Global Movement for a Culture of Peace
Definition of Culture of Peace By David Adams
December 2005

Sources

Early History of Culture of Peace

Civil Society Report on Culture of Peace

UN Declaration and Programme of Action

Latest UN Resolution

Latest UNESCO Report

UNESCO Website for Culture of Peace

Internet Information Board for Decade Report

Internet Information Board for Strategy Discussion

Internet Information Board to Monitor Media

Culture of Peace News Network

Original draft of UN Declaration and Programme of Action

Initial UNESCO Report

Recent General Assembly Debate

Original UNESCO Document

UNESCO Debate on Human Right to Peace

UNESCO Monograph

UNESCO Brochure for Seville Statement

Sintra Plan of Action for Education

El Salvador National Programme

Mozambique National Programme


The UN Declaration on a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence contains more detail than needed and was politicized in the process of its adoption. The culture of peace has been defined in a number of different UN resolutions, and I prefer the following definition which combines the approaches taken by two important UN resolutions: the Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace adopted in 1999; and the 1998 UN resolution on the culture of peace:

A culture of peace is an integral approach to preventing violence and violent conflicts, and an alternative to the culture of war and violence based on education for peace, the promotion of sustainable economic and social development, respect for human rights, equality between women and men, democratic participation, tolerance, the free flow of information and disarmament.

The final eight points ("education for peace, the promotion of sustainable economic and social development, respect for human rights, equality between women and men, democratic participation, tolerance, the free flow of information and disarmament" are the eight points of the Programme of Action adopted by the General Assembly.

The phrase "alternative to the culture of war and violence" comes from the initial paragraph of the 1998 UN resolution on the culture of peace which reads in full:

Recalling the preamble to the Charter of the United Nations and the purposes and principles of the United Nations, and recalling also that the creation of the United Nations system itself, based upon universally shared values and goals, has been a major act towards transformation from a culture of war and violence to a culture of peace and non-violence,

Note that in this article, I have used the phrases "culture of peace" and "culture of peace and non-violence" interchangably. The former should be assumed to include non-violence, since non-violence is a necessary aspect of the culture of peace. Similarly, the "Global Movement for a Culture of Peace," should be assumed to be, more precisely, the "Global Movement for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence" (or "Nonviolence", if one wishes to be more consistent with the terminology of Gandhi).

Beginning in 1999, at the insistence of the European Union, the UN resolutions were no longer allowed to mention the culture of war and violence. Notes from the informal meeting of May 6, 1999 state:

The German representative, on behalf of the EU ... explained why he deleted the phrase "speedy transition from a culture of war and violence to a culture of peace". According to him, there is no culture of war and violence in the world.

To see the effect of the EU policy, one can look at the great difference between the initial draft of the declaration and programme of action sent by UNESCO to the General Assembly and the final resolution as adopted by the General Assembly. For each of the points of the programme of action, the initial explanation had been altered to remove its fundamental rationale. In this paper, however, each of the eight programme areas of the culture of peace are once again described in the terms presented in the initial draft that was prepared sent by UNESCO to the UN. This is illustrated in the following table:

CULTURE OF WAR AND VIOLENCE

CULTURE OF PEACE AND NON-VIOLENCE

Belief in power that is based on force

Education for a culture of peace

Having an enemy

Understanding, tolerance and solidarity

Authoritarian governance

Democratic participation

Secrecy and propaganda

Free flow of information

Armament

Disarmament

Exploitation of people

Human rights

Exploitation of nature

Sustainable development

Male domination

Equality of women and men

Each programme area is so important that a separate page is devoted to it in this article, accessible by clicking above on the area in question.

Some scholars chose to ignore the culture of war and look instead for the culture of peace in the modern nation-state. This doesn't work well, since at the present time the state continues to be influenced more by the culture of war than by the culture of peace. For an example of this, see the Journal of Peace Research 41: 531, 2004.

The reason that the above definition is so important is that it clearly shows the key components of the culture of war and violence and how a culture of peace and non-violence can replace these key components in order to transform one culture into the other. In fact, the culture of war and violence cannot function without ALL of these components. Even if only one of them is replaced, to paraphrase the US delegate at the UN, "it becomes very difficult to start a war."

Issues

Index

News about Culture of Peace

Historical Perspective

Seville Statement on Violence

National Programmes for a Culture of Peace

Definition of Culture of Peace

UN Declaration and Programme of Action

International Year and Manifesto 2000

Decade and Midterm Report

Main Actors for a Culture of Peace

Role of Mass Media

Culture of Peace News Network

1. Peace Education

2. Sustainable Development

3. Human Rights

4. Equality of Women and Men

5. Democratic Participation

6. Understanding, Tolerance and Solidarity

7. Free Flow of Information and Knowledge

8. International Peace and Security

Non-Violence

Strategy and Tactics

New Issues