World Peace through the Town Hall
Assessing progress toward a culture of peace at the local level A Strategy for the Global Movement for a Culture of Peace

World Peace through the Town Hall


1) The difference between "peace" and "culture of peace" and a brief history of the culture of war

2) The role of the individual in culture of war and culture of peace

3) Why the state cannot create a culture of peace

4) The important role of civil society in creating a culture of peace

--Peace and disarmament movements

--Ecology movement

--Movements for human rights

--Democracy movements

--Women's movement

--International understanding, tolerance and solidarity

--Movements for free flow of information

--The strengths and weaknesses of civil society

5) The basic and essential role of local government in culture of peace

--Sustainable development

--Human rights

--Democratic participation

--Women's equality


--Transparency and the free flow of information

--Education for a culture of peace

--Security and public safety

--Some ongoing initiatives

6) Assessing progress toward a culture of peace at the local level

--Culture of peace measurement at the level of the state

7) Going global: networking of city culture of peace commissions

8) The future transition of the United Nations from control by states to popular control through local governmental representatives

9) What would a culture of peace be like?


Continued from previous page

Here is the description of the methodology that was employed in making the assessment:

1) Choose a basic set of people to be interviewed, based on their extensive practical knowledge of the eight areas of a culture of peace in the city. In other words they should be "activists" in this area. We start here with several present and former members of the New Haven City Peace Commission.

2) Enlarge the group of activists interviewed by asking each person interviewed to suggest others who can provide relevant information beyond what the interviewee can do. In this regard it is important to finally achieve a balance of men and women, activists from the Black, Hispanic and white communities, elected or government officials and civil society activists who can effectively criticize the city government.

3) Conduct face-to-face interviews of 1-2 hours with each activist, beginning with their area of expertise and asking for both the strengths and weaknesses of the city in this area, and how the strengths and weaknesses have developed over time.

4) After discussing the initial area, review with them the other 7 areas, and ask for suggestions of other people to be interviewed in all of the 8 areas.

5) Take detailed notes, because it is the specifics of their analysis that will be important for this annual report, and which need to be re-visited in the followup interviews in succeeding years. Obtain their agreement to use their ideas in the report and to interview them again one year later, as well as in succeeding years.

6) Write an extensive report including all of the information provided by the activists interviewed. It is not necessary to include the names of the activists interviewed. No one has demanded to be anonymous, but there is no special reason that the names need to be published.

7) Write a one-page executive summary of the full report.

8) Provide drafts of the full report and the executive summary to all of the activists interviewed to obtain their corrections and additions.

9) Publish both the executive summary, both on the Internet, and in local media that are read by people of the city.

10) Repeat the process annually, interviewing, if possible, the same people. Recall for them their previous remarks and the previous annual report, and ask them where there has been progress, lack of progress or retrogression. Again, draft, verify and correct and then publish the annual report.

11) Of course, the same people may not always be available. In that case, it is necessary to substitute another person with similar practical knowledge of the subject. Be especially aware of potential gaps in the report, and fill in these gaps over time by enlarging the group of people interviewed.

Note that the work is not reduced to a simple formula, or calling in "experts" to do the job. Instead, it is open-ended, participatory and educational. The people who are concerned with the various areas of a culture of peace need to be those who are engaged in the process of assessment, and they need to be engaged in a participatory way, so that they take part in the decision-making of how, what, and when to make the assessments. In other words it is "self-assessment" rather than "outside-assessment". And the entire process should be designed to be educational, so that those who take part are constantly learning as they go forward, and constantly teaching those with whom they come into contact. In fact, this reflects the fundamental nature of culture itself which is a process that involves the entire society and in which everyone is constantly learning and teaching at the same time. nd fill in these gaps over time by enlarging the group of people interviewed.

The construction of indices for a culture of peace should never be used to "prove" that one entity (country, city or civil society organization) is better than another. An especially bad example of this kind of misuse of indices is the use of testing scores to compare schools. This has become national policy in the United States and Canada with disastrous results. Schools and teachers are required to compete for funding, which leads to widespread cheating and a loss of confidence in the entire system of education.

Here are some of the activists that may be interviewed for the assessment:

* For the assessment of education for a culture of peace: educational NGO's, teachers, school board members and administrators, and students themselves, etc.

* For the assessment of security and disarmament: police, police monitoring boards, community groups that have been formed in response to violence, etc.

* For the assessment of the free flow of information: journalists from both mainsteam and alternative media, citizen groups for access to information, etc.

* For the measurement of democratic participation: activists from both mainsteam and alternative political parties, neighborhood betterment organizations, city electoral commissions, etc. * For the assessment of women's equality: women activists from all kinds of organizations, neighborhoods, ethnic groups, etc.

* For the assessment of sustainable development: activists from ecological and environmental organizations, city commissions dealing with development, local agricultural and farmers markets initiatives, etc.

* for the assessment of human rights, a mix of organizations, including trade unions, that defend the rights of workers, children, women, handicapped, poor people, older people, immigrants, indigenous peoples, racial minorities, etc.

* for the assessment of understanding, tolerance and solidarity, those working for inter-religious and/or inter-ethnic dialogue, traditional peace movement activists who work against the labeling of enemies, etc.

Culture of Peace measurement at the level of the state. Unlike work at the level of the city, the attempts to measure progress toward a culture of peace at the level of the state have been disastrous. They have not been participatory, and, because of the nature of the state, it is difficult to imagine how they could be.

A first attempt was made by a Korean team in 2000 and published under the title, World Culture of Peace Index (2000). On the basis of the criteria they chose, the top countries were those of Scandinavia, while the bottom countries were those of Africa and Asia. The major powers, England, France, Germany, China, USA, Canada, Australia, Japan, Korea, came out in the middle.

A subsequent article on national indicators for a culture of peace in the Journal of Peace Research by DeRivera (2004) came out with similar rankings, although fewer countries were chosen for study. But this article went further and claimed on the basis of its failure to find a single culture of peace factor, that the culture of peace might be a "flawed concept." In my opinion, it is a kind of sophistry to analyze culture of peace as the quality of existing states, negate it by means of factor analysis, and then declare that the culture of peace concept is "simplistic." As we have argued here, a culture of peace and non-violence, understood in the sense of the original UNESCO proposal as a hypothetical alternative to the culture of war and violence, does not exist at the level of the state.

We should be skeptical of any national indicators that show the nations of the north as peaceful and those of the south as less peaceful. This, too, is a kind of sophistry and hypocrisy. For example, as pointed out by Member States from the South in the 1999 UNESCO debate, notes of which are available on my website at http://www.culture-of- , the states that cry loudest for human rights and "free" elections are at the same time the major sellers of armaments and traditional opponents of independent media in poor countries. This kind of hypocrisy was criticized by African ambassadors, Noureini Tidjani-Serpos of Benin and Bakary Tio-Toure of Cote d'Ivoire among others, when we held meetings at UNESCO with the Member States by region in March 1998. They stated that one should not look to the South for the causes of the culture of war, and they posed three questions. From where do the weapons come? From where do the violent television programmes come? And where are the terms of trade decided that impoverish the people of the South which leads to violence?"

More recently, one sees again the hypocrisy of measuring peace by state indicators, as exemplified by the new Global Peace Index (2015). How convenient that Europe, Japan, Australia and Canada come out as the most peaceful, while the countries of the South come out as less peaceful! If one needs evidence for the existence of "cultural imperialism", here it is!

End of chapter

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The History of the Culture of War

What is culture and how does it evolve

Warfare in prehistory and its usefulness

The culture of war in prehistory

Data from prehistory before the Neolithic

Enemy images: culture or biology

War and the culture of war at the dawn of history

--Ancient Mesopotamia

--Ancient Egypt

--Ancient China

--Ancient Greece and Rome

--Ancient Crete

--Ancient Indus civilizations

--Ancient Hebrew civilization

--Ancient Central American civilization

Warfare and the origin of the State

Religion and the origin of the State

A summary of the culture of war at the dawn of history

The internal culture of war: a taboo topic

The evolution of the culture of war over the past 5,000 years: its increasing monopolization by the state

--1.Armies and armaments

--2.External conquest and exploitation: Colonialism and Neocolonialism

--3.The internal culture of war and economies based on exploitation of workers and the environment

--4.Prisons and penal systems

--5.The military-industrial complex

--6.The drugs-for-arms trade

--7.Authoritarian control

--8.Control of information

--9.Identification of an "enemy"

--10.Education for the culture of war

--11.Male domination

--12.Religion and the culture of war

--13.The arts and the culture of war



Summary of the history of the culture of war