Speech to Mayors for Peace


(Une version française suit en dessous)

Here is the text that I provided to first national forum of the AFCDRP (Association of Mayors for Peace, France) that took place October 13 in Montpelier.

First of all, I would like to thank Loréna Schlicht who invited me here and who has done a tremendous work to organize this conference.

Back in the year 2000, I was responsible, with Enzo Fazzino, who has just spoken, for the organization of the United Nations International Year for the Culture of Peace. We mobilized seventy-five million people to sign the Manifesto 2000 with the commitment to work for a culture of peace in family, work, community and country. So we were responsible for writing the Declaration and Program of Action on a Culture of Peace which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly.

`The Declaration provided a definition of the culture of peace which lays a basis for everything we do in this regard.

1) strengthening a culture of peace through education;
2) promote sustainable economic and social development;
3) promote respect for all human rights;
4) advance understanding, tolerance and solidarity;
5) ensure equality between women and men;
6) promote democratic participation;
7) support participatory communication and the free flow of information and knowledge;
8) promote international peace and security.

But the 1999 declaration is not enough. It has taken for granted the current structure of world governance, that is, power in the hands of the Great Powers, the countries that run the United Nations Security Council. At that time we could not expect that a declaration by the United Nations could call into question its own structure.

Today, the Great Powers continue to cling to the nuclear weapons that threaten the existence of mankind and their decisions in the Security Council continue to support the culture of war, continuing to profit from the sale of armaments.

Now it is clear that we cannot make the transition to a culture of peace with this system of global governance. We need another structure.

The ideal would be a new democratically elected structure. This is our project: The United Nations and its Security Council made up of representatives of mayors from all regions of the world. Mayors and their cities do not have a culture of war. No interest in nuclear weapons. They have no enemies, no army, no military-industrial complex, no borders to defend. They are elected to promote education, health, respect for human rights, and the security of all citizens on an equal basis, that is, a culture of peace !

With this perspective, we have proposed a new Declaration, the Declaration for the Transition to a Culture of Peace in the 21st Century.

According to the Declaration, the role of cities is key. They can and should:

Promote and support peace education projects in public institutions and in non-formal contexts. Share with communities and neighborhoods, the history of world cultures and their actions in favor of peace, recognizing our unity with other peoples; knowing their symbols; and creating new shared symbols that promote the acceptance of others, solidarity, respect and cooperation.

Promote transparency and the free flow of information: avoiding the secrecy of the State; promoting, supporting and giving freedom to the imagination and the creation of new vocabularies, languages and narratives about peace; and transforming the negative and violent portrayal of conflict in the mass media.

Publicize the knowledge and actions of organized civil society: enabling participatory democracy; training citizens, teachers, journalists, activists, social and religious leaders, policemen, students, professionals, politicians and scientists to participate in the exercise of their human rights, monitoring guarantees of all human rights including housing, health, sanitation, education and public safety.

Establish spaces for reflection, listening and dialogue between people of different ages, different physical, affective, cognitive and socioeconomic needs, and different ethnic, linguistic and gender identities, and welcome with generosity and fraternity the refugees and immigrants who have fled wars and injustices for which we are all responsible.

Promote democratic participation through equitable representation mechanisms for ethnic and gender diversities, free from the influence of military industry, financial monopoly corporations, and institutions that influence national politics.

Prioritize agriculture, manufacturing, consumption, local and sustainable development that depend less on oil and corporate monopolies, that respect the diversity of regional species to help combat climate change and environmental problems, and that promote the creation of cooperatives that work for a social and solidarity economy focused on fair trade and the well-being of the families and groups that comprise them.

Ensure equality between women and men through the integration of a gender perspective in the application of all economic, social and political decision-making; through measures for the elimination of all forms of discrimination and violence against women; and through support and assistance to women who are victims of all forms of violence.

Guarantee the peace and security of citizens by the control of firearms, by public institutions for conflict resolution and restorative justice and by local police forces trained in these procedures.

The city can become a vector of the culture of peace by institutionalizing and disseminating these actions. It can and should establish a city culture of peace commission that measures and reports on progress in each of these areas. It can and should share this process with other cities through networks such as Mayors for Peace, through twinning with cities from other continents and through advocacy for the role of cities at the United Nations.

The invitation to become partners with the Biennale of Luanda – “Pan-African Forum for the Culture of Peace” is a golden opportunity to implement this approach. Yes ! it would be a big step forward for Africa. But at the same time it would be a big step forward for France and the rest of the world who are in dire need of hope and vision in this time of turmoil.

As the Declaration for the Transition to a Culture of Peace in the 21st Century concludes:

We hold that history is in our hands and that another world is possible.

A global culture of peace is possible.

Let’s not mourn, but organize!

* * * * *


Tout d’abord, je veux remercier Loréna Schlicht qui m’a invitée ici et qui a fait un travail formidable pour organiser cette conférence.

Il y a longtemps, en l’an 2000, j’étais responsable, avec Enzo Fazzino, qui vient de parler, de l’organisation de l’Année internationale des Nations Unies pour la culture de la paix. Nous avons mobilisé soixante-quinze millions de personne pour signer le Manifeste 2000 avec l’engagement de travailler pour une culture de la paix dans la famille, le travail, la communauté et le pays. Aussi nous étions résponsable d’écrire la Déclaration et Programme d’action sur une culture de la paix qui a été adoptée par l’Assemblee générale des Nations Unies.

`La Declaration a donné une definition de la culture de la paix qui pose une base pour tout que nous faisons à cet égard.

1) renforcer une culture de la paix par l’éducation;
2) promouvoir le développement économique et social durable;
3) promouvoir le respect de tous les droits de l’Homme;
4) faire progresser la compréhension, la tolérance et la solidarité;
5) assurer l’égalité entre les femmes et les hommes;
6) favoriser la participation démocratique;
7) soutenir la communication participative et la libre circulation de l’information et des connaissances;
8) promouvoir la paix et la sécurité internationales.

Mais la declaration de 1999 ne suffit pas. Elle a pris pour acquis la structure actuelle de la gouvernance mondiale, c’est à dire, le pouvoir dans les mains des pays de grande puissance, les pays qui dirige la Conseil de Securité des Nations Unis. À cette époque nous n’avons pas pu éviter qu’une déclaration par les Nations Unis ne remette pas en question sa propre structure.

Aujourd’hui, les Grandes Puissances continuent de s’accrocher aux armes nucléaires qui menacent l’existence de l’humanité et leur décisions au Conseil de Sécurité continuent d’appuyer la culture de la guerre, en continuant les ventes d’armes.

Maintenant il est clair que nous ne pouvons pas faire la transition vers une culture de la paix avec ce systeme de gouvernance globale. Nous avons besoin d’une autre structure.

L’ideal serait une nouvelle structure elue democratiquement. Voilà notre projet : Des Nations Unis et son Conseil de Securité composée des representants des maires des toutes les regions de monde. Les maires et leurs villes n’ont pas de culture de la guerre. Pas interêt dans les armes nucléaires. Ils n’ont pas d’enemies, pas d’armeé, pas de complex militairo-industriel, pas de frontières à défendre. Ils sont élus pour promouvoir l’éducation, la santé, le respect des droits de l’Homme, et la sécurité de tous les citoyens et ciyoyennes en égalité, c’est à dire une culture de la paix !

Avec cette perspective, nous avons proposé une nouvelle Déclaration, la Déclaration pour la Transition vers une Culture de la Paix au XXI Siècle.

Selon la Déclaration, le rôle des villes est clé. Elles peuvent et doivent :
Promouvoir et soutenir des projets d’éducation à la paix dans les institutions publiques et dans des contextes non formels. Partager avec les communautés et les quartiers, l’histoire des cultures du monde et de leurs actions en faveur de la paix, pour se reconnaître dans les actions des autres, pour connaître leurs symboles et pour créer de nouveaux symboles communs qui favorisent l’acceptation des autres, la solidarité, le respect et la coopération.

Promouvoir la transparence et la libre circulation de l’information pour éviter le secret de l’État et pour favoriser, soutenir et donner la liberté à l’imagination et à la création de nouveaux vocabulaires, langues et récits faisant référence à la paix et changer la manière morbide dont sont relatés les conflits dans les médias de masse.

Prendre en compte les connaissances et les actions de la société civile organisée, pour permettre à tout le monde de participer à l’exercice de leur droits de l’Homme, dans l’évaluation des progrès de la culture de la paix dans leur communauté et dans le suivi des garanties, telles que le logement, la santé, l’assainissement, l’éducation et la sécurité publique.

Créer des espaces de réflexion, d’écoute et de dialogue pour la tolerance et la solidarité entre des personnes d’âges différents, de besoins physiques, émotionnels, cognitifs et socio-économiques différents et d’identités ethniques, linguistiques et de genre différents et acceuillir avec generosité et fraternité les réfugiés et immigrés qui ont fuit des guerres et des injustices dont nous sommes tous responsables.

Promouvoir la participation démocratique grâce à des mécanismes de représentation équitable pour les diversités ethniques et de genre, loin de l’influence de l’industrie militaire, des sociétés de monopole financier et des institutions qui influencent la politique nationale.

Donner la priorité à une agriculture, une fabrication, un consommation, un developpement local et durable qui dépendent de moins en moins du pétrole et des monopoles d’entreprises, qui respectent la diversité des espèces régionales pour aider à lutter contre le changement climatique et les problèmes environnementaux, et qui favorisent la création de coopératives travaillant pour un économie sociale et solidaire axée sur le commerce équitable et le bien-être des familles et des groupes qui les composent.

Assurer l’égalité entre les femmes et les hommes par l’intégration d’une perspective sexospécifique dans l’application de toutes les prises de décisions économiques, sociales et politiques; par les mesures pour l’élimination de toutes les formes de discrimination et de violence contre les femmes; et par un appui et une aide aux femmes qui sont victimes de toutes les formes de violence.

Garantir la paix et la sécurité des citoyens et des citoyennes par le contrôle des armes à feu, par des institutions publiques de résolution des conflits et de justice réparatrice et par des polices de proximité formées à ces procédures.

La ville peut devenir un vecteur de la culture de la paix en institutionnalisant et en diffusant ces actions. Elle peut et doit établir une commission de la culture de la paix de la ville qui mesure et publie les progrès dans chacun de ces domaines. Elle peut et doit partager ce processus avec d’autres villes par le moyen des réseaux tels que Maires pour la paix, par des jumelages avec des villes d’autres continents et par le plaidoyer pour le rôle des villes aux Nations Unies.

L’invitation de devenir partenaires avec le Biennale of Luanda – “Pan-African Forum for the Culture of Peace” est est une occasion en or de mettre en œuvre cette approche. Oui ! cela serait un grand pas en avant pour l’Afrique. Mais en même temps ce serait un grand pas en avant pour la France et le reste du monde qui ont grand besoin d’espoir et de vision en cette période de troubles.

Comme conclut la Déclaration pour la Transition vers une Culture de la Paix au XXI Siècle :

Nous sommes convaincus que l’histoire est entre nos mains et qu’un autre monde est possible.

Une culture mondiale de la paix est possible.

Pas de lamentation, organisons-nous!



(Une version française suit en dessous)

In last month’s blog, we presented a utopian vision for Jerusalam as a turning point in the transition to a culture of peace. It was taken from my novella, “I have seen the promised land.”

Looking further into the novella, we find a second turning point in the transition, the achievement of universal nuclear disarmament.

And the key to both of these turning points is the reform of the United Nations Security Council, which, at the present time, is controlled by the nuclear powers and unable to act in the Middle East because of alliances with the State of Israel.

Here is how the novella imagines the reform of the Security Council, as of the year 2026:

“When we all got started on the Transition a few years ago . . . the United Nations was still a disaster. It is hard to overestimate the extent to which the UN was paralyzed following the Crash of ’20 and the Davos Coup. Its stock, like that of Wall Street, had fallen to the point that it was essentially worthless. Many said that its day was over, like that of its predecessor, the League of Nations. The old order, established after World War II, that the “Allies” should run the Security Council, had been disintegrating for many years since the turn of the Century, but all attempts at reform were unsuccessful. . . .

The first breakthrough here in New York came when the permanent members of the Security Council, Britain, France, US, China and Russia, agreed to stand down and to suspend, at least temporarily, the functions of the Council. This enabled negotiations to go forward for a new representational system in the Council. We will probably never know all the details of the negotiations that went on between the Nobel Group and the five great powers. . . . .

It was the Nobel Peace Laureates who cut the Gordian Knot, and they did it through a year of mediation, not by a single stroke of the sword. To me this symbolizes in a single image the transition to a culture of peace! It cannot be achieved overnight. There is no single decisive battle, but only the long patient process of dialogue, listening, and negotiation. As my African friends have always said, “A culture of peace is not built. It is cultivated.”

In the end, the agreement was reached. Those regional organizations previously based on state power, that could reorganize themselves on the basis of local and provincial representation were granted a seat in the new Security Council. . . .

In a few weeks, we will mark the first anniversary of the Transition Security Council, and what a year it has been! In only one year, the Transition Council has revitalized the disarmament process. Already, the International Atomic Energy Commission has announced a schedule of nuclear disarmament that should be completed within the year. And, most dramatic of all, they have succeeded where a Century of efforts by the nation-states failed; they have brought a viable peace plan to the Middle East. It was one thing when the Wall came down in 2021, but that was only a beginning. In a few months we will have the reunification of Jerusalem, and it will be cause for great celebration. The culture of peace has come of age!”

The preceding vision of a reformed Security Council has led me in recent years to call for the establishment of a new initiative, an alternative Security Council, independent of the nation-states.

At the present time, the Security Council of the United Nations does not not represent the interests of ordinary people, but rather the influence of lobbies, such as arms manufacturing companies, that determine the policies of the nation-states. On the other hand, a new institution should represent the people more directly. It should be democratically elected and should be close to the interests of the people.

For this reason, a good option is to establish a Mayors Security Council, composed of a rotating group of democratically-elected mayors from all the regions of the world. They tend to be close to the interests of ordinary citizens, concerned with the day-to-day problems of education, with citizen safety, and quality of life in general. Cities have no enemies, no need to prepare for war !

Mayors have no use for nuclear weapons and a Mayors Security Council would quickly decide to take serious steps towards their abolition.

Mayors have no reason to intervene in the Middle East, unlike the interventions by the United States and its allies in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Libya, etc. And probably they would agree on effective steps towards peace between Israel and Palestine.

At first, such a Council would not have any power of action, but it would publish regular press-releases about what they would do if they were faced with the questions before the actual UN Security Council. The press releases would help develop the consciousness that “another world is possible”.

And, if some of us are correct that the world is on the verge of radical transformations, the time may come when a Mayors Security Council can become the real United Nations Security Council.

In any case, what we have now is not promoting a culture of peace. What we need is radical change, and the UN Security Council is a key point to be changed.

* * * * *


Dans le blog du mois dernier, nous avons présenté une vision utopique de Jérusalem comme un point tournant dans la transition vers une culture de paix. Il a été tiré de ma nouvelle, “J’ai vu la terre promise.”

En lisant la nouvelle, nous trouvons un deuxième tournant dans la transition, la réalisation du désarmement nucléaire universel.

Et la clé de ces deux points tournants est la réforme du Conseil de sécurité des Nations unies, qui, à l’heure actuelle, est contrôlé par les puissances nucléaires et incapable d’agir au Moyen-Orient en raison d’alliances avec l’État d’Israël.

Voici comment la nouvelle imagine la réforme du Conseil de sécurité, à partir de l’année 2026 :

Quand on s’est lancé sur la Transition il y a quelques années . . . “les Nations Unies restaient un désastre. Il est difficile d’estimer la mesure dans laquelle elles ont été paralysées après la crise de 2020 et le coup d’État de Davos. Leur stock, comme celui de Wall Street, avait tellement baissé qu’il n’avait pratiquement aucune valeur. Beaucoup ont dit que ses jours étaient révolus, comme ceux de son prédécesseur, la Ligue des Nations . Le vieil ordre, établi après la Seconde Guerre mondiale et dans lequel les “alliés” devaient diriger le Conseil de sécurité, avait été désintégré bien des années auparavant, au début du siècle, mais toutes les tentatives de réforme ont échoué.. . . .

La première percée est survenue à New York lorsque les membres permanents du Conseil de sécurité, la Grande-Bretagne, la France, les États-Unis, la Chine et la Russie, ont convenu de réduire et de suspendre, au moins temporairement, les fonctions du Conseil. Cela a permis aux négociations d’avancer vers un nouveau système de représentation. Nous ne connaîtrons probablement jamais tous les détails des négociations entre le groupe Nobel et les cinq grandes puissances.. . . . .

Ce sont les lauréats du prix Nobel de la paix qui ont coupé le nœud gordien, et s’ils l’ont fait pendant une année de médiation ce ne fut pas d’un seul coup d’épée. Pour moi, cela symbolise une image de la transition vers une Culture de la Paix! Cela ne peut pas se faire du jour au lendemain. Il n’y a pas de bataille décisive, mais seulement le long et patient processus de dialogue, d’écoute et de négociation. Comme mes amis africains me l’ont toujours dit, “une culture de paix ne se construit pas, elle se cultive.”

En fin de compte, un accord a été conclu: les organisations régionales, auparavant basées sur un pouvoir d’État qui pouvait se réorganiser sur la base d’une représentation locale et provinciale, ont obtenu un siège au nouveau Conseil de sécurité. . . . .

Dans quelques semaines, nous marquerons le premier anniversaire du Conseil de sécurité de la transition, et quelle année cela a été ! Un an seulement, depuis que le Conseil de transition a relancé le processus de désarmement. Déjà, la Commission internationale de l’énergie atomique a annoncé un calendrier de désarmement nucléaire qui devrait être achevé dans l’année. Et, le plus remarquable, c’est d’avoir réussi là où un siècle d’efforts des états-nations a échoué; ils ont apporté un plan de paix viable au Moyen-Orient. La chute du mur en 2021 était un événement, mais ce n’était que le début. Dans quelques mois, nous verrons la réunification de Jérusalem et ce sera une grande fête. L’ère de la culture de la paix est arrivée!”

La vision précédente d’un Conseil de sécurité réformé m’a conduit ces dernières années à appeler à la mise en place d’une nouvelle initiative, un Conseil de sécurité alternatif, indépendant des États-nations.

Actuellement le Conseil de sécurité des Nations Unies ne représente pas les intérêts des citoyens et citoyennes du monde, mais plutôt l’influence de lobbies, tels que les entreprises de fabrication d’armes, qui déterminent les politiques des États-nation. Par contre, une nouvelle institution devrait représenter les intérêts des des peuples. Il doit être élu démocratiquement et doit être proche du peuple.

Pour cette raison, une bonne option consisterait à établir un Conseil de sécurité des maires, composé d’un groupe tournant de maires élus démocratiquement, de toutes les régions du monde. Ces maires seraient plus proches des intérêts des citoyens, soucieux des problèmes quotidiens liés à l’éducation, à la sécurité, et à la qualité de vie en général. Les villes n’ont pas d’ennemis, donc pas besoin de se préparer à la guerre !

En effet, ils n’ont aucun interêt pour les armes nucléaires et un Conseil de sécurité des maires déciderait rapidement de prendre des mesures sérieuses en vue de leur abolition.

Ils n’ont donc aucune raison à intervenir au Moyen-Orient, contrairement aux interventions des états, les États-Unis et leurs alliés en Irak, en Syrie, en Afghanistan, en Libye, etc. Et ils seraient probablement d’accord sur des mesures efficaces vers la paix entre Israël et la Palestine.

Dans un premier temps, un tel Conseil n’aurait aucun pouvoir d’action, mais publierait des communiqués de presse réguliers sur ce qu’ils feraient s’ils étaient confrontés aux questions soumises au Conseil de sécurité de l’ONU. Les communiqués de presse aideraient à développer la conscience qu’un “autre monde est possible”.

Si certains d’entre nous ont raison de dire que le monde est au bord de transformations radicales, peut-être qu’un Conseil de sécurité des maires pourrait, dans un second temps, pourrait devenir le véritable Conseil de sécurité des Nations Unies.

En tout cas, ce que nous avons maintenant, ce n’est pas la promotion d’une culture de la paix. Ce dont nous avons besoin, c’est d’un changement radical, et le Conseil de sécurité de l’ONU est un point clé à changer.



As we entered the year 2021, I wrote as follows to conclude the January bulletin: “a crash of the global system of governance will give us a window of opportunity for the radical change that is needed from the culture of war to a culture of peace. But such a change requires advance preparation. We need to work on this now, and I hope to address this question in my next blogs.”

I am pleased to say that we now have a new project that can help us prepare for this great challenge. It is called the DECLARATION FOR THE TRANSITION TO A CULTURE OF PEACE IN THE XXI CENTURY, prepared by Roberto Mercadillo in Mexico with inputs from myself and from Federico Mayor Zaragoza.

We will be circulating the Declaration as widely as possible for signatures and dissemination, and a website is in preparation for this.

Below is the short English version of the Declaration.

Brief versions are available on the Internet in Spanish and in French.

The full versions are also available in English, in Spanish and in French.

* * * * *


In 1997, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed the year 2000 as the International Year for the Culture of Peace. In 1999 it adopted the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace, and in the years since then the General Assembly has continued to call for its implementation. Twenty years later, we recognize that the transition from the culture of war and violence to a Culture of Peace is a possible utopia.

We also recognize that in recent decades, human beings have been able to express themselves freely, and we hope that, now, “we the peoples” will be able to participate in the consolidation of democratic multilateralism. As never before, humanity is aware that “change” is the essence of life and that, as living beings capable of reflection and change, we can and must change the course of history and that of all humanity.

We recognize that changes emanating from individuals can guide us in the search for that which links us with other humans and with all of life. But, we also recognize that individual change is not enough and that the transition to a Culture of Peace requires profound changes and reforms of institutions and policies to make possible a collective transformation.

In view of the above we propose locally. . .

A global Culture of Peace that can be cultivated locally with various expressions . . . promoted and favored by the authorities of our cities, enabling citizens around the world to organize peace education and to propose public policies that:

Guarantee budgetary investment to improve and enrich the physical and social environments of cities, so that our brains are nourished from an early age with experiences of well-being and awareness of the conditions that need to be transformed in our communities.

Promote and support peace education programs in public institutions and in non-formal settings through community initiatives that go beyond schools and universities that operate as a business.

Share broad and transdisciplinary scientific knowledge with communities and neighborhoods: so that people can question and think about the relevance of our beliefs and values; so that we become aware of our position in the world and our relationship with other species; so that we understand that biology and previous history does not determine our destiny; and so that we can learn conflict resolution based on non-violence.

Share with communities and neighborhoods the history of world cultures and their actions in favor of peace: recognizing our unity with other peoples; knowing their symbols; and creating new shared symbols that promote the acceptance of others, solidarity, respect and cooperation.

Promote transparency and the free flow of information: avoiding the secrecy of the State; promoting, supporting and giving freedom to the imagination and the creation of new vocabularies, languages ​​and narratives about peace; and transforming the negative and violent portrayal of conflict in the mass media.

Publicize the knowledge and actions of organized civil society: enabling participatory democracy; training citizens, teachers, journalists, activists, social and religious leaders, policemen, students, professionals, politicians and scientists to participate in the exercise of their human rights, monitoring guarantees of all human rights including housing, health, sanitation, education and public safety; and thus evaluating the progress of the culture of peace in their communities.

Establish spaces for reflection, listening and dialogue between people of different ages, different physical, affective, cognitive and socioeconomic needs, and different ethnic, linguistic and gender identities.

Promote democratic participation through equitable representation mechanisms for ethnic and gender diversities, free from the influence of military industry, financial monopoly corporations, and institutions that influence national politics.

Prioritize local and sustainable agriculture, manufacturing and consumption that depend less on oil and corporate monopolies, that respect the diversity of regional species to help combat climate change and environmental problems, and that promote the creation of cooperatives that work for a social and solidarity economy focused on fair trade and the well-being of the families and groups that comprise them.

… and we propose globally

The creation of a “Mayors Security Council” made up of representatives of the principal cities from all regions of the world. This Council can increase awareness that another world is possible. It can be created immediately since its formation does not require agreements or approval from the United Nations Member States. It can meet virtually through modern forms of communication and display in the press and mass media its own agreements on global security issues on the agenda of the actual Security Council, including issues that the current Security Council has failed to address, for example, the abolition of nuclear weapons.

The creation of a Council for Socioeconomic Affairs and a Council for Environmental Affairs in the United Nations, whose decisions represent the global balance of powers and favor the adoption of agreements on these matters by the Member States.

The prompt re-founding of the United Nations System, with a General Assembly composed of 50% representatives of the Member States and another 50% of institutions, academies and civil society organizations from around the world that represent “We, the peoples…”; this will allow the redirection of present policies by means of democratic multilateralism.

“The peoples” already have their own voice.

We hold that history is in our hands and that another world is possible.

A global culture of peace is possible. Let’s not mourn, but organize!

* * *
David Adams. Director of the UNESCO task force for the International Year for the Culture of Peace.
Federico Mayor Zaragoza. President of Fundación Cultura de Paz
Roberto Emmanuele Mercadillo Caballero. Researcher at the National Council of Science and Technology, Mexico; Secretary of Transitional Justice and Peace, CSO.

Has the crash arrived?


(Une version française suit en dessous)

The headlines provide abundant details about economic shutdowns in order to slow the spread of the COV-19 virus.

But behind the headlines, there is another story more important in the long run: the global economy is a house of cards based on speculation and military spending. It seems likely that the house of cards will come crashing down as a result of the global economic shutdown.

The details of how this will come about in economic terms are difficult to predict since there are so many interacting factors.

But even more important is how this can play out in political repercussions and opportunities.

Will it provide us with the opportunity to make the transition from the culture of war to a culture of peace?

In the novella that I wrote ten years ago, I foresaw a global economic crash in the year 2020, which opened the possibility for this radical transformation.

Ultimately the result depends on our coordinated strategy and tactics, but it also depends on having the necessary communication and transportation mechanisms that allow our coordination and our actions.

Will we be able to travel and meet face to face? Already there are are severe travel restructions. In the novella I wrote: “Don’t forget that in 2021, airline flights around the world were running at less than 30% of pre-crash levels, and to get a ticket under ordinary circumstances you needed to reserve six months in advance and hope that the airline would stay in business that long. “

Can we depend on internet communications as the crash develops? In the novella, I predict that internet communication will also be curtailed, and I propose that alternative electronic communication will fill the void. I am not an expert in this domain, but perhaps some who read this blog may send me suggestions.

In the novella I considered that in the first few years after the global economic crash, the priority was to mobilize millions of people to resist the attempts by the rich to impose a “fascist solution” like that imposed last century in the Great Depression. I think this priority is appropriate today, since already in recent years we are seeing signs of this danger with the rise to power of authoritarian heads of state such as Trump, Bolsonaro, Duterte, Erdogan and Orban, not to mention the moves of Putin and Xi Jinping to retain power without elections.

The turning point, according to the novella, was the declaration by representatives from cities around the world meeting in Porto Alegre, Brazil:

    When in the course of history it
    becomes evident that the old order has
    failed and it becomes possible through
    the development and sharing of a new
    vision that power be transferred from
    the nation-state with its culture of war
    to a new order based on the culture of
    peace, it is the right and duty of those
    who have been elected to represent the
    people on the local and regional level
    to take up the higher responsibility of
    world governance.

Readers of this blog will recognize here the proposal in last month’s blog for a Mayor’s Security Council.

I don’t know if it will be in Porto Alegre, but Latin America seems a logical place to start the process towards a new world order. After all, it was the World Social Forums born in Brazil that gave us our slogan: “Another world is possible.”

* * * * *

Le crash est-il arrivé?

Les titres fournissent de nombreux détails sur les fermetures économiques afin de ralentir la propagation du virus COV-19.

Mais derrière les titres, il y a une autre histoire plus importante à long terme: l’économie mondiale est un château de cartes basé sur la spéculation et les dépenses militaires. Il semble probable que ce château de cartes s’écroulera à la suite de l’arrêt économique mondial.

Les détails économiques de la façon dont cela se produira sont difficiles à prévoir car il existe de nombreux facteurs d’interaction.

Mais e plus important encore est de savoir comment cela peut se traduire par les répercussions et les opportunités politiques.

Cela nous donnera-t-il la possibilité de faire la transition de la culture de la guerre à une culture de la paix?

Dans le roman que j’ai écrit il y a dix ans , je prévoyais un krach économique mondial en 2020, qui a ouvert la possibilité de cette transformation radicale.

En fin de compte, le résultat dépend de notre stratégie et de nos tactiques coordonnées, mais il dépend également de la disponibilité des mécanismes de communication et de transport qui sont nécessaires pour notre coordination et pour nos actions.

Dans l’avenir pourrons-nous encore voyager et faire des réunions? Il y a déjà de sévères restrictions de voyage. Dans le roman, j’écrivait: “N’oubliez pas qu’en 2021, les vols des compagnies aériennes à travers le monde fonctionnaient à moins de 30% des niveaux d’avant le crash, et pour obtenir un billet dans des circonstances ordinaires, vous deviez réserver six mois à l’avance espérons que la compagnie aérienne ne soit pas en faillite.”

Pouvons-nous dépendre des communications Internet à mesure que le crash se développe? Dans la roman, je prédis que la communication sur Internet sera également réduite, et je propose que d’autres systemes de communication électronique alternative comblent le vide. Je ne suis pas un expert dans ce domaine, mais peut-être que certains qui liront ce blog pourront m’envoyer des suggestions.

Dans la roman, j’ai considéré que dans les premières années après le krach économique mondial, la priorité était de mobiliser des millions de personnes pour résister aux tentatives des riches d’imposer une “solution fasciste” comme celle imposée au siècle dernier dans la Grande Dépression. Je pense que cette priorité est appropriée aujourd’hui, car déjà au cours des dernières années, nous voyons des signes de ce danger avec la montée en puissance de chefs d’État autoritaires tels que Trump, Bolsonaro, Duterte, Erdogan et Orban, sans parler des mouvements de Poutine et de Xi Jinping à conserver le pouvoir sans élections.

Selon la roman, le tournant a été la déclaration des représentants des villes du monde entier réunis à Porto Alegre, au Brésil:

    Au cours de l’histoire,
    il devient évident que l’ancien ordre
    a échoué et il devient possible grâce
    au développement et au partage
    d’une nouvelle vision que le pouvoir soit transféré de
    l’État-nation avec sa culture de guerre
    à un nouvel ordre basé sur la culture de
    la paix; c’est le droit et le devoir de ceux
    qui ont été élus pour représenter le
    le peuple au niveau local et régional,
    de prendre la plus haute responsabilité de
    gouvernance mondiale.

Les lecteurs de ce blog reconnaîtront ici la proposition dans le blog du mois dernier d’un Conseil de sécurité des maires.

Je ne sais pas si ce sera à Porto Alegre, mais l’Amérique latine semble un endroit logique pour entamer le processus vers un nouvel ordre mondial. Après tout, ce sont les Forums sociaux mondiaux nés au Brésil qui nous ont donné notre slogan: “Un autre monde est possible”.



(Une version française suit en dessous)

A proliferation of city and mayoral organizations are filling the void left by the failure of the nation-states. As stated by one of the most recent, the Strong Cities Network: “Nation states have dominated the global political arena for centuries, but with more than half of the world’s population today residing in cities, it may be time to rethink who should be at the table when it comes to decisions on how we can reduce violence.”

The latest issue of the CPNN bulletin lists recent actions by the following organizations and forums of cities and mayors contibuting to nuclear disarmament, sustainable development, reduction of international tensions and reduction of urban violence :

Mayors for Peace
Cities Appeal of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons
World Urban Forum
ICLEI (Local Governments for Sustainability)
Global Parliament of Mayors
International Cities of Peace
Strong Cities Network (SCN)
World Forum on Cities and Territories of Peace
United Cities and Local Governments

We may suppose that this proliferation of initiatives reflects a growing realization that the system of nation states is failing as we have documented over the past couple of years in CPNN.

Sustainable development. The CPNN bulletin of January 1 this year is devoted to the Global Climate Change Conference in Madrid which failed just as the previous Conferences failed.

Nuclear disarmament. The CPNN bulletin of June 1, 2018 was devoted to the United Nationsl Disarmament Conference that never took place because of the opposition of the nuclear states.

Around the world we see the beginning of failed states, consumed by violence: Libya, Yemen, and a case can be made for Mexico. Johan Galtung has gone so far as to imagine that the United States will split into two countries as the American Empire crumbles.

The situation is so serious that UN Secretary-General Guterrres devoted his annual press conference on February 4 to the “wind of madness” sweeping the globe. ” From Libya to Yemen to Syria and beyond — escalation is back. Arms are flowing. Offensives are increasing.” And the “doomsday clock” of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists has been moved to the closest to midnight of an apocalypse since the lock was first started in 1947 to warn of the dangers of nuclear war.

We may point our finger at the United Nations Security Council as the key element of the failure. The Council was established after World War II to ensure peace and stability in the post-war world. For the first half of its existence it was hobbled by the Cold War, and there were hopes that after the falll of the Soviet Empire it would be able to fulfill its function. But now, it is now evident that the nation-states are not capable of this.

The time has come to begin a process of transferring the decision-making of the UN Secuity Council from the nation-state to the city.

Cities have no interest in nuclear weapons. They are not invested in the arms race or in the polluting industries that cause global warming. They have no frontiers to defend or tarrifs to impose.

The process can be started now with a Mayors’ Security Council (MSC) similar to the Virtual Parliament recently begun by the Global Parliament of Mayors. The MSC would regularly issue press releases stating how they would vote on issues facing the UN Security Council. Immediately they would begin the process of nuclear disarmament. And they would be more serious in addressing the global climate crisis. They would raise the hope that “another world is possible.”

To survive at this point in human history, we need a new vision and a new approach. The MSC could begin this process.

* * * * *


Une prolifération d’organisations de villes et de maires comble le vide laissé par l’échec des États-nations. Comme l’a déclaré l’un des plus récents, le Strong Cities Network: «Les États-nations dominent l’arène politique mondiale depuis des siècles, mais avec plus de la moitié de la population mondiale résidant aujourd’hui dans les villes, il est peut-être temps de repenser qui devrait être autour de la table quand il s’agit de décisions sur la façon dont nous pouvons réduire la violence. “

Le dernier numéro du bulletin du CPNN liste les actions récentes des organisations et forums de villes et maires suivants, contribuant au désarmement nucléaire, au développement durable, à la réduction des tensions internationales et à la réduction de la violence urbaine:

Maires pour la paix,

L’appel des villes par la Campagne internationale pour l’abolition des armes nucléaires
Forum urbain mondial,

ICLEI (Gouvernements locaux pour la developpement durable),
Parlement mondial des maires,
Villes internationales de paix,
Réseau des villes fortes (SCN),
Forum mondial des villes et territoires de paix,
Cités et Gouvernements Unis

Nous pouvons supposer que cette prolifération d’initiatives reflète une prise de conscience croissante de l’échec du système des États-nations comme nous l’avons documenté au cours des deux dernières années dans CPNN.

Le développement durable. Le bulletin de CPNN du 1er janvier de cette année est consacré à la Conférence mondiale sur le changement climatique à Madrid qui a échoué tout comme les conférences précédentes ont échoué.

Le désarmement nucléaire. Le bulletin du CPNN du 1er juin 2018 était consacré à la Conférence des Nations Unies sur le désarmement qui n’a jamais eu lieu en raison de l’opposition des États nucléaires.

Partout dans le monde, nous voyons le début d’États en déroute, dévorés par la violence: la Libye, le Yémen, et peut-être le Mexique. Johan Galtung est allé jusqu’à imaginer que les États-Unis se diviseraient en deux pays lors que l’Empire américain s’effondrera.

La situation est si grave que le Secrétaire général de l’ONU, M. Guterrres, a consacré sa conférence de presse annuelle du 4 février au “vent de folie” qui balaie le monde. “De la Libye au Yémen en passant par la Syrie et au-delà – l’escalade est de retour. Les armes crachent. Les offensives augmentent.”

Et l’horloge apocalyptique du Bulletin of Atomic Scientists a été déplacée au plus près de minuit depuis son début en 1947 pour avertir des dangers de la guerre nucléaire.

Nous pouvons pointer du doigt le Conseil de sécurité des Nations Unies comme l’élément clé de l’échec. Le Conseil a été créé après la Seconde Guerre mondiale pour assurer la paix et la stabilité dans le monde d’après-guerre. Pendant la première moitié de son existence, il a été entravé par la guerre froide, et il y avait l’espoir qu’après la chute de l’empire soviétique, il serait en mesure de remplir sa fonction. Mais maintenant, il semble évident que les États-nations n’en sont pas capables.

Le moment est venu d’entamer un processus de transfert de la décision du Conseil de sécurité des Nations Unies de l’État-nation à la ville.

Les villes n’ont aucun intérêt pour les armes nucléaires. Elles ne sont pas investies dans la course aux armements ou dans les industries polluantes qui provoquent le réchauffement climatique. Elles n’ont pas de frontières à défendre, ni de tarifs à imposer.

Le processus peut commencer dès maintenant avec un Conseil de sécurité des maires (MSC) similaire au Parlement virtuel récemment initié par le Parlement mondial des maires. Le MSC publiera régulièrement des communiqués de presse indiquant comment il votera sur les questions auxquelles le Conseil de sécurité des Nations Unies est confronté. Ils entameraient immédiatement le processus de désarmement nucléaire. Et ils seraient plus sérieux dans la lutte contre la crise climatique mondiale. Ils susciteraient l’espoir qu’un “autre monde est possible”.

Pour survivre à cette période dangereuse de l’histoire humaine, nous avons besoin d’une nouvelle vision et d’une nouvelle approche. Le MSC pourrait commencer ce processus.

Click here to read comments.

A World without the Nation-State


(Une version française suit en dessous)

The articles in CPNN this month show how the state is a culture of war. In this case the state is the United States and their culture of war is shown in their role in the overthrow of President Morales of Bolivia (precisely because he was promoting a culture of peace) and their threat to punish Julian Assange (precisely because he revealed the secrets of their culture of war.) Not to mention that the states of the world are unable to seriously attack the problem of global warming, and the United States is the worst in this regard.

This is the latest evidence that the conclusion of my History of the Culture of War is correct: the state has come to monopolize the culture of war and cannot be separated from it.

The only solution if we are to survive must be a world in which the state has disappeared or has been relegated to a ceremonial role, much as monarchies were abolished or relegated to ceremonial roles in an earlier period of history.

When I say this, I receive the argument that one cannot imagine a world without the nation-state.

Well, let us try imagine such a world.

Imagine that there were no longer the frontiers of states. No visas. People would be free to travel anywhere without restriction!

No more wars or war preparations. After all, in most cases, it is the state that prepares for and makes war. And in most of the other cases, it is groups that are trying to take over the state.

This is where I part company with Marx and Engels. They thought that peace would come about once the communists seized the power of the state. But they were wrong. The communists seized power in almost half of the world during the 20th century, and what they produced were socialist cultures of war instead of a capitalist cultures of war. The role of the state was stronger than the dreams of the communists. The only difference was that the capitalist cultures of war were more adept at exploitation and were able to defeat the socialist cultures of war (Soviet Union and its allies) or convert them to capitalism (China).

But what about all of the roles now played by the state? Who would manage these roles? Obviously, we would not miss the states’ military budgets, military contracts, military preparation, secret budgets like that of the CIA, etc. But what about the useful roles played by the state?

By controlling the movement of peoples, the rich states ensure that the poor people from poor countries and countries victimized by war do not migrate into their states. You may think this is a good and necessary function. In fact, most populist and fascist politicians want this function strengthened. But what has happened in the course of history is that this has served as a mask to hide the continually growing inequality of the world caused by capitalist exploitation. This mask has enabled the people of the North to avoid confronting the problem. Although official statistics claim that foreign aid compensates for foreign exploitation, the truth is that these statistics are misleading. The illegal and hence secret movement of capital from the global south to the global north far exceeds foreign aid as shown in the study “Aid in reverse: how poor countries develop rich countries”.

Abolition or reduction in power of the state would require that we confront and solve the problem of inequality. We could no longer hide behind national borders. Let us come back to this challenge later in the blog.

Imagine that the United Nations were controlled by representatives of the mayors of the world instead of the states of the world, and that its agencies were to be reinforced so that they could operate universally, much as UN agencies already serve for the universal regulation of postal service, airport coordination, etc. Let us compare a list of these agencies (or potential agencies) to the major functions served by a typical national budget, in this case we take the example of France for 2019 according to www.statista.com.

French budget item in millions of eurosUN Agency to replace it (existing or potential)
1. Education 72,7United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) working with local authorities much as it already does throughout Africa.
2. Defense 44,3Put to use by a new UN commission to confront the need for transportation, communication, food and shelter for the people in migration (see below).
3. Financial commitments 42.4World Bank and International Monetary Fund working with banks around the world
4. Research and higher education 28.1United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) working directly with universities and research organizations
5. Security 20.1Interpol working with local police forces
6. Solidarity re-adaptation and equal opportunities 23,9(served by 8 & 9 below)
7. Territories cohesion 16,4(a bureaucracy no longer needed)
8. Work and employment 12,5New: A new global organization that would work with private industry for economic development and full employment. Based on World Trade Organization?
9. Environment and sustainable development and mobilities 12,6United Nations Environmental Program working with local authorities
10. Public finances and human resources management 10,4(a bureaucracy no longer needed)
11. Justice 9.1World court expanded to work with local judiciaries
12. Pension and social plans 6.3Privatization of pension and social plans in coordination with a new global monitoring unit
13. Relations with local and regional authorities 3.4(a bureaucracy no longer needed)
14. Agriculture, fishing, food, forests and rural affairs 2.9The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) working directly with local aouthoritiesL’
15. Foreign action 2.8(a bureaucracy and interference no longer needed)
16. Culture 2.9United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) working with local authorities much as it already does for the World Heritage Sites
17. General and territorial state administration 2.8(a bureaucracy no longer needed)
18. Public development aid 3.1(served by 8 & 9 above)
19. Veterans, memory and links with the nation 2.3Privatization of pension and social plans in coordination with the new global monitoring unit in 12 above
20. Overseas 2.6(a bureaucracy no longer needed)
21. Economy 1.9( served by 8 & 9 above)
22. Government action supervision 1.3(a bureaucracy no longer needed)
23. Immigration, asylum and integration 1.7(See comments below concerning migration)
24. Health 1.4World Health Organization working with local authorities

It is interesting that the United Nations agency in the best position to assume new powers is UNESCO where I worked for 10 years. During that time I met very talented people at UNESCO who would have been capable of undertaking the expanded roles required by the above.

I anticipate that readers will have many questions/objections at this point. Let me try to list and respond to some of them.

1. The transition to a world without states cannot come about because the state structures are strong and will resist change.

Yes, that is true at the present moment of history. But imagine that the global economy crashes. Would it not be followed by a global political crash and dismemberment such as what happened to the Soviet Union after 1989? At such a moment, the United Nations, which has already been abandoned by the Great Powers for their priority functions, might now be completely abandoned and the role of the nation-state at the UN could be replaced by representatives of the cities of the world.

2. What will become of the militaries of the world? Won’t they resist and revolt?

In addition to the migration from South to North mentioned above, there has been an enormous internal migration during the past few centuries from the countryside to the city, the process of urbanization. But if there is a global economic crash, the cities may become unlivable, and we may see the most dramatic migration of human history, from the cities back to the countryside as people seek something to eat. After all, most food in the city comes by truck and is sold in supermarkets. If, in a crisis, there is a shortage of fuel for the trucks, there will be no food deliveries and it will take only a day or two to empty the supermarkets by hoarding and riots. There may be great suffering.

Copying with these migrations could be another use to which the militaries of the world could be put to use if they were under the command of a reformed United Nations. Who is best equipped with the transportation and communication systems and the reserves of food and shelter that will be needed? The militaries of the world. Under orders from a reformed United Nations they could set aside their weapons and serve as the source of resources needed to survive the crisis.

3. Who will pay for all this?

With regard to item 3 above, the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, they could take on a key role of the nation state – the collection of taxes. This will be essential in order to support the greatly increased expenses of the reformed United Nations. These taxes could be based on the proposals and experiments already in place for financial transaction taxes In effect they would be Robin Hood taxes that begin to reverse one of the most difficult and dangerous tendancies of recent history, the growing inequality of the world, as mentioned above. In other words, inequality would be reduced, not by directly giving money from the rich to the poor, but by taking money from the rich to deliver services (education, health care, full employment), to everyone, including the poor.

4. What will happen to law and order once the state’s power is reduced? Won’t there be violence and chaos?

Yes, people need law and order. Fortunately, in recent years, as we have tried to document in CPNN, there are growing movements of mediation, restorative justice and nonviolent peace forces that provide alternatives to police and internal military intervention. In this regard it is interesting to recall that during the Great Depression there was a decrease in armed theft and interpersonal violence, presumably because there was an increase in solidarity in the face of the common threat. It is this solidarity, coupled with existing initiatives, that could be the key.

5. Where is the precedent for item 8, a new global organization that would work with private industry for economic development and full employment?

Such an organization could take lessons from the Chinese who are developing a global system of transportation and trade, their “One belt, one road” plan. There are some who say that the Chinese will take over the world if the American empire collapses. This variant suggests that the Chinese may show us the way to sustain the world in that case. It seems that the Chinese, in this new project, are able to bypass state structures and make trade agreements directly with capitalist enterprises that already have production/employment structures at local, regional and international levels. This could serve as model for a new global economic organization that would work with private industry at local, regional and international levels in the absence of state involvement.

6. What will happen to national identity and patriotism?

For this it will be very important to expand the function that is far down on the list at number 16: culture. It will be useful to greatly expand the support of the reformed United Nations (in particular, UNESCO) to local and regional activities that express and develop the unique heritage of the thousands of national identities that exist throughout the world, often extending beyond traditional state borders.

7. You envisage abolition of the state, but you don’t envisage abolition of militaries or capitalism. Why?

As mentioned above, we will need the resources and organization of militaries in order to cope with the suffering associated with mass migrations. And we will need the production/employment structures of capitalist enterprises to maintain economic development and employment. This the logic that I followed a few years ago in developing my utopian novel that imagines the transition to a culture of peace. What will happen to capitalism and militaries in 50 or 100 years is difficult to predict, but the present scenario concerns years and decades, not centuries.

All of these crises may arrive at the same time: international migration, migration from city to countryside and the economic and political crises that cause them. Are we ready to cope with this?


But how can we begin to prepare?

We need to be constructing an alternative global governance structure in preparation. Instead of depending on the nation-state to save us, we need to be developing city and regional peace commissions that deal with all of these problems as they develop, and which can serve as the basis for a new global structure centered on a United Nations managed by the people rather than the states, for example by representatives of the mayors of the world. Over the years, we have given priority to news of development of culture of peace at the city and regional level.

What can each citizen do? Each citizen can work for peace and justice at the local and regional level and develop structures such as city and regional peace commissions. For example, asked for advice by Mouvement de la Paix in France, I have recently proposed that those who initiated actions to mark the International Day of Peace in more than 60 cities and towns in France should now approach their city councils to establish a continuing action for peace and sustainable development in their communities and regions. In this way, we can prepare the basis for a new global governance structure when the present system collapses.

And in my opinion, and that of some others who have a good grasp of history, this collapse could come very soon.

  •   *   *   *   *   *

Un Monde Sans État-nation

Les articles du CPNN de ce mois-ci montrent à quel point l’État est une culture de guerre. Dans ce cas, l’État est les États-Unis et leur culture de guerre se manifeste dans leur rôle dans le renversement du président Morales de Bolivie (précisément parce qu’il promouvait une culture de la paix) et leur menace de punir Julian Assange (précisément parce qu’il a révélé les secrets de leur culture de guerre.)

C’est la dernière preuve que la conclusion de mon histoire de la culture de la guerre est correcte: l’État en est venu à monopoliser la culture de la guerre et ne peut en être séparé de cette culture.

La solution? Un monde dans lequel l’État a disparu ou a été relégué à un rôle cérémoniel, tout comme les monarchies ont été abolies ou reléguées à des rôles cérémoniels dans une période antérieure de l’histoire.

Quand je dis cela, je reçois l’argument selon lequel on ne peut pas imaginer un monde sans l’État-nation.

Quand même,, essayons d’imaginer un tel monde !

Imaginez qu’il n’y ait plus de frontières d’Etats. Pas de visas. Les gens seraient libres de voyager n’importe où sans restriction!

Plus de guerres ou de préparatifs de guerre. Après tout, dans la plupart des cas, c’est l’État qui prépare et fait la guerre. Et dans la plupart des autres cas, ce sont des groupes qui tentent de prendre le contrôle de l’État.

C’est là que je me sépare de Marx et Engels. Ils pensaient que la paix arriverait une fois que les communistes auraient pris le pouvoir de l’État. Mais ils avaient tort. Les communistes ont pris le pouvoir dans près de la moitié du monde au cours du XXe siècle et ils ont produit des cultures de guerre socialistes au lieu de cultures de guerre capitalistes. Le rôle de l’État était plus fort que les rêves des communistes. La seule différence était que les cultures de guerre capitalistes étaient plus aptes à l’exploitation et pouvaient vaincre les cultures de guerre socialistes (Union soviétique et ses alliés) ou les convertir au capitalisme (Chine).

Mais qu’en est-il de tous les rôles maintenant joués par l’État? Qui gérerait ces rôles? Évidemment, nous ne manquerions pas les budgets militaires des États, les contrats militaires, la préparation militaire, les budgets secrets comme celui de la CIA, etc. Mais qu’en est-il des rôles utiles joués par l’État?

En contrôlant le mouvement des peuples, les États riches veillent à ce que les peuples des pays pauvres et des pays victimes de la guerre ne migrent pas dans leurs États. Vous pensez peut-être que c’est une fonction bonne et nécessaire. En fait, la plupart des politiciens populistes et fascistes souhaitent que cette fonction soit renforcée. Mais ce qui s’est produit au cours de l’histoire, c’est que cela a servi de masque pour cacher l’inégalité croissante du monde causée par l’exploitation capitaliste. Ce masque a permis aux habitants du Nord d’éviter de faire face au problème. Bien que les statistiques officielles prétendent que l’aide étrangère compense l’exploitation étrangère, la vérité est que ces statistiques sont trompeuses. Le transfert illégal et donc secret de capitaux du Sud au Nord du monde dépasse de loin l’aide donnée, comme le montre l’étude ” Aide en sens inverse: comment pays pauvres développent pays riches .

L’abolition ou la réduction du pouvoir de l’État exigerait que nous affrontions et résolvions le problème des inégalités. Nous ne pouvions plus nous cacher derrière les frontières nationales. Revenons à ce défi plus tard dans le blog.

Imaginez que les Nations Unies soient contrôlées par des représentants des maires du monde au lieu des États du monde, et que ses agences devaient soient renforcées afin qu’elles puissent fonctionner universellement, tout comme les agences des Nations Unies servent déjà à la réglementation universelle des postes service (union postale universelle), coordination aéroportuaire, etc. Comparons une liste de ces agences (ou agences potentielles) aux principales fonctions assumées par un budget national. Dans ce cas prenons l’exemple de la France pour 2019 selon www.statista.com.

Poste budgétaire français en millions d'eurosAgence des Nations Unies (existante ou potentielle)
1. Enseignement scolaire 72,7L'Organisation des Nations Unies pour l'éducation, la science et la culture (UNESCO) en travail avec les autorités locales comme elle le fait déjà dans toute l'Afrique.
2. Defense 44,3Mis à profit par une nouvelle commission des Nations Unies pour faire face au besoin de transport, de communication, de nourriture et d'abri pour les personnes en migration (voir ci-dessous).
3. Engagements financiers de l’État 42.4La Banque mondiale et le Fonds monétaire international travaillent avec des banques du monde entier
4. Recherche et enseignement supérieur 28.1Organisation des Nations Unies pour l'éducation, la science et la culture (UNESCO) travaillant directement avec les universités et les organismes de recherche
5. Sécurités 20.1Interpol collaborant avec les forces de police locales
6. Solidarité, insertion et égalité des chances 23,9 (servi par 8 et 9 ci-dessous)
7. Cohésion des territoires16,4(une bureaucratie qui ne sera plus nécessaire)
8. Travail et emploi 12,5Besoin: Une nouvelle organisation mondiale qui travaillerait avec l'industrie privée pour le développement économique et le plein emploi. Basé sur l'Organisation mondiale du commerce?
9. Écologie, développement et mobilité durable 12,6Le Programme des Nations Unies pour l'environnement travaillant avec les autorités locales
10. Gestion des finances publiques et des ressources humaines 10,4(une bureaucratie qui ne sera plus nécessaire)
11. Justice 9.1Le tribunal mondial élargi pour travailler avec les autorités judiciaires locales
12. Régimes sociaux et de retraite 6.3Privatisation des régimes de retraite et sociaux en coordination avec une nouvelle unité de surveillance mondiale
13. Relations avec les collectivités territoriales 3.4(une bureaucratie qui ne sera plus nécessaire)
14. Agriculture, alimentation, forêt et affaires rurales 2.9L’Organisation pour l’alimentation et l’agriculture (FAO) en travail avec les autorités locales
15. Action extérieure de l'État 2.8(une bureaucratie qui ne sera plus nécessaire)
16. Culture 2.9Organisation des Nations Unies pour l'éducation, la science et la culture (UNESCO) travaillant avec les autorités locales comme elle le fait déjà pour les sites du patrimoine mondial
17. Administration générale et territoriale de l'État 2.8(une bureaucratie qui ne sera plus nécessaire)
18. Aide publique au développement 3.1(servi par 8 et 9 ci-dessous)
19. Anciens combattants, mémoire et liens avec la nation 2.3Privatisation des régimes de retraite et des régimes sociaux en coordination avec une nouvelle unité de surveillance mondiale en 12 ci-dessus
20. Outre-mer 2.6(une bureaucratie qui ne sera plus nécessaire)
21. Économie 1.9(servi par 8 et 9 ci-dessous)
22. Direction de l'action du Gouvernement 1.3 (une bureaucratie qui ne sera plus nécessaire)
23. Immigration, asile et intégration 1.7  (Voir les commentaires ci-dessous concernant la migration)
24. Santé 1.4L'Organisation mondiale de la santé en travail avec les autorités locales

Il est intéressant de noter que l’agence des Nations Unies la mieux placée pour assumer de nouveaux pouvoirs est l’UNESCO où j’ai travaillé pendant 10 ans. Pendant ce temps, j’ai rencontré à l’UNESCO des personnes très talentueuses qui auraient été capables d’assumer les rôles élargis requis par ce projet.

Je prévois que les lecteurs auront de nombreuses questions / objections à ce stade. Permettez-moi d’essayer d’énumérer et de répondre à certains d’entre eux.

1. La transition vers un monde sans États ne peut se faire parce que les structures étatiques sont fortes et résisteront au changement.

Oui, c’est vrai au moment actuel de l’histoire. Mais imaginez que l’économie mondiale s’effondre. Ne serait-il pas suivi d’un krach politique mondial et d’un démembrement comme ce qui est arrivé à l’Union soviétique après 1989? À un tel moment, les Nations Unies, qui ont déjà été abandonnées par les grandes puissances pour leurs fonctions prioritaires, pourraient maintenant être complètement abandonnées et le rôle de l’État-nation à l’ONU pourrait être remplacé par des représentants des villes du monde ou par autres représentants proches du peuple.

2. Que deviendront les forces armées du monde? Ne résisteront-ils pas et ne se révolteront-ils pas?

En plus de la migration du Sud vers le Nord mentionnée ci-dessus, il y a eu une énorme migration interne au cours des derniers siècles de la campagne à la ville, le processus d’urbanisation. Mais s’il y a un crash économique mondial, les villes peuvent devenir invivables, et nous pouvons voir la migration la plus spectaculaire de l’histoire humaine, des villes vers la campagne alors que les gens cherchent quelque chose à manger. Après tout, la plupart des aliments de la ville viennent par camion et sont vendus dans les supermarchés. Si, en cas de crise, il y a une pénurie de carburant pour les camions, il n’y aura pas de livraison de nourriture et il ne faudra qu’un jour ou deux pour vider les supermarchés par thésaurisation et émeutes. Il peut y avoir de grandes souffrances.

En face de ces migrations il y a un autre usage auquel les forces armées du monde pourraient être mises à l’emploi si elles étaient sous le commandement d’une Organisation des Nations Unies réformée. Qui est le mieux équipé des systèmes de transport et de communication et des réserves de nourriture et d’abris qui seront nécessaires? Les militaires du monde. Sous les ordres d’une ONU réformée, ils pouvaient mettre de côté leurs armes et servir de source de ressources nécessaires pour survivre à la crise.

3. Qui paiera tout cela?

En ce qui concerne le point 3 ci-dessus, la Banque mondiale et le Fonds monétaire international, ils pourraient jouer un rôle clé de l’État-nation – la collecte des impôts. Cela sera essentiel pour payer les dépenses considérablement accrues des Nations Unies réformées. Ces taxes pourraient être basées sur les propositions et les expériences déjà en place pour les taxes sur les transactions financières. En effet, elles seraient Robin Hood taxes qui commencent à inverser l’une des tendances les plus difficiles et dangereuses de l’histoire récente, l’inégalité croissante du monde, comme mentionné ci-dessus. En d’autres termes, l’inégalité serait réduite, non pas en donnant directement de l’argent des riches aux pauvres, mais en prenant de l’argent des riches pour fournir des services (éducation, soins de santé, plein emploi), à tout le monde, y compris aux pauvres.

4. Qu’adviendra-t-il de la loi et de l’ordre une fois que le pouvoir de l’État sera réduit? N’y aura-t-il pas beaucouop de violence et chaos?

Oui, les gens ont besoin de loi et d’ordre. Heureusement, ces dernières années, comme nous avons essayé de documenter dans le CPNN, il y a des mouvements croissants de médiation, de justice réparatrice et de forces de paix non violentes qui offrent des alternatives à la police et à l’intervention militaire interne. À cet égard, il est intéressant de rappeler que pendant la Grande Dépression, il y a eu une diminution des vols armés et des violences interpersonnelles, probablement parce qu’il y a eu une augmentation de la solidarité face à la menace commune. C’est cette solidarité, couplée aux initiatives existantes, qui pourrait être la clé.

5. Où est le précédent pour le point 8, une nouvelle organisation mondiale qui travaillerait avec l’industrie privée pour le développement économique et le plein emploi?

Une telle organisation pourrait tirer les leçons des Chinois qui développent un système mondial de transport et de commerce, leur plan «Une ceinture, une route». Il y en a qui disent que les Chinois prendront le contrôle du monde si l’empire américain s’effondre. Cette variante suggère que les Chinois pourraient nous montrer le moyen de soutenir le monde dans ce cas. Il semble que les Chinois, dans ce nouveau projet, soient capables de contourner les structures étatiques et de conclure des accords commerciaux directement avec des entreprises capitalistes qui ont déjà des structures de production / emploi aux niveaux local, régional et international. Cela pourrait servir de modèle à une nouvelle organisation économique mondiale qui travaillerait avec l’industrie privée aux niveaux local, régional et international en l’absence de participation de l’État.

6. Qu’adviendra-t-il de l’identité nationale et du patriotisme?

Pour cela, il sera très important d’élargir la fonction qui est loin dans la liste au numéro 16: la culture. Il sera utile d’étendre considérablement le soutien des Nations Unies réformées (en particulier, l’UNESCO) aux activités locales et régionales qui expriment et développent le patrimoine unique des milliers d’identités nationales qui existent dans le monde, s’étendant souvent au-delà des frontières traditionnelles des États. .

7. Vous envisagez l’abolition de l’État, mais vous n’envisagez pas l’abolition des forces armées ou du capitalisme. Pourquoi?

Comme mentionné ci-dessus, nous aurons besoin des ressources et de l’organisation des forces armées pour faire face aux souffrances liées aux migrations massives. Et nous aurons besoin des structures de production / emploi des entreprises capitalistes pour maintenir le développement économique et l’emploi. C’est la logique que j’ai suivie il y a quelques années en développant mon roman utopique qui imagine la transition vers une culture de la paix. Ce qui arrivera au capitalisme et aux militaires dans 50 ou 100 ans est difficile à prévoir, mais le scénario actuel concerne des années et des décennies, pas des siècles.

Toutes ces crises peuvent arriver en même temps: migrations internationales, migrations des villes vers les campagnes et crises économiques et politiques qui les provoquent. Sommes-nous prêts à faire face à cela? Non.

Mais comment pouvons-nous commencer à nous préparer?

Nous devons construire une structure de gouvernance mondiale alternative en préparation. Au lieu de dépendre de l’État-nation pour nous sauver, nous devons développer des commissions de paix municipales et régionales qui traitent tous ces problèmes à mesure qu’ils se développent et qui peuvent servir de base à une nouvelle structure mondiale centrée sur une Organisation des Nations Unies. géré par le peuple plutôt que par les États, par exemple par des représentants des maires du monde. Dans CPNN, au fil des années, nous avons privilégié l’actualité du développement de la culture de la paix au niveau de la ville et de la région, même si il reste beaucoup moins de ce dont nous avons besoin..

Que peut faire chaque citoyen? Chaque citoyen peut travailler pour la paix et la justice aux niveaux local et régional et développer des structures telles que les commissions de paix de la ville et de la région. Par exemple, sollicités l’avis du Mouvement de la Paix en France, j’ai récemment proposé que ceux qui ont initié des actions pour marquer la Journée Internationale de la Paix dans plus de 60 villes et villages en France devraient désormais s’adresser à leur conseil municipal pour mettre en place une action continue pour la paix et le développement durable dans leurs communautés et région. De cette façon, nous pouvons préparer la base d’une nouvelle structure de gouvernance mondiale prêt à prendre le pouvoir lorsque le système actuel s’effondre.

Et à mon avis, et celui de certains autres qui ont une bonne compréhension de l’histoire, cet effondrement pourrait arriver très bientôt.

Rationale for an Alternative to the UN Security Council


In last month’s blog, after writing about the impending crash of the American empire and the window of opportunity this will create to change the global system of governance from the culture of war to a culture of peace, I returned to a previous theme of an Alternative UN Security Council.

It has been pointed out to me that I did not provide a very explicit rationale about this proposal and why it should be given priority. So let me try to do that now in terms of the following strategy and tactics involved.

1) The United Nations is capable of promoting a culture of peace, as we showed at UNESCO during the 1990’s when Federico Mayor was its Director-General. We initiated culture of peace programs at a national level in El Salvador and Mozambique that brought together the opposing sides of the civil wars in those countries to work together in projects of education, science, culture and communication. In one case the project was funded by one of the major donors to the UN (Germany) and in that case the program was successful. However, the major powers pointedly refused to fund the other projects, and despite the efforts of UNESCO and our partners “on the ground” the culture of peace programs could not be sustained. National programs foreseen in Russia, the Balkans and elsewhere could not even get started. An account of the one successful project in El Salvador is available here on the Internet.

2) Our experience at UNESCO shows that the peace capacities of the United Nations cannot be achieved so long as the UN is run by the Member States. In fact the Member States of the UN Security Council are the states who are responsible for wars and preparation for wars, such as the possession of nuclear weapons. This can be understood from the history of the culture of war which shows that over time the state has come to monopolize and embody the culture of war. Other entities that previously made war (cities, tribes, criminal organizations, etc.) have been “pacified” by the states and deprived of their war-making capacity. Meanwhile, the preparations for war remain the dominant expense of the state, and the huge military expenditures of the state have engendered a military-industrial-financial complex. This was even true in the old Soviet Union, as we found out at the end of the Soviet empire. A self-perpetuating cycle has resulted, as the military-industrial-financial complex promotes and ensures the election of a pro-military government.

3) There is a growing anti-war consciousness of the peoples of the world in contradiction to the policies of their national governments. We see this growth in anti-war consciousness in the news covered by the Culture of Peace News Network. See, for example, the increase in participation in the International Day of Peace from year to year.

4) There is a contradiction between the growing anti-war consciousness of the people and the continued priority of the culture of war by the state. So far this contradiction has been handled by the state and its allies in the miltary-industrial-financial complex in two ways.

a) First, they control the mass media and emphasize enemy images and news of violent events in order to convince the people that military preparedness is necessary.

b) Second, national elections have become more and more expensive and hence more dependent on funding from the military-industrial-financial complex. Anti-war candidates cannot get the funding they need to win on a national scale. As a result, almost no congressman or senator in the United States votes against the military budget, even if a majority of the voters that elected them may be anti-war.

5) Putting together the above, it would seem that the transition to a culture of peace needs a United Nations that is run by the peoples of the world rather than the Member States. This may be expressed In terms of the charter of the United Nations, which begins, “We the Peoples. . . ”

6) If history did not have major qualitative, revolutionary changes, but simply continued with only gradual change, it would seem that a United Nations run by the Peoples would never be possible.

7) However, there is good reason to believe that the American empire will soon crash because of its over-militarization similar to that which caused the crash of the Soviet empire. Many other countries will crash as well, similar to what happened to Eastern Europe after the fall of the Soviet Union. This may open a window of opportunity during which the United Nations is more or less abandoned by the states and open to a radical refoundation. In fact, we have already seen in the last few decades the United Nations is abandoned by the major states when there is a crisis. The economic crisis of 2008 was handled directly by state ministries and power was not given the UN entities, the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. Similarly, the great powers avoid the United Nations when it comes to nuclear policy and rely on ad-hoc inter-state forums and agreements to contain nuclear proliferation. Also, the great powers do not seriously engage the United Nations in confronting the problem of global warming and climate change. As for military interventions, the great powers try to get consensus on the Security Council, but they go ahead with invasions and attacks when they cannot obtain it.

8) We don’t have to wait for the crash of the American empire to begin preparing. Given all of the above strategic considerations, we could create an unofficial Alternative Security Council (ASC). This would be an effective tactic for at least two reasons.

a) Wide dissemination of regular press releases by the ASC would support and strengthen the anti-war consciousness of the peoples of the world that “another world is possible.” It would start them thinking that the United Nations could be reformed in a way that would support peace instead of war.

b) Experience gathered by an ASC could provide a valuable input into the institutional changes that would be needed for an eventual refoundation of the United Nations based on “We the Peoples” instead of the Member States. Perhaps the eventual institutional arrangement would be different from the ASC, but the principles would be similar.

9) The effectiveness of an ASC at this time, especially its press releases and their effect on the peoples’ consciousness would depend upon the perceived stature and democratic representation of the members of the ASC. For this reason, a good choice would be an ASC composed of mayors and ex-mayors of major cities in all regions of the world (for example, two each from East Asia, South Asia, Arab states, former Soviet states, Africa, Europe, South America and North America).

10) This proposal does not depend on the timing of a crash of the American empire. Even if you do not think it will crash soon (as I do), you may wish to start thinking in the long run, how the world can turn from a culture of war to a culture of peace.

11) Nor does it depend on the maintenance of the United Nations after a global economic crash. Perhaps there will be a new institution, similar to what happened after World War II which did not retain the League of Nations but established a completely new institution, the United Nations. But even if there is a totally new institution, it will face the same challenges as the United Nations of today and the experience of a previous ASC could be useful.

12) Many readers may well persist in believing that the nation-state can be reformed to support a culture of peace. As you can see, I am skeptical of this. In any case, however, attempts to reform the state could also be served by the experience of a radical alternative such as the proposed ASC.

13) As for the importance of all this, I close with the words from the monograph on a culture of peace that we published at UNESCO in 1995:

14) When in the course of history there is an accumulation of changes which make possible a revolutionary transformation in social relations, the mobilization and participation of people on a vast scale, a global movement, becomes possible through the development and sharing of a common vision of a new world. The time is ripe for such a movement and vision for a culture of peace.

15) The transformation of society from a culture of war to a culture of peace is perhaps more radical and far reaching than any previous change in human history. Every aspect of social relations – having been shaped for millennia by the dominant culture of war, is open to change – from the relations among nations to those between women and men. Everyone, from the centres of power to the most remote villages, may be engaged and transformed in the process.

The Paradox of the United Nations: Peace vs. Culture of Peace


If we consider the purpose for which the United Nations was formed: “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war,” it is failing badly. This spring, when we hoped that the United Nations would convene a High-Level Conference on Nuclear Disarmament, the meeting was cancelled due to pressure from the United States and its allies. And most recently, we see that the proposal for a peacekeeping force to protect the Palestinian people cannot be implemented because of the American veto.

This month in the CPNN bulletin, we look at recent moves towards peace in the Philippines, Colombia, Korea and Etheopia/Eritrea. What is remarkable is the absence of the United Nations from these initiatives. Only in Colombia did the United Nations play an important role by supervising the disarmament of the FARC guerilla army.

This impotence of the UN is not new. We saw it two decades ago when our work for peace in El Salvador and Mozambique was not supported by the US and its allies.

On the other hand, if we look at the culture of peace, the 90% of the iceberg of peace which is not visible on the surface, we see that the UN is continually developing a culture of peace at the local level.

Education for peace: the ‘Back to Learning’ education campaign of UNICEF will benefit half a million children in South Sudan.

Democratic participation: UN Women contributed to the historic leap in Tunisia where women now make up 47 per cent of local government.

Sustainable development: UNESCO and UNWTO are encouraging cultural tourism as a means of fostering sustainable development.

Women’s equality: As described in their annual report, UN Women is supporting women politicians, electoral officials, voters, lawmakers, civil society activists and many others to claim their equal right to lead and be heard.

Human rights: Although the task is often frustrating, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights works for implementation of the UN Declaration on Human Rights which is the keystone of work in this area.

Tolerance and solidarity: The United Nations continues to support youth projects for tolerance and solidarity through the Youth Solidarity Fund.

Free flow of information: In Africa UNESCO supports the development of local radio initiatives against gender violence.

Disarmament: Although the UN is failing at the highest level for disarmament, it is quite capable of action when the member states support it, as described above in the case of Colombia.

And on a more general level, the United Nations continues to hold annual high level forums dedicated to the development of a culture of peace and UNESCO continues to support the development of a culture of peace in Africa.

Imagine how effective the UN could be if the stranglehold of the member states as expressed by the veto of the United States were to be replaced by a radical revision of the UN management with direction by representatives of cities or parliaments, as I have repeatedly proposed!

The times call for radical action !


War and threats of war. Resurgence of fascism. Indicators forewarning a global economic crash. Acceleration of global warming. Wherever you turn, there are signs of dramatic, radical, dangerous change.

What is to be done? Where is the lever that can move history forward? We need radical action, but which action should we put first?

Personally, I’ve been active in all the relevant movements: socialism, ecology, peace, democracy, and each one has its proposals. What should be the priority? Let’s look at the probable sequence, keeping in mind what happened 30 years to the Soviet empire.

Back in 1980 Johan Galtung predicted the crash of the Soviet empire within one year, and now he predicts the end of the American empire within the next two years. If he is correct, the crash of the global economy is likely to come before the threatened wars, before the full development of fascism, and before the full effects of global warming. And if he is correct, it will provide us with a window of opportunity in the next two years to refound the global political system.

The most effective change would be the refounding of the United Nations to be under the direction of the People, not the State. The State is inextricably bound to the culture of war, while the People are increasingly conscious of the need for a culture of peace.

With that in mind, I return to the proposal that I made two years ago for the establishiment and effective functioning of an Alternative Security Council. At the time, the proposal fell on deaf ears, but perhaps the time was not yet ripe for it. After all, it is often the case that radical proposals require a certain moment of history to be put into motion.

Here is what I proposed:

“I propose the establishment of an “Alternative Security Council” (ASC) composed of mayors or parliamentary representatives from all the regions of the world. This ASC would regularly consider the issues faced by the actual UN Security Council and publicize its “decisions” in order to provide an alternative vision of how the issues of war and peace could be managed at a global level.

One can imagine that their decisions would be radically different concerning, for example, nuclear disarmament, approaches to the disasters in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Libya, etc.  This would be a powerful force for consciousness-raising in the general public, and it could provide a model for an eventual radical reform of the UN.”

Along with the proposal two years ago I put forward the need for an institutional host, an agreement for membership, a small secretariat, a means for media dissemination and a small budget.

Have we arrived at a moment of history that is ripe for this action? There are some reasons to think so:

1) the consciousness of the people continues to grow that we need to replace the culture of war by a culture of peace;

2) it becomes more evident every day that the American Empire is crashing, which will provide a window of opportunity for radical change;

3) international organizations of cities are holding high-level meetings devoted to peace.

So far, I have not been able to put the ASC proposal onto the agenda of the meetings of cities, but I will keep trying.

If you are a reader of this blog and you wish to help out with this project, please contact me, either by putting a comment below on this blog or by sending me an email.

Here’s the question. Where’s the answer?


At the end of this month’s CPNN bulletin, having remarked that youth and children took the lead in this year’s global celebration of the International Day of Peace, we concluded that “Thanks to the new generation, yes, there is a global movement for a culture of peace.”

That leads to a question. Can this global movement continue to grow to the point that it can promote the transition from our current culture of war to a new culture, a culture of peace? And if so, how?

I don’t have the answer to this question.

As I look for an answer, I recall three global peace movements in which I have participated over the years, and I wonder if we can take lessons from the history of those examples.

1) The global movements against the war in Vietnam in the 1960’s, for a nuclear freeze in the 1989’s and against the war in Iraq in 2003.
2) The peace movement associated with communist parties, both East and West, during the 1970’s and 1980’s.
3) The Manifesto 2000 associated with the United Nations International Year for the Culture of Peace in the year 2000.

Trying to understand the accomplishments, failures and potentials of the movements of the 60’s and 80’s I wrote The American Peace Movements in 1985. Both movements showed the potential for spontaneous, rapid and massive mobilizations when the historical conditions are ripe. But like the movement in 2003 against the war in Iraq, they ended just as quickly because they were reactions against a particular threat and disappeared once the threat subsided.

Lesson 1: We need a global peace movement that is stable and growing over time.

At that point in the 1980’s I turned to the communist peace movements since they seemed (at the time) to be more stable and able to grow over the long term. I still have a copy of the book from the remarkable “International Meeting of Communist and Worker’s Parties” that took place in Moscow in 1969 with representatives speaking from 75 countries. Of course, they supported the Vietnamese, but they called for peace; they did not advocate war against the United States.

At that time I often went to the Soviet Union and even worked there as a scientist at a few points. But in the end I was disappointed. Later on, after analyzing the History ot the Culture of War, I came to realize that like all states and empires, they were a culture of war, which led inexorably to their collapse (like what I see now happening to the American empire).

Despite the collapse of its dreams of state power, the communist peace movement left important traces for peace. Last week, we saw this in the school mobilizations for the International Day of Peace in the ex-Soviet republics and in the extensive mobilization of celebrations throughout France by the Mouvement de la Paix and the French Communist Party.

Lesson 2: The movement must be independent of the state because the state is intrinsically the culture of war. This is where I disagree with the communists, as they persist in seeking state power.

Finally, there was my experience as director of the United Nations International Year for the Culture of Peace when we mobilized 75 million people to sign the Manifesto 2000, promising to promote a culture of peace in their daily life, family, work, community, country and region. Its strength came from the fact that it was a well-coordinated campaign, involving all the organizations of the UN, the UNESCO Commissions in the Member States, and the major international NGOs. We even sent letters of invitations to thousands of universities and mayors. And the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration and Programme of Action for a Culture of Peace that we sent from Paris to New York which called for “a global movement for a culture of peace.”

But the UN coordination was also its weakness, because the coordination was in one place (UNESCO, Paris) and its head was cut off by the United States and its allies who control the UN, and who halted the UNESCO culture of peace program in 2001.

Again the same lesson: The movement must be independent of the state because the state is intrinsically the culture of war.

I still believe in the potential of the United Nations to promote a global movement for a culture of peace, if it could be made independent of the state by passing its control to regional parliaments or regional organizations of mayors. But progress towards that goal is painfully slow.

As I said in the beginning, I don’t have an answer to the question: Can this global movement continue to grow to the point that it can promote the transition from our current culture of war to a new culture, a culture of peace? And if so, how?

But, as always, history does not allow us to formulate an answer until after we have clearly formulated the question. And so, posing the question is a step forward. And who knows? Perhaps you readers, especially those of you from the new generation, can take us further and begin to provide an answer.

Towards a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly


A frequent theme of this blog has been the need for a profound reform of the United Nations so that it is managed more directly by the peoples of the world – through cities or parliaments instead of the present Member States that are inextricably linked to the culture of war.

A significant first step towards such a reform would be the proposed parliamentary assembly of the United Nations (UNPA). As this month’s bulletin of CPNN documents, there are increasing calls for such an assembly, including proposals from the European Parliament, the Pan-African Parliament and an international conference of around 300 chief justices, judges, legal experts and ambassadors from nearly 60 countries predominantly from the Global South.

Such an Assembly would be an important step forward for a number of reasons.

1) A UNPA could make the United Nations more democratic. As stated by the European Parliament, it could increase “the democratic profile and internal democratic process of the organisation and . . . allow world civil society to be directly associated in the decision-making process.”

2) Parliamentarians are often closer to the people than their national goverments. For example, we have seen recently that many parliamentarians and some parliamentary associations support the nuclear ban treaty even when their governments have boycotted the UN negotiations, and we note other parliamentary initiatives towards a culture of peace. Hence a UNPA would be a force within the UN system to move towards a culture of peace.

3) There has been talk of UN reform for many years, but no action, because of resistance by the Member States. A UNPA would set a precedent for change.

4) There has been an erosion of confidence among the peoples of the world that the UN can provide a way forward to escape from the damages caused by the culture of war. A UNPA could begin to restore confidence and inspire further change.

5) If the thesis of this blog is correct that we are approaching a collapse of the present world economic and political structure, a UNPA could become key element in a new global governance structure, which, in turn could help in the development of a new, and hopefully, more equitable, economic order.

So what needs to be done?

Already regional parliaments of Africa and Europe are on record to support a UNPA. We need a similar initiative from the Latin American Parliament, and support from parliamentarians in North America, Asia and the Arab States.

We have seen that organizations of mayors often take progressive positions on the issues related to war and peace. It would be good if they would support the development of a UNPA.

There needs to be a concerted effort by alternative, progressive media to put the UNPA on the agenda for action by the civil society. To the extent that this is done it can stimulate the mainstream commercial media to pick up the issue as well.

International NGO’s should be encouraged to see in a UNPA a potential support for their progressive initiatives, and they should get on board a global movement for a UNPA.

With increased attention to the question, there needs to be further study of the methods and effectiveness of the regional parliaments that exist already, in order to determine how a UNPA should be structured. This was the conclusion of a recent meeting of the organizations already involved in working for a UNPA: Parliamentarians for Global Action, the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the Campaign for a UN Parliamentary Assembly.

The establishment of a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly could move us a step closer to the transition from the culture of war to a culture of peace. No doubt there will be resistance from national governments, and especially the great powers, who will understand the a UNPA provides an alternative to their power that is based on the culture of war. Hence, the struggle will not be easy. But, as Richard Falk reminds us with regard to the nuclear ban treaty and the elimination of nuclear weapons, there is historical precedent for progressive change as a result of “deep commitments, sacrifices, movements, and struggles that eventually achieved the impossible, ending such entrenched evils as slavery, apartheid, and colonialism.”

Mayors and Media for Peace


Imagine what the world would be like if the United Nations was managed by mayors instead of states! And imagine how it would be if the mass media was dedicated to a culture of peace!

We have some hint of how this might be in the recent events covered by CPNN.

While all of the nuclear-armed states and their allies are boycotting the UN conference to draft a treaty against nuclear weapons, we see that mayors have a different point of view.

At their annual meeting the United States Conference of Mayors adopted a resolution that “welcomes the historic negotiations currently underway in the United Nations, involving most of the world’s countries, on a treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading to their total elimination” and they demanded that the US government join the negotiations in good faith. Their resolution concludes with the following remarkable paragraph:

“BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that The United States Conference of Mayors urges all U.S. mayors to join Mayors for Peace in order to help reach the goal of 10,000 member cities by 2020, and encourages U.S. member cities to get actively involved by establishing sister city relationships with cities in other nuclear-armed nations, and by taking action at the municipal level to raise public awareness of the humanitarian and financial costs of nuclear weapons, the growing dangers of wars among nuclear-armed states, and the urgent need for good faith U.S. participation in negotiating the global elimination of nuclear weapons.”

Mayors for Peace already includes the mayors from more than 7,300 cities around the world!

If the mayors of the world were running the UN instead of the states, we could achieve nuclear disarmament! And much more! Once again we come back to the need for a radical reform of the United Nations!

As for the media, some indication of the positive role that they could play can be seen in the role of community radios in the peace process in Colombia. They are supported by funds from the European Union in order to send messages on peace to the territories and to promote reconciliation between the Colombians. The EU initiative not only opens microphones to the people, but also includes workshops in which 200 community radio journalists have been trained in the elaboration of educational content on peacebuilding, as well as 50 broadcasters receiving technical assistance and donations of recording equipment.

Similarly, in Uganda, community radio stations continue to work for peace. Back in 2004, they played a major role in convincing over 22,000 child soldiers and commanders to abandon the armed rebellion of the Lord’s Resistance Army: “In short, the LRA conflict could only be ended after the intervention of peace journalism.” Today they continue to work for peace, especially to give a voice to the massive number of refugees in Uganda.

As The Senegalese writer Aissatou Cissé said at the recent meeting of the Writers’ Union of Africa, Asia and Latin America, which took place in Senegal: What we need are “readings of peace in this world context of turbulence, verbal and physical violence”. “Every morning, when we get up, we read on the Internet, or through a newspaper or a book, and what we read does not promote the culture of peace, it disrupts even more and creates zizanie [discord].”

“Children, adolescents and adults who read us need to read positive things that can boost their creativity, and it is in peace that we can create,” said the Special Advisor to the President of the Republic, Macky Sall.

Thank you, mayors, and thank you, writers and journalists! You remind us that “A better world is possible!” Imagine it!

To quote George Bernard Shaw: “Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine and at last you create what you will.”

Who are the biggest terrorists?


Readers of this blog know that I believe that in order to move from the culture of war to a culture of peace, we must develop a new order of world governance in which the United Nations is based on cities or regional parliaments rather than the present system of Member States. This is because the nation state is inextricably tied to the culture of war. More evidence for this comes from the recent United Nations vote on a resolution concerning a treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons.

All the rich and powerful countries are against the resolution, including all the countries that possess nuclear weapons and their allies, including most of Europe, Australia, Canada, Japan and South Korea.

What this tells us is that nuclear weapons are considered essential to the power of the state

This is state terrorism.

Let me explain.

The definition of terrorism is the achievement of political goals through violence or threat of violence against innocent populations.

What can better describe the possession of nuclear weapons than to call it terrorism.

The only times they have been used, they slaughtered the populations of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 for political goals. Some think it was to end the war earlier. Others, having examined the evidence, say that it made no difference in ending the war, but was rather meant as a threat against the Russians which evolved into the Cold War. In any case, the populations of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were mostly civilians, not military.

Since 1945, nuclear weapons are used as a threat against whatever enemy a state happens to have. During the Cold War it was the American against the Russians, and it seems now that a new Cold War is being developed, especially by the American “deep state” that supported the Hillary Clinton candidacy. The weapons of France and the UK are jusitified by their membership in NATO which is on the American side of the Cold War. Then there is the antagonism between India and Pakistan which is used to justify their weapons. And between Israel and North Korea and their enemies which seems to be much of the world.

Nuclear weapons do not distinguish their victims. That means that in all these cases, the threat is against the populations of the enemy country, without regard for the fact that most are not engaged militarily. This is terrorism. State terrorism.

Why do I say that this is essential to the state?

After considering the history of the culture of war in my book by that name, I come to the conclusion that over the course of history, the state has come to monopolize the culture of war. No one else is allowed to make or prepare for war except the state. Not cities, as was the case in the Middle ages. Not indigenous peoples, as was the case before they were conquered and subjugated around the world. Not private armies or armies of religious sects (although sometimes states with a state religion are allowed to have nuclear weapons as in the case of Israel, but not Iran).

In the same way, the state monopolizes nuclear weapons. No other institution is allowed to develop or possess them.

In fact, the culture of war, if we include the defense and limitation of trade and travel at its borders and the raising of taxes (mostly to pay for the culture of war), is one of the few functions that can only be performed by the nation-state. Other vital functions, such as healthcare, education, housing, transportation and communication services, etc. can (and often are) regulated at a higher and lower level. For example, aviation and maritime shipping are regulated at the level of the United Nations. As for healthcare and education, the United Nations has specialized agencies that are capable of regulating them (WHO and UNESCO). At the same time, many of these functions can be effectively regulated at lower levels, as is done for education in the United States.

The culture of war is the defining characteristic of the state. As stated clearly by the great sociologist Max Weber the state is defined as the organization that has a “monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory.”

The next time you see reference in the commercial media to “terrorists,” ask the question, “who are the biggest terrorists?” And join the ranks of those who are struggling to abolish nuclear weapons. In the short run, the struggle is being carried out with states from the Global South at the United Nations. But in the long run, we need a new United Nations run instead by cities or regional parliaments.

Where are we in the course of history?


I have long believed that we are at the point of human history where we can make the transition from the culture of war which has dominated us for 5,000 years to a new culture, a culture of peace. As I prepare the CPNN review for 2016 and compare it to the CPNN review that I wrote one year ago for the year 2015, it gives me the chance to reflect on the question: where are we in this transition?

I frame my response in the context of my novella, “I have seen the promised land“, in which I have tried to imagine the stages by which the transition to a culture of peace could take place.

In the novella, I suppose that the system of nation states, led by the Amerian empire, which have come to monopolize the culture of war, will crash, first as an economic collapse, then follwed by a political collapse (such as I witnessed in the Soviet Union during the 1980s). It will be accompanied by attempts to impose fascist governments, such as occurred during the great depression of the 1930’s. To move forward, we will need strong nonviolent movements to resist the movement towards fascism. I imagine that after the crash, governments will abandon the United Nations and leave a void in which cities, which no longer have a culture of war, can take change of a renewed United Nations and thereby manage the transition to a culture of peace.

In my blog last month, I remarked that “the election of Trump promises to embolden fascists everywhere. We already see fascism in Turkey, and it is threatened in Brazil and Venezuela. Not to mention fascist political parties on the rise throughout Europe. Hence, we are aleady challenged to overcome fascism now, before we suffer from the economic collapse. Perhaps that is to our advantage, because the struggle will be more difficult later when economic survival becomes the priority.” More details are provided in the recent CPNN article that quotes the human rights chief of the United Nations, “‘Fascist Rhetoric’ Becoming Commonplace in US and Europe: UN” Let us recall that fascism is simply the extreme form of the culture of war, with all of its eight aspects exaggerated.

In other words, we are already seeing signs of political collapse, even though the global economy continues to struggle along. At the same time, there is no let-up in the various economic contradictions listed by Johan Galtung as the basis of his prediction that the American empire will crash by the year 2020. These contradictions include: 1. between growth and distribution: overproduction relative to demand, 1.4 billion below $ 1/day, 100.000 die/day, 1/4 of hunger [i.e. the widening gap between rich and poor]; 2. between productive and finance economy (currency, stocks,bonds) overvalued, hence crashes, unemployment, contract work; and 3. between production/distribution/consumption and nature: ecocrisis, depletion/pollution, global warming. Not to mention the ever increasing balance of payments deficit of the United States as it imports without exporting, and the economic burden of its military bases around the world.

Another sign of political collapse is suggested in recent speculations that the new government in the United States, may withdraw its support for the United Nations.

As I concluded in last month’s blog: “We are entering a watershed period of human history. Although it is being pushed forward by economic factors, the ultimate determining factor can become the social consciousness of the people themselves.”

Now, let us look at the CPNN reviews for 2015 and 2016. Do they give us cause for optimism? In the reviews, we have given particular attention to the transition to peace in Colombia, as well as advances elsewhere in Latin America. However, as we have discussed previously, the transition to a culture of peace will ultimately have to be global in scope if it is to succeed.

On a global level, our reviews present some evidence that the social consciousness of the people is developing rapidly enough to resist fascism in the coming years? In particular, we see advances in the practice of nonviolence and the development of peace education, as well as continually expanding participation in the International Day of Peace. We have seen advances in confronting terrorism without violence, and, most recently, the strengthening of sanctuary cities, universities and churches in the face of threats by the new Presdient of the United States.

But, as we have often considered, consciousness is not enough. It needs to be accompanied by the development of a new institutional framework, if we are to replace the nation states in a reformed United Nations. Here, it seems we are lagging. There are calls for UN reform, but they do not seem radical enough. There is growth in peace cities, as reviewed by CPNN, but it seems that the growth is not yet sufficient to play a determining role.

Some things can be done immediately. In particular, I have previously proposed the establishment of an Alternative Security Council composed of mayors or parliamentarians from all regions of the world. Such a “Shadow Security Council: would regularly consider the issues faced by the actual UN Security Council and publicize its “decisions” in order to provide an alternative vision of how the issues of war and peace could be managed at a global level. It would provide a first step towards the eventual institutional change that is needed.

There is important work to be done!

Success of the United Nations


We know all too well the failures of the United Nations. At this moment of history, its failures include the wars and potential wars everywhere in the world, including the potential of a catastrophic nuclear war. As we have stated previously, as long as the United Nations is run by the Member States, it will not be able to control their culture of war.

But let us not ignore the successes of the United Nations.

First, it has succeeded in developing around the world a universal consciousness for peace.

This is shown in the celebration of the International Day of Peace, which, as we have documented in this month’s CPNN bulletin, has been taken up by millions of people in all parts of the world. And, as we have mentioned in the bulletin, this follows in a tradition that includes the 75 million signatures on the Manifesto 2000 for the International Year of the Culture of Peace and the mobilization for peade by thousands of organizations of the civil society during the International Decade for a Culture of Peace 2001-2010.

The universal consciousness for peace follows on the heels of the universal consciousness for human rights.

In both cases, a key moment was the adoption by the United Nations General Assembly of a key Declaration. For human rights it was the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, and for peace it was the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace of 1999. The simple fact that all the countries of the world could adopt a resolution has enabled the UN to play a key role in the development of universal consciousness.

In sum, one great success of the United Nations has been its standard-setting function.

Second, the United Nations has succeeded in managing international matters on a global scale when they are not part of the culture of war.

Here are some examples:

In 1967 there were 130,000 cases of smallpox in the world. By 1984, there were no cases and the virus was declared extinct. This was due to the global vaccination program of the World Health Organization, one of the United Nations agencies.

At any given moment there is a bewildering number of airplanes taking off and landing in airports around the world without accident. This is due to the work of the International Civil Aviation Organization, another United Nations agency.

You can mail a letter to any destination in the world by puttiing it in a mailbox in any country. This is due to the work of the Universal Postal Union, yet another United Nations Agency.

In all these cases, success comes because the problems are not political. They are simply technical.

That leaves us with the big question: could the United Nations succeed in bring us a global culture of peace? Not just peace consciousness, but could it achieve a true and universal disarmament, just as dueling, slavery and other such practices were previously eliminated? The problem here is not technical. It is political.

My experiences when I worked at UNESCO tell me that a culture of peace is technically possible. As I have described previously, we were able, as an agency of the United Nations, to involve the people of Mozambique and El Salvador to design national peace programs during the 1990’s following their civil wars, and I believe that they would have achieved peace and disarmament in those countries if the Member States had supported our work. But they did not support our work – for political reasons. I am reminded of that history when I see the progress towards disarmament that is being achieved these days in Colombia, and I hope that they can sustain the peace despite the arrival of political changes.

Yes, a culture of peace is possible. What is needed is a radical reform of the United Nations, putting it in the hands of the people instead of the states.

Proposal for a Radical Reform of the United Nations


As it is structured now, the United Nations is controlled by national governments, with their military institutions and military budgets. Over the course of history, national governments have come to monopolize war. As a result, if we are to make the transition from a culture of war to a culture of peace, we need a radical reform of the United Nations. Instead of being controlled by the Member States, it should be controlled by “We the Peoples,” the words that begin its Charter.

Before making a proposal for such a radical reform, we need to consider the following:

1) The national governments of the world increasingly ignore the United Nations when faced with global problems. Just this last month the major countries failed to send heads of state to the United Nations Humanitarian Summit. We first saw this trend with the global economic crisis of 2007-2008; the powerful states, meeting as the G-7, ignored the relevant financial institutions of the United Nations, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, and responded to the crisis with meetings of their finance ministers. Then in 2010, the powerful countries ignored the United Nations Non-proliferation conference and met in Washington in a parallel conference called by President Obama. Only Iran sent a head of state to the United Nations conference. Finally, even when the national governments attend a United Nations summit, the results are not adequate, as illustrated by the conferences to confront global warming in 2012 in Rio and 2015 in Paris.

2) The global system of national governments periodically fails, leaving a void where other institutions can take their place. During the 20th Century this occurred twice with World Wars I and II, as well as during the global economic crisis beginning in 1929, and (for half of the world) with the economic, then political collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989. There is a growing awareness that the world is due for another economic (and political?) collapse, including a collapse of the American Empire, which may leave a temporary void in international decision-making. It may provide a “window of opportunity” for radical change.

With this in mind, let us consider what a radical reform of the United Nations could look like.

Let us begin with the proposal of the Pan-African Parliament, as reprinted in this month’s CPNN bulletin, for a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly. This would have the advantage that parliamentarians have less vested interest in the culture of war than do the representatives of national governments. Parliaments do not have military forces, although they may vote on military budgets. As the Parliament’s President explained, “It is long overdue that ‘We, the Peoples,’ as the UN Charter begins, have more say in global affairs.

But the real problem is the Security Council. As the bulletin describes, there are many proposals to reform it, but they all continue to assume that it should be controlled by representatives of the Member States. Instead, we need a global organization where the decisions are made by “We, the peoples”. I can imagine two possibilities: a Security Council controlled by the mayors of the world, or one controlled by the parliaments of the world.

Since such a reform cannot be achieved under the present system of national governments, it must await the “window of opportunity” of their next crash. In the meantime, I propose the establishment of an “Alternative Security Council” (ASC) composed of mayors or parliamentary representatives from all the regions of the world. This ASC would regularly consider the issues faced by the actual UN Security Council and publicize its “decisions” in order to provide an alternative vision of how the issues of war and peace could be managed at a global level. One can imagine that their decisions would be radically different concerning, for example, nuclear disarmament, approaches to the disasters in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Libya, etc.  This would be a powerful force for consciousness-raising in the general public, and it could provide a model for an eventual radical reform of the UN.

There are several ways that mayors and parliaments are organized globally, any of which could be represented in an Alternative Security Council:

1) Regional organizations of parliaments such as the European Parliament, the Latin American Parliament and the Pan-African Parliament or of cities such as the Council of European Municipalities and Regions and the Arab Towns Organization.

2) Global organizations of parliamentarians for peace such as Parliamentarians for Global Action or of mayors and cities for peace, as described in a recent CPNN bulletin.

3) Global organizations of parliamentarians in general such as the Inter-Parliamentary Union or of cities in general such as the UCLG: Global Network of Cities, Local and Regional Governments.

All that is needed in order to establish an Alternative Security Council at the present time is;

a) an institutional host for the ASC, preferable a recognized international body that promotes a culture of peace;

b) an agreement for membership of the ASC, which could be established with any one of the organizaions of mayors or parliaments mentioned above;

c) a small secretariat to manage the Council by email (rather than actual meetings which would not be convenient, both because of the cost and because the members would not be free from their other tasks)

d) a means to disseminate widely the decisions of the council, i.e. a network of partners for publicizing these decisions.

e) a small budget which would be minimal if the sponsoring organization were receptive and if the secretariat and ASC members were volunteers.

The time is now to prepare a new system that will be ready to install during the next window of opportunity. If we wait for the crash of the present system, it will be too late. The time is now for radical action. And here is an action we can do now: an alternative security council.

A United Nations without government interference: Could it manage a culture of peace?


The latest CPNN bulletin provides good evidence that the answer to this question is “Yes!”

We are not surprised that air traffic, postal services and telecommunications are managed effectively by agencies of the United Nations.  Why should we be surprised that a culture of peace could also be effectively managed?

Let us begin with the two articles about initiatives supported by UNESCO: 1) the establishment of a network of peace research institutions for the promotion of a culture of peace in Africa, and 2) the project to develop shared histories in Southeast Asia that promote peace and mutual understanding.

Having worked at UNESCO between 1992 and 2001, I know very well the roots of these initiatives, including  staff and partners of UNESCO that understand the need for a transition from culture of war to culture of peace and who, when they can obtain the necessary resources, are perfectly capable of moving from theory to effective action.

The only question is whether the Member States of UNESCO, who determine the organization’s finances, are capable and willing to provide the needed resources.  These resources are quite modest when compared with what they spend on the culture of war.

At the meeting of the Global Alliance for Ministries and Infrastructures of Peace we learned that the unit of the United Nation Development Program (UNDP) headed by Dr. Ozonnia Ojiello has been working in Africa to develop peace structures.  These structures are as effective as their model that was so well developed in South Africa during the transition from Apartheid to democracy twenty years ago.  This again illustrates how the UN system has staff and partners capable of making the transition to a culture of peace.

But let me turn to the pointed question of Shale Sofonea from Lesotho, who congratulated UNDP for having helped the civil society from Lesotho to overcome the violence associated with national elections, but who asked pointedly if Africa would be able to depend on help from UNDP well into the future.

My experience at UNESCO makes me especially sensitive to Shale’s question.  In the early 90’s we developed effective programs in El Salvador and Mozambique for a transition from their civil wars to a culture of peace through cooperation by the former enemies in programs for education, culture, communication and science.  However, the Member States of UNESCO were unwilling to finance these programs, preferring to finance other development programs that would serve their own interests rather than the interests of the countries concerned.

For this reason, I have always counseled those working for progressive initiatives at the United Nations and its agencies to work with modest resources and  remain “under the radar” so that the Member States would not interfere with their development.

Let me recall the words of Anwarul Chowdhury, who initiated the High Level Forum on a Culture of Peace at UN Headquarters last month: “I find it is the governments and power structures which are the most persistent foot-draggers with regard to advancing the culture of peace through policy steps and action . . . The United Nations has shown great vision by adopting its historic, norm-setting Declaration and Program of Action on the Culture of Peace in 1999, but has not been organised enough in making the document a system-wide flagship effort of the world body.  I am a believer that the world, particularly the governments, will come to realise its true value and usefulness sooner than later.”

Although I am more skeptical than Chowdhury that governments will ultimately support the culture of peace at the United Nations, I am optimistic that someday we be able to achieve a United Nations that is based directly on the people (as proposed in the UN Charter that begins “We the peoples…”) and that such a United Nations will be quite capable of managing the transition from the culture of war to a culture of peace.

The United Nations and the Culture of Peace


My ten years working in the United Nations system left me with a sweet and sour taste. The sweet side was the universality of the UN, both its staff and mandate, and its great significance for raising the consciousness of the peoples of the world. The sour side was the jealousy of the Member States who make sure that the UN does not encroach on their freedom to rule over their own citizens, as well as people in other countries that they may dominate through neo-colonial relations. This became crystal-clear to me when the United States delegate, during the informal meetings of the UN General Assembly in 1999, opposed the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace, saying that it would make it more difficult for them to start a war. In fact, throughout history, war (call it “defense” if you prefer) has always been the most fundamental “right” of the state.

With this in mind, I have been pleasantly surprised by the extent to which the UN system has once again taken up the culture of peace as a priority, as shown in this month’s CPNN Bulletin, just as it was a priority in the Year 2000 when I was the director of the UN International Year for the Culture of Peace.

Of course, this does not happen by chance, and great credit belongs to two men who played key roles for the Year 2000, Federico Mayor Zaragoza, who made the culture of peace a priority of UNESCO, and Anwarul Chowdhury, who played the role of midwife at the UN General Assembly, guiding the culture of peace resolution through nine months of opposition by the powerful states. Once again, this last month, these two men motivated and spoke eloquently at the High Level Forum on a Culture of Peace at the UN.

As always it was the countries of the South who supported the initiative (see the CPNN article of September 24 and its discussion), but at least this month it was not blocked by the powerful states.

In fact, it is my impression that the powerful states pay less and less attention to the United Nations. When there was a financial crisis a few years ago, the powerful states did not turn to the UN agencies , the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, but set up their own temporary system of finance ministers. When it came time for the review of nuclear non-proliferation, President Obama held his own meeting with heads of state in Washington and ignored the UN conference where the only head of state to speak was that of Iran. And the US has pulled out of UNESCO entirely, forcing drastic cuts in its budget.

In fact, the lack of attention by the powerful states may provide the UN system with an opportunity to push the agenda of the culture of peace without their opposition. Let us hope that the UN can take advantage of this.

Of course, in the long run, the UN, or any other institution, cannot mandate a culture of peace. Instead, the culture of peace can only grow from the consciousness, both understanding and action, of the peoples of the world (see last month’s blog below). That’s why the role of the UN for consciousnes-raising is ultimately its greatest contribution!