||Posted: May 22 2007,15:59 by David Adams from INTERNATIONAL - Fundacion Cultura de Paz
The following project proposal has been developed by Cecile Barbeito (Spain), David Adams (USA), Alicia Cabezudo (Argentina), Lia Diskin (Brazil) and Robyn Stewart (Canada).
Measurement of the Culture of Peace at a local level
The project aims at forming local groups in cities of different continents to measure the advances or lack of progress of culture of peace in their local contexts.
Measuring culture of peace. In the year 1999, the United Nations called for an International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World (2001-2010) and adopted a Declaration and Programme of Action for a Culture of Peace (A/53/243 Resolution). Since then, efforts have been made for advancing towards a Global Movement for a Culture of Peace.
To evaluate those advances –and especially those promoted by civil society, a mid-term evaluation was made in the year 2005. At that time, 700 organisations from around the world gave their opinion about the advances of the Movement for a Culture of Peace. The document that resumes the inputs of those organisations, the World report of Culture of Peace (http://decade-culture-of-peace.org), concludes that the culture of peace is advancing around the world, but that we lack quantitative indicators for this progress; there is a need of developing indicators to make the measurement of the evolution of the movement for a Culture of Peace possible.
Actually, there exist some previous attempts to develop national indicators of a culture of peace, although none of them has been further developed:
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PREVIOUS EXPERIENCES TO DEVELOP INDICATORS OF A CULTURE OF PEACE
1) In UN document A-56-319, UNESCO promised to develop indicators, although the promise has never been followed up. Here are excerpts from the document:
33. With regard to mobilization of the UN system, the High-level Committee on Programs of the Administrative Committee on Coordination in response to a request from UNESCO, has called on all agencies to nominate focal points to work with UNESCO in the preparation of indicators and reports for the implementation of the Programme of Action.
59. As an initial phase of this process, UNESCO will seek to identify, from among available statistics and data, indicators to cover the Programme of Action that can be shared with all actors so as to prepare the midterm progress report...
60. Culture of Peace indicators should be dynamic and forward-looking. As it is relatively new, the concept of a culture of peace is still evolving as a result of practical activities and lessons learned. Therefore the various actors in the global movement for a culture of peace will be invited to contribute fully to the preparation of the reports to the General Assembly.
2) In June 2001, a conference was held in Seoul, Korea, to develop national indicators for a culture of peace, by a group that had already developed and published a traditional study of peace indicators (armaments, development, etc). The conference was followed up at the UNU in Tokyo (see below).
3) On September 28, 2001, a conference was held at Clark University in the US on indicators for a culture of peace. The conference, organized by Professor Joseph DeRivera, agreed to develop national indicators and hold a follow-up conference to result in a book. A follow-up conference was held in October 2006 and Professor Rivera has himself published several articles based on his point of view, and including a few contributions from others.
4) In September 2002, a follow-up to the Seoul meeting was held at the United Nations University in Tokyo an a rather detailed plan was considered for gathering quantitative indicators for a culture of peace during the Decade. However, there has never been any follow up to this conference.
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This project, therefore, fits within the framework of the International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World (2001-2010) and the attempt of measuring its evolution.
At a local level. The option of applying indicators at a local level is mainly due to the following reasons:
As it has just been mentioned, there have been previous attempts to measure peace / culture of peace at the national level with great difficulty in the past, using nationally collected statistics in the areas of militarization, economy, society, etc collected by national governments. However, it has not been possible to avoid that national indexes of a culture of peace, though, are easily politicized and manipulated for political purposes.
Local indicators, on the contrary, guaranty a greater respect for cultural specificities. As common national indicators are applied the same way in all countries, it is difficult that they are able to take into account each country’s idiosyncrasy.
In addition, working at a local level has the great advantage to involve and mobilize people from different fields into the movement of culture of peace. This way, the design of the indicators in each local context can be a reason to build the grassroots base for the global movement for a culture of peace.
* To advance the Global Movement for a Culture of Peace
* To evaluate municipal policies to increase the culture of peace at the city level
By measuring indicators for the eight areas of the culture of peace at the local level, and looking at trends in these measures over several years, it will be possible to identify weaknesses at the city level that need to be corrected by policy changes, projects and campaigns. It can also help to identify strengths, and therefore to collect “best practices” of culture of peace policies at a local level.
* To mobilize specific people at the city level in cultivating a culture of peace.
The indicators project provides a concrete task to these commissions by which they can mobilize and organize specialists in their city. Those specialists who are involved in the eight programme areas of a culture of peace do not usually see their work as part of a coherent whole which we call culture of peace. By involving these people in measuring indicators in their specialties we draw them into the culture of peace commissions and interdisciplinary networks.
* To provide data and experiences about culture of peace to mass media, educators, tourism agencies and ministries, political personalities, etc.
By making this data available, it can be used by those different actors to pass the information on to broader audiences.
* To raise consciousness for people at local, national and international levels to better understand the culture of peace, its components, the interactions of its components, its advances and the obstacles to its progress.
Despite the 75 million signatures on the Manifesto, the UN Declaration and Programme of Action, and the Civil Society report from 700 organizations, there has been almost no mass media coverage of the culture of peace, and most people are totally unaware of it. The indicators project can contribute to making the issues known by more people, especially through the third point above. If you believe that history is made by people as a result of their consciousness and subsequent collective action, then this is an essential step in the transformation from culture of war to culture of peace.
* To promote critical thinking and reflection on the relation of Democracy, Human Rights, etc. to Culture of Peace and living.
The annual measurement of a culture of peace index at local level should ideally be undertaken under the direction of mixed governmental / civil society commissions in participating cities, towns, provinces and small states, along the model of the Sao Paulo Culture of Peace Council and the New Haven Peace Commission. Those commissions should be composed of both elected officials and representatives of civil society organizations. Elected officials provide the democratic accountability, while civil society organizations provide the long term commitment to the issues. The responsible organization does not do the measures, but recruits specialists to do the measures.
The index should reflect progress (or lack of progress) in the eight program areas of a culture of peace recognized in the United Nations Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace (General Assembly resolution A/59/143). Each of these eight areas should be given equal weight:
1. culture of peace through education
2. sustainable economic and social development
3. respect for all human rights
4. equality between women and men
5. democratic participation
6. understanding, tolerance and solidarity
7. participatory communication and the free flow of information and knowledge
The precise measure(s) employed for each of the 8 areas should be determined separately by each participating locality, in order to ensure that the measures are easily done and are culturally relevant. By making the same measurement over many years, each locality should be able to quantify progress and to determine the strengths and weaknesses of local initiatives and influences from national and international changes.
Although each locality would decide on its own measures, a central website will be established to provide suggestions for measures, and, over time, the results and experiences with these measures by the various participating localities.