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.
* * * * *
DECLARATION FOR THE TRANSITION TO A CULTURE OF PEACE IN THE XXI CENTURY
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.