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Culture of Peace Advances in Brazil
an article by Lia Diskin and David Adams, Association Palas Athena (Brazil) and CPNN

Local government commissions for the culture of peace are spreading in Brazil. They are the outgrowth of the Comitê Paulista of the Culture of Peace, established in 2000 for the International Year for the Culture of Peace by UNESCO, the City of São Paulo and the Association Palas Athena. For readers who can read Portuguese, there is a website that gives the details on each stage of the development of the first commission, that of the Legislative Assembly of the State of São Paulo.

In the last few years, three other commissions have been established in the cities of Itepecirica da Serra, São José dos Campos and Diadema, all within the State of São Paulo. Three other cities are awaiting approval by the National Congress of Brazil: Curitiba, Ribeirão Pires and Cotia. Curitiba is the first to be in another state (the state of Parana). Also the Municipal Chamber of São Paulo is preparing the papers for official recognition.

These commissions are composed of both legislators and representatives of civil society organizations. In this way, they integrate the initiatives and perspectives of government and civil society.

Because the culture of peace integrates a broad range of program areas, including not only disarmament, but also peace education, equality of women, human rights, tolerance and solidarity, democratic participation, free flow of information and sustainable development, it provides a platform to integrate different departments of government. For example, a recent event was sponsored by the secretariats for human rights and for the environment, and brought together government workers in health, social work, education and police as well as civil society organizations in all these areas.

Already the national health system of Brazil is using the culture of peace in its program called CONASEMS in over 5,000 municipalities to treat local and family violence as a public health problem. The materials, based on the principles of the culture of peace, have been prepared by the Association Palas Athena and the Gandhi Network. There is also a national program of disarmament run by the police for the turning in of guns which is part of these culture of peace initiatives.

In the words of Lia Diskin, "We have already made progress in the first five years of the Decade for a Culture of Peace on the basis of minimal support and little organization of the various partners and without much research on the culture of peace. Imagine what progress we can make in the next five years if we organize ourselves well and work together!"


Question(s) related to this article:

How can we know if the culture of peace is advancing?,

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Latest reader comment:

One way we can NOT know if the culture of peace is advancing is from projects like the Global Peace Index which has recently been reviewed in CPNN.

The Global Peace Index measures the old dimensions of war and peace, not the new dimensions of culture or war / culture of peace.    Peace, in the old paradigm was the period between wars when countries were preparing themselves for the next war.    Culture of Peace, the new paradigm, is concerned with the deep roots of war, its cultural basis.

That can explain the paradox that it is the wealthy countries of the North that score highest on the index (Denmark, Austria, Switzerland and Finland), countries of Europe, which was involved in both the World Wars and which continue to profit from the unequal terms of trade between North and South which is enforced by the culture of war.  

When I was at UNESCO, the African ambassadors had the following to say: "One should not look to the South for the causes of the culture of war; instead, pose three questions. From where do the weapons come? From where do the violent television programmes come? And where are the terms of trade decided that impoverish the people of the South which leads to violence? "

This report was posted on January 30, 2005.