The global movement for a culture of peace is advancing. This is the conclusion of most organizations from around the world, as they report progress toward a culture of peace during the first five years of the International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World. It is documented by over 3000 pages of information submitted before May 15 by 670 organizations from over 100 countries which are freely available on the website http://decade-culture-of-peace.org/cgi-bin/ib3/ikonboard.cgi. This information is only the tip of the iceberg, since some organizations posted information later and many others that promote a culture of peace were not contacted or did not respond to the questionnaire for this report, as indicated by the many partnerships listed by participating organizations. They number in the many thousands, corresponding to the call for partnerships for a culture of peace in General Assembly Resolution A/53/243 (para B.A.6).
The advance is especially remarkable given that it has been only five years since UN General Assembly resolution A/53/243 first called for a global movement for a culture of peace. It is also remarkable because, as reported from around the world, the mass media has failed to report on news of the culture of peace, and the United Nations and the lead agency for the Decade, UNESCO, have given very little attention to it. In Brazil where 15 million people signed the Manifesto 2000, special credit is given to the International Year for the Culture of Peace for having launched the movement in the Year 2000.
The richness of the reports reflects the definition of a culture of peace provided by the General Assembly resolution A/52/13 that first called for a “transformation from a culture of war and violence to a culture of peace and non-violence”: a culture of peace consists of “values, attitudes and behaviours that reflect and inspire social interaction and sharing based on the principles of freedom, justice and democracy, all human rights, tolerance and solidarity, that reject violence and endeavour to prevent conflicts by tackling their root causes to solve problems through dialogue and negotiation and that guarantee the full exercise of all rights and the means to participate fully in the development process of their society.” And the Programme of Action for a Culture of Peace (A/53/243) adopted by the General Assembly in 1999 encompasses eight programme areas: Education for a culture of peace: Equality of women; Democratic participation; Sustainable development; Human rights; Understanding, tolerance, solidarity; Free flow of information and knowledge; International peace and security. Advice to the UN in all of these areas is given here from the reporting organizations.
This General Assembly definition of the culture of peace is positive rather than negative, going far beyond the previous definition of peace as the absence of armed conflict. This is not always easy for people to understand. For example, “in Japan people are apt to think that peace means the situation without wars and nuclear weapons through the experience of the World
War. Peace Education means the teaching of the nuclear weapons in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, air raid attacks and the battles in Okinawa … We spent a lot of time to make understood the difference between peace and culture of peace to fellow groups or people who made efforts for peace.” Many other organizations also underline that it is important to explain the nature of the culture of peace.
Although highlights from reports are summarized here, the full information, available on the Internet, is far richer than any summary can indicate. Hundreds of photographs illustrate culture of peace activities, showing a complex picture of children, women, men working, playing, celebrating, demonstrating, engaging in hundreds of activities that promote life, cooperation, solidarity, hope, commitment to change and improvement of their lives and the lives of others, a view of the culture of peace that is not found elsewhere in such a global and all-encompassing vision.
It is generally agreed that, as one report puts it, there is a remarkable “scarcity and difficulty of access to resources for the promotion of the culture of peace, in comparison with the immense expenses for the promotion of war and violence.” One exception, perhaps, is the enormous resources devoted to tourism, which, as reported by the International Institute of Peace through Tourism, has a great potential to contribute to a culture of peace.
The qualitative indicators of progress reported by most organizations need to be further developed as quantitative indicators for a culture of peace during the second half of the Decade. Starting points are provided by the indicators of international peace and security, human rights and development provided by Escuela de Cultura de Paz, and indicators for peace education referenced by the Peace Studies Program of Clark University.
Sharing of information is essential to development of the global movement, as stated by the General Assembly in its resolution A/53/243, especially in view of the failure of the mass media to provide news of the culture of peace. It is generally agreed that systems of information exchange need to be greatly expanded in the second half of the Decade. Important initiatives are already underway, including those described in reports from the Good news Agency, the Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research, the Peace Research Information Unit Bonn, the Danish Peace Academy, Education for Peace Globalnet and the International Coalition for the Decade, as well as others in the planning stage such as the Signis Asia Assembly from Malaysia. All of the arts are employed, e.g.: Agencia Internacional para el Fomento de Acciónes con Hip-Hop; Conseil International de la Danse; International Forum for Literature and Culture of Peace; Jipa Moyo Comics; The Art Miles Mural Project. Two other Internet sources of culture of peace information have already been supported by General Assembly resolutions: the CP Internet pages of the UNESCO Website and the Culture of Peace news Network.