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


Early History of Culture of Peace

Civil Society Report on Culture of Peace

UN Declaration and Programme of Action

2005 UN Resolution

The Culture of Peace Dialogues

The Culture of Peace Game

Culture of Peace News Network

Original draft of UN Declaration and Programme of Action

Initial UNESCO Report

2005 General Assembly Debate

Original UNESCO Document

UNESCO Debate on Human Right to Peace

UNESCO Monograph

UNESCO Brochure for Seville Statement

El Salvador National Programme

Mozambique National Programme

Because of the fact that the key documents for the culture of peace were elaborated within the context of the United Nations, where the perspective of the nation-state is dominant, there are certain important issues that could not be addressed in those documents. In fact, it seems likely that these underlying issues can help explain the opposition to the culture of peace at the UN by the great powers.

Three such key issues will be discussed here:

a. the internal culture of war
b. local violence caused by national culture of war
c. nuclear terrorism

From the beginning of recorded history, the culture of war has had two faces: one directed externally for national defense and for conquest, including the conquest of slaves and colonies; and the other directed internally for the maintenance of power, including the suppression of slave or worker revolts. Because most nation-states continue to maintain their internal power by violence or the threat of violence, the topic of internal culture of war is taboo in the United Nations.

In a paper entitled Internal Military Interventions in the United States, I have documented how the US Army and National Guard have deployed about 18 interventions and 12,000 troops per year for the past century and a half to maintain control inside the country, and no doubt similar data could be gathered for most other countries in the world. However, not only is this topic taboo at the United Nations, but it would also seem to be taboo for discussion by universities and academic insitutions. Although my paper was published in the prestigious Journal of Peace Research, it has only been referred to three times in the ten years since it was published according to the Social Sciences Citation Index.

With regard to the second issue, two excellent scientific studies have shown how culture of war at a national level causes violence at the local level. These are discussed in an issue of the Seville Statement Newsletter.

The first was carried out at the level of the nation-state by Dane Archer and Rosemary Gartner, Violence and Crime in Cross-National Perspective (Yale University Press, 1984). The authors develop and publish in detail an unprecedented Comparative Crime Data File, including data on five types of offenses for 110 nations and 44 major international cities between 1900 and 1970. By analyzing this database, they come to the conclusion rates of homicide increase "after both large and small wars, with several types of homicide indicators, in victorious as well as defeated nations, in nations with improved postwar economies and nations with worsened economies, among both men and women offenders, and among several age groups. Postwar increases were most frequent among nations with large numbers of combat deaths."

The one model that appears to be fully consistent with the evidence is the legitimation of violence model, which suggests that the presence of authorized or sanctioned killing during war has a residual effect on the level of homicide in peacetime society."

A second source of supporting evidence for the relationship between external war and internal violence comes from the cross-cultural studies of Mel and Carol Ember. In the Journal of Conflict Resolution in 1994 (volume 38, pages 620-646) under the title, War, Socialization, and Interpersonal Violence: A Cross-Cultural Study, they show that more war is associated with more homicide and assault. They found correlation coefficients to be especially high for non-state societies (.34, .42 and .78 between frequency of war and individual homicide, individual assault and socially-organized homicide respectively). Evidence indicates that the direction of the relationship is from war to homicide rather than the other direction, and, in particular, the relationship appears to be mediated by the socialization of boys for aggression in preparation for warrior roles.

The authors conclude:

If this theory is correct, war is an important indirect cause of interpersonal violence within a society. War may also be a direct cause of more violence because war legitimizes violence. Our results imply that if we want to reduce the likelihood of interpersonal violence in our society, we may mostly need to reduce the likelihood of war, which would minimize the need to socialize for aggression and possible reduce the likelihood of all violence. War and violence appear to be causally related. If we want to rid the world of violence, we may first have to rid the world of war.

Finally, in this moment of history, where the fight against terrorism has become the basic political priority of many nation-states, it is worthwhile to step back from their analysis and consider the role of nuclear weapons. To what extent should they be considered as weapons of terror, and how have they shaped the terrorism of the 20th and 21st Centuries?

A number of years ago I was asked by a colleague to speak at an academic conference on terrorism she was organizing. I replied that she should know the topic of my talk before inviting me, and I told her that I would speak on Hiroshima and Nagasaki as the key terrorist acts of the 20th Century, which provided the moral umbrella for all terrorist acts since then. She thought for only a moment and then disinvited me, saying that if I gave such a talk, their financial source for the conference, the Ford Foundation, would probably never fund them again.

Nuclear terrorism has become an essential component of the culture of war and violence, yet it remains a taboo topic in many situations when it comes to the major powers. This is described in my paper Culture of Peace as the Best Alternative to Terrorism.

I hope that these three issues, which have been taboo topics until now, can increasingly be discussed, analyzed and addressed as the Global Movement for a Culture of Peace continues to develop.



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


Strategy and Tactics

New Issues