National Culture of Peace Program/Canadian Peace Initiative Strategy: A Canadian Peace Vision Proposal

By Robert Stewart, C.A. , C.M.C.



The development of the strategy for a National Culture of Peace Program/Canadian Peace Initiative must be an open, inclusive, collaborative and ongoing evolving process.  I have taken the liberty of collecting my ideas here, so that I may help with the facilitation of its development.  My thoughts are not intended to pre-empt or prejudice any discussion – only to help (at least it helps me).  For a summary this is lengthy, however peace is a complex issue (actually a convergence of many complex issues, each one a dilemma in its own right) – this is why it requires a substantial strategy.

Prior to reading these suggestions, readers should enumerate their own ideas and principles with respect to a proposed National Culture of Peace Program/Canadian Peace Initiative/Culture of Peace and Non-violence.


A Proposed Vision Statement

To significantly reduce the human costs of violence, in our communities, country, and in our world (and increase the human “profits”). 

[Note – costs may be measured in terms of financial, human, social and other costs; profits may also.  Violence may be measured in terms of direct (eg. Physical abuse) and indirect (eg. Psychological abuse, systemic abuse, etc.) violence.]


Background - General

Recommended Reading

1. A Canadian Peace Vision at

2. "The Human Right To Peace" - Senator Douglas Roche' book  (ref. and )

3. Excerpts from the book UNESCO and a Culture of Peace: Promoting a Global Movement, by UNESCO (ref. Chapter 5, National Culture of Peace Programmes, pages 43 to 57 ):   a) National Culture of Peace Programs put the basic concepts of a culture of peace into action at a local level ... are characterized by broad based participation, dialogue and co-operation ... give support to grass-roots initiatives.

4. Summary of UNESCO Culture of Peace Program at and the David Adams article on the "values of a culture of peace" at

5. What might a National Culture of Peace Program for Canada look like? (background reading  to start the dialogue)

6. working groups and organizational structure (for an example of what that might look like to start the discussion refer to -- this is a must read)  


A Suggested Statement of Principles

In no particular order:



Prospective participants will have to decide whether they support the current Culture of War and Violence or that they support the Culture of Peace Program.  They will also have to decide to do something about it, starting with Peace Education.  

To those committed to the United Nations Culture of Peace Program, we are the children of a peace culture.  It has taken us a long time and a personal journey of learning to get here.  We haven't got it perfect yet, but we are the start.  Many are not here yet, but we can help.   Based on the good work done by UNESCO and the U.N., you and I can say, “I am one of the children that we are now “consciously” trying to form.”  ‘Trying to form’ in the sense of helping them, through Servant Leadership, to find their own truths about the Culture of War and Violence, and the Culture of Peace and Non-violence.  “Future generations … will recognize almost intuitively that peace is their right.” (Doug Roche)

It has been said that a people without a vision will perish.  A Canadian Peace Vision will lift Canadians to great heights (it is both a human and “market” opportunity).  In one sense, it should not be a difficult sell: One-third of Canadians already believe "peacekeeping and peacefulness" is the greatest contribution Canada has to offer the world (ref. ).  80% to 90% of Canadians have positive feelings toward peace, but need support in what to do to act upon it.  The good news: More Peace Education has taken place since September 11, 2001 (9/11) than ever before in the history of mankind.

Peace starts at home, with us … with “me”.  Our first task is to help create a nation of peace promoters.  This is bound to help peace organizations, governments, educational and other institutions sincerely interested in building a better future.  We will be asked to help other peoples in other countries similarly, if we get our act together and develop a special expertise in the Culture of Peace.  It is also important to point out that the UNESCO Culture of Peace Program has been threatened by “politics, and resource and support starvation” – it is vital that countries like Canada take a lead to keep this important Program alive and flourishing. 

“Our role…is to nourish the seeds of peace so that the blossom appears. When ‘we the peoples’ seize this responsibility, the human right to peace will be assured.” Doug Roche, The Human Right to Peace.

We must react, each of us to the best of our abilities.


Feedback, input, comments and Suggestions Welcome

The development of the strategy for a National Culture of Peace Program/Canadian Peace Initiative must be an open, inclusive, collaborative and ongoing evolving process.  The challenge is for each of us to put forward our visions for a Culture of Peace, to develop direction, capacity and give action to The Human Right of Peace.

Respectfully submitted,

Robert Stewart, C.A., C.M.C. stewartr [at]



I am attaching the following Canadian Culture of Peace Program ("CCOPP") Reports for your information:

1. CCOPP Summary Statement  (in HTML)   (in Microsoft Word) NEWBUTTONPINK.GIF (519 bytes)
2. CCOPP Initial Action Plan   (in HTML)   (in Microsoft Word)
3. CCOPP Leadership & Peace Workshop Report (Nov 15 - 17, 2004)   (in HTML)   (in Microsoft Word)
4. CCOPP Organization Network (Draft) (in HTML)  
5. CCOPP Mobilizing Peace Resources (Nov 19, 2004) (in HTML)   (in Microsoft Word)
6. CCOPP Open Space Technology Conference Report (Nov 22 - 23, 2004) (in HTML)   (in Microsoft Word)

and our amazing, 60 page Youth Day Report (Nov 18, 2004) (in pdf)

A great "THANK YOU" to all the participants.  Without you, none of this would be possible.


FAQ #1: "My (peace) program is the priority and I do not have time for a National Culture of Peace Program."  (For purposes of the example, we will use the Nuclear Weapons issue.)
First, tell me about your peace program and strategy, and I will try to support it.  This type of growing mutual support is a significant element of a National Culture of Peace Program.  I support all the good work being done, but meanwhile please listen to my analysis.
The U.S. administration has it within its power to "eliminate" nuclear weapons, but they have not, and do not plan to.
The U.S. administration believes in "Realpolitick", American Hegemony and world domination, plus they are somewhat paranoid for their security, and wants Nuclear Weapons to back them up.  (In fact, they have been looking into using "limited" nuclear weapons on a pre-emptive basis.)
U.S. leaders will continue to do what they do as long as they can get away with it, and it is in their best perceived interest to do so.
Therefore, the first problem is with Leaders.  We (i.e. Canadian Centres for Teaching Peace) have a philosophy: "most violence is the result of unscrupulous leaders, out of greed for power and resources, who exploit their people into violence, provoking them with religion, racism, poverty, fear, etc."
The second problem is with Followers.  The general public is relatively nuclear weapons illiterate, Culture of War and Violence illiterate, Culture of Peace and Non-violence illiterate, and disempowered (disenfranchised).
The third problem is with Motivation.  The Leaders are motivated by power and greed, and are not motivated to change (i.e. rather than being motivated by goodwill).  Followers (the general public) are not motivating their Leaders to change, and the Followers themselves are not motivated to change these circumstances.
The fourth problem is with Vision, or lack thereof.  It has been said that, "A people without Vision will perish."
If this rationale rings true (and we know nuclear weapons issues is complicated, fraught with dilemmas), then the solution is to motivate U.S. Leaders/Administration to change their attitudes and behaviours, in this case to "eliminate" nuclear weapons.
How?  It will take a multi-track.  For example, in the short term, international pressure (but they can ignore it) and internal pressure (but they can also ignore it, as they have been doing).  In the longer term, what is required is international pressure that they can not ignore; the Gandhian solution would be a boycott and engagement of civil society; the Martin Luther King Jr. solution would be civil disobedience; the Gene Sharpe solution would be 198 Methods of Nonviolent Action (ref. ); motivating the Followers to motivate the Leaders to change; using Peace Education and a National Culture of Peace Program; resulting in internal pressure that the Leaders can not ignore.  It will involve sacrifices (eg. apparent security; cost of action; etc.)
This takes "the other Superpower" - Civil Society - to reclaim society.  Yes, this is a movement -- a movement must be SMART -- i.e. a National Culture of Peace Program.  A Canadian National Culture of Peace Program might help to establish a model of a U.S. National Culture of Peace Program (and others).
Prime tools will include persuasion, education, empowerment; plus, "what is in it for me?", "why should I make the necessary sacrifices?"  A National Culture of Peace Program has to demonstrate this.  It has to write John/Jane Q. Public into this solution.
To give people hope that war and its supporters can be overcome, people have to see themselves written into the script; what they can do and why.  Hope has to be transformed to belief "it can happen" = empowerment.
In this way, we believe that a National Culture of Peace Program will help to advance your priority peace program, whatever it is.  If Canadians are Culture of Peace literate, we believe they will more supportive, personally and financially.  It is a long term, systemic approach.  Systemic thinking is required to build peace in our communities and world.


FAQ #2: Why do we need to deal with peace at the individual, family and community levels?  What has this got to do with world peace?
A Culture of War transforms to a Culture of Peace.  A Culture of Violence transforms to a Culture of Non-violence.  A Culture of War and Violence transforms to a Culture of Peace and Non-violence (a U.N. term).  The U.N. developed hypothesis is that they are all interrelated.
For example, a country that frequently goes to war and uses the death penalty is modelling behaviour that violence is the way to address issues.  As a result, their populace is more violent, simply following government behaviour.  If the populace is, by culture, more violent then the only tool they see for dealing with issues is violence and hence keep militarism, nuclear weapons, etc.  This is a vicious cycle -- a chicken and egg situation.  The cycle of violence and war must be broken --- it is easiest for government leaders to do so, but if they do not then the populace must.  That becomes a movement - a National Culture of Peace Program.
A child who is raised in a Culture of Violence will grow up to naturally support war and nuclear weapons (for example, if their country owns them).  A person who tells a racist or sexist joke will more naturally support war and nuclear weapons.  They more easily succumb to irrational fear, and hand over power to a few to protect them.  A child who is raised in a Culture of Peace and Non-violence can see a different way ... can see different tools to overcome issues.  Even though a child may grow up in a country or community that reflects more of a Culture of War and Violence, he or she may grow up in a family that reflects more of a Culture of Peace and Non-violence -- that can have a more dramatic effect on that person's outlook.
People who are "violence illiterate" must become literate and empowered.  That is a task of a National Culture of Peace Program.
Finally, war and WMD/nuclear weapons will only be really banned when the U.S. "volunteers" to abide by International Law.  It will take powerful persuasion to achieve this.  International pressure may achieve this, if the U.S. gets a willing and motivated leader(s).  Ultimately, the U.S. leaders will probably only be motivated by the U.S. people -- and they will be a hard lot to motivate.  It comes back to International pressure on multi-tracks: diplomacy, moral suasion, boycott, sanction, National Culture of Peace Program, education, help build an internal movement, solidarity (and terrorism has been the chosen tool of some).
If that does not convince, a look in almost any school library shows a vast proportion of books on war, compared to books on peace.  The principal says, "that is what the students want to read".  How can you achieve a Culture of Peace and Non-violence when that is the attitude of the principal?  

A question to the Canadian government about peace (peace education, Culture of Peace) and the politician or official says, "that is about or for other countries, not Canada".  Government appears to see peace only in terms of Foreign Affairs, CIDA, DND - and not in its Departments of Health, Justice, Community Affairs or Education.  How can you achieve a Culture of Peace and Non-violence when that is the attitude of our government?  As the United Nations promulgates, transformation is required at all levels (individual, family, community, world), and in all institutions (government, education, religious, business, NGOs, etc.).


[Other questions are invited, and we will publish our responses.]



 Reference Material:

 Books and articles that I have that exemplify the work of a National Culture of Peace Program (in no particular order):


UNESCO and a Culture of Peace: Promoting a Global Movement, by UNESCO (book)

From a Culture of Violence to a Culture of Peace: Peace and Conflict Issues, by UNESCO (book)

The UNESCO Culture of Peace website , (it is interesting to note that it is very difficult to find the Culture of Peace Program from UNESCO’s homepage at – I would suggest this may be reflective of politics)

The Human Right To Peace, by Senator Douglas Roche (book)  (ref. and  

The conceptual material proposing a National Culture of Peace Program in Canada (ref. and ) by Robert Stewart, C.A. , C.M.C.  

A conceptual map of the Peace and Violence Issue, required for addressing the issues (ref. ) by Robert Stewart, C.A. , C.M.C.

Canadian Commission for UNESCO Culture of Peace website and resources  

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

Canadian Peacebuilding Coordinating Committee website by Robert Stewart, C.A. , C.M.C. 

Vancouver City Council has become active again in the anti-war movement.  It formally opposed the invasion of Iraq , re-established a peace and justice committee, and is working with other cities to stop the weaponization of space.  It is also participating in the World Conference of Mayors for Peace emergency campaign to abolish nuclear weapons (2020 Vision).  The anti-war movement in Vancouver has a long history and has gained new vigour through the efforts of and others.  Social justice advocates are active everywhere and the progressive arts and cultural life is dynamic.  And Vancouver is one of the most cosmopolitan cities on earth with the capacity to help build the bridges to make a World Peace Forum a reality.   Reference 

There is a relatively new federal Department of Social Development (Ken Dryden, Minister) – see

Proposal for a Federal Department of Peace, prepared by the Victoria Working Group for a Federal Department of Peace

Responsibility to Protect 

Navigating a New World: Canada's Global Future, by Lloyd Axworthy 

Canada can change world, say Trudeau's sons 

The Best Country: Why Canada Will Lead the Future, by Satya Das

Peace Psychology - American Psychological Association (APA) Division 48 has sponsored development of the first college textbook on peace psychology (all proceeds are donated to the division).  "Peace, Conflict, and Violence: Peace Psychology for the 21st Century" edited by D. Christie, R. Wagner, and D. Winter (2001) is now available from Prentice Hall. The book is a 426 page paperback, very attractively packaged. If you teach at the college level, this may be the perfect text for your peace psychology or conflict and violence course. Knowing that an excellent text is available, some of you may now want to develop the first peace psychology course for your college. 5 Star Must Reading   Click on the link to Peace Psychology to read an excellent summary and ordering information.  ]

Creating a New Civilization: The Politics of the Third Wave, by Alvin and Heidi Toffler

The New Realities: In Government and Politics/ In Economics and Business/ In Society and World View, by Peter F. Drucker

The Culture of Fear: Why Americans are Afraid of the Wrong Things, by Barry Glassner

Roots of Violence in the U.S. Culture: A Diagnosis Towards Healing, by Alain J. Richard

Violence in America : Coping with Drugs, Distressed Families, Inadequate Schooling, and Acts of Hate, by Raymond B. Flannery, Jr., Ph.D

Sustainable Peace: A Business for Canada (An Intentional Community at Work) by Michel Juneau -Katsuya