Canadian Policy on a National Culture of Peace Program for Canada - Letter to Hon. Sheila Copps and Prime Minister Jean Chretien

Hon. Sheila Copps,
Minister Responsible for Heritage Canada and the Canadian Commission for UNESCO

Dear M. Copps,

Back in May I wrote to the Prime Minister to find out Canada's policy with respect to the Culture of Peace Program ("COPP").  I just received the response  from the Hon. Maria Minna and provide it for your information below, including my response back.  The issue is that currently the Canadian government thinks that the Culture of Peace Program is for other countries and not Canada.  This is a serious shortcoming.

My goal is to wake Canada up to the great potential of the Culture of Peace Program to build peace at home and abroad.  Between 1994 and 1998, Canada has been caught somewhat napping on this one.  I am pleased to say there has been some promising developments during 1999, pioneered by the Canadian Commission for UNESCO.  I know that you are very busy however it is very important that I put my request to you. 

As I am sure you now know, the year 2000 is the United Nations International Year for a Culture of Peace, and the beginning of the U.N. Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-violence for the Children of the World.  I am a Member of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO's National Working Group co-ordinating activities for Canada's celebration of the U.N. Year for a Culture of Peace (you can read our Status Reports at http://www.peace.ca/un2000celebration.htm ).  I preface this message to say that these are my comments, and not those of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO or the National Working Group.

I am sure that you could have a considerable impact helping to build a Culture of Peace in Canada.  I believe, as do others, that the Culture of Peace Program is on the threshold of making a major impact pacifically, nationally and internationally, but is lacking direction and capacity.  I also believe that the 'peace industry' in Canada is more than considerable in size, however overlooked.  My personal goal is to use my professional skills as a (general) manager and information manager to help advance this 'direction and capacity'.  You can read my suggested Framework for a National Culture of Peace Program in Canada at http://www.peace.ca/copp.htm .  It occurred to me that you have the position and power that could help significantly advance this direction and capacity at a national level.  (This is a unique opportunity for you to do something wonderful for Canada, and has far reaching consequences in the world if we do it right.)

The National Working Group for a Canadian Culture of Peace needs your support.  In addition to your political support, the Working Group needs approximately $250,000 to fund activities for the United Nations International Year for a Culture of Peace (for example, the Canadian Commission for UNESCO needs a person dedicated full time to the Culture of Peace Program).   If each Ministry with a mandate touched by the Culture of Peace Program donated a relatively insignificant $25,000, the National Working Group would have more than enough.  I hope that you can see the potential of the UNESCO Culture of Peace Program, how rewarding it could be for you, and that you wish to be part of it.

Please forgive me for not following protocol and being so forward in putting this request to you.  However time is of the essence and I do not wish to wait for the slow machinery of government (as you can see, it took 4 months for me to receive the response below from the Hon. Maria Minna).  I know that you can put this program on the fast track if you wish.  I thank you in advance for your consideration and look forward to your thoughts, questions, and (I hope) approval.   

Respectfully submitted,

Robert Stewart, C.A., C.M.C., Director
Canadian Centres for Teaching Peace

Chair, Rotary District 5360 Urban Hope/Peace Plus Committee

Member, National Working Group for COPP2000
email stewartr [at] peace.ca
web site http://www.peace.ca
telephone (403) 461-2469
fax (309) 407-6576

See response from Minister Sheila Copps' Office on Canadian Government Policy regarding the Culture of Peace Initiative.


May 22, 1999

Hon. Jean Chretien, Prime Minister
Government of Canada

Dear Mr. Chretien,

Almost one month ago I sent the message below to the Hon. Lloyd Axworthy but have never received a response or even an acknowledgement that something is in the works.  I hope that your good offices can help me.

 

To summarize my request below, I would like to know what the Government of Canada's position is on the UNESCO Culture of Peace Program and specifically a National Culture of Peace Program for Canada (which is a general recommendation of UNESCO).  I would also like to know what Canada is planning to do for the Year 2000 United Nations International Year for a Culture of Peace, and what kind of resources have been dedicated to this very important initiative by the Government of Canada.

I believe that it is in Canada's best interest not to miss out on this wonderful opportunity to address our culture of violence (at home and abroad) and create a turning point, not just an event.  Would you please respond.

Thank you for your assistance, and best wishes in your very important role.

Robert Stewart, Director
Canadian Centres for Teaching Peace,
Box 70
Okotoks, Alberta T1A 1S4
403-461-2469
fax 309-407-6576
email stewartr [at] peace.ca
web site http://www.peace.ca

----- Original Message -----

From: ROBERT STEWART

To: Lloyd Axworthy

Sent: Tuesday, April 27, 1999 1:04 PM

Subject: National Culture of Peace Program for Canada

April 27, 1999

Hon. Lloyd Axworthy, Department of Foreign Affairs,
Government of Canada

Dear Sir,
At the Canadian Commission for UNESCO's Annual General Meeting in March, you gave a speech where you referred to a 'Culture of Peace' seven times.  I have a request for information about the Canadian government's position and plans with respect to a National Culture of Peace Program for Canada.

Further, Ian Harris, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Department of Educational Policy & Community Studies, is the editor of Peacebuilding, the newsletter of the Peace Education Commission, (and is available in cyberspace and can be read at http://www.uwm.edu/Dept/Peace/pecnew.pdf  ).  Ian has asked me to provide an article on the Culture of Peace Program in Canada for the newsletter.

In developing this article, I wished to obtain your views with respect to the past and current status of the Culture of Peace Program in Canada, and what the future holds.  Particularly, I would like to know if a Working Group (or anyone else) will be holding a workshop(s) on the CoPP, approx. when, where, the goals of the workshop, who will be invited, etc.

Also, I put forward a proposed Framework for a National Culture of Peace Program on our website at http://www.peace.ca (which I have previously drawn to your attention) and invited others to put forward their proposals for comparison, discussion, etc.  Has the Canadian government developed another proposal, or have any comments?

Since I am working on the article, I would appreciate your input at your earliest convenience.

Thank you for your assistance.

Robert Stewart, Director
Canadian Centres for Teaching Peace,
Box 70
Okotoks, Alberta T1A 1S4
403-461-2469
fax 309-407-6576
email stewartr [at] peace.ca
web site http://www.peace.ca


[On Minister for International Cooperation letterhead]

 

Sep 14 1999

Robert Stewart, Director

Canadian Centres for Teaching Peace,

Box 70

Okotoks, Alberta T1A 1S4

Dear Mr. Stewart:

Your letter of May 22, 1999, to the Prime Minister, about the Canadian International Development Agency's (CIDA) position on the UNESCO Culture of Peace Program, has been forwarded for my attention.

I have reviewed your comments with great interest.  Like you, I believe that the Year 2000 United Nations International Year for a Culture of Peace is an important initiative and CIDA intends to participate and contribute to this effort.  It is my view that conditions for sustainable peace and human security will only be found by addressing the root causes of conflict - and that means first, eliminating poverty, and second, providing people with the tools they need to build a better life for themselves and their communities.  This activity has always been a key development objective.

You may be aware that the Canadian Government launched its Peacebuilding Initiative in 1997 which is a joint effort of CIDA and the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT).  In 1997, CIDA established the Peacebuilding Fund with a budget of $10 million per fiscal year.  The Fund was created to help implement the Canadian Peacebuilding Initiative, and complements the foreign policy objectives of international peace and security.  This mechanism has been put in place to finance conflict prevention and post-conflict peacebuilding activities in countries entering, experiencing or emerging from conflict. It aims to fill urgent gaps in programming as a result of rapidly changing circumstances, to strengthen the transition from emergency relief to post-conflict reconstruction and to act as a catalyst to new and innovative approaches to peacebuilding.

The Peacebuilding Fund is well coordinated with the ongoing peacebuilding efforts of CIDA's regular development assistance programs and complements the Peacebuilding Program administered by DFAIT, which also became operational in 1997 with an annual budget of $1 million (now $3.0 M).  The DFAIT program aims to build Canadian domestic capacity for peacebuilding, strengthen multilateral peacebuilding mechanisms and support catalytic peacebuilding activities in countries or policy areas that fall outside Canadian Official Development Assistance.

In 1998-99, the CIDA Fund supported 37 projects in areas such as conflict resolution, peace dialogues, development of peacebuilding curricula for schools, voter education, public information dissemination of peace agreements, collection and destruction of small arms, conflict resolution training, and support for investigation of human rights violations.  It also supported projects to assist war-affected children, the development of free media and electoral capacity building.  Notable activities of the Fund included the provision of Canadian civilian monitors to the Kosovo Verification Mission, and financial and human resources to the Arusha Peace process for Burundi.

On the multilateral front, CIDA supported the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the Informal Task Force on Conflict, Peace and Development in the continuance of its mandate, the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IIDEA) in the dissemination of its "Handbook on Deep-Rooted Conflict", and the UN Trust Fund for Children in Conflict.  In addition, CIDA participates in the CPR (Conflict Prevention and Post-Conflict Reconstruction) Peacebuilding Network which is an informal association of bilateral donors and multilateral agencies with operational response capabilities in conflict prevention and mitigation.  The Network has been established for international donor coordination to allow for the formulation of strategies for improved operational effectiveness in global peacebuilding and conflict resolution (while ensuring that the work of this group is consistent with, and co-ordinated with, that of DAC).  With CIDA's assistance, the CPR Peacebuilding Network has produced a "Compendium of Operational Frameworks for Peacebuilding and Donor Co-ordination".

Future Canadian policy development in the area of peacebuilding will concentrate on the preparation of CIDA guidelines for programming in countries at risk of conflict, the development of a results-based framework for activities in the complex field of peacebuilding, and analysis of emerging policy issues such as the gender aspects of peacebuilding, children in armed conflict, and small arms proliferation.

CIDA officials have met with the Director of the UNESCO Culture of Peace Program to explore ways in which they might be able to support their specific peacebuilding initiatives, and they have funded an examination of how educational resources are contributing to peacebuilding processes world-wide.  A preliminary operational framework was prepared and there is now an active interdepartmental dialogue to identify specific initiatives related to the Year 2000 UN International Year for a Culture of Peace.

I believe you will agree that Canada is taking its role in the international peacebuilding community very seriously, and assure you that we will continue to play a role in this important task.  For your information, I have enclosed some information on the Peacebuilding Initiative which I trust you will find useful and informative.  Should you require further information, please fee free to contact the Peacebuilding Unit at 994-7634 or by email at peacebuilding@acdi-cida.gc.ca .

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you require any further information.

Yours sincerely,

{signed}

Maria Minna


September 30, 1999

Hon. Maria Minna,
Minister for International Cooperation

Dear Madam,

Thank you for your response.  As you have concluded, I do agree that Canada is taking its role in the international peacebuilding community very seriously, I appreciate and congratulate you for that.  However, my concern is that that is only half of the picture.  My question was, and I paraphrase, "what is Canada doing to address our culture of violence at home and abroad" ... "and specifically what is Canada doing with respect to a Canadian National Culture of Peace Program (which is a general recommendation of UNESCO)?"  I was not asking only about CIDA's position, I was asking for Canada's position.  Canada's work on the Year 2000 Culture of Peace should not just be limited to the fields of competence of CIDA or DFAIT, but should be transdisciplinary, holistic, inclusive.  The Culture of Peace Program "builds peace by working to change behaviours, forge values, and incite the institutional transformations that are indispensable for eliminating the deep roots of violence, exclusion and conflict."  It is time for some self-examination.

While your response may address the environment external to Canada it does not address internal matters (which may be expected as your mandate is international).   I believe, as do others, that the Culture of Peace Program is on the threshold of making a major impact pacifically, nationally and internationally, but is lacking direction and capacity in Canada. 

Simply stated, peace starts at home.   While Canada may currently be one of the most peaceful countries in the world, we still have a Culture of Violence and run the risk of being a victim of significantly increased violence at home and abroad.  Canadian values and behaviours must change.  As in other countries, the first candidate for 'institutional transformation' under a Culture of Peace in Canada is the Government of Canada.  The second candidate, quoting from the document you forwarded 'Education and Peacebuilding: A Preliminary Operational Framework' (4/23/99), "the (Canadian) education system must be rebuilt and not simply re-instituted".

I believe, and prey that you will agree, that if we can create a Culture of Peace in Canada, international programs like yours will benefit from a stronger mandate and resolve from the Canadian public (and probably more resources).  To paraphrase your conclusion, "it is time to take the Canadian government's role in the national peacebuilding community seriously".  I would like your assurance that you will start to play a role in this important task, including conveying these messages to the Prime Minister and Cabinet.  For that I, and a lot of other Canadians, will be truly grateful.  I look forward to your response.

 

Yours sincerely,

Robert Stewart, Director
Box 70
Okotoks, Alberta T1A 1S4
403-461-2469
fax 309-407-6576
email stewartr [at] peace.ca
web site http://www.peace.ca

cc. Hon. Jean Chretien
      Hon. L. Axworthy

 

See response from Minister Maria Minna on Canadian Government Policy regarding the Culture of Peace Initiative.


I pass along the following further comments to let you know where I (Robert Stewart) am coming from:

1. After spending 3 years researching peace and developing my own conclusions, I came across the UNESCO and its Culture of Peace Program.  There was an excellent match to my own beliefs about the path to building peace at home and abroad.  The wonderful thing was that UNESCO and the U.N. provided the credible institution to support my personal work.  I also recognized that it provided the credible source to activate Canada in general.  To understand this potential, you should familiarize yourself with the UNESCO Culture of Peace Program http://www.peace.ca/unesco.htm  and   http://www.unesco.org/cpp .  In summary, the UNESCO COPP concept is results oriented, namely "building peace by working to change behaviours, forge values, and incite the institutional transformations that are indispensable for eliminating the deep roots of violence, exclusion and conflict".  Education is key, and this is a long term prospect (not a quick fix).

2. My major priority is to promote a National Culture of Peace Program in Canada.  The Canadian Commission for UNESCO provided the credible Canadian vehicle to do this.  The United Nations International Year for a Culture of Peace in 2000 provides added momentum.  My personal goal is for Canada to initiate a National Culture of Peace Program by the end of 2000, as a product of the International Year and the commencement of the U.N. International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-violence for the Children of the World.  To provide a clearer picture of how this may unfold, I wrote two articles on my web site 'Is Peace Achievable' http://www.peace.ca/formula.htm and 'A National Culture of Peace Program for Canada' http://www.peace.ca/cpp.htm (which concludes with a 'Framework').  I hope you have a chance to read them - they are not perfect, but they are a start and the best plan on the table at the moment.

3. Because of the work that I have done, I have become a 'bit of a leader'.  To date, I am the only representative of business.  Typically, the rest of the people are bureaucrats and academics (and of course there are some cultural gaps among our different types of people).  I believe the problem in the past has been a lack of leadership and good management (i.e. a business-like, results oriented and pragmatic approach).  (The Canadian Commission for UNESCO, which is probably the best placed organization in Canada to lead this type of thing, complains of lack of resources but they also have been struggling in the past about their 'Mission' in life - this is the first of the institutional transformations required under the Culture of Peace Program, and I am pleased to note that some promising changes have been taking place.  There are some other key partners in this initiative as well, including the Canadian Peacebuilding Co-ordinating Committee and the United Nations Association of Canada.  Our next goal is to involve government departments with a mandate that touch upon a culture of peace and non-violence, of which there are a lot.)

4. I hope that by now you can see how you might fit in.  I assume that you will recognize the potential of the UNESCO Culture of Peace Program, and a National Culture of Peace Program for Canada.  I believe that, of the political leaders that I have met with an interest in building peace, you could make a most significant contribution to making a National Culture of Peace Program for Canada a reality. 

5. The approach must be a non-partisan, professional and realistic means to achieve effective change and improvement.  I believe our proposal meets this criteria (I am sure it can be improved upon, and I challenge others to do so). 

6. I take it that we agree that change and improvement is needed (meaningful), in a big way (this is the first step). 

7. Do we know what to do?  Carnegie Commission on Preventing Deadly Conflict says "yes", collectively we do (hence it is attainable).  As I have stated in my articles, it is just a matter of motivation that we are not attaining it

8. Do you want to do something about it?  Are you motivated?  Do you think you are able to do something about it?  Nobody said it was going to be easy.  I am sure your patience (and you generally) will be tested. 

9. Is it worth it?  You bet.  Your risks are small.  You can back off if you do not think it is productive.  The potential rewards are significant.

If not you, who?

I hope this 'teases' you a bit more into coming with the program. 


I thought you may be interested in this: Culture of Peace Program Frequently Asked Questions


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