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Nobel Peace Prizewinner Calls for Culture of Peace
an article by David Adams

Speaking at the United Nations on December 20 on the occasion of the first UN Day for South-South Cooperation, the newest Nobel Peace Prizewinner, Wangari Maathai, called for a culture of peace. She said:

"In bestowing the award, the Norwegian Nobel Peace Committee made both an important and a historic decision to show the linkage between peace and sustainable management of resources on one hand and democratic governance on the other. This is a visionary decision and is intended to encourage the world to focus on the causes of conflicts and wars and invest in preventing them ... We should invest in areas, which if addressed, would avoid wars and promote a culture of peace."

Miss Maathai stood out on the UN podium with her down-to-earth style. She spoke with enthusiasm and clarity in everyday words, and she wore a large blue bow in her hair, a refreshing contrast to the customary bureaucratic jargon and the gray-flannel suits of the diplomats.

She provided a holistic vision of the culture of peace: "What we really need is good governance all round, sustainable management of our resources, equitable distribution of those resources and deliberate efforts to engage in dialogue, avoid conflicts and thereby build a culture of peace for development to take place."

She used an African image to make her point: "In explaining this, I have used the metaphor of an African 3-legged stool - each of the legs represents the 3 pillars of democracy, sustainable resource management and peace ... With only one or two pillars, there is imbalance and the basin collapses."

Maathai's speech can be taken as an implicit criticism of the UN approach to its Millennium Development Goals which seeks to achieve development without any reference to peace or a culture of peace. See related CPNN stories on the Nobel Peace Prize and the Millennium Development Goals. Although this was her first major speech in the United States or at the UN since winning the Nobel Prize, her speech was not covered by the United Nations Press Service or by major media such as CNN.

The full text of her speech is available online.


Question(s) related to this article:

What is the relation between the environment and peace?,

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[quote=mmartin,Nov. 16 2004,22:16][/quote]
Preserve the planet is one of the keys of a culture of peace.

For sure it is; the question is what is the relation, and for this we can best listen to the wisdom of so many indigenous peoples, that from times immemorial are guardians of the earth. If we are not at peace with our environment, behaving like parasites, how can we even think about a peacefull and non violent culture for our future is like a contradiction in terms.
So we have to heal this error of thinking and realise that the relation between the environment and peace is one of inextricable boundage.

This is why I want to bring under your attention the Global Campaign: SPEAKING4EARTH that is launched at 9 december 2004 in the Peace palace in The Hague.

Indigenous peoples have a deep spiritual connection to their land, including the sky, the clouds, the rivers, the soil and all living creatures. In the indigenous world, it is said that land is not something you inherit from your ancestors, but rather something you borrow from your children. Speaking4Earth is a project connecting this sense of change in the western relationship with the world with the vision of indigenous peoples that we need to care for the earth for our future generations. Speaking4 earth makes it priority to have the draft declaration on the Collective Rights of Indigenous Peoples addopted by the GA of the UN

reading their website:

For twenty years, Indigenous Peoples and their support organisations have been pressuring the United Nations to adopt a declaration for the protection of the rights of the world’s Indigenous Peoples. It is feared that – due to blocking attempts most notably by the UK and the USA - the UN will now stop this process and leave Indigenous Peoples’ rights unrecognized. . ...more.

This report was posted on December 29, 2004.