and changes are closely and indissolubly connected

–   history moves in spirals, not in a straight line;

–  history moves by leaps, catastrophes, and revolutions with breaks in continuity;

– quantitative changes eventually change into qualitative changes, that is to say that small imperceptible changes can accumulate over time to the point that they explode into dramatic changes.

Yes, we may expect dramatic changes, but once again, we return to our perennial question:  Is the culture of peace advancing rapidly enough to be in a position to replace the culture of war when it next crashes?

L’histoire se déplace dialectiquement

 Nos bulletins de Septembre et d’août illustrent comment l’histoire se déplace dialectiquement.

Deux tendances opposées existent et interagissent simultanément : le principe de guerre et le principe  de paix.  En même temps que la culture de guerre nous entraîne vers l’autodestruction, la culture de paix grandit lentement .

Alors que  nous sommes surinformés et noyés par l’actualités concernant la culture de guerre (Ukraine, Irak, Syrie, Libye, Afghanistan, Israël/Palestine, etc.), les mêmes médias sont dans un grand mutisme à propos de la croissance de la culture de paix.

Mais fort heureusement, grâce à de petits médias non commerciaux, dont CPNN, nous pouvons montrer qu’il y a du progrès dans les divers domaines de la culture de paix, par exemple, dans le celle des prévisions budgétaires participatives et plus récemment, de la justice restauratrice.

Plus Israël attaque la bande de Gaza,  plus il y a des manifestations pour la paix, même dans les rues d’Israël.  Comme nous l’avons souligné dans le blog du mois de Juillet, le progrès vient du conflit.  De plus en plus de demandes se font entendre pour le désinvestissement de sociétés qui soutiennent les militaires d’Israël ; c’est le même phénomène qui a finalement renversé l’apartheid en Afrique du Sud.  Plus l’OTAN provoque la Russie, plus de voix s’élèvent pour l’abolition de OTAN.

La confrontation en Ukraine entre, d’un côté, les EU et l’OTAN et de l’autre, la Russie, peut, ou pas, finir par un conflit utilisant les armes de destruction entraînant des souffrances comme nous l’avons vu en Syrie (même s’il ne s’agissait pas de l’arme nucléaire).

Mais c’est certain qu’il y aura des conséquences sérieuses sur les économies des deux belligérants .

L’économie mondiale est déjà grandement affaiblie et vulnérabilisée par  la spéculation excessive, l’austérité gouvernementale et les dépenses militaires. Une réelle baisse des échanges commerciaux entre la Russie et l’Ouest peut se révéler un désastre économique pour toutes les parties concernées.  Il peut, en fait même presser l’écroulement de l’empire américain.

Nous pouvons nous attendre à des changements spectaculaires dans un avenir proche, tout en  gardant à l’esprit les principes de la dialectique, développés d’abord par le philosophe allemand Hegel et élaborés ensuite par les grands révolutionnaires.

– Tous les aspects des événements historiques et leurs changements sont étroitement liés et connectés de façon indissoluble.

– L’histoire se déplace par spirales, et non sur une ligne droite;

– L’histoire  avance par des sauts,  des catastrophes et des révolutions de façon discontinue.

– Elle passe finalement, de changements quantitatifs à des changements qualitatifs (il s’agit de petits changement qui s’accumulent au fils du temps, jusqu’au moment où ils ‘explosent dans un changement plus radical).

Oui, il y aura des changements spectaculaires, mais encore une fois, nous revenons à notre éternelle question  : la culture de paix progresse-t-elle assez rapidement pour être dans une position forte et remplacer la culture de guerre quand celle–ci va s’effondrer?