Global Movement for a Culture of Peace
Role of the Mass Media 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

If one agrees that consciousness of the culture of peace and non-violence is key to the future (see historical perspective), then the mass media has the potential to play a key role in developing a culture of peace and non-violence.

Unfortunately, the mass media has not lived up to its potential. To the contrary, it has almost completely ignored the culture of peace and non-violence. This is the conclusion of many of the organizations who have contributed to the Civil Society Report to the United Nations who have listed the mass media "blackout" as one of the chief obstacles to their work. Not only does the media ignore the culture of peace, but also they privilege news of the culture of war and violence.

For me this comes as no surprise. As a result of my experience trying to publicize the endorsement of the Seville Statement by the American Psychological Association I came to the following conclusion, as published in an article in the Journal of Peace Research in 1989:

Our experience suggests that the Seville Statement on Violence confronts an active resistance in the mass media and related social institutions more than it confronts an inherent ignorance or 'psychological inertia' in ordinary people. The myth that war is part of human nature does not appear to be so much an inherent component of 'common sense' so much as it is the end result of a campaign of psychological propaganda that has been promulgated in the mass media in order to justify political policies of militarism. Several types of evidence support this hypothesis. First, one can point to increasing publicity in recent decades in the mass media for the myth that war and violence are intrinsic to human nature ... Another kind of evidence comes from our studies of the attitudes of college students [who] are more likely to believe in the myths of the biological inevitability of violence [resulting from] greater exposure to the teachings of sociobiology and other arguments for biological determinism that are frequently employed at the university ... It would be interesting to compare the present situation to earlier use of racist myths to justify slavery and colonialism. There was a great deal of racist propaganda in mid-19th century US at the time of the abolition of slavery and in mid-20th century at the time of the dismantling of colonialism. Such racist propaganda may be seen as a last-resort effort by those who had a vested interest in slavery and colonialism to defend these institutions by appealing to the vulnerable belief systems of individual psychology at a time when they could no longer justify the institutions by economic or political arguments. Does today's propaganda about the biological basis of warfare derive from a similar effort by those with a vested interest in militarism and who can no longer justify it on economic and political grounds? If this thesis is valid, then we should expect more rather than less resistance to publicizing the message of the Seville Statement as we succeed in getting more publicity from peripheral sectors of the mass media and educational systems, and as we continue to approach the more resistant and central sectors that are linked either ideologically or financially to the military-industrial complex ... we are faced with a more difficult task of engaging in a kind of psychological warfare with certain sectors of the media and related institutions who are engaged in producing the very ignorance that must be challenged. If anything, the difficulty we face may become greater as time goes on, for the more the political and economic justifications for war are discredited, the more we may expect these sectors to fall back on the psychological justifications for war.

If this is correct, the struggle for culture of peace in the mass media needs to receive top priority and careful strategy. For example, efforts such as the Culture of Peace Online Journal, which is publishing this article, and the Culture of Peace News Network may be seen as part of this, using the tactics of the media itself. Insofar as we can capture the audience of the mass media, their advertisers will realize they are losing their audience and will have to pressure the media to address the culture of peace in order to regain the audience.

To see if we are making progress, a website has been set up to monitor culture of peace coverage by the mass media, to which readers are invited to contribute any articles that they come across.

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