||Posted: Aug. 28 2003,07:04
Certainly the culture of peace has a long way to go. It is not a smooth-flowing river. But as for me, I see some signs of progress. The French organization that I founded, the Association of French Communes, Departments and Regions for Peace (AFCDP), is gaining new members including some big cities. Of course, progress is slow because there is such a dispersion of initiatives, but as we know well, ideas cannot be spread by decree... And all of us must earn a living as well.
At first, the city of Hiroshima, which is central to the global Mayors for Peace, did not understand the Internet initiatives for a culture of peace like CPNN or the UNESCO website. For those working in the mayor's office, and even for the mayor himself, UNESCO seemed to be only a governmental affair and hence bureaucratic and useless for peace. Thanks to our work, however, I think they have come around to understanding their importance.
I continue to believe strongly in the potential of cities to contribute to the emergence of a culture of peace, and we are making progress. At the level of city management we are able to link the culture of peace to real daily issues. Hiroshima is due to set up a course on the subject in seven major universities, including the prestigious "Science Po" of Paris. And support is available for similar initiatives in other universities. But we really need an army of teachers and the capacity to set up courses at a high level in several disciplines and we have not yet arrived at that point.
A number of books on the culture of peace are being published in France.
Perhaps you will recall that we launched an initiative "Read in peace" on the occasion of September 21, the International Day of Peace. If each library of each city would take up this simple project, then millions of readers would hear about the culture of peace. We presented it to the congress of librarians of France and now a number of libraries have taken it up. There was even someone at the congress from the US who promised to launch it in her country. For more information see our site at www.afcdrp.com.
As you see we have put a link to CPNN on our French site, although we don't yet have the capacity to set up our own French CPNN. On our site we talk a lot about the culture of peace to our more than 500 visitors per month.
France, as a nation, has done a great deal for peace in 2003. The French position at the United Nations was not to be laughed at, nor, for that matter, the huge demonstrations in Paris and in the countryside against the war in Iraq. But France is not a very powerful country and our voice does not carry very far. Although we cry loudly against the war, we quickly lose our breath and find it difficult to go back and construct a culture of peace. After the demonstrations most people go home again and watch TV...
And so our work goes on.