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Question: What is the United Nations doing for a culture of peace? CPNN article: Culture of Peace and the Evolution of Consciousness
CPNN Administrator
Posted: Dec. 31 1999,17:00

This discussion question applies to the following articles:

Culture of Peace and the Evolution of Consciousness
Annual Meeting of NGOs at United Nations: Development But Not Peace
They had to listen! Lobbying for a culture of peace at the UN
"Noteworthy" 2011 International Peace Day at the UN
United Nations High Level Forum on the Culture of Peace
Assemblée générale de l'ONU: l'éducation, vecteur de paix, selon le Secrétaire général
Education crucial to engender a ‘culture of peace,’ UN officials stress at General Assembly
Secretary-General's Remarks at UN Culture of Peace Debate
Member States Support Culture of Peace at the UN
The Second United Nations High Level Forum on the Culture of Peace
Lors d'un forum de haut niveau, des responsables de l'ONU soulignent la primauté de l'individu dans une «culture de paix»
At high-level forum, top UN officials stress importance of individual in ‘culture of peace’
Two Modes of UN Peacebuilding
World needs more teachers, quality education: UN agencies
UN High Level Forum on the Culture of Peace-2014
UN: High Level Forum on a Culture of Peace-2015
UN adopts Bangladesh-sponsored resolution on “culture of peace”
Cuba defiende en ONU derecho de la humanidad a vivir en paz
UN Adopts Cuban Resolutions on Peace and Rejection of Mercenaries
Making history in the United Nations: the General Assembly adopts a Declaration on the Right to peace promoted by civil society organizations
Chinese diplomat calls for new security concept at UN debate

Click here for more recent articles and discussion.
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Profile PM 
Posted: Sep. 15 2004,14:11

I am upset that the NGO conference did not appear to discuss the Culture of Peace...this is what drives me mad about the UN...it institutes projects and programs and then fails to follow up leaving it to a small number of us who take them seriously based on our own idealism and quest for peace...especially when each of us who are trying to handle the ground swell of violence and conflicts that are abounding....
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Profile PM 
Posted: Sep. 15 2004,18:34

The culture of peace is still present at the UN, but the rich and powerful countries have pushed it to the back of the agenda.  Forward movement depends on diplomats from the poor countries and representatives of the civil society.  As a veteran of the United Nations and its specialized agencies, I find that this is typical of its fundamental contradictions.  

On the one hand, the UN attracts the most idealistic and talented staff and diplomats, drawn by the lofty goals and principles of the Charter and documents such as the Preamble to UNESCO's Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  The Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace, adopted by the General Assembly in 1999, is such a document.

On the other hand, the UN is a political battleground, dominated at key points by the United States and its allies.  This is particularly true in the Security Council, World Bank, International Monetary Fund and World Trade Organization where key decisions are made that control international finance and issues of war and peace.

Hence, one of the featured speakers for the NGO Conference was Jeffrey Sachs, Special Advisor to the Secretary-General on the Millennium Development Goals.  Anyone who watched the destruction of the Soviet economy under Boris Yeltsin recognizes the name of Jeffrey Sachs, who was sent from the United States at that time to be his special advisor.  For an especially vivid account of the role Sachs played, see JW Smith's chapter on the destabilization of the Soviet Union.  A less detailed account has been published by The Nation.

The contradictions are also evident at the role of the Security Council, as detailed in the most recent issue of Disarmament Times that was distributed at the NGO Conference and which is available on the Internet.  

New peacekeeping operations are being fielded in Liberia, Cote d'Ivoire, Haiti, Burundi and (soon) Sudan.  That's the good news.  Now the bad news.  According to Disarmament Times, the Security Council reports on which these missions are based are whitewashed and fail to deal with the historical, political and economic causes of these conflicts.  

The reports concerning Liberia, Sierra Leone, Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi do not provide historical or political context.  Disarmament Times provides some of this context.  For example, the President of Liberia "was hacked to death in 1980 by Samuel Doe, 'a semiliterate, 27-year-old Green-beret-trained sergeant from one of the persecuted tribes.'  The "CIA had known the coup was coming but had somehow failed to inform the President.  Doe threw out Soviet diplomats, returned to total support of Israel, and allowed a CIA base for covert operations against Libya."  He was rewarded with a White House reception by President Reagan and economic aid.  "As Doe rigged elections, deepened his tyranny and stole millions in aid, fomenting full-scale civil war, US officials talked blandly of his "movement toward democracy."

Similarly, the report on Haiti ignores key issues.  For example, as Disarmament Times points out, in 1991 Bertrand Aristide won the first free Presidential election in Haitian history, "but he was deposed within months by admitted 'assets' of the US Central Intelligence Agency, and not allowed to return till 1994, towards the end of his nonrenewable term."  "In the 2000 presidential elections, Aristide ran again and won" but there were claims that the election was rigged.  The UN report claims that only 10 percent of voters participated, but other sources, including observers from Global Exchange, say the turnout was about 60 percent.  "In describing the developments that led to Aristide leaving the country on 29 February, the report does not mention that he departed on a US Air Force plane, and that he claimed it was under duress."

As Disarmament Times pointed out, Security Council reports reflect the interests of the big powers, especially the United States, and so they cannot tell the whole truth.  But, as the Security Council delegate of South Africa is quoted as saying, "conflict cannot be resolved only by addressing the symptoms ...  we need to delve into and understand the causes of conflicts so as to prevent escalation or the recurrence of violence."

Working with the UN is worthwhile, but it is necessary to work around these contradictions, seeking out the staff and diplomats who are there because they believe in peace and justice, and trying to stay out of the way of those who are there to serve the financial and military interests of the most powerful states.
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Tony Dominski
Posted: Sep. 16 2004,10:58

Thank you David for the great report on UN NGO conference.  Brazil's stance is very inspiring.
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Profile PM 
Posted: Dec. 29 2004,15:47

The theme that development cannot be divorced from peace and democracy has been taken up most eloquently by Wangari Maathai, the 2004 Nobel Peace Laureate from Kenya.  See her remarks as summarized in the CPNN report on her speech on December 20 [2004] at the UN.  It is a very different approach than taken by the UN experts as quoted above.
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David Adams
Posted: Sep. 24 2012,19:37

Since the adoption in 1999 of the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace by the UN General Assembly, it has been supported by the developing countries and not supported by the rich countries of Europe, United States, Japan, Canada and Australia.

For example, here is the list of sponsors and co-sponsors of the General Assembly resolution on the culture of peace in 2010 at the end of the Culture of Peace Decade: Afghanistan, Argentina, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Belarus,  Bhutan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Burkina Faso, China, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Dominican Republic, Egypt, El Salvador, Guyana, Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Nepal, Peru, Russian Federation, Seychelles, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Qatar, Togo, Turkey, Turkmenistan  and Vietnam.

The greatest number of sponsors on the culture of peace resolution came at the midpoint of the Decade in 2005:  Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bangladesh,  Barbados, Belarus, Belize, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chile, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Fiji, Gambia, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Iraq, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Micronesia (Federated States of), Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, United Republic of Tanzania, Uzbekistan, Viet Nam, Yemen and Zambia. These 102 countries are more than half of all countries represented in the General Assembly, but as can be seen, there is no country from among the "great powers."
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Profile PM 
CPNN Administrator
Posted: Sep. 09 2013,18:25

Following the Second High Level Forum of the United Nations on the Culture of Peace, Anwarul Chowdhury, a former Under-Secretary General of the UN, had this to say about what the UN is doing for a culture of peace.  His remarks were published by the Independent European Daily Express.

Civil society worldwide has been in the forefront of the global movement for the culture of peace, working diligently and patiently at the grassroots level, he said.

"I find it is the governments and power structures which are the most persistent foot-draggers with regard to advancing the culture of peace through policy steps and action," said Chowdhury, a former U.N. under-secretary-general and currently representing civil society and the Global Movement for the Culture of Peace. . .  

The United Nations, he pointed out, has shown great vision by adopting its historic, norm-setting Declaration and PoA on the Culture of Peace in 1999, but has not been organised enough in making the document a system-wide flagship effort of the world body.

"I am a believer that the world, particularly the governments, will come to realise its true value and usefulness sooner than later," Chowdhury said.
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Profile PM 
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