World Peace through the Town Hall
The future transition of the United Nations from control by states to popular control through local governmental representatives 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?


My experience working in the United Nations system for ten years and observing it closely for seven years since my retirement makes me optimistic that the UN system is capable of managing a transition to the culture of peace. The various specialized agencies that deal with health care, education, food and agriculture, science, communication, not to mention technical questions such as aviation, shipping, atomic energy, etc. are staffed by a capable international secretariat with experience in the day-to-day management of global issues. The UN General Assembly, as well as the international assemblies of other agencies such as the General Conference of UNESCO, provide important forums. Even the Security Council, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund which are now in the hands of a few powerful states and used to support their culture of war could play important roles in the transition to a culture of peace if they were transformed under control of "we the peoples" instead of the state.

For the reasons given throughout this book, a global network of local authorities is the best chance for an international political force independent of the nation-state that could take responsibility for the United Nations and direct it towards a culture of peace.

The United Nations system as it is presently constituted must follow the directions of the Member States, and at the present time, those directions help the Member States maintain the culture of war. This became clear when I was helping develop UNESCO Culture of Peace Programme in the 1990's. We were able to develop proposals for national culture of peace programmes in El Salvador and Mozambique involving government agencies and civil societies from both sides of the previous conflict to work together after the signing of their peace accords. The El Salvador programme (Lacayo et al 1996) is described in an academic article and the Mozambique programme (Mozambique 1994) is described in a detailed funding proposal. Both of these are available on the Internet.

The national culture of peace programmes could have succeeded if it were just a question of the United Nations secretariat and the people in the countries concerned. However, they were defeated by the Member States in two ways. First, the rich states refused to provide funding to the 10 project profiles presented from Mozambique and all but one of the 23 project profiles presented from El Salvador, despite the fact that all of these profiles were developed jointly by the government and civil society in those countries. And second, once new governments became established in those countries, they abandoned the projects because they no longer wished to share power with the civil society.

It was through the experience of these national culture of peace programmes that I first became convinced that a culture of peace is possible. On retrospect, I now see that their partial success was due to the fact that we were working with civil society organizations in the context of failed states. As discussed below, the precedent is set for the establishment of a culture of peace when the global system of states is in failure.

We had been warned not to expect support from the powerful Member States early in our work by Alvaro de Soto. De Soto was embittered by his experience in El Salvador where he had represented the United Nations in the 1992 Chapultepec Accords that ended the civil war in that country. The US and European signatories to the treaty had promised to pay for the land reform and the judicial reform that were key points of the peace accords, but once the accords were signed, they refused to pay the money. "Why?" he asked us pointedly, "should we expect they will pay for a culture of peace?" By the way, the same thing happened to Zimbabwe after the Lancaster House Peace Accords of 1979 when the British government promised to pay for land reform as part of the agreement and later reneged on their promise.

In Mozambique, the American ambassador told me they would provide no funding for a national culture of peace programme. Instead, all aid from the United States was already earmarked so that money from the Democratic Party in the U.S. would go to the Frelimo Party in Mozambique and money from the Republican Party in the U.S. to the Renamo party in Mozambique. In effect, the American aid was meant to corrupt the Mozambican political system in the same fashion as the U.S. political system and make it permeable to American investment.

In summary, the cause of the United Nations seems hopeless for a culture of peace as long as it is under the control of the states of the world with their culture of war.

Continued on next page

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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