Global Movement for a Culture of Peace
Non-Violence 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

Non-Violence is an intrinsic part of the culture of peace in all respects, its definition and UN documents, strategy and tactics, and the various programme areas such as education for a culture of peace and tolerance, solidarity and understanding.

There are two ways to spell the term: non-violence and nonviolence. The former is the usage by the United Nations; the latter is the usage by those who follow the methodology of Mahatma Gandhi. In fact, the United Nations use of the term non-violence is also inspired by Gandhi, so we may consider the two spellings as equivalent for the purposes of this article.

The most important use of "non-violence" in the UN Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace, is the title of the Decade: The International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World. This title, which came about as the result of the tireless efforts of Pierre Marchand, has been a breakthrough in the history of the United Nations, for it had never before gone on record for non-violence in such a dramatic fashion. In fact, as this is written at the end of 2005, one still finds very little official documentation other than the Decade when one searches for the words nonviolence or non-violence on the website of the United Nations.

In addition, the UN Declaration on a Culture of Peace calls for:

Respect for life, ending of violence and promotion and practice of non-violence through education, dialogue and cooperation;

In the strategy of the Global Movement for a Culture of Peace, it should be evident that active non-violence should always be a basic principle. As Gandhi and King insisted, while it is better to be violent than passive, it should always be possible to find a method of active non-violence that is more effective than violence. In particular, education for a culture of peace should be a priority, with an emphasis on education for active nonviolence.

As mentioned in the section on tolerance, solidarity and understanding, it is only through the practice of non-violence that one can resolve the apparent contradiction between the necessity of the struggle for justice and the basic principle of a culture of peace that one must have no enemy.

For my own understanding of non-violence, it was also important that I overcome the common idea that non-violence requires that the individual must rid himself of anger. In many Asian cultures and Eastern religions, this idea continues to be taught and to be considered as an important aspect of non-violence. In Western cultures, however, this is not necessarily the case. As Martin Luther King put it, ""The supreme task is to organize and unite people so that their anger becomes a transforming force." Gandhi, despite being heavily influenced by Eastern religion, made similar statements, such as: "I have learnt through bitter experience the one supreme lesson to conserve my anger, and as heat conserved is transmuted into energy, even so, our anger controlled can be transmuted into a power which can move the world."

The conservation and transmutation of anger so that it becomes a "transforming force" requires extensive training and experience, since it is not a skill that one is born with. As King has explained (see section on Understanding, Tolerance and Solidarity): "attack is directed against forces of evil rather than against persons who happen to be doing the evil." In tracing the evolution of human anger from its animal origins, I have distinguished the highest level of this evolution as "the ability to conceptualize institutions and social systems and to respond to their actions with punishment and anger, just as one might respond to the immoral actions of another individual." This highly developed skill needs to be taught as an important component of education for a culture of peace.



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