IS PEACE ACHIEVABLE? WHAT IS THE FORMULA FOR PEACE?
Table of Contents:
The Experts Report on Peace - The Seville Statement on Violence (1986)
The Peace Formula
The Problem Is Motivation
National Culture of Peace Program
Transforming the World
Individuals and Communities Transforming Together
In 1996, when I started my journey to peace, a major question on my mind was: "Is peace achievable?". Have any experts reported one way or another on this key issue? I asked this because it could affect my motivation, and others. A second important question was: "What is the formula for peace?" I wished to do something to help advance the cause of peace and hence I had to know where to start.
It is not easy for an average citizen to find the answers, the writings and opinions on peace are very diverse and complex. However I am very happy to report that the answer is positive. Much expert research has been done (referenced throughout this document). Peace is achievable. Further, while there is no magic 'bullet' or formula, the intelligence exists in the world that we (the world) know what needs to be done. We currently have the knowledge, technology and infrastructure to achieve peace. The problem is motivation (and time). This I will explain.
The Experts Report on Peace - The Seville Statement on Violence (1986)
Based on rigorous scientific evidence, the Seville Statement (Note 1) refutes the myth that human beings are predisposed to violence through five key propositions. "It is scientifically incorrect to say:
I am satisfied, particularly from all the evidence reported by UNESCO's Culture
of Peace Program (Note 2) and also from extensive research of the
large volume of resource material (Note 3), that peace is
The Peace Formula
What, then, is the formula for peace? The following variables must be in place:
1. A credible government(s) code of ethics, with a basis in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Note 4). In simple terms, of the things they think, say or do, government(s) must be able to be relied upon to be truthful, fair, build good will and better relationships, and strive for the benefit of all concerned. The same ethics should be expected of governments, corporations and other organizations as are expected of individuals. Do as you would have done to you. At the same time, a Universal Declaration of Human Responsibilities should also provide suitable guidance (Note 5).
2. An international system of justice. Without justice there can be no peace. Every nation has instituted a criminal and civil court system to get the brawls off the street and into the courtroom, to be resolved in what should be perceived as a fair and reasonable manner. It is not hard to imagine that an international system of justice is necessary for crimes against humanity, world environment and other international matters. At the same time, there must be a reliable, and I should add proactive, Conflict and Dispute Resolution System for parties who are willing to voluntarily work together to a solution, to avoid the necessity of going to court and most importantly to avoid conflict. These are sensitive roles, reliant on moral suasion (among other things), so as not to usurp national jurisdictions. (Note 6)
3. A global sustainable economy. There must be a proper economy to provide reasonable employment and eradicate poverty and hunger. Nobel Prize winner Amartya Sen has shown us how systematic public action can eradicate the terrible and resilient problems of starvation and hunger in the world in which we live (Note 7). However, the economy must also be in balance with this small planet's ecology. This is probably the most difficult challenge - all other elements of the peace formula are relatively straight forward. The Union of Concerned Scientists (amongst others) has issued a Warning to All of Humanity to change habits lest our planet Earth be irreversibly mutilated. "A great change in our stewardship of the earth and the life on it, is required, if vast human misery is to be avoided and our global home on this planet is not to be irretrievably mutilated." The Warning is signed by thousands of senior Scientists around the world, among them more than 100 Nobel Laureates. (Notes 8 and 9). It will take only co-ordinated action at the world level to achieve this 'mission critical goal'. As "no man is an island", in this respect, no individual nation can remain disconnected from the rest of the world.
4. Universal access to competent education systems. This principle is basic and simple to understand. It is included in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights for good reason. Particularly, the education of women is key to both economic and peace developments. "The full participation and empowerment of women is essential to the development of a culture of peace. It was the monopolization of warfare by men that led to the exclusion of women from power. But women's skills of exchange, co-operation and solidarity, as well as their experience of giving birth, bringing up the next generation and managing informal economies, are all essential to the evolution of a culture of peace ... Women, in all societies the transmitters of the history, customs and traditions of their people, are the key to the development of a culture of peace, which cannot be superimposed upon society, but must evolve from it." Further, "in the past education was designed to make people (men) strong, rich and intelligent, 'in order to dominate and progress at the expense of others'. Today, the very basis of the educational system must change. The principle of strength must be replaced by the principle of mutual help. Everyone must be educated for peace. All must be taught that it is essential to go beyond selfish behaviour and commit ourselves to the development of others, to justice and to establish amicable relations between human beings." As Albert Einstein said "Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding." (Note 10)
5. A compassionate health and welfare system. This principle is also basic and simple to understand. It is also included in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Within a framework of universal human rights and responsibilities, the more privileged have a humanitarian responsibility to help the under-privileged.
These (measurable and hence manageable) factors are in place to varying degrees in every Nation. Every nation's level of internal (and often external) peacefulness is a result of the strength of these factors. By extension, the world's level of peacefulness is a result of the strength of these factors. Strengthen these factors and the world becomes more peaceful. Peace, and the formula for peace, is measurable and manageable. What we have, therefore, is a management or leadership challenge.
The Problem Is Motivation
Peace is achievable. Further, the formula to achieve peace is known. We currently have the knowledge, technology and infrastructure to achieve peace. So what is the problem? Motivation. (Note 17) World leaders have not been motivated to work together in co-operation to achieve world peace (hence a management or leadership problem). And the world's populace have not been motivated to motivate their political leaders (a civic problem). We can, and should, approach this from the top down, and from the bottom up.
From the top down, all the research is overwhelmingly in support of a new world order. This planet, in the past century, has become too small and its limitations too apparent to not realize that the world's populace must act together. Never before have we been so dependent on each other. It is inescapable. We have a global problem that will require a global solution. This will take leadership at a global level that we all will follow. The United Nations is well placed to provide this leadership. However, the United Nations would have to be reformed to undertake this honorous responsibility (Note 11).
Further, and this will be difficult (but not insurmountable), current national foreign policies must change. For example, "Social justice, as a goal urged by the United Nations, refers to striving for equality between entire peoples; that is a global attack on global poverty. Such an attack cannot be launched without radically changing the current trade patterns and financial arrangements between the affluent and impoverished worlds. It cannot be launched without expressly disavowing national policies of the sort proposed shortly after World War II by an advisor to the U.S. government, George F. Kennan. He was also the first to formulate the so called "containment strategy", which dominated U.S. foreign policy for almost a half century. I quote: 'we have about 50% of the world's wealth, but only about 6.3% of its population. In this situation we cannot fail to be the object of envy and resentment. Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity without detriment to our national security... We need not deceive ourselves that we can afford ... the luxury of altruism ... We should cease to talk about ... unreal objectives such as human rights, the rising of living standards and democratization. The day is not far off when we are going to deal in straight power concepts.' " (Note 12) Haunting words in light of recent conflicts with Iraq.
Furthermore, in a recent article in Foreign Affairs entitled "Saving the UN", U.S. Senator Jesse Helms writes:
"As it currently operates, the United Nations does not deserve continued American support... [[it] is being transformed from an institution of sovereign nations into a quasi-sovereign entity in itself. The transformation represents an obvious threat to U.S. national interests.. This situation is untenable. The United Nations was originally created to help nation-states facilitate the peaceful resolution of international disputes. However, the United Nations has moved from facilitating diplomacy among nation-states to supplanting them altogether. Boutros Ghali has said as much. In his Agenda for Peace. he declared... "The time of absolute and exclusive sovereignty ... has passed. Its theory has never matched reality ..." Such thinking is -in step with the nearly global movement toward greater centralization of political power ... This process must be stopped ... U.N. reform is much more than saving money. It is about preventing unelected bureaucrats from acquiring ever greater powers at the expense of elected national leaders. It is about restoring the legitimacy of the nation-state ... the UN bureaucracy mistakenly believes that caring for the needs of all the world's people is . . its job.... There must be a termination of unnecessary committees and conferences ... In addition to wasteful conferences like the Beijing women's summit, ... the United Nations continually sponsors workshops, expert consultations, technical consultations, and panel discussions.... Most of these can be terminated at a savings of millions of dollars . . The time has come for the United States to deliver an ultimatum: Either the United Nations reforms, quickly and dramatically, or the United States will end its participation.... Withholding U.S. contributions has not worked. In 1986 Congress passed the Kassebaum-Solomon bill, which said to the United Nations in clear and unmistakable terms, reform or die. The time has come for it to do one or the other." (Note 12)
As Henry Kissinger puts it succinctly, "Empires have no interest in
operating within an international system; they aspire to be the international system
Reform it must, for if the United Nations dies then the globe and everyone on it will be at tremendous risk. Only the rich and powerful may prosper, but this is shortsighted and they too will be seriously affected. Most certainly, the masses of poor and even middle class may perish at higher rates. The only foreseeable alternative might be for a superpower such as the United States playing the role of benevolent dictator - something that is unlikely to be acceptable. Although the globe is not at the brink yet, warnings are that we may be there within fifty years more or less, and it is timely for our world leaders to make a choice now. (Notes 13 and 14)
From the bottom up, "today more than ever before, civil society is experiencing a proliferation of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in which individuals can engage in non-violent action for peace and justice. Moreover, with the emerging world communication network, they are increasingly able to link their struggles on a global scale. These are perhaps the most important development in the movement for a culture of peace, because the transition must take place primarily in the minds of individual men and women through a process of action and growth (Note 15). Among the thousands of NGOs working for peace, many are adopting the culture of peace as an explicit priority.
Increasingly the energy and scope of NGOs is linked directly to the UN, both as a source of ideas and inspiration, and as a powerful multiplier for the universal principles of the organization. It is also up to young people to take up the task of building and cultivating a culture of peace in the next generation. Citizens, if supported by international networking, can play a key role in peace-building.
Finally, citizens must have a faith that peace is not only desirable but possible." (Note 16) My purpose here is to try to show that peace is desirable and possible. Each of us must decide if we are part of the problem, or part of the solution. The world is dangerous not because of those who do harm, but because of those who look at it without doing anything.
In 1996, when I started my journey to peace, I simply wanted to do something to build peace in our communities and world. I was particularly concerned about the levels of violence in our communities and the potential impacts upon my family, and a fear that government at its current rate was insufficient in dealing with it. For me, and many like me, peace starts at home and in my own country - 'think globally, act locally' is the current maxim. That journey has led me all over the world.
I have learned that peace at the individual, family, community and world levels are inter-related, and a natural progression. I have learned about the power of one person, with a conviction, to make a difference in our communities and world. I have developed a web site in my constant challenge to simplify and focus the complex problem of peace. I have learned that peace is complex because of convergence with many other factors of which I have read: human rights and responsibilities, racism and tolerance, religion and spirituality, social justice and democracy, education for employment and peaceful life skills, the links between masculinity and violence, the links between women and peace, a culture of peace vs. a culture of violence, sustainable economy vs. rampant capitalism, poverty and hunger, world order, disarmament, nuclear proliferation, national foreign policies, the ecology of our small planet Earth.
I do not consider myself an expert on Peace. I am not an academic. I am not a
political leader or skilled in foreign policy. I am a simple person who wants to do
something to build peace in our communities and world. I am certain that, if we polled the
world's populace, an overwhelming majority would support building peace in our communities
and world, and much more strongly than what our political leaders currently are. I
believe, in this respect, I am representative of the world's populace, which makes my
message important. So here is my simple 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.
National Culture of Peace Program
The essence of a Culture of Peace Program is to address the roots of the problem as a common cause, to the benefit of everyone without diminishing any other. Education is the principal means to build a Culture of Peace. 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. The start would be for the appropriate agency (I understand in this case it would be the Canadian Commission for UNESCO) to initiate a Federal Government Cabinet Submission for a declaration by the Government of Canada to make a Culture of Peace a priority for the entire country, backed up with a proposed Action Plan tailored from the UNESCO materials (and hopefully with input from major stakeholders such as the Department of Foreign Affairs, Canadian Peacebuilding Coordinating Committee, NGOs, etc.) If this were timed to coincide with the the U.N. International Year of a Culture of Peace in 2000 it would be a perfect and fitting event.
Canada currently has a culture of violence - not as bad as many countries, but a culture of violence nonetheless. Canada needs a National Culture of Peace Program. Think globally and act locally. This is not something for other people - this is US: you and me. How can we promote this to others if we do not adopt it ourselves? This is in Canada's best interests. This is in your, my and, most importantly, our children's best interest. Is this not the direction we should give our political leaders, and hold them accountable?
Currently, the majority of Canadians have no idea what is going on in this country with respect to peace and non-violence. As an individual, it was very difficult for me to find out. A National Culture of Peace Program would raise the profile, mobilizing resources, organizations and public opinion. It will put our work on a fast track, and focus it on a common objective or worthwhile cause. It will include action to support participatory communications, networking and the free flow and sharing of information and knowledge. Education is the principal means to build a Culture of Peace, and hence action would be taken to develop education, training, and research for peace and non-violence. Ultimately, informed voters can provide direction to our leaders motivating them to take the necessary action to build peace in our communities and world. Canada could then provide a working model to others and speak from experience. All of this is complimentary to recent references to the Canadian Government's soft diplomacy efforts and should be well received. It will not be easy - it will be a lot of work - but it is the plan that makes the most sense today.
Transforming the World
For the UNESCO Culture of Peace Program to really succeed, a major Western government and G7 member is needed to promote it at the UN. To date it appears that these major governments feel that a Culture of Peace is for other countries - conflict torn countries - not us. The difficulty of our task is evident by the fact that virtually no one in Canada and the United States has any awareness of this program, including most peace activists; and that the responsible government agencies seem to be under-resourced.
While technically peace is achievable, the problem is motivation (and time). If Canada (and the world) does not adopt a Culture of Peace Program, then voters will remain uninformed and will not provide the needed direction to our leaders who will remain unmotivated to take the often difficult but necessary action to achieve peace in our communities and world. The real and present danger is that Peace will not happen the way we are going now. I feel for current victims of violence in our communities and world who I can not help, but I fear even moreso for future generations.
On the other hand, however, if the majority of the world adhere's to UNESCO's Culture of Peace Program (and it will benefit with dialogue and evolution), the world will be a much better place and mankind will evolve to a much higher level. To do otherwise carries great risk.
Individuals and Communities Transforming Together
Finally, suitably tailored, the Formula For Peace above (i.e. a credible government code of ethics, a fair system of justice, a sustainable economy, access to competent education systems, and a compassionate health and welfare system) applies equally to building peace at the individual, family, community, national and world levels. Where before, in my relatively comfortable life, I may have been able to turn a blind eye to the violence taking place around me in our communities and world, I have now concluded that it is urgent to implement this Formula. After all, the world is my community.
It is particularly up to those of us individuals, communities and nations that are relatively prosperous to take responsibility for change - the poor and distressed are not able. As the World's Scientists have warned us, during our children's lifetime "A great change in our stewardship of the earth and the life on it, is required, if vast human misery is to be avoided and our global home on this planet is not to be irretrievably mutilated." We are the stewards.
Responses welcome to stewartr [at] peace.ca
Robert Stewart, C.A., C.M.C.
Director, Canadian Centres for Teaching Peace
Read the proposed "NATIONAL CULTURE OF PEACE PROGRAM FOR CANADA".
These references contain a wealth of information and readers are urged to read them in your personal voyages to peace and world understanding.
1. The Seville Statement was excerpted from "UNESCO and a Culture of Peace: Promoting a Global Movement", UNESCO Publishing, ISBN 92-3-103391-3. Ordering information - http://www.unesco.org/general/eng/publish/order.html
2. UNESCO Culture of Peace Program Web references:
3. the large volume of resource material referred to is referenced on the Canadian Centres for Teaching Peace web site at http://www.peace.ca
4. See http://www.udhr50.org/UDHR/default.htm for the full text of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
5. Work that has been undertaken along the lines of a Universal Declaration of Human Responsibilities can be found at Universal Declaration of Human Responsibilities Proposed by the InterAction Council http://www.asiawide.or.jp/iac/Declara1/EngDecl1.htm#RESPONSIBILITIES - CITIZENS' PUBLIC TRUST TREATY, A TREATY OF ETHICS, EQUITY AND ECOLOGY, A PROPOSED United Nations General Assembly Resolution, http://www.gn.apc.org/negreens/cptt.htm
6. To learn more about the International (World) Court, refer to the United Nations International Crime Court web site http://www.un.org/icc; the NGO Coalition site http://www.igc.org/icc
7. The Hunger Project is committed to the end of hunger (http://www.thp.org). Public Action To Remedy Hunger, by Amartya Sen can be read at http://www.thp.org/reports/sen/sen890.htm
8. The full text of the Warning to All of Humanity can be read at http://www.pgs.ca/pages/mem/warning.htm
9. A well researched web site by Jay Hanson explains his claim that "Our civilization is dying from "system" problems; problems such as the population explosion, natural resource depletion, and war. Problems which have no technical solutions. Moreover, our system problems have no current political solutions. If there is any hope at all, it is that people will come to understand the key systems in their world and then find the courage to make the hard decisions necessary for survival. We must find political means to abandon the competitive, consumptive social system -- or we shall perish." To read about a World Systems Crash Scenario visit http://dieoff.org/ Also refer to the attached article, Oil Prices: They are no surprise by Mike Nickerson.
10. Excerpted from "UNESCO and a Culture of Peace: Promoting a Global Movement", UNESCO Publishing, ISBN 92-3-103391-3. Ordering information - http://www.unesco.org/general/eng/publish/order.html
11. The United Nations in the Twentyfirst Century: A Vision for an Evolving World Order, A. Walter Dorn, University of Toronto (March, 1998) http://www.pgs.ca/woc/wdun2198.htm
12. Excerpted from Conceptions of World Order by Anatol
13. To learn more about the United Nations visit http://www.un.org
14. For clarification, the writer supports a well-supported, democratic United Nations to lead world issues.
15. The Preamble to UNESCO's mandate states: "Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed".
16. Excerpted from "UNESCO and a Culture of Peace: Promoting a Global Movement", UNESCO Publishing, ISBN 92-3-103391-3. Ordering information - http://www.unesco.org/general/eng/publish/order.html
17. The Carnegie Commission on Preventing Deadly
Conflict http://www.ccpdc.org/ recently reported: 1.
deadly conflict is not inevitable; 2. the need to prevent deadly conflict is increasingly
urgent; and 3. preventing deadly conflict is possible. 'The problem is not that we
do not know ... it is often that we do not act.'
APPENDIX 1 - WHAT ARE SOME OF THE
CHARACTERISTICS OF A NATIONAL CULTURE OF PEACE PROGRAM?
- a declaration by the national government (provinces, and municipalities) to make a culture of peace a priority for the entire country
- attainment of a Culture of Peace will benefit everyone, without diminishing any other
- mobilize public opinion for a Culture of Peace: communications, information management, media (eg. web sites, email list server, newsletters, etc.)
- central role by the national government in its realization
- role in the transformation for other governments (eg. provinces, municipalities); authorities; educational, cultural and other institutions; NGOs; and civil society (i.e. partnership)
- as per Article 3 of the Draft Declaration on a Culture of Peace (Note), a Culture of Peace aims at:
- mobilization of resources (money, human resources, information resources) in
support of a Culture of Peace;
- education is the principal means to build a Culture of Peace. Every aspect of education should be mobilized towards this end.
- mobilization of conflict resolution resources (eg. ombudsman and/or commissioners for human rights and Culture of Peace; code of ethics/conduct for governments, etc; at the national, provincial, municipal levels)
- actions to promote respect for human rights;
- actions to develop education, training, and research for peace and non-violence;
- actions to implement sustainable human development for all;
- actions to foster democratic participation;
- actions to ensure equality between women and men;
- actions to support participatory communication and the free flow and sharing of information and knowledge;
- actions to advance understanding, tolerance, solidarity among all peoples and cultures;
- coordination with actions for international peace and security.
Note - This Appendix is a highly summarized version of the "Consolidated Report to the United Nations on A Culture of Peace" submitted by UNESCO to the UN September 1998 at the following location (it is an Adobe document for reading or downloading) 5 Star Must Read Rating. http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0011/001130/113034e.pdf
Read the proposed "NATIONAL CULTURE OF PEACE PROGRAM FOR CANADA". and
Canadian Culture of Peace Program Announcement November 23, 2004.
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