Table of Contents:
What would a National Culture of Peace Program for Canada look like?
Background Considerations (Environmental Scan)
The Mission of the National Culture of Peace Program for Canada
Towards a Shared Vision
A Shortlist of Specific Objectives for a National Culture of Peace Program for Canada
Where do we go from here?

Appendix A
Appendix B

When I wrote my article 'A Formula For Peace', I concluded with my prescription, as recommended by the UNESCO Culture of Peace Program:

Initiate a National Culture of Peace Program in as many countries as possible, as soon as possible."

What would a National Culture of Peace Program for Canada look like?

Details of what is involved in setting up a Culture of Peace Program are contained in the Consolidated Report to the UN contained in the note reference, and the Evaluation Report, and summarized in Appendix 1. Without duplicating that material, I submit an outline of items to consider in initiating a National Culture of Peace Program for Canada ("COPP").

Background Considerations (Environmental Scan)

- a Culture of Peace Program must take a long term perspective, since transforming values, attitudes and behaviours on a broad scale is extremely difficult (but possible).

- it will take time to build the necessary broad scale support for a Culture of Peace Program. Barriers to change must be recognized, including:


- problem identification is a problem, for example:

a) a lack of consensus on the definition of peace and non-violence;
b) a lack of consensus on key success areas and critical performance measurements;
c) a lack of measuring and monitoring tools.

- solution identification is complex, for example:

a) we are talking about the society that we would like to have in the future;
b) a lack of consensus on solutions, in virtually every affected area (eg. justice, human rights vs. responsibilities, sustainable economy, ecology, globalization, corrections, poverty, education, political solutions, religious solutions, etc., etc.);
c) a lack of agreement that consensus may not be possible, and compromises necessary ;
d) a lack of inclusive network, and focus among potential problem solvers.

- of the key resources needed to successfully implement a Culture of Peace Program, the order of ease of mobilizing is as follows (from easiest to most difficult):

1. information resources;
2. human resources;
3. financial resources;
4. time.

- While not wishing to exclude anyone, we have to identify where our efforts are best spent (i.e. stratify targets). To an extent, the current adult generation will be most difficult to change (set in their ways). Accordingly, in terms of target audience of participants, primary focus should be on future generations (starting with the current generation of children and youth). A 'next' target audience may be Parents (Grandparents) and people and organizations who have shown an interest.  (Note - this refers to transforming values, attitudes and behaviours on a broad scale.  It is recognized that adults are the current decision makers and must be involved in the discussion of change.)

- to an extent, current violent offenders will be most difficult to change (set in their ways). Accordingly, in terms of more immediate corrective actions, primary focus should be on potential victims and 'target hardening' (eg. street proofing programs, better lighting, Block Parents programs, etc.).

- to an extent, the current "Darwinian" philosophy (i.e. survival of the fittest; highly competitive state) contradicts a peaceful and non-violent state. In fact, this presents itself as possibly the ultimate dilemma. Accordingly, primary focus will have to be on reconciling these two philosophies and finding an acceptable balance for the short term. (Affected areas include the world of business, economic globalization, sustainable economics/ecology, the world of politics, foreign policy, sports, play, etc. for them, we will talk in terms of risks and prevention)

- currently, a model National Culture of Peace Program is not operating anywhere in the world from which we can learn or transfer intelligence. We are blazing a new trail here. The design will evolve over time.

- prudence vs. haste. It should be recognized that there will be some 'tug-of-war' in this respect. We need to find a suitable balance or 'right track' (i.e. between a 'fast-track' and a 'slow-track'). I do not wish to take away from any progress to date, and wish to recognize the good work that has been done by all parties.

- positive vs. negative (or optimism vs. pessimism). We should emphasize the positive (i.e. there are already a lot of programs that are bringing in these principles). It is a real skill to try to provide 'constructive criticism' in a positive light that is well received. We must build upon our current strengths.


The Mission of the National Culture of Peace Program for Canada

Any Mission submitted should identify, as a minimum, the single-most key stakeholder and what the entity (in this case the Culture of Peace Program) is mandated to achieve.

I believe it is relatively easy to identify that key stakeholder as 'the Canadian Public'. Without the Canadian Public in mind, I do not think there would be a need for a National Culture of Peace. There may be other secondary 'clients' (Canadian businesses? the Canadian elite? the Canadian government? other?).

In terms of mandate, one would have to assume that it focuses on 'peace and non-violence'. Discussion needs to be held on that definition, and inclusiveness. For purposes of this paper, I define peace as 'the absence of violence' (at the international, community, family and individual levels), but recognize that it is a relative term and absolute peace will not be possible. I would think the Culture of Peace Program should include within the nation, and internationally. I would think it should work towards a better state of peace and non-violence, which recognizes the relative term and implies current and future measurement.

To initiate discussion, I propose an Overview of the Mission of the National Culture of Peace Program for Canada in Appendix A.


Towards a Shared Vision

The most important job of a leader of any organization is to provide a Vision to work towards.

To initiate discussion, I propose the following Vision for consideration:

To significantly reduce the human cost of violence, within our country and our world.

I claim the following strengths of this Vision:

- it is very specific and denies further increase in violence (any increase is not tolerable);

- it acknowledges that peace starts at home, but recognizes the interdependency of our world community;

- it is a measurable, and hence manageable, goal;

- it is achievable and realistic (unfortunately, to draw a parallel with unemployment, full employment is not achievable but say 95% is. Similarly, while a utopian peace may not be achievable, a smaller number of incidents of violence may have to be accepted, but not necessarily liked.);

- it is relevant to the wishes of a majority of Canadians (polls indicate a significant concern by Canadians of national and international crime and violence levels).


A Shortlist of Specific Objectives for a National Culture of Peace Program for Canada

Information management:

1. A Culture of Peace Program web site, to disseminate information (including a database of the current network of programs and participant organizations contributing to a Culture of Peace).
2. A Culture of Peace Program email list server, as a medium of communication among interested, active participants.

Network management:

3. Develop support and participation at the federal government level.
4. Develop support and participation at the provincial governments level.
5. Develop support and participation at the municipal governments level.
6. Develop support and participation at the other organizations level (eg. NGOs).
7. Develop support and participation at the corporate level.

Community-based action:

8. Provide direction and support for 'Safe and Caring Communities Programs' in all Canadian communities (including the provision of a model).

Resource management:

9. Mobilization of resources (financial, human and information resources), to support a Culture of Peace Program (including mobilization and training of service club and other volunteers).
10. Access funding and hire a coordinator.

Education and Implementation:

11. Develop support and participation at the Ministers of Education level (to reinforce what is actually bringing the values of a Culture of Peace Program into education curricula).
12. Mobilization of 'target hardening' programs (eg. Neighbourhood Watch, DARE, Lions Quest, Block Parents, community and household safety audits, human rights education, etc.)
13. Mobilization of conflict resolution programs (eg. ombudsman, community conflict resolution resources, school resources, etc.)
14. Mobilization of educational programs (eg. television, newspapers, Junior Peace Achievement-type Program, etc.), starting with readily available materials.
15.  Propose public debates, meetings, workshops, research on thematic issues (refer to Framework in Appendix B).  (Note - these would involve intergenerational participation, intercultural, intersectoral, etc.)


Where do we go from here?

At the Third Annual PeaceBuilding Consultations (Ottawa, March 2-3, 1999, Canadian Peacebuilding Coordinating Committee/Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade/Non-governmental Organizations), the Honourable Diane Marleau (Minister for International Co-operation) asked "how can we work together to build peace at home and abroad" and "how we have to make our cases to the Canadian Public, make it more relevant to Canadians, and how to involve other sectors?" She emphasized the need to focus on realistic alternatives.

Discussions at that meeting, and the following meeting of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO (Ottawa, March 4-5, 1999, Membership and Partnership Committee), in my opinion, point towards a National Culture of Peace Program for Canada as a process of building, leading towards a consensus to achieve Ms. Marleau's goals. The Honourable Lloyd Axworthy (Minister of Foreign Affairs) indicated that he "would love to do it if I had the resources". (Mr. Axworthy is scheduled to address the Annual General Meeting of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO on March 25, 1999 and this issue is expected to resurface there. There will also be a workshop on the Culture of Peace Program.)

I believe that there is enough food for thought in this paper to start the meaningful discussion on a National Culture of Peace Program for Canada. As the Carnegie Commission stated "It is not that we do not know, it is that we do not act". It is time to act.

There is enough to do to fill the first year or two. I suggest the following steps should now be taken:

1. Discussion among interested parties, and agreement on process.

2. Organization - assign responsibilities, objectives, tasks and time lines.

3. Action.

Building Bridges: Acting Locally and Acting Globally

What is of interest to the Ministers referred to above is our capacity to develop a better understanding in the minds of Canadians of the necessity to act globally to have a peaceful Canada as much as we have to act locally.  Interdependence means international solidarity is necessary.  Organizations bridging international and local matters are essential.

To start the discussion, I attach as Appendix B a suggested Process Framework using a Working Group-type of approach familiar to the above organizations. It would be intended that this Framework works with and within existing organizations and structures as much as possible (no redundancy). It also breaks down a 'mountain' of a problem into more manageable 'chunks'. This brings focus that has been previously lacking, gets everyone talking the same language and pulling in the same direction ultimately to significantly reduce violence, at home and abroad, to within more tolerable levels.  In my opinion, that is the bottom line.

Here is my challenge to you: place your suggestions for action also on the table so that we, the peacebuilding community in Canada, may move the discussion forward and get on with the action. If we can not agree, we should bring in the necessary process consultants and/or conflict resolution specialists to help us develop a consensus and act.

Respectfully submitted,

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

March 7, 1999

Responses welcome to stewartr [at]

NEWBUTTONPINK.GIF (519 bytes)  Draft Canadian Peace Initiative Mission, Vision and Charter of Principles

NEWBUTTONPINK.GIF (519 bytes) WORKING GROUP ON A CULTURE OF PEACE:  Anyone interested in joining is very welcome.  Contact Robert Stewart <stewartr [at]> or any of the other organizers.


Canadian Culture of Peace Program Announcement November 23, 2004. NEWBUTTONPINK.GIF (519 bytes)


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