Global Movement for a Culture of Peace
6. Understanding, Tolerance and Solidarity 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 sixth programme area of the Programme of Action for a Culture of Peace is tolerance, solidarity and understanding. In the original draft sent from UNESCO, it was pointed out that:

There has never been a war without an 'enemy', and to abolish war, we must transcend and supersede enemy images with understanding, tolerance and solidarity among all peoples and cultures.

This section was based in part on the Declaration of Principles on Tolerance, adopted by UNESCO in 1995, which defined tolerance as an active attitude rather than a passive acceptance:

1.1 Tolerance is respect, acceptance and appreciation of the rich diversity of our world's cultures, our forms of expression and ways of being human. It is fostered by knowledge, openness, communication, and freedom of thought, conscience and belief. Tolerance is harmony in difference. It is not only a moral duty, it is also a political and legal requirement. Tolerance, the virtue that makes peace possible, contributes to the replacement of the culture of war by a culture of peace.
1.2 Tolerance is not concession, condescension or indulgence. Tolerance is, above all, an active attitude prompted by recognition of the universal human rights and fundamental freedoms of others.

The negation of enemy images is an especially powerful way to "disarm" the culture of war. Without an enemy there can be no war. It is as simple as that.

Coming from a background where I learned that justice could only come through struggle against the oppressor, it took me many years to understand how one can engage in struggle without identifying an enemy. Finally, I learned from Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King how this can be done. In fact, it is the key to nonviolent action. As Gandhi said, we must have no enemies, but only opponents whom we need to "wean from error by patience and sympathy." We must distinguish between a person and their actions: "Hate the sin and not the sinner." Having studied Gandhi, King put it this way:

"The "nonviolent resister [is] constantly seeking to persuade his opponent that he is wrong ... [he] does not seek to defeat or humiliate the opponent, but to win his friendship and understanding ... [and] to awaken a sense of moral shame in the opponent ... attack is directed against forces of evil rather than against persons who happen to be doing the evil

In recent years, intolerance and violence often has been expressed in terms of religious "crusades" and "clash of civilizations." Although in many cases, it would seem that this formulation serves as an opportunistic "cover" for other motivations of domination and revenge, still it is necessary to specifically address the need for tolerance and understanding among the various religions and civilizations. The recent United Nations debate combined the discussions on dialogue and alliance of civilizations with the discussion of the Decade for a Culture of Peace. Similarly the two themes are linked in the Outcome Document of the recent World Summit at the United Nations:

We reaffirm the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace, as well as the Global Agenda for Dialogue among Civilizations and its Programme of Action, adopted by the General Assembly, and the value of different initiatives on dialogue among cultures and civilizations including the dialogue on interfaith cooperation. We commit to take action to promote a culture of peace and dialogue at local, national, regional and international levels, and request the Secretary-General to explore enhancing implementation mechanisms and to follow up on those initiatives. In this regard, we also welcome the Initiative of the Alliance of Civilizations announced by the Secretary-General on 14 July 2005.



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