Logo for Culture of Peace - VOW

Creating a Culture of Peace
A Workshop Kit Produced by Canadian Voice
of Women for Peace

peacewheelsm.JPG (7060 bytes)Culture of Peace Wheel

Members of Voice of Women developed this Culture of Peace diagram as one way to conceptualize the movement towards the Culture of Peace. It shows that wherever people have started their exploration into solving the vital problems of our time or creating a better world, as their understanding grows, they eventually come to the same place: a global culture of peace. The spokes of the wheel represent different paths to the same conclusion... The blank spoke is an invitation for you to add your own 1 ideas. Please let us know what your ideas are so we can add to our own understanding.


1. The peace movement and other social movements

The vision of the culture of peace and the commitment to its realization has come from people all over the world, working together in the peace movement and other movements for social change.

2. Global commissions and the World "Problematique"

In the 1970s and 80s, the UN sponsored a series of commissions with representation from around the world to deal with the set of interlocking problems identified as threats to human security. These were the Brandt commission on North-South issues, the Palme commission on security and disarmament and the Brundtland commission on environment and development. These issues are now understood as a "problematique", a set of interconnected issues that will have to be worked on in an interdisciplinary, international and integrated way to ensure a common future.

3. World Conferences in the 1990s

These issues have also been the focus of a series of conferences in the 1990s: the 1992 "Earth Summit" on environment and development in Rio, the 1993 Vienna conference on Human Rights, the 1994 Cairo Conference on Population and Development, and the 1995 Copenhagen conference on social development. All of these had extensive involvement of NGOS. Often the NGOs would run parallel conferences alongside the "official " conference and issue their own statements.

4. Four world conferences on women

The women's movement was strong and influential in the 1960s and 70s, with a primary emphasis on women's rights. The first time an explicit link was made between women's rights and peace was at the first world conference in Mexico City, 1975. By the fourth conference, Beijing 1995, equality, development and peace had become the major themes, and they were seen as inextricably linked.

 5. The changing focus of Canadian government policy

Some of the focal points of Canadian government foreign policy reflect a change in attitudes towards peace. The Ottawa Process leading to the Landmines Treaty is a milestone in government-NGO co-operation. Peacebuilding, human-based important ml security and soft power are now part of the rhetoric, and some interesting initiatives have developed with other government departments (e.g. the peacebuilding program in co-ordination with Canadian International Development Association), with other countries (Norway on soft power initiatives) and with NGOs (especially on small arms and child soldiers).

 6. Academic peace research

This still young field of research has undergone many changes since its inception as a discipline in the 1950s. The initial emphasis was on the causes of war. Further Conceptual developments included definitions of negative peace (the absence of war) and positive peace (the presence of Justice), and structural violence. Most recently, peace research has examined links between environmental issues, human rights, sustainable development, non-violence and the participation and empowerment of women. There is also increasing emphasis on the need to protect and enhance cultural diversity, and encourage alternatives to the global market view of the world.

7. UN Agenda for Peace

In 1992, in the context of the end of the Cold War, then Secretary-General of the UN, Boutros-Boutros Ghall made a statement which addressed the UN capacity for preventing war and strengthening the provisions of the Charter. The concepts discussed in that declaration are preventative diplomacy, peacemaking, peace-keeping and post-conflict peace-building. Though criticized by many peace activists for being too narrow, these principles laid the groundwork for the culture of peace, as part of the UN agenda.

8. UNESCO Culture of Peace Programme

Since UNESCO was established after the Second World War, its ma'or emphasis has been to change attitudes to peace, to construct the defenses of peace in the minds of men and women. A 1989 meeting in Yamoussoukro, C6te d'lvoire, explicitly called for " a peace culture". The Culture of Peace Programme, a comprehensive long-term transdisciplinary approach was established in 1994. The year 2000 has been declared the International Year for the Culture of Peace.

9. Expanding definition of Human Rights

While not legally binding, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, proclaimed in 1948, represented a major milestone in human progress. Since then, international understanding of what constitutes human rights has broadened. In 1966, a second generation of human rights were added through conventions on socioeconomic rights and political rights. Third generation rights are the elimination of racial discrimination, the right to self-determination, the rights of women and the rights of the child. And in 1984, the UN General Assembly proclaimed that peace is a human right, since only through peace can civilization be preserved and all other rights ensured.

10. The Hague Appeal for Peace

In 1899, the original Hague Peace Conference was held , laying the foundations for the International Court of justice as well as the League of Nations, forerunner of the United Nations. A conference is planned for the centennial in 1999. To the original three themes: disarmament; strengthening international humanitarian law and institutions; and conflict prevention, resolution and transformation; a fourth theme has been added - addressing the root causes of war and building a culture of peace.

11. The Carnegie Commission on Preventing Deadly Conflict The Carnegie Corporation of New York conducted a comprehensive three-year study of violent conflict, involving scholars and policymakers from around the world. It concluded by saying that while there are short-term measures to deal with violent conflict, we need to develop a multifaceted "culture of prevention", a radically new outlook on human relations involving an expansion of democracy, protection of human rights, and promotion of social justice and economic well-being.

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