Recognition of Civil Society Report in
On 20 October 2005 at the United Nations in New York, the plenary debate of the General Assembly at the midpoint of the International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World (2001-2010) was combined with debate on United Nations initiatives for Dialogue among Civilizations. The resulting debate was especially rich and productive, even by United Nations standards. Most of the interventions are available in full and may be accessed through the links on the right side of this page.
The progress toward a culture of peace being achieved by civil society and their important role for the future was recognized by many of the speakers, and five speakers recognized, in particular, the Civil Society Report at the Midpoint of the Decade. Bangladesh, which takes responsibility for the annual culture of peace resolution, stated, "We are particularly thankful to the civil society. These include the NGOs and the young people. Their enthusiastic support to this cause has made a huge difference. Our special thanks go to the Fundación Cultura de Paz for their commendable work in compiling a report on the progress achieved by over 700 organizations from over 100 countries, including my own. We urge all of them to continue their good work."
The Civil Society Report was also recognized by the United Kingdom in their official statement on behalf of the European Union: "... the European Union welcomes the World Report on the Culture of Peace prepared by over 700 civil society organisations as an important contribution to assessing the review of progress made in the last five years." Similarly, Thailand stated, "... my delegation wishes to express our appreciation to the civil society for engaging so actively in promoting the Decade and the Global Agenda. My delegation welcoes the report on the contributions by almost 700 civil society organizations from over 100 countries as appeared in the annex of the UNESCO's report." Qatar and Fiji also mentioned the report.
The role of the Youth Advocacy Group, and of youth in general, was specifically commended. The European Union stated, "The European Union pays particular tribute to "The United Network of Young Peacebuilders", a global network of young people and youth organisations active in the field of peacebuilding. Their work is an example to us all, and evidence of the significant role that civil society can play in advancing a culture of peace." Similarly, Qatar stated, "We commend the many young people from different parts of the World who collectively contributed to the Mid Decade World Civil Sociey Report on a Culture of Peace."
Several states described culture of peace initiatives in their countries. Brazil, for example, stated, "Over 97 actors from civil society - including universities, schools, NGO's, and the private sector - are currently involved in 13 projects tha are directly linked to the Culture of Peace. Over 15 million Brazilians have signed the 2000 Manifesto launched by UNESCO." An even larger number of initiatives in Brazil may be found in the full Civil Society report. Other states mentioning civil society initiatives for a culture of peace and non-violence in their countries included Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Malaysia and Qatar.
Although most speakers thanked UNESCO for its work as the lead agency for the Decade, the Civil Society Report contains many criticisms of their shortcomings in this regard. This found an echo in the statement by Fiji: "It is true ... that in the thinking of some the United Nations has seemingly reduced its support of certain aspects of the spirit of the Culture of Peace ... while the UN efforts may be regarded as insufficient, they must be weighed against the ability of the UN to cater adequately with all issues on its agenda. While we agree with the general thrust of the points raised by the Civil Society Report at Midpoint of Cuture of Peace Decade, we must say that one cannot hope to get one's wishes granted too completely. Further there are other branches of the UN that are actively pursuing the realization of particular issues and are not quite ready to present reports." It is not clear what the latter refers to. Jamaica, in its statement, urged the UN to do better: "Our view is that there is considerable room for further work. Greater publicity needs to be given to the Programme [for the Decade] through the DPI and more effort made to incorporate networks of relevant non-govenmental organizations to generate greater awareness."
The role of mass media was often discussed by the Member States. As emphasized by many organizations in the Civil Society Report, they referred to the responsibility of the mass media to provide positive news and images and to refrain from glorifying violence and from conveying stereotypes of certain religions.
The new UN initiative for Alliance of Civilizations, a follow-up to the Dialogue of Civilizations launched by UNESCO and Iranian President Khatami in 2001 was warmly welcomed by most speakers. It was remarked that these initiatives contribute to the Programme of Action for a Culture of Peace that was adopted earlier by the UN in 1999, and many speakers referred to paragraph 144 of the World Summit Outcome document adopted by heads of state at the UN in September 2005, which confirms this relationship:
Given the demand that the Secretary-General explore implementation mechanisms and follow up on the Culture of Peace and Non-Violence and on the Alliance of Civilizations, it will be important in the coming years that the civil society find ways to take part in the planning process as an equal partner with the United Nations and the Member States.
Islamic Republic of Iran
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