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Survey of national measures and unilateral efforts toward disarmament
an article by International Peace Bureau survey (excerpt)

In order to assess the internal capacities and priorities of states to undertake national and unilateral actions toward disarmament the International Peace Bureau launched a governmental survey on national disarmament efforts. The survey was sent to 172 government delegations in Geneva, Switzerland in June 2012. This included all members and observers to the Conference on Disarmament, and also all other states with missions in Geneva. Reminders of the original request were emailed to the missions twice with results by September 2012. Responses were received from eight countries: Colombia, Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Romania, Serbia and Switzerland. This represents a tiny fraction of the countries sent the survey, however. The UN General Assembly requests information on disarmament matters from all 192 member states, and in the subjects covered by this survey receive about 7 or 8 responses, so this disappointing number is about par with the experience of the UN itself.

click on photo to enlarge

Drafts of the questionnaire benefited from comments and suggestions from the United Nations Office on Disarmament Affairs (UN ODA) and the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) for which the IPB is grateful.

The questionnaire consisted of a two page cover and introductory letter and a one page questionnaire. The first section focused on education, in particular Disarmament Education. In 2000, the General Assembly commissioned a study on Disarmament Education as it was “Conscious of the need .. to combat the negative effects of cultures of violence and complacency in the face of current dangers in this field through long-term programmes of education and training”. The General Assembly requested that the study “ define contemporary disarmament education and training, taking into account the need to promote a culture of non- violence and peace” and to do so at the primary, secondary, university and post-graduate level.

The 2002 UN Group of Experts (GoE) study concluded that: The objectives of contemporary disarmament education and training are: (a) To learn how to think rather than what to think about issues; (b) To develop critical thinking skills in an informed citizenry; (c) To deepen understanding of the multiple factors at the local, national, regional and global levels that either foster or undermine peace; (d) To encourage attitudes and actions which promote peace.

The General Assembly has requested member states to provide reports on their efforts in the field of Disarmament Education five times. In 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010 & 2012. On average, only seven states respond each year, with a low of 5 in 2010 and a high of 9 in 2012.

If the eight respondents to the survey, three, Colombia (2012) and Hungary (2004) provided one- time reports to the UN on their efforts in Disarmament Education. In August 2012, Germany provided a report to the UN for the first time, the day before it responded to this questionnaire, to which it attached a copy of its report.

In brief, Disarmament Education is a program designed to empower the domestic population of a state to question policy and support disarmament at an informed level. It is counter intuitive that a state would educate its own population to question its sovereign prerogatives, and the author was not optimistic of finding a genuine disarmament education program run by a state.


Question(s) related to this article:

Can the culture of peace be established at the level of the state?,

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Latest reader comment:

The state has come, over the centuries, to monopolize the culture of war.  It would require a radical change in its very nature for it to abandon the culture of war and adopt a culture of peace.

For details on how the state has come to monopolize the culture of war, see The History of the Culture of War

This report was posted on October 23, 2013.