Peace Forum in Santos, Brazil
an article by Helena Lourenço
The Peace Forum in Santos, Brazil, took place on March 12. It was organized by the Santos Social Network and AbrasOFFA, the Brazilian Association of Organizers of Folk Festivals and Craftwork, a non-governmental organization with 18 years of experience in projects for a Culture of Peace. The Forum was supported by the Santos Convention Bureau and the Santos Senac.
Among the speakers at the Fórum were the personal representative of Mayor João Paulo Tavares Papa and city councilmen Arlindo Barros and Roberto Oliveira Teixeira, as well as teacher Lourdes Velasques and Helena Lourenço of AbrasOFFA. Opening the forum, the manager of the Santos Senac, Andréia Melgaço, presented the book Culture of Peace: Networks of Convivência, published by Senac São Paulo and edited by Lea Diskin. The event was attended by 400 people, including many school and university students.
The international specialist on the Culture of Peace, David Adams, was a featured speaker, presenting the eight axes of the culture of peace that were adopted by the United Nations in 1999. Mr Adams had been involved in the development of the culture of peace while working at UNESCO in the 1990's.
The formation of a Culture of Peace Council for the city of Santos is expected to be formalized in the upcoming weeks as a result of the Forum. Judging from the questions and remarks by the audience, there should be extensive citizen participation in the work of the Council.
An earlier version of this article in Portuguese is available on the website of Senac.
Question(s) related to this article:
What is a culture of peace city, and how does one become one?,
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Latest reader comment:
I believe that the development of a network of culture of peace cities can be a decisive factor in the transition from a culture of war to a culture of peace based on a profound reform of the United Nations system. The following are excerpts from my book World Peace through the Town Hall.
My experience working in the United Nations system for ten years and observing it closely for seven years since my retirement makes me optimistic that the UN system is capable of managing a transition to the culture of peace. The various specialized agencies that deal with health care, education, food and agriculture, science, communication, not to mention technical questions such as aviation, shipping, atomic energy, etc. are staffed by a capable international secretariat with experience in the day-to-day management of global issues. The UN General Assembly, as well as the international assemblies of other agencies such as the General Conference of UNESCO, provide important forums. Even the Security Council, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund which are now in the hands of a few powerful states and used to support their culture of war could play important roles in the transition to a culture of peace if they were transformed under control of "we the peoples" instead of the state.
For the reasons given throughout this book, a global network of local authorities is the best chance for an international political force independent of the nation-state that could take responsibility for the United Nations and direct it towards a culture of peace.
In summary, the cause of the United Nations seems hopeless for a culture of peace as long as it is under the control of the nation-states of the world with their culture of war.
Without being able to predict a precise date, we can expect within the next few decades that the American Empire and the globalized economy associated with it will crash as did the world economy in 1929 and the Soviet economy in 1989.
A global crash sets the stage for two possible political solutions which are diametrically opposite. One is a strengthening of the culture of war at the level of the state into fascism which was the predominant reaction in the 1930's. The other is the reorganization of the world's political structure to be based on cities and local governments rather than states. The latter would provide a golden opportunity for a transition to the culture of peace.
To avoid the "fascist solution," we must continue and intensify efforts to strengthen democratic institutions and educate people to recognize the danger signs and resist the government-industrial-financial conspiracies that move a country towards authoritarian rule.
On the positive side, it is urgent to develop a global network of local governments devoted to a culture of peace so that an alternative system will be available when the state system collapses.
This report was posted on March 19, 2010.
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