The dialectical pace of history

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(pour la version française, voir en dessous)

History does not progress at an even rate, but by long periods of slow development punctuated by sudden revolutionary changes, as described by dialectical philosophy.

The news in CPNN this month illustrate the slowness of the development of the culture of peace.

The development of the peace process which led to this month’s signing of a peace accord in Colombia comes after a half century of war and many years of peace negotiations. The case is similar for the progress towards a peace accord with the communist movement in the Philippines. When I took part in the UNESCO international conference for a culture of peace in the Philippines twenty years ago, negotiations were already underway.

Development is similarly slow for city peace commissions. We began the New Haven City Peace Commission in the 1980’s and it is still trying to find its identity. The newest city peace commission, that of Santos, Brazil, was begun six years ago, and only this year has it been officially formalized. As they say: ” It is a long walk on a road that builds itself as we walk over it; we cannot see the end of it, but it is known that the end is a much better place than the one we are living today.”

Human rights are widely recognized and respected today, but the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was ignored and unknown for the first 40 years after its adoption by the United Nations. It was only after the Nobel Peace Prize to Amnesty International in 1977 that it began to get recognition. The equivalent UN resolution for a culture of peace was adopted in 1999. If the same pace is followed as that for human rights, it may not gain universal recognition for another 25 years!

When development is very slow, it is hard to see. As the activists of the new Ashland Culture of Peace Commission state, “we need to acknowledge the important and often unnoticed work that is being done in our community that moves us toward a better world.”

The culture of war has dominated humanity for more than 5000 years. Should we expect it to be replaced by a culture of peace in a short period of time?

On the other hand, at the present time, there are other historical tendencies developing that may come quickly to the point of sudden revolutionary change. In his most recent column, Johan Galtung considers that “the world ‘right now’ [is] so unstable with imbalances everywhere that what we are living is fluxes and jumps. . . . power imbalance that can lead to war ‘before it is too late’, to passive coexistence, or to active coexistence, peace.  Very, very dynamic indeed.  No stability.”

The “peace” mentioned by Galtung would seem to be a relative peace in the sense of the absece of war, caused by the exhaustion of the warring parties. However, even if that comes about, we will still be far from the culture of peace that we need and that is developing much too slowly.

      • Le rythme dialectique de l’histoire

        L’histoire ne progresse pas à un rythme constant, mais par de longues périodes de développement lent entrecoupées de changements soudains et révolutionaires comme le définit la philosophie dialectique.

        Les nouvelles de CPNN ce mois-ci illustrent la lenteur du développement de la culture de la paix.

        Le développement du processus de paix qui a conduit à la signature d’un accord de paix en Colombie ce mois-ci aboutit après un demi-siècle de guerre et de nombreuses années de négociations. Le cas est similaire pour les progrès vers un accord de paix avec le mouvement communiste aux Philippines. Quand j’ai pris part à la conférence internationale de l’UNESCO pour une culture de la paix aux Philippines il y a vingt ans, les négociations étaient déjà en cours.

        Le développement est similairement lent pour les commissions de paix des villes. Nous avons débuté la Commission de Paix de la Ville de New Haven (USA) dans les années 1980, mais elle chereche est encore son identité. La toute derrière commission municipale de la paix, celle de Santos, au Brésil, commencé il y a six ans, n’a été officiellement formalisé que cette année. Comme le disent ses membres: «C’est une longue marche sur une route qui se construit alors que nous marchons dessus, nous ne pouvons pas en voir la fin, mais nous sommes sûr que la fin est un endroit bien meilleur que celui où nous vivons aujourd’hui.”

        Les Droits de l’Homme sont largement reconnus et respectés aujourd’hui, mais la Déclaration universelle des Droits de l’Homme a été ignorée, voire inconnue les 40 premières années suivant son adoption par les Nations Unies. Ce fut seulement après le Prix Nobel de la Paix décerné à Amnesty International, en 1977, qu’il a commencé à aovir une reconnaissance. La résolution de l’ONU équivalente pour une culture de la paix a été adoptée en 1999. Si le même rythme est suivi, nous devrons attendre encore 25 ans pour une reconaissance universelle !!

        Lorsque le développement est très lent, il est difficile de le voir. Comme disent les militants de la Commission de la cultre de la paix de Ashland, “nous devons reconnaître le travail important et souvent inaperçu qui se fait dans notre communauté qui nous pousse vers un monde meilleur.”

        La culture de la guerre a dominé l’humanité depuis plus de 5000 ans. Faut-ils attendre à son remplacement par une culture de la paix dans un court laps de temps ??

        D’autre part, à l’heure actuelle, il existe des tendances historiques en développement qui peuvent venir rapidement au point de changement soudaine et révolutionnaire. Dans sa chronique plus récente, Johan Galtung estime que «le monde en ce moment ‘[est] si instable avec des déséquilibres partout et ce que nous vivons sont des flux et des sauts…. Déséquilibres du pouvoir qui peuvent conduire à la guerre “avant qu’il ne soit trop tard”, à la coexistence passive, ou à la coexistence actif, i.e. la paix. Très, très dynamique en effet. Pas de stabilité.”

        La «paix» mentionné par Galtung semble d’être une paix relative dans le sens de l’absence de guerre, provoquée par l’épuisement des partries belligérantes. Cependant, même si cela arrive, nous serons encore loin de la culture de la paix dont nous avons besoin et qui se développe beaucoup trop lentement.

  • Consciousness, by itself, is not enough; the task is also political

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    We are seeing progress towards a culture of peace on several fronts:

    In this month’s CPNN bulletin, we feature progress in peace education around the world.

    In the bulletin of May, it was progress in the practice of nonviolence.

    As described by the Brazilian pedagogue, Paulo Freire, there is a development of consciousness in the sense of understanding plus action.

    But consciousness, by itself, whether through peace education or the practice of nonviolence, is not enough to change the course of history. If we are to make the transition from the culture of war to a culture of peace, our task is not only psychological, but also political. I have discussed this previously by insisting that peace education, to be effective, must be prepared to confront the dominant culture of war.

    To be political, consciousness needs to be linked up to the development of a new institutional framework.

    As we have previously observed, peace education is an integral part of the peace process in Colombia, but to make a permanent change, it needs to be linked to a network of peace committees at the local and regional levels.

    We can begin to see signs that such a linkage is happening. For example, restorative justice, a key practice of nonviolence and an important aspect of peace education is being promoted by the peace commissions of the cities of Londrina in Brazil and Ashland and New Haven in the United States. Cities are also promoting the practices of mediation and participative budgeting, two other key practices of a culture of peace.

    A great step forward is underway as cities for peace link into global networks such as those described in a recent CPNN bulletin. This process should be strengthened by regularly assessment of the state of the culture of peace by each city (see CPNN February 24) and exchange of their practices and results in this regard.

    The development of networks of cities for peace can be seen as a step towards the development of a global institution of the culture of peace, perhaps a radically-reformed United Nations (as we suggested in a previous blog), or perhaps an entirely new institutional framework at a global level.

    Looking at the headlines of the mass media might make us pessimistic, but we need to keep in mind that a better world is possible and keep working to establish its institutional framework.

    What happens after peace accords are signed

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    Now that there is a ceasefire in Colombia, as described in this month’s bulletin of CPNN, the question arises whether a culture of peace can be maintained afterwards.

    When I was working on the culture of peace in UNESCO, I experienced a similar situation in two countries, El Salvador and Mozambique. Both of them emerged with peace accords in the early 1990’s after civil wars comparable to that in Colombia. In both we established national culture of peace programs to maintain the peace afterwards. They were major efforts, as I will describe, but ultimately they failed. Now, twenty five years later, both El Salvador and Mozambique are once again descending into violence, verging once again on civil war.

    Why did they fail?

    First, consider the efforts. The program in El Salvador is described in a journal article, available on the Internet, written by the three of us who managed the program. To quote from its conclusion: the program transformed “conflict into cooperation by engaging those previously in violent conflict in the joint planning and implementation of human development projects of benefit to all. . .. [it] developed both a set of guidelines accepted by all parties to the previous violent conflict, and institutionalized these guidelines in a National Coordination Council and its Executive Committee which ensure that they are put into practice. In particular, the guidelines are being followed in the implementation of project 507/ELS/01, the production of daily radio broadcasts and non-formal education campaigns for the most needy and neglected women in the country. In the course of the working out of this project, during the period from the summer of 1994 to the present (spring of 1996) the participants, representing the government, community radio stations and nongovernmental organizations including those associated with the FMLN, have internalized the basic principles and guidelines of a culture of peace. While at first they distrusted each other to the point that UNESCO had to play the role of arbitrator and mediator, they have since learned to negotiate and arrived at the point of regular concerted decision-making. Daily radio broadcasts are now being produced which reflect the fruits of this process of dialogue, participation and concertation and which up until now have been well-produced and well-received despite time pressures and the demanding schedules of radio broadcasting. These broadcasts are carried by 24 radio stations around the country, as well as in marketplaces, and they are accompanied by the work of 64 correspondents in the various communities who monitor the broadcasts and provide information from their communities to the technical team that creates the programmes.

    The radio project was only one of 20 human development projects in El Salvador that were developed by the method of concertation described above.

    In Mozambique, a similar process of concertation between ex-enemies resulted in the elaboration of ten human development projects with rural women, demobilized soldiers, schools, youth, mass media, community leaders, etc.

    The process worked. Hoping to develop their country, the ex-enemies could be brought together and could work together.

    But the programmes did not work. The Member States of UNESCO refused to fund the projects, preferring to put their development funds into projects that they could manage themselves for political advantage (including, in some cases, corruption and exploitation).

    Alvaro de Soto, who had mediated the El Salvador peace accords, warned us at the time that it could not work. As part of the accords, the US and Europe had promised to fund land reform and judicial reform in El Salvador, but afterwards they reneged and never provided the funds they had promised. By the way, the same thing happened with the peace accords that established Zimbabwe. The UK never came through with the money they promised as part of the accords, to buy land from the white farmers and distribute to the African farmers. Eventually, President Mugabe got tired of waiting and seized the land and Zimbabwe was punished by international sanctions.

    In general, we came to realize that the powerful Member States of the UN do not want peace. They want to exploit the poor countries of the world and that requires the old method of the culture of war: “Divide and conquer.”

    Hopefully, Colombia can learn from the failures of the past and achieve a sustainable peace. As I have suggested in my previous blog, “Advice to Colombia,” they need to 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 or United Nations support. Those of us in other countries can help with direct people-to people support; as Amada Benavides says, “Peacebuilding moment starts just now. Today we need more support than ever.”

    Peace, nonviolence, compassion, and culture of peace

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    (Voir ci-dessous pour la version française)

    The various initiatives at the level of the city described in this month’s CPNN bulletin are devoted to these four different goals: peace, nonviolence, compassion and culture of peace.

    Certainly the initiatives are complementary and they have the potential to join in a unified struggle to change the world. But their unity remains to be achieved.

    What are their differences and advantages/disadvantages?

    At UNESCO, when we developed the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace for the UN system, we distinguished culture of peace from the traditional notion of peace. Peace, we reflected, is the period between wars when countries prepare for the their next wars. Culture of peace, instead, is a change in the culture so that wars become unnecessary, even impossible. Culture of peace was conceived as a political strategy to replace the culture of war. Each of the key characteristics of the culture of war was countered by its opposite in a culture of peace. For example, you cannot have a war if you have no enemy. It’s that simple!

    The complementarity of Culture of Peace and Nonviolence was recognized in the title of the United Nations Decade following the International Year for the Culture of Peace the United Nations International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-violence for the Children of the World.

    Whereas culture of peace was conceived specifically as a political strategy, nonviolence may be considered as a necessary tactic. Strategically, a culture of peace cannot be achieved by tactics that are violent. This is an important consideration if we analyze the history of the last few centuries. Revolutionary movements have succeeded in overthrowing cultures of war, but because their tactics were violent, they ended up establishing new cultures of war instead of cultures of peace.

    In this regard, let us recall the reasoning of Mahatma Gandhi. We have no enemies, only opponents whom we have yet to convince. To succeed, the struggle must be carried on at the level of ideas, dialogue and mediation rather than force and violence.

    It seems to me that we should advance under a banner of culture of peace as well as nonviolence. In that way we make it clear that this is a political strategy, not just a tactic, a strategy to replace the culture of war by a culture of peace.

    And what about compassion?

    Let us look closely at the text of the Charter for Compassion:

    “The principle of compassion lies at the heart of all religious, ethical and spiritual traditions, calling us always to treat all others as we wish to be treated ourselves. Compassion impels us to work tirelessly to alleviate the suffering of our fellow creatures, to dethrone ourselves from the centre of our world and put another there, and to honour the inviolable sanctity of every single human being, treating everybody, without exception, with absolute justice, equity and respect.”

    I see at least two aspects of this Charter that make an important contribution to the struggle for a culture of peace.

    First, it is not enough to have very rational strategy and tactics, unless we also have an emotional empathy and concern for “every single human being.” This is the cry of the heart that is needed to accompany the reasoning of the head.

    Second, the movement for a culture of peace should gather force from the millenia of religious, ethical and spiritual struggles that have gone before us to make a better world. While it is true that the concepts of nonviolence and culture of peace are relatively new, the struggle for a peaceful, nonviolent world is as old as humanity. Most of the great religions were established by prophets who rejected the violence of the societies in which they lived. They should be considered as the prophets of a culture of peace and nonviolence.

    Another world is possible! Let us develop the unity of all these initiatives and struggles in order to achieve it!

    * * * * * * * * * *

    Paix, non-violence, compassion et culture de la paix

    Les différentes initiatives au niveau de la ville, décrites dans le bulletin de CPNN ce mois-ci sont consacrées aux quatre objectifs suivant: la paix, la non-violence, la compassion et la culture de la paix.

    Certes, ces initiatives sont complémentaires et potentiellement capables de se joindre à une lutte unifiée pour changer le monde. Mais l’unité reste à accomplir !

    Quelles sont leurs différences, leurs avantages, et leurs desavantages?

    À l’UNESCO, lorsque nous avons développé la Déclaration et Programme d’action sur une culture de la paix pour le système des Nations Unies, nous avions fait une distinction entre la culture de la paix et la notion traditionelle de paix. La paix, nous avions réfléchi, est la période entre les guerres lorsque les pays se préparent pour leurs prochaines guerres. La culture de la paix, à la place, est un changement dans la culture afin que les guerres deviennent inutiles, voire impossible. La culture de la paix a été conçue comme une strategie politique pour remplacer la culture de guerre. Chacune des principales caractéristiques de la culture de la guerre a été contrée par son contraire dans la culture de la paix. Par exemple, vous ne pouvez pas avoir une guerre si vous n’avez pas d’ennemi ! C’est tout simple !

    La complémentarité de la culture de la paix et de la non-violence a été reconnue dans le titre de la Décennie des Nations Unies pour la suite de l’Année internationale de la culture de la paix: la Décennie internationale de la promotion d’une culture de la non-violence et de la paix au profit des enfants du monde (2001-2010).

    Considérant que la culture de la paix a été conçue spécifiquement comme une stratégie politique, la non-violence peut être considérée comme une tactique nécessaire. Stratégiquement, la culture de la paix ne peut pas s’établir par des tactiques violentes. Ceci est une considération importante si nous analysons l’histoire des derniers siècles. Les mouvements révolutionnaires ont réussi à renverser les cultures de guerre, mais parce que leurs tactiques étaient violentes. Hélas, ils ont fini par établir de nouvelles cultures de guerre au lieu de cultures de paix.

    À cet égard, rappelons le raisonnement du Mahatma Gandhi. Nous n’avons pas d’ennemis. Nous n’avons que des adversaires que nous n’avons pas encore convaincus. Pour réussir, la lutte doit être menée au niveau des idées, du dialogue et de la médiation plutôt que par la force et par la violence.

    Il me semble que nous devrions avancer sous la bannière de la culture de la paix, et de la non-violence. De cette façon, nous montrerions clairement que cela est une stratégie politique, et pas seulement une tactique, une stratégie visant à remplacer la culture de la guerre par une culture de la paix.

    Et qu’en est-il de la compassion?

    Regardons attentivement le texte de la Charte de la compassion:

    “Le précepte de compassion, qui est au coeur de toutes les traditions religieuses, spirituelles et éthiques, nous invite à toujours traiter autrui de la manière dont nous aimerions être traités nous-mêmes. La compassion nous incite à nous engager sans relâche à soulager les souffrances de tous les êtres et à apprendre à ne pas nous considérer nous-même comme le centre du monde, mais à être capable de placer autrui à cette place centrale. Elle nous enseigne à reconnaître le caractère sacré de chaque être humain, et à traiter chacune et chacun, sans aucune exception, avec un respect inconditionnel et dans un esprit de justice et d’équité.”

    Je vois au moins deux aspects dans cette Charte qui apportenaiet une contribution importante à la lutte pour la culture de la paix.

    Tout d’abord, il ne suffit pas d’avoir une stratégie et des tactiques très rationnelles. Il faut également avoir une empathie émotionnelle et le souci de «tout être humain.” Ceci est le cri du cœur qui est nécessaire pour accompagner le raisonnement de la tête.

    Deuxièmement, le mouvement pour la culture de la paix doit s’appuyer entre autre sur les millénaires de luttes religieuses, éthiques et spirituelles qui sont passés avant nous pour un monde meilleur. Il est vrai que les concepts de la non-violence et la culture de la paix sont relativement nouveaux, mais la lutte pour un monde non-violent et pacifique est aussi vieille que l’humanité. La plupart des grandes religions ont été créées par des prophètes qui ont rejeté la violence des sociétés dans lesquelles ils vivaient. Ils doivent être considérés comme les precurseurs d’une culture de la paix et de la non-violence.

    Un autre monde est possible! Développons l’unité de toutes ces initiatives et luttons pour y parvenir!

    African Leadership for the Culture of Peace

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    Africa is featured again this month on the CPNN bulletin, as it has been numerous times before, because of its leadership for a culture of peace.

    The recent articles illustrate what I wrote recently in the article Africa’s Contribution to the Global Movement for a Culture of Peace for the African journal, The Thinker.

    Culture of Peace Consciousness

    “Africa is the leading continent of the world for peace education and media for peace.” This is exemplified by actions described in articles this month from Cameroon, Mali, Tunisia, Congo and Ethiopia.

    Culture of Peace Methodologies

    Africa has shown its leadership in culture of peace methodologies that promote reconciliation and solidarity “with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa and the Gacaca in Rwanda, enabling Africans to overcome bitter conflicts and enter a path of reconciliation.” Recently we see movement towards African solidarity in Morocco, Sierra Leone, Chad and the Gambia.

    As we have often seen at CPNN, it is often the women of Africa who take the lead in culture of peace methodologies.

    Culture of Peace Institutions

    “During the transition period in South Africa following Nelson Mandela’s release from prison, as part of the National Peace Accord, a broad set of regional and local peace committees were established that united representatives from political organizations, trade unions, business, churches, police and security forces to resolve disputes at local and regional levels.”

    Culture of peace institutions are once again beginning to develop thanks to initiatives of the African Union, as indicated by their most recent assembly, their delegation to Burundi and their meeting of the Pan-African Network of the Wise, as well as their support for the UNESCO initiatives such as the African biennial for a culture of peace and the networks for African youth and women for culture of peace.

    Conclusion

    Historically, Africa may be in a good position to take a leadership role in the global movement, because in the course of history, with the exception of the ancient empires of Egypt, Africans did not develop culture of war empires and states to the same extent that they were developed in other continents. And the rich tradition of Pan-Africanism provides an alternative model to that of empires and states. A Pan-African union could be based on a culture of peace rather than culture of war. It would be within the tradition of peace-building by Nelson Mandela. And it would fulfill the dream of that great African-American, W.E.B. Dubois, which he shared at the end of his life with Kwame Nkrumah and the people of Ghana, an Africa at peace with itself and the world.

    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.

    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.”

    *  *  *  *  *  *

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    Democratic participation is advancing – from below

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    It is not by accident that the progress in democratic participation is being made at the level of the city and not at the level of the nation state.

    At the level of the nation state, there is no progress.  Instead, we are going backwards.  More and more the American model is being imposed at the level of the state: a two-party system with alternation of electoral victories for the two sides, both of which are controlled by “big money”, i.e. the capitalist class. This is accomplished by control of the mass media.  Voters are given the “choice” of two capitalist alternatives and are forced to vote for the “lesser of two evils.”  Electoral candidates at the national level spend millions of dollars and are usually millionaire capitalists themselves.  A few exceptions are elected from time to time, but they have only a few votes against hundreds of others that simply represent the interests of the capitalist class.

    But one should not be surprised at this.  As I have shown in the History of the Culture of War, the nation-state has literally become the culture of war in the course of recent centuries.  And it is the capitalist class that continues to profit from the culture of war.  Socialism does not survive in the competition of nation-states, because it does not profit as much from the culture of war.  We saw this most clearly in the case of the Soviet Union, but we see it today in countries like Cuba and Vietnam.

    As a result, the budget of the modern state is largely devoted to preparation for war since military domination is necessary for the success of the capitalist class.  Not surprisingly, since it heads up the American empire, the most extreme example is the United States where more than half of the national budget is devoted to the military expenditures, nuclear weapons and interest payments on previous military expenditures.    This does not include social security which should be treated as an insurance investment by citizens since they have already paid for it.

    To see progress we must look below the level of the state.  At the level of the city there is continuing progress in democratic participation, as illustrated in the examples of participatory budgeting in this month’s bulletin of the Culture of Peace News Network.  This, too, should not be surprising, since cities, over the past few centuries, have lost their previous culture of war.  No longer do they have armies or patrol borders or need to pay for military contracts.  Unlike the relations of nation states, the rich cities do not exploit the poor cities.

    At the level of the city, progress is best seen in participatory budgeting, “presupuesto participativo” in Spanish, “orcamento participativo” in Portuguese, a process by which citizens at a local level are able to decide directly what should be the priorities for expenditures in their neighborhoods.

    And it should not be surprising that participatory budgeting began in Latin America and is being practiced there more than anywhere else.  As we have seen in previous blogs in March 2014 and February 2013, Latin America is the most advanced region of the world in developing a culture of peace.

    In participatory budgeting, people improve immediately the quality of life for them and their neighbors.  In no case, do we see people voting for war against an “enemy neighborhood.” or a city in another region or country.  Instead, as we see in this month’s bulletin, they vote for simple projects that directly improve their quality of life, such as parks, jogging paths, cooperatives for sewing circles, toy-making or local fruit and vegetables production. In fact, sometimes their decisions are so ordinary that rich people can make fun of them.  This was the case a few years ago when the New York Times gave space in one of their local pages to a participatory budgeting project in their city by putting it under the headline “The Voters Speak: Yes to Bathrooms.”

    Of course, participatory budgeting by itself will not be enough to bring us to a culture of peace, but when we see it in the context of progress in all of the eight domains of a culture of peace, such peace education, free flow of information, equality of women, etc., then we begin to see how the world can get ready for a new way of governance when the nation states collapse under the weight of their culture of war as has happened in the past.

    Leadership of the Global South will be difficult for the North to accept

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    Is it by chance that the leadership for the culture of peace is coming from the continents of Latin America and Africa, continents of the Global South? The detailed evidence for this may be found in many CPNN articles, some of which are summarized in the CPNN bulletins for March 1 and April 1 this year, as well as bulletins from previous years (February 1, 2013 and August 1, 2012).

    It is not by chance that these are the continents that have suffered for centuries from the colonialism of the North: Africa from European colonialism and Latin America from US domination and military interventions?

    It is not by chance that many of their best leaders were assassinated, directly or indirectly, by the colonial powers? I am thinking Samora Machel, Patrice Lumumba and Amilcar Cabral in Africa, or Salvador Allende, Che Guevara and Maurice Bishop in Latin America.

    The transition to a culture of peace requires a complete reversal of the domination and exploitation of poor states of the South by the rich states of the North. It is by means of the culture of war that the North has amassed its wealth. And it is their continuing profit from the culture of war that makes it impossible for them to move towards a culture of peace. On the other hand, Africans and Latin Americans have everything to gain by such a complete reversal.

    The coming years will also be difficult for the North, because, over time, they will continue to lose not only their power, but also their wealth that has been maintained through the culture of war. There is a great danger, more and more visible in national elections in Europe and North America, that voters will turn to fascist political parties in their desperate search for a solution.

    But perhaps the most difficult thing for the North will be the psychological aspect of this historical transition. The people of the North, particularly their intellectuals and political leaders have developed a racist belief in their superiority. The loss of that illusion will be a difficult thing to swallow, as the leadership of history passes into the hands of the people of the South.

    Rather than trying to save the rest of the world, progressives in the North should try to save their own societies from racist and chauvinist illusions, and from economies based on exploitation. In this regard they should adopt some of the approaches suggested by Johan Galtung in his analysis of the Fall of the American Empire: to work at the local municipal level instead of trying to change national policies, to 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.

    The transition to a culture of peace needs to be a universal struggle. By working locally for a culture of peace, the people of the North can take their place along with activists of the South in this universal, historical, nonviolent, yet revolutionary struggle.

     

    Can a Culture of Peace be created in only one zone of the world?

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    Again this month we indicate in the CPNN bulletin that Latin America and the Caribbean continue to be in the vanguard of the Global Movement for a Culture of Peace.  This month it is the national governments that have taken the leadership with their declaration in Havana that the region will be a “zone of peace” privileging the development of a culture of peace according to the principles in the UN Declaration .

    At first glance this seems to contradict my contention that a culture of peace cannot be created by national governments because they have become inextricably linked to the culture of war.

    But on further reflection, the problem is not so simple.  Governments in Latin America have tried to move towards a culture of peace other times in the past, only to be attacked and prevented from doing so by intervention from the United States.  The most extreme examples were Cuba in 1961 and Chile in 1973.  And now, even as I write this, there is strong evidence that “state within a state” forces in the United States, perhaps without the knowledge of President Obama, are moving the destabilize Venezuela because its policies to do not fit with the American culture of war.  Cuba, after the Bay of Pigs invasion of 1961, installed a socialist culture of war in defense.  And Chile, after the overthrow of Allende in 1973, established a classic fascist dictature under Pinochet.  Is Venezuela destined to suffer a similar fate?

    Probably one of the reasons that some forces in the United States want to destabilize Venezuela is to stop its leadership in development of the Banco del Sur which would make South America independent of the US dollar and its financial institutions.  The Banco del Sur was officially launched last year in Caracas by Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador and Argentina, as well as Venezuela.  So far, however, it is only a small step towards economic independence.

    It seems that the global culture of war, headed by the American empire, will not allow the establishment of culture of peace at any national level.

    However, even if Latin America is blocked from installing a culture of peace at national levels in its own zone, its attempts to move in this direction will have a lasting effect on the consciousness of its citizens and we may be confident that it is there, in consciousness, that history will ultimately be determined.  What is needed is to reinforce this consciousness by the development of local culture of peace institutions.  A start was made in this direction in Brazil 10 years ago, but was not sustained.  Let us hope that the process can be re-started.

    If Latin American countries can continue to push for a culture of peace, and if they can develop a certain economic independence from the American empire, they will be in a good position when the empire crashes to support the cities of Latin America for a revision of the UN Security Council and to return the power of peace to the people rather than the nation states.  I have imagined this scenario in The Promised Land.

    Nelson Mandela and Africa’s Contribution to the Culture of Peace

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    As the other peace leaders in this month’s CPNN bulletin testify, Nelson Mandela provided us a model of leadership for a culture of peace. He left us “a vision of a new and better life and the tools with which to win and build it.”

    20 years ago in Psychology for Peace Activists, I wrote: “At the present moment of history it is possible that an additional step is being added to those of consciousness development: a step of vision. Mandela exemplifies a new generation of peace activists whose actions provide a vision for a peaceful world. Not content to struggle against the vicious, anti-human system of apartheid, Mandela and his fellow activists in the ANC had the courage and foresight to develop the Freedom Charter which provides not only a vision for South Africa, but by extension for the rest of the world as well.

    “As Mandela describes, the Freedom Charter was developed by a process that evoked suggestions from ordinary people throughout the country. The responded to a call asking them ‘How would you set about making South Africa a happy place for all the people who live in it?’ The Freedom Charter ‘captured the hopes and dreams of the people, and acted as a blueprint for the liberation struggle and the future of the nation.’

    “The vision in the Freedom Charter is remarkably similar to that of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which was formulated in those years by the United Nations. It is at once specific and universal, practical and visionary.

    “The vision of the Freedom Charter was further elaborated later by the ANC in preparation for the first free elections in South Africa. As Mandela says, ‘Some in the ANC wanted to make the campaign simply a liberation election and tell the people vote for us because we set you free. We decided instead to offer them a vision of the South Africa we hoped to create.’

    “Today, to paraphrase Mandela, peace activists can do more than just be against the war system, but they can at the same time act to bring a universal vision closer to reality. In opposing the culture of war, today’s activist can help construct a culture of peace.”

    It is not by accident that the vision of a culture of peace should come from Africa. The expansion of the culture of war and its monopolization by empires and states did not take place in Africa; instead it was imposed on Africa by Islam and the European colonial powers. The difference can be seen in the pre-colonial traditions of African justice, as exemplified in recent years by the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that took place under Mandela’s presidency in South Africa. Pre-colonial African justice was not like the justice as developed by monotheistic empires in which the state seeks out the suspect, finds the person guilty and punishes the criminal in the name of the law. Instead, African pre-colonial justice was arrived at through a process of dialogue of the entire community gathered perhaps under the community tree. As I learned from one culture when I worked in Mozambique, “we take whatever time is needed to find a solution to a conflict that is acceptable to everyone. Even if it takes a long time, the milano [the process] does not rot.”

    As I concluded in my blog of August 2012, “we should recognize that the African people, with their unique peace-making traditions, can make a major contribution to the world historical transition to a culture of peace.

     

    Can cities bring us to a culture of peace?

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    Through my studies of the culture of war, I came to the conclusion that the state is involved with it so profoundly that we will never achieve a culture of peace in a system of nation states. As a result, I proposed that we need a United Nations that is based not upon Member States, but upon regional associations of cities and towns. After all, cities and towns have no vested interest in the culture of war, no armies, no military contracts, no border defenses, and no recent history of maintaining power through armed force.

    Therefore, it is important to know if the culture of peace is advancing at the level of the city. This month’s CPNN bulletin provides a number of examples of culture of peace initiatives at the level of the city. But has there been progress? It’s not so clear.

    There was evident progress in the years when UNESCO and the United Nations promoted the culture of peace through the International Year 2000 and the International Decade 2001-2010. UNESCO instituted a Prize for Peace Cities in 1996, and during the initial years of the Decade there was a flourishing of City Peace Commissions in Brazil, but the UNESCO Prize was discontinued in 2005 and the Brazilian Commissions are no longer very active.

    The oldest initiatives, Mayors for Peace and the International Association of Peace Messenger Cities, are devoted principally to lobbying and trying to change the policies of the nation states. This, according the analysis above, is not likely to succeed.

    Several other international networks of city peace initiatives started during the previous Decade but are no longer very active, those of Rotary International, Sri Chinmoy, and the peacebuilding project of UCLG, the largest network of city governments.

    The newest networks of peace cities, International Cities of Peace and Peace Towns and Cities promise to develop a local culture of peace rather than simply trying the influence state policies.

    If we consider only one component of the culture of peace, namely sustainable development, then we must say that the leading example is ICLEI, the world network of cities dealing with sustainable development. See, for example, their meeting that took place in parallel to last year’s UN summit in Rio.

    Finally, individual cities continue to work on a culture of peace at a local level: for example, Eugene (Oregon, U.S.), New Haven (Connecticut, U.S.) and Hamilton (Ontario, Canada), and hopefully, they will serve as models for other city initiatives.

    Culture of peace at the level of the city is a work in process. CPNN will continue to follow its development in the years that come.

    The Arab Spring: Progress toward a culture of peace?

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    In his analysis of the Arab spring on CPNN, the journalist John Mayton concludes that the Egyptian revolution “can, through a culture of peace, set a precedent not only for their own country but for the whole region.” Even further, we ask in the discussion question “Can the Arab Spring inspire democratic movements around the world?”

    Let us consider this in some detail, looking at the eight program areas of the culture of peace.

    1. Democratic participation. This is at the center of the Arab revolutions, as emphasized in the analyses by the President of Tunisia Moncef Marzouki and the Director of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina Ismail Serageldin with participation by all the people and elections that involve ballots not bullerts. As pointed out in the book review by Janet Hudgins, the struggle for democracy in the Arab states is part of an even more global movement in recent decades.

    2. Human rights. In the long run this is crucial, as stated in the annual report of Human Rights Watch: “The willingness of new governments to respect rights will determine whether those uprisings give birth to genuine democracy or simply spawn authoritarianism in new forms.” So far there is progress, but, as they point out, “creation of a rights-respecting state can be painstaking work that requires building effective institutions of governance, establishing independent courts, creating professional police, and resisting the temptation of majorities to disregard human rights and the rule of law.” In his analysis, Serageldin indicates that progress is being made through respect of the rule of law and the recognition that one must negotiate and arrive at compromise solutions.

    3. Education for peace and non-violence. Despite the ongoing violence in many countries such as Libya, Syria and Yemen,, the Arab spring has provided a rich education for peace and non-violence. This is the first quality of the Arab spring mentioned by Ismail Serageldin in his analysis, and recent CPNN articles tell about initiatives for non-violence in Yemen and Palestine, two of the countries that are suffering the most from violence.

    4. Tolerance and solidarity. There is a struggle with the intolerance of radical Islam, just as there are struggles with Zionism and Christian fundamentalism elsewhere in the world, but they are countered by many initiatives for religious tolerance and solidarity such as those mentioned recently in CPNN from Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria and the countries of the Sahel including Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Muritania and Algeria. And slowly, despite the emphasis on violence by the commercial media, the world is learning that there are currents within Islam that promote a culture of peace, as described by Mustafa Cherif for the practice of Ramadan.

    5. Equality between women and men. The analyses in CPNN such as those by Serageldin, El Tahawy and Munn and Cleminshaw indicate that women have played a crucial role in the leadership of the Arab spring.  Although there is a long way yet to go before women gain full equality, it is said that their activism has planted a “seed that will grow into greater demand.” It is significant that Tunisia is the host for the first World Social Forum in the Arab world and that the rights of women is the highest priority on the agenda.

    6. Free flow of information. The fact that the authoritarian regimes in the Arab states have tried desperately to limit access to the Internet and cell phones bears witness to the fact that the free flow of information has been essential to the Arab spring. As Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and others have explained in CPNN, the young generation is motivated to learn and share the truth and they cannot be stopped from communicating it. As described by Serageldin the revolution in Egypt was accomplished by youth armed only with cell phones and IPADs.

    7. Disarmament and security. The Arab Spring has revealed the impotence of armed force. Mubarak in Egypt, Ghadafi in Libya, and now Assad in Syria have been unable to maintain power through their military force. And, at the same time, the United States and their European allies have also been unable to impose their will through military intervention, first in Libya, and now (at least so far) in Syria. Although it is ignored by the media and traditional political power, it is nonviolent resistance that is becoming the true power of the people. As Ziad Medoukh says from Palestine, it is nonviolence that “not only develops human dignity, but ensures the independence and capacity of its supporters to endure retaliation and to fight against all forms of injustice.”

    8. Sustainable development. Although in many respects around the world the engagement of civil society for sustainable development is the most advanced component of the movement for a culture of peace, in the case of the Arab spring, it is not at the forefront of the struggle. At the same time, however, it is my impression that the leadership of the movement of the Arab spring, both the youth and older leaders such as Marzouki and Serageldin have been shaped in part and are keenly aware of the need for sustainable development.

    In summary, I think one can conclude that the Arab spring and the ongoing democratic revolutions in the Arab countries are providing an important new momentum towards a culture of peace.