The Seville Statement on Violence:
A Progress Report
Drafting the Statement Page 3

Title Page

The Message of the Statement
Page 1

Drafting of the Statement
Pages 2 - 3

Disseminating the Statement
Pages 4 - 5

Results from the Statement
Pages 6 - 7

Historical Significance
Pages 8 - 9

Page 10


Ironically, one major foundation agreed to pay for the transportation of African scientists, but they vetoed our choices for participants who were Black. They asked to determine the participants themselves, and their suggestions all turned out to be White. This seemed to violate the basis on which we were working, derived as it was from the struggle against racism, and we were not able to use the money. As it turned out, we ended up with no Black scientists in the drafting group and no mention of racism in the text, although we did mention 'genocide, colonialism, and suppression of the weak'. In retrospect, we could have done a better job of relating the question of violence to the question of racism.

An unexpected Cold War barrier had to be overcome. A Soviet scientist who had planned to take part was denied a visa to enter Spain (an unprecedented occurrence, we were told). However, since Academician N. P. Bechtereva had participated in the preparations for the meeting and sent her own contribution from the USSR, we later obtained her signature in absentia. Similarly, in order to add more disciplines and two other continents to our representation, we obtained the signatures of S. A. Barnett of Australia and Richard Leakey of Kenya, both of whom had contributed substantial background materials that were used in drafting the Statement.

Scientific papers were invited from several participants. They were presented at the ISRA meeting that preceded the drafting conference, and a number of them were published in the book that came out of it, (Ramirez, Hinde & Groebel, 1987). The papers by Scott, Ginsburg & Carter, Wahlstrom, and Genoves provided much of the actual material that ultimately was incorporated into the Statement.

The objective need for the Statement on Violence was quantified in a study presented to the meetings by myself and an under-graduate student at Wesleyan University (Adams & Bosch, 1987). We found that a substantial proportion of students (40% ) believe that war is intrinsic to human nature. This confirmed similar findings obtained in a previous study at Wesleyan and results obtained by Riita Wahlstrom in Finland (Wahlstrom, 1985). We found, too, that students who believed that war is intrinsic to human nature were much less likely to engage in activity for peace, which was measured in a follow-up survey. Even after we removed other factors from the correlational relationship by means of partial correlation techniques, this relationship between attitude and activity was still statistically significant.

After preliminary drafting work in Seville, the final work was done in a several-day marathon session in La Rabida conference center on the southern coast of Spain. Work alternated between the group as a whole, and a trio composed of Santiago Genoves, Ashis Nandy, and myself. Nandy, from the Center for the Study of Developing Societies in India, contributed an important perspective from the developing countries, which is often missing from scientific and political statements. In order to avoid jargon and ambiguity, participants translated the text into other languages, including Polish, Hindi, Spanish, Finnish, and Arabic, and then translated it back into English and proposed changes where this procedure indicated problems.

previous page
home page
next page