Global Movement for a Culture of Peace
An Historical Perspective on 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

It may be said that the culture of peace is "an idea whose time has come" - having arrived on the agenda of history because the conditions were ripe for its realization. The abolition of war had already been on the agenda of history for almost a century - being the objective of the League of Nations and the United Nations and UNESCO. With the end of the Cold War there was a shift in emphasis from war between countries to war within countries, from international peace to intra-national peace, for which the peacekeeping operations were designed in countries such as El Salvador, Cambodia, Mozambique, Somalia and ex-Yugoslavia. By 1992, a number of tendencies converged to place on the agenda the transformation of the cultural basis of war ("culture" in the anthropological sense) into a new culture, a culture of peace.

These new tendencies included:

the success of the national liberation movements which provided a powerful incentive to call into question the culture of war that had made possible colonialism, as well as a powerful voting block in the UN

the development of a scientific approach to the analysis of war and peace including the Seville Statement on Violence that I presented at the Yamoussoukro conference in 1989 which issued the first call for a culture of peace; and

the end of the Cold War which made it possible for unanimous action by the UN Security Council and which led specifically to peacekeeping operations, An Agenda for Peace and to calls for a UNESCO contribution to this effort, for which the culture of peace initiative was welcomed.

UNESCO was ideally situated to initiate and promote the culture of peace because of its particular mandate to "construct the defences of peace" in the minds of men and women, and because of its (almost) universal membership as part of the United Nations family, with one-nation/one-vote in its General Conference.

From 1992-2000, under the mandate of Federico Mayor, the culture of peace flowered at UNESCO, beginning with national culture of peace programmes (see especially the UNESCO monograph on a culture of peace) and culminating in the International Year for the Culture of Peace and the Manifesto 2000 with its 75 million signatures. At the same time, however, resistance was developing from the European Union, as indicated by their opposition to the human right to peace and their insistance that one could not mention of the culture of war. It seems likely that the powerful member states were coming to realize that some of the underlying implications of the culture of peace could call into question the basis of their power.

After the mandate of Federico Mayor came to an end at UNESCO and the United States returned to dominate the organization, the culture of peace was abandoned by UNESCO. However, by this point, the culture of peace had been taken up by the UN General Assembly and by organizations of civil society around the world as a Global Movement for a Culture of Peace.

By the midpoint of the Decade for a Culture of Peace, there is a widespread consciousness about the culture of peace and many initiatives, most by civil society organizations and a few by Member States and local authorities. Although UNESCO is giving no leadership at this moment, in my opinion, we should not give up on them, but continue to press the organization to return to its mandate of "building the defences of peace in the minds of men" - for which the culture of peace is the contemporary expression.

A dialectical view of history suggests that consciousness, while it may not seem important most of the time, can become determinant at certain historical moments of rapid change. Consider, for example, the importance of consciousness in the events of 1789, 1850, 1917, 1946 and 1989. The true test of a culture of peace will come at the next dramatic historical juncture. Will we be ready for it?



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