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World Peace Congress concludes in Barcelona with successful participation


A press release from the International Peace Bureau

The World Peace Congress organised by the International Peace Bureau (IPB) and the International Catalan Institute for Peace (ICIP) ended this Sunday (October 17) in Barcelona after three days of conferences, workshops, and cultural events.

Under the title “(Re)imagine the world. Action for peace and justice”, more than 2,500 people took part in this hybrid congress, with activities in Barcelona. The events took place in the Centre of Contemporary Culture (CCCB) and the Blanquerna – Universitat Ramon Llull, and broadcast on the Internet.

1,000 people attended to the congress in person, while 1,500 attended online. Participants came from 126 countries. In Barcelona, activists from 75 countries including South Korea, the United States, Afghanistan, India and Mongolia, were also able to listen to the speeches covering issues such as nuclear disarmament, climate justice, racism and the rights of indigenous peoples.

As IPB Executive Director, Reiner Braun, explains, this is the biggest international peace event of this year. “The congress was a great success. We got a great support from the city of Barcelona and the president of the government of Catalonia. From my point of view, it was the right congress in this difficult political time and in the right place because we got a big support from the city. The IPB will definitely continue working on the way of more engagement for peace after the congress”.

Questions related to this article:

Where in the world can we find good leadership today?

Jordi Calvo, IPB Vice-President and member of the local committee, affirms: “At the congress we have seen that the peace movement is not alone. The large participation of feminist, anti-racist and global justice movements in the conferences and seminars shows that pacifism is more alive than ever, but that it needs to adapt to new narratives and generations. After this congress, the Catalan, Spanish, European and global peace movement is stronger”

The congress started on Friday 15 October with an event attended by the President of the Generalitat Pere Aragonés and the Mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau. The opening session was attended by prominent names such as British politician Jeremy Corbyn and ICAN Executive Director Beatrice Fihn. The open plenary can be accessed  here .

Sean MacBride Award

Each year, IPB gives the Sean MacBride Peace Prize to an individual or organisation that has done outstanding work for peace, disarmament and/or human rights. This year the award was awarded to Black Lives Matter for the movement’s dedication and work to create a world where the lives of black people can thrive.

On the second day of the World Peace Congress in Barcelona, Rev Karlene Griffiths Sekou, community minister, academic and activist, and director of Healing Justice and International Organizing received the award on behalf of the social movement.

“Our movement is not a moment in time, it is a constant reminder to eradicate white supremacy, change racist policies and overthrow oppressive systems”.

“We thank the International Peace Bureau for their recognition and thank the community leaders, local activists and ancestors, who fuel the relentless will of our movement and inspire us to re-imagine a world for our children and for future black generations,” she added.

Photos from the congress:

You can access the photos of the congress via this  link.

Press Release and final declarations:

You can find all the press releases and the final declarations  here.

The Nobel Peace Prize 2021


Press release from the Nobel Peace Prize

The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2021 to Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov for their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace. Ms Ressa and Mr Muratov are receiving the Peace Prize for their courageous fight for freedom of expression in the Philippines and Russia. At the same time, they are representatives of all journalists who stand up for this ideal in a world in which democracy and freedom of the press face increasingly adverse conditions.

Maria Ressa uses freedom of expression to expose abuse of power, use of violence and growing authoritarianism in her native country, the Philippines. In 2012, she co-founded Rappler, a digital media company for investigative journalism, which she still heads. As a journalist and the Rappler’s CEO, Ressa has shown herself to be a fearless defender of freedom of expression. Rappler has focused critical attention on the Duterte regime’s controversial, murderous anti-drug campaign. The number of deaths is so high that the campaign resembles a war waged against the country’s own population. Ms Ressa and Rappler have also documented how social media is being used to spread fake news, harass opponents and manipulate public discourse.

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Question related to this article:
Free flow of information, How is it important for a culture of peace?

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Dmitry Andreyevich Muratov has for decades defended freedom of speech in Russia under increasingly challenging conditions. In 1993, he was one of the founders of the independent newspaper Novaja Gazeta. Since 1995 he has been the newspaper’s editor-in-chief for a total of 24 years. Novaja Gazeta is the most independent newspaper in Russia today, with a fundamentally critical attitude towards power. The newspaper’s fact-based journalism and professional integrity have made it an important source of information on censurable aspects of Russian society rarely mentioned by other media. Since its start-up in 1993, Novaja Gazeta has published critical articles on subjects ranging from corruption, police violence, unlawful arrests, electoral fraud and ”troll factories” to the use of Russian military forces both within and outside Russia.

Novaja Gazeta’s opponents have responded with harassment, threats, violence and murder. Since the newspaper’s start, six of its journalists have been killed, including Anna Politkovskaja who wrote revealing articles on the war in Chechnya. Despite the killings and threats, editor-in-chief Muratov has refused to abandon the newspaper’s independent policy. He has consistently defended the right of journalists to write anything they want about whatever they want, as long as they comply with the professional and ethical standards of journalism.

Free, independent and fact-based journalism serves to protect against abuse of power, lies and war propaganda. The Norwegian Nobel Committee is convinced that freedom of expression and freedom of information help to ensure an informed public. These rights are crucial prerequisites for democracy and protect against war and conflict. The award of the Nobel Peace Prize to Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov is intended to underscore the importance of protecting and defending these fundamental rights.

Without freedom of expression and freedom of the press, it will be difficult to successfully promote fraternity between nations, disarmament and a better world order to succeed in our time. This year’s award of the Nobel Peace Prize is therefore firmly anchored in the provisions of Alfred Nobel’s will.

United Nations: Non-Violence Day offers prospect for ‘new era of peace, trust and tolerance’


An article from the United Nations

In his message for the International Day of Non-Violence, on Saturday, the UN chief noted that the day provides an opportunity to usher in a “new era of peace, trust and tolerance”.

UN / Ryan Brown. Gandhi stamps created by the UN post for the International Day of Non-Violence.

Secretary-General António Guterres pointed out that it was no coincidence that the day coincides with the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi – leader of India’s independence movement and a founder of the principles of non-violence.

“For Gandhi, non-violence, peaceful protest, dignity and equality were more than words. They represented a guiding light for humanity, a map to a better future”, he said.

‘Template’ for the future

The UN chief also pointed to the movement as “a template” to confront today’s troubled times.  

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(Click here for a French version of this article or here for a Spanish version.)

Question(s) related to this article:

What is the United Nations doing for a culture of peace?

Can peace be guaranteed through nonviolent means?

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“Conflicts and climate change. Poverty and inequalities.  Mistrust and divisions.  All under the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic, which continues to devastate people and economies alike”, he said.

The UN chief underscored that the solution to these challenges “is in our hands: solidarity”.    
Solutions ‘in our hands’

The principle of non-violence, also known as non-violent resistance, rejects the use of physical force to achieve social or political change and has been adopted globally in campaigns for social justice.

 “We need to recognize, as Gandhi did, that what unites us is far greater than what divides us. That peace provides the only pathway to a better future for all”, he said.

Coming together as one

Addressing global challenges means “coming together as one human family, and embracing peace like never before”, Mr. Guterres said, calling on combatants around the world to lay down their arms and “focus on defeating humanity’s common enemy – COVID-19 – not one another”.  

He underscored the urgent need to deliver lifesaving vaccines and treatment, “and support countries in the long road to recovery ahead”; intensify efforts to reduce inequalities and end poverty; and create “a bold global plan of action” to heal the planet.  

Most of all, flagged the UN chief, “we need to renew trust in one another”.

“Hatred, division, conflict and mistrust have had their day”, he said.  “It is time to usher in a new era of peace, trust and tolerance”.

Mr. Guterres urged everyone to “heed Gandhi’s message of peace and get down to the business of building a better and more peaceful future for all”.

Civic Initiative Save Sinjajevina to Receive the War Abolisher of 2021 Award


An article from World Beyond War

Today, September 27, 2021, World BEYOND War announces as the recipient of the War Abolisher of 2021 Award: Civic Initiative Save Sinjajevina. As already announced, the Lifetime Organizational War Abolisher Award of 2021 will be presented to Peace Boat, and the David Hartsough Lifetime Individual War Abolisher Award of 2021 will be presented to Mel Duncan.

A frame from their video.

An online presentation and acceptance event, with remarks from representatives of all three 2021 award recipients will take place on October 6, 2021, at 5 a.m. Pacific Time, 8 a.m. Eastern Time, 2 p.m. Central European Time, and 9 p.m. Japan Standard Time. The event is open to the public and will include presentations of three awards, a musical performance by Ron Korb, and three breakout rooms in which participants can meet and talk with the award recipients. Participation is free.  Register here for Zoom link.

 World BEYOND War is a global nonviolent movement, founded in 2014, to end war and establish a just and sustainable peace. In 2021 World BEYOND War is announcing its first-ever annual War Abolisher Awards.

The purpose of the awards is to honor and encourage support for those working to abolish the institution of war itself. With the Nobel Peace Prize and other nominally peace-focused institutions so frequently honoring other good causes or, in fact, wagers of war, World BEYOND War intends its award to go to educators or activists intentionally and effectively advancing the cause of war abolition, accomplishing reductions in war-making, war preparations, or war culture. Between June 1 and July 31, World BEYOND War received hundreds of impressive nominations. The World BEYOND War Board, with assistance from its Advisory Board, made the selections.

The awardees are honored for their body of work directly supporting one or more of the three segments of World BEYOND War’s strategy for reducing and eliminating war as outlined in the book “A Global Security System, An Alternative to War.” They are: Demilitarizing Security, Managing Conflict Without Violence, and Building a Culture of Peace.

Civic Initiative Save Sinjajevina (Građanska inicijativa Sačuvajmo Sinjajevinu in Serbian) is a popular movement in Montenegro that has prevented the implementation of a planned NATO military training ground, blocking military expansion while protecting a natural environment, a culture, and a way of life. Save Sinjajevina remains vigilant to the danger of ongoing efforts to impose a base on their treasured land. (See  https://sinjajevina.org )

Montenegro joined NATO in 2017 and the rumors began in 2018 of plans to impose a military (including artillery) training ground on the grasslands of Sinjajevina Mountain, the biggest mountain pasture in the Balkans and the second largest in Europe, a unique landscape of immense natural and cultural value, part of the Tara River Canyon Biosphere Reserve and surrounded by two UNESCO World Heritage sites. It is used by more than 250 families of farmers and nearly 2,000 people, while many of its pastures are used and managed communally by eight different Montenegrin tribes.

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Question for this article:

What is the relation between the environment and peace

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Public demonstrations against the militarization of Sinjajevina gradually arose from 2018 onwards. In September 2019, ignoring over 6,000 signatures of Montenegrin citizens that should have compelled a debate in the Montenegrin Parliament, the parliament announced the creation of a military training ground without any environmental, socio-economic, or health-impact assessments, and NATO forces arrived to train. In November 2019, an international scientific research team presented its works to UNESCO, the European Parliament, and the European Commission, explaining the bio-cultural value of Sinjajevina. In December 2019 the Save Sinjajevina association was officially launched. On October 6, 2020, Save Sinjajevina launched a petition to stop the creation of the military training ground. On October 9, 2020, farmers demonstrated at the doors of Parliament when they knew that the EU Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement was at that moment in the country’s capital. Beginning October 19th, rumors started to appear about a new military training on Sinjajevina.

On October 10th, 2020, news broke and the rumors of a new military training being planned were confirmed by the Minister of the Defence. About 150 farmers and their allies set up a protest camp in the highland pastures to block soldiers’ access to the area. They formed a human chain in the grasslands and used their bodies as shields against the live ammunition of the planned military exercise. For months they stood in the way of the military moving from one side of the plateau to another, in order to prevent the military from firing and executing their drill. Whenever the military moved, so did the resisters. When Covid hit and national restrictions on gatherings were implemented, they took turns in four-person groups set in strategic spots to stop the guns from firing. When the high mountains turned cold in November, they bundled up and held their ground. They resisted for more than 50 days in freezing conditions until the new Montenegrin Minister of Defense, who was appointed on the 2nd of December, announced that the training would be cancelled.

The Save Sinjajevina movement — including farmers, NGOs, scientists, politicians, and ordinary citizens — has continued to develop local democratic control over the future of the mountains threatened by NATO, has continued to engage in public education and lobbying of elected officials, and has offered its insights through numerous fora to those working in other parts of the world to prevent the construction of, or to close existing, military bases.

Opposing military bases is very difficult, but absolutely crucial to abolishing war. Bases destroy indigenous people’s and local communities’ ways of life and healthier ways to make a living. Stopping the harm done by bases is central to the work of World BEYOND War. The Civic Initiative Save Sinjajevina is doing the educational and nonviolent activist work that is most needed, and with stunning success and influence. Save Sinjajevina is also making necessary connections between peace, environmental protection, and local community promotion, and between peace and democratic self-governance. If war is ever fully ended, it will be because of work like that being done by the Civic Initiative Save Sinjajevina. We should all offer them our support and solidarity.
The movement has launched a new global petition at https://bit.ly/sinjajevina.

Taking part in the online event on October 6, 2021, will be these representatives of the Save Sinjajevina Movement:

Milan Sekulovic, a Montenegrin journalist and civic-environmental activist, and the founder of the Save Sinjajevina movement;
Pablo Dominguez, an eco-anthropologist who specialized on pastoral mountain commons and how they work bio-ecologically and socio-culturally.

Petar Glomazic, an aeronautical engineer and aviation consultant, documentary film maker, translator, alpinist, ecological and civic rights activist, and a Steering Committee Member of Save Sinjajevina.

Persida Jovanović is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in political science and international relations, and she spent most of her life in Sinjajevina. She is now working together with local communities and the Save Sinjajevina association to preserve the traditional way of life and ecosystem of the mountain.

UN Urged to Declare a Global Peace Education Day


An article by Anwarul Chowdhury in IDN-InDepth News (published under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International)

Following is the text of Inaugural Keynote Address by Ambassador Anwarul K. Chowdhury, former Under-Secretary-General and High Representative of the United Nations and Founder of The Global Movement for The Culture of Peace (GMCoP), at the First Annual Peace Education Day Conference organized virtually by The Unity Foundation and Peace Education Network.

Photo: UN Blue Helmets. Credit: United Nations

I thank Bill McCarthy, President and Founder of the Unity Foundation and Chair of this first annual Peace Education Day Conference and the Peace Education Network for organizing the conference with the excellent objective of getting the UN to declare an International Peace Education Day. I believe it would be better if it is called the Global Peace Education Day.

I am honored to be invited to speak at the conference as the inaugural keynote speaker on a subject which is very close to my heart and my persona.

As I have stated on many occasions, my life’s experience has taught me to value peace and equality as the essential components of our existence. Those unleash the positive forces of good that are so needed for human progress.

Peace is integral to human existence—in everything we do, in everything we say and in every thought we have, there is a place for peace. We should not isolate peace as something separate or distant. It is important to realize that the absence of peace takes away the opportunities that we need to better ourselves, to prepare ourselves, to empower ourselves to face the challenges of our lives, individually and collectively.

For two decades and half, my focus has been on advancing the culture of peace which aims at making peace and non-violence a part of our own self, our own personality—a part of our existence as a human being. And this will empower ourselves to contribute more effectively to bring inner as well as outer peace.

This is the core of the self-transformational dimension of my advocacy around the globe and for all ages, with special emphasis on women, youth and children. This realization has now become more pertinent in the midst of the ever-increasing militarism and militarization that is destroying both our planet and our people.

The International Congress on Peace in the Minds of Men was held in Yamoussoukro, Côte d’Ivoire/Ivory Coast in 1989 organized by UNESCO under the wise and dynamic leadership of my dear friend Federico Mayor Zaragoza, then UNESCO Director-General who is joining this conference also as a keynote speaker. It was a landmark gathering to give a boost and a profile to the concept of the culture of peace aimed at promoting a change of values and behaviors.

On 13 September 1999, 22 years ago last week, the United Nations adopted the Declaration and Programme of Action on the Culture of Peace, a monumental document that transcends boundaries, cultures, societies and nations.

It was an honor for me to Chair the nine-month long negotiations that led to the adoption of this historic norm-setting document by the United Nations General Assembly. That document asserts that inherent in the culture of peace is a set of values, modes of behaviour and ways of life.

A significant aspect of the essential message as articulated in the UN documents effectively asserts that the “culture of peace is a process of individual, collective and institutional transformation …” ‘Transformation’ is of the key relevance here.

It is basic to remember that the culture of peace requires a change of our hearts, change of our mindset. It can be internalized through simple ways of living, changing of our own behavior, changing how we relate to each other, changing how we connect with the oneness of humanity. The essence of the culture of peace is its message of inclusiveness and of global solidarity.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development of the United Nations in its sustainable development goal (SDGs) number 4.7 includes, among others, promotion of culture of peace and non-violence as well as global citizenship as part of the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development.

It also calls on the international community to ensure that all learners acquire those by the year 2030. Keeping that in focus, the theme of the UN High Level Forum in 2019 observing the 20th anniversary of the culture of peace at the UN was “The Culture of Peace—Empowering and Transforming the Humanity” aiming at a forward-looking and inspiring agenda for the next twenty years.

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Question(s) related to this article:

What is the United Nations doing for a culture of peace?

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In my introduction to the 2008 publication “Peace Education: A Pathway to a Culture of Peace”, I wrote, “As Maria Montessori had articulated so appropriately, those who want a violent way of living, prepare young people for that; but those, who want peace have neglected their young children and adolescents and that way are unable to organize them for peace.”

In UNICEF, peace education is very succinctly defined as “the process of promoting the knowledge, skills, attitudes and values needed to bring about behavior change that will enable children, youth and adults to prevent conflict and violence, both overt and structural; to resolve conflict peacefully; and to create the conditions conducive to peace, whether at an interpersonal, intergroup, national or international levels”.

Peace education needs to be accepted in all parts of the world, in all societies and countries as an essential element in creating the culture of peace. It deserves a radically different education—“one that does not glorify war but educates for peace, non-violence and international cooperation.” They need the skills and knowledge to create and nurture peace for their individual selves as well as for the world they belong to.

Never has it been more important for us to learn about the world and understand its diversity.  The task of educating children and young people to find non-aggressive means to relate with one another is of primary importance.

All educational institutions need to offer opportunities that prepare the students not only to live fulfilling lives but also to be responsible, conscious and productive citizens of the world. For that, educators need to introduce holistic and empowering curricula that cultivate a culture of peace in each and every young mind.

Indeed, this should be more appropriately called “education for global citizenship”. Such learning cannot be achieved without well-intentioned, sustained, and systematic peace education that leads the way to the culture of peace.

If our minds could be likened to a computer, then education provides the software with which to “reboot” our priorities and actions away from violence, towards the culture of peace. The Global Campaign for Peace Education has continued to contribute in a meaningful way towards this objective and must receive our continuous support.

For this, I believe that early childhood affords a unique opportunity for us to sow the seeds of transition from the culture of war to the culture of peace. The events that a child experiences early in life, the education that this child receives, and the community activities and socio-cultural mindset in which a child is immersed all contribute to how values, attitudes, traditions, modes of behavior, and ways of life develop.

We need to use this window of opportunity to instill the rudiments that each individual needs to become agents of peace and non-violence from an early life.

Connecting the role of individuals to broader global objectives, Dr. Martin Luther King Junior affirmed that “An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.” The UN Programme of Action on the Culture of Peace pays special attention to this aspect of an individual’s self-transformation.

In this context, I would reiterate that women in particular have a major role to play in promoting the culture of peace in our violence-ridden societies, thereby bringing in lasting peace and reconciliation. Women’s equality makes our planet safe and secure. It is my strong belief that unless women are engaged in advancing the culture of peace at equal levels with men, sustainable peace would continue to elude us.

We should always remember that without peace, development is impossible, and without development, peace is not achievable, but without women, neither peace nor development is conceivable.

The work for peace is a continuous process and I am convinced that culture of peace is absolutely the most essential vehicle for realizing the goals and objectives of the United Nations in the twenty-first century.

Let me conclude by urging all of you most earnestly that we need to encourage the young people to be themselves, to build their own character, their own personality, which is embedded with understanding, tolerance and respect for diversity and in solidarity with rest of humanity.

We need to convey that to the young people. This is the minimum we can do as adults. We should do everything to empower them in the real sense, and such empowerment is going to stay with them for life. That is the significance of the Culture of Peace. It is not something temporary like resolving a conflict in one area or between communities without transforming and empowering people to sustain peace.

Let us—yes, all of us—embrace the culture of peace for the good of humanity, for the sustainability of our planet and for making our world a better place to live. 

Our future, our decisions: young activists call for seat at climate table


Our future, our decisions: young activists call for seat at climate table

An article from Reuters (reprinted by permission)

Sept 30 – Young activists attending this week’s climate talks in Milan are asking for a seat at the table during the upcoming U.N. COP26 summit in Glasgow to have a say in how decisions shaping their future are made.

A combination photo shows climate activists Gyuree Lee from South Korea, Hoor Ahli from the UAE, Steven Setiawan from Indonesia, Daniele Guadagnolo from Italy, Mark Muravec from Slovenia, Archana Soreng from India, Kamaal Hassan Adnan from Somaliland, Marie-Claire Graf from Switzerland, Ignacio Villarroya from Argentina, Elizabeth Wathuti from Kenya, Eduarda Zoghbi from Brazil, Jeremy Raguain from the Seychelles posing for a photo during the Youth4Climate pre-COP26 conference in Milan, Italy, September 28, 2021. REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane/a>

Thousands of young campaigners, including Sweden’s Greta Thunberg, converged on Milan this week to have their voices heard and put an end to what she described as “30 years of blah blah blah” in the almost three decades of climate talks. (Editor’s note: Reuters considers that Thunberg is a leading candidate for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize).

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Questions for this article:

Are we seeing the dawn of a global youth movement?

Despite the vested interests of companies and governments, Can we make progress toward sustainable development?

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“What we really want is that we’re part of the decision-making process to be able to write the documents, to be able to have our thoughts channelled there,” Eduarda Zoghbi, 28, a delegate from Brazil, told Reuters.

On Wednesday they tabled a slate of proposals for inclusion in the COP26 agenda that will be vetted by climate and energy ministers over the next days. read more

“Our thoughts definitely have to be shared … we are the future generations,” said 16-year-old Hoor Ahli from the United Arab Emirates.

Their concern is that much has been promised but little done to tackle global warming. Those fears were exacerbated by a U.N. report in August which warned the situation was dangerously close to spiralling out of control. read more

The Glasgow conference aims to secure more ambitious climate action from the nearly 200 countries who signed the 2015 Paris Agreement and agreed to try to limit human-caused global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

“My message to world leaders is that they include youth,” Zoghbi said, adding each delegate represented the particular challenges faced by countries as a result of climate change.

Among them was Jeremy Raguain, 27, from the Seychelles, who called for more financing for smaller states, and Achana Soreng, 25, a member of the Kharia tribe in Eastern India, who advocated for more rights for indigenous communities in the debate.

“We need those views reflected in the main texts and we need leaders to listen to us,” Zoghbi said.

United Nations High-Level Forum on The Culture of Peace: Chair’s Summary


Received at CPNN from Georgina Galanis

The President of the General Assembly (PGA) convened on 7 September 2021 the High-Level Forum on The Culture of Peace, as mandated by the GA resolution 75/25 of 2020. The High-Level Forum, participated by the Member States and Observers to the United Nations as well as other stakeholders, renewed the call for full and effective implementation of the UN Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace.

UN Photo/Loey Felipe
Volkan Bozkir, President of the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly, opened the High-level Forum on the Culture of Peace

The theme of High-Level Forum – “Transformative Role of The Culture of Peace: Promoting Resilience and Inclusion in Post-Covid Recovery” reflected the relevance of the abiding values of the culture of peace in combating the Covid-19 pandemic and its socio-economic impacts, and underscored the importance of empowering all segments of the society towards a resilient recovery, including by ensuring vaccine equity, bridging digital divide, promoting equality and empowerment of women and harnessing the power of youth, among others.

In his opening remarks, the President of the General Assembly, H.E. Mr. Volkan Bozkir, pointed out how humanity was brought together by the pandemic and stressed the need to “build on this shared sense of grief and anxiety, and work together to not only tackle COVID-19 but all other challenges that stand in our path.” Referring to the sufferings of the Rohingya and Afghanistan people, the President emphasized on elements such as conflict early warning, fact-finding missions, early deployment of peacekeepers when needed, and of course humanitarian assistance, to maintain and support a culture of peace. “Peace is much, much more than the absence of conflict. Peace is a conscious effort by each of us, each moment, to talk, to listen, and to engage. It is a sustained effort to understand and overcome differences”, he added.

The Foreign Minister of Bangladesh H.E. DR A.K. Abdul Momen participated in the Opening Session with a pre-recorded statement. In his remarks, the Foreign Minister recalled Bangladesh’s pioneering role in the adoption of the UN General Assembly Resolution on The Culture of Peace since 1999 and organization of the High-Level Forum since 2012. Recognizing the need for creating an environment for peace for a resilient recovery from Covid-19, the Foreign Minister invited the international community to mainstream culture of peace in all pandemic recovery efforts. He underscored the strong correlation between peace and development and in this regard, called for ensuring timely implementation of the Agenda 2030.

Speaking on behalf of the UN Secretary-General, the Chef de Cabinet Ambassador Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, highlighted the foundational role of culture of peace for “building a better, fairer, more sustainable future for all—the future in which human rights are realized for every person.” She called attention not only to the devastating consequences of climate change and the threatening effects of the pandemic on health and economics but also to the rising conflicts, gender-based violence, inequality and hate speech. The Chef de Cabinet stressed that working to achieve peace not only covers traditional notions of security, but also challenges such as social injustice, the normalization of hate speech, terrorism, violence against women, and conflict.

The High Representative of the United Nations Alliance of Civilization (UNAOC), H.E. Mr. Miguel Ángel Moratinos in his remarks stated that the culture of peace is becoming relevant every day in the context of multidimensional impacts of Covid-19 and urged all stakeholders to re-commit to taking result-oriented actions towards uprooting all forms of discrimination and eliminating inequalities through dialogue, tolerance, diversity and respect among state and non-state actors. Speaking on behalf of Director General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), Mr. Eliot Minchenberg, Director a.i., Office of UNESCO in New York, underlined that the very notion of the Culture of Peace was born in UNESCO in 1992 and reaffirmed that the Organisation, together with its partners, stands ready to build peace and overcome the challenges of today. He also pointed out that due to Covid-19 pandemic, education has been gravely affected, particularly among girls and young women.

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Question(s) related to this article:

What is the United Nations doing for a culture of peace?

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During the plenary meeting, Member States stressed that the pandemic has highlighted the vulnerabilities and inequalities, increasing intolerance and tensions within communities, and between states. They underlined the importance of fostering a culture of peace through education by revising the educational curricula to promote qualitative values, attitudes, and behaviours of a culture of peace, including peaceful conflict-resolution, dialogue, consensus-building and active non-violence. The High-Level Forum also discussed how the culture of peace is fostered by the promotion of sustainable economic and social development and heard arguments towards the need to reduce inequalities and eradicate poverty if we are to alleviate grievances. The Member States also highlighted the importance of protection and promotion
human rights and ensuring gender equality in achieving the objectives of the declaration and the programme of action on culture of peace.

Following the plenary segment in the General Assembly Hall in the morning, a panel discussion was held virtually in the afternoon with the participation of invited panellists, discussants, and representatives of civil society organisations. The Founder of the Global Movement for the Culture of Peace (GMCoP), Former Under-Secretary-General and High Representative of the United Nations, Ambassador Anwarul K. Chowdhury moderated the panel discussion. A wide range of stakeholders – H.E. Ms Rabab Fatima, Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the UN, H.E. Mr. Rodrigo A. Carazo, Permanent Representative of Costa Rica to the UN, H. E. Ms. Mathu Joyini, Permanent Representative of South Africa to the UN, Mr. Federico Mayor Zaragoza, President of Foundation for a Culture of Peace, former Director-General of UNESCO (1987-1999), Dr. Ada Juni Okika, Global Director of the Centre for Transformative Advancement of Development of Africa (CTADA), Mr. Liu Zhenmin, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, UN, Mr. Francisco Rojas-Aravena, Rector of the University of Peace in Costa Rica participated in the panel discussion.

Hon. Mr Kazumi Matsui, Mayor of Hiroshima, Japan and President of “Mayors for Peace” and Ms Jayathma Wickramanayake, the UN Secretary General’s Youth Envoy, presented pre-recorded video statements.

Chair and Moderator Ambassador Anwarul K. Chowdhury in his opening remarks paid warm tribute to PGA-75 H.E. Mr. Volkan Bozkir under whose leadership the High-Level Forum on The Culture of Peace convened. He drew attention to the reality that the Culture of Peace has yet to attain its worth and its due recognition at global as well as national levels. He called for renewed attention to the Declaration on Culture of Peace which, “after the UN Charter, is the only major document of the UNGA which focuses on peace in the most comprehensive manner.” He underscored the difference between peace and culture of peace and called for individual actions to advance culture of peace which aims at making peace and non-violence a part of our own self, our own personality – a part of our existence as a human being.

Ms. Beatrice Fihn, the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and the Executive Director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) presented the keynote speech. In her keynote speech, Ms Beatrice Fihn highlighted the enduring values of the culture of peace in addressing the both the contemporary and the longstanding challenges facing the humanity. She emphasized on renewed commitment and stronger action to eliminate nuclear weapons that continue to threaten the very existence of the human society.

As a panellist, Ambassador Fatima, Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the United Nations in New York, underscored the long-standing commitment of Bangladesh to the culture of peace at the UN and its continuing, proactive role in advancing the implementation of the UN resolutions on the culture of peace. She stressed on eliminating digital divide and restructuring conventional education system in ensuring uninterrupted access to education by all children. Expressing her concern at the alarming rise in inequality within and among societies, she urged the global community to address inequality in a holistic manner. She also called for increased efforts including dialogue for elimination of hate speech, xenophobia and discrimination across the society for an inclusive recovery.

All panellists recognised the renewed relevance of the culture of peace in combating COVID and stressed on the importance of utilizing transformative role of culture of peace in fostering inclusion and tolerance in the society through inclusive and non-discriminatory recovery efforts. They highlighted that the culture of peace needs to be strengthened within all peoples, especially women, to prevent conflicts and sustain peace. They also stressed respect for human rights as essential to peace, to further promoting the culture of peace in educational programmes. The culture of peace, it was stressed, cannot be built if hate speech continues to exist. Participants also noted that everyone must be a multi-stakeholder in this process, including educators, parents, governmental officials and civil society organizations, as highlighted in the UN declaration on the culture of peace.

Civil society organizations actively participated in the High-Level Forum interactive session. They stressed that peace should be embraced as a way of life. The culture of peace should be nurtured through strengthening mutual respect and protecting the dignity of all members of the society regardless of their race, religion, belief or gender.

The High-Level Forum provided an opportunity for Member States, observers, UN entities, non-governmental organizations, academia, and other interested parties, to exchange ideas and make suggestions on how to utilise the values of culture of peace in post Covid recovery efforts, especially to ensure that the recovery from Covid-19 is durable, resilient and inclusive. In this context, the High-Level Forum provided a meaningful contribution to the pivotal discussions and commitments expected at the General Assembly during the High-Level Week later in September 2021.

UN High Level Forum on The Culture of Peace


An announcement from the United Nations

The High-Level Forum on the Culture of Peace will be convened by the President of the 74th Session of the UN General Assembly on Thursday, 10 September 2020 as a virtual event via online platform.


The United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution 74/21 on 12 December 2019 at its 74th session, in which the Assembly requested the President, H.E. Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, to consider convening a high-level forum, as appropriate and within existing resources, devoted to the implementation of the Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace on the occasion of the anniversary of its adoption, on or around 13 September.

This is an opportunity to renew our commitment to the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace, our commitment to the United Nations and multilateralism, in particular under the challenging circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic. To this end, the President of the 74th Session of the General Assembly will convene this year a virtual High-Level Forum, on 10 September 2020, to highlight the importance of the culture of peace to move forward in these trying times.

On 13 September 1999, the UN General Assembly adopted, by consensus and without reservation, its pioneering resolution 53/243 on the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace. Asserting and reaffirming the commitment of all the UN membership for building the culture of peace, the General Assembly has been adopting resolutions on this issue every year since 1997. Through annual substantive resolutions for the last 20 years as well as annual High-Level Forums since 2012, the General Assembly has highlighted the priority it attaches to the full and effective implementation of these decisions and recommendations, which serve as a universal mandate for the international community, particularly the UN system, for the promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence that benefits humanity, in particular future generations.

Last year, on the occasion of the historic 20th anniversary of the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace, the President of the 73rd session of the General Assembly, H.E. María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, convened a successful High-Level Forum on 13 September 2019, under the theme “The Culture of Peace: Empowering and Transforming Humanity”. The discussion reflected on the enduring value of the culture of peace, inter alia, for full and effective implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and for a lasting peace.

In 2020, despite the difficulties in ensuring business continuity in the wake of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it is of utmost importance that the United Nations continues to support the global movement to promote the culture of peace, its Declaration and Programme of Action, and that our response and recovery efforts are guided towards implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

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Question(s) related to this article:

What is the United Nations doing for a culture of peace?

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The Culture of Peace: Change our world for the better in the age of COVID-19

This year’s High-Level Forum is intended to be an opportunity for an exchange of views on possible ways to further promote the culture of peace, while the world is striving to recover and respond to the global pandemic and trying to address other pressing issues affecting the lives of many people around the globe. The COVID-19 situation has underscored the urgent need to leverage a culture of peace as a means of bridging divides across and within societies, as well as ensuring peaceful coexistence as a foundation for advancing the Sustainable Development Goals.

International cooperation and multilateral partnerships are necessary to tackle the pandemic and other global threats. Concrete action is needed by all stakeholders to realize this vision through education, inclusion, poverty eradication, and social cohesion, with more participation from women, the youth, and other segments of society.

The theme for the 2020 High-Level Forum will be “The Culture of Peace: Change our world for the better in the age of COVID-19”. Building global solidarity is the need of the time and can be achieved through promoting inter-cultural and inter-religious dialogue that enable communities to come together to better understand each other and stand against the spread of hate, intolerance, division, and discrimination. The resilient nature of people to overcome the challenges with renewed optimism should be strengthened and put at the core of all our collective response and recovery plans, so that this crisis does not exacerbate the already high levels of inequality and discrimination. Vulnerable populations with less access to health care, basic public services, and economic resources should be our top priority. The event will provide a platform to explore opportunities to change our world for the better after the pandemic.

Member States and Observers of the General Assembly are invited to participate in the virtual High-Level Forum. The meeting will be webcast and it is open to UN agencies, civil society organizations, and other stakeholders.
Format of the High-Level Forum

The High-Level Forum on the Culture of Peace, convened by the President of the 74th Session of the UN General Assembly, will take place on Thursday, 10 September 2020, via online WebEx platform from 10 am to 1 pm. The event will consist of an opening segment and a plenary segment. The opening segment will feature statements by the President of the Seventy-Fourth Session of the United Nations General Assembly, the Secretary-General, H.E. Anwarul K. Chowdhury Ms. Gabriela Ramos, Ms. Nihal Saad, and Dr. Francisco Rojas Aravena. The plenary segment will comprise statements by Member States and Observers of the General Assembly.

Member States are encouraged to deliver statements on behalf of a group of States, whenever possible. Member States are encouraged to limit their statements to three (3) minutes for individual delegations and five (5) minutes for statements made on behalf of a group of States. There will be a pre-established list of speakers and it will be open for registration before the event. In view of time constraints for the online plenary segment, delegations that did not have the opportunity to speak can send their statements for uploading on the PGA’s website. A President’s summary of the meeting will be circulated to Member States upon its conclusion.

Afghanistan and Julian Assange


An article by Roy Drew, Mullumbimby in The Echo (Australia)

Given the unfolding events in Afghanistan it seems more appropriate than ever to consider the plight of Australian citizen Julian Assange.

A defeat/retreat of US power such as this on the military front does not mean that there will be a corresponding defeat for them in the court room in London.

At the recent preliminary appeal hearing on 11 August, US prosecutors managed to successfully challenge the testimony of expert witness psychiatrist Professor Michael Kopelman and add weight to their application to appeal against the British courts’ decision not to extradite Julian to the US.

The prosecution won the right to appeal, on the petty grounds that Professor Kopelman did not reveal that Julian had started a family with his partner and had become the father of two children while he was in the Ecuadorian embassy.

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Question related to this article:
Julian Assange, Is he a hero for the culture of peace?

Free flow of information, How is it important for a culture of peace?

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Presumably they are suggesting that this diminishes the possibility of Julian committing suicide if he is sentenced to more than three lifetimes in a maximum security prison in the US – as the judge in the first hearing gave as her reason not to grant his extradition.

Judge Baraitser has also revealed that she was aware of these details and that she considered it appropriate that the names of Julian’s partner and children should remain confidential in the interest of their security and safety.

The decision to allow the appeal to be heard in late October has left Julian still cruelly incarcerated for a further agonising two months in the UK high security prison, Belmarsh.

The true nature of the war in Afghanistan has long ago been revealed by Assange, Wikileaks and others, counter to the propaganda justifying and promoting the war.

As Julian said in 2011 when speaking of vested interests ‘…the goal is an endless war, not a successful war’.

Although the next two months leading up to the appeal will be excruciating for Julian, it is only a short time for us to increase the pressure on the Australian government and our local representatives to demand his release and bring an end to the decade-long cruel and barbaric persecution of a journalist, publisher, Australian citizen, political prisoner and voice for ending imperialist war.

As events in Afghanistan demonstrate, never has the call for peace and justice for all peoples been more urgent.

And given Julian Assange’s situation, never has the call for his release been more urgent.

Declaration for the Transition to a Culture of Peace in the XXI Century


An article by Roberto Emmanuele Mercadillo Caballero from the Global Campaign for Peace Education

It is time for a new step forward in the transition from the culture of war to the culture of peace.

The first step was taken in 1986 with the Seville Statement on Violence which showed that war is a cultural invention, not a biological process, and therefore a culture of peace can also be invented.

The second step forward was taken in 1999 with the Declaration and Programme of Action for a Culture of Peace, developed at UNESCO and adopted by the United Nations General Assembly, which provided a precise definition of the culture of peace.

In 2011, the 25th anniversary of the Statement was celebrated at the XXXIII International Colloquia on Brain and Aggression held in Rome, Italy. Participants included Roberto Mercadillo as a researcher from the National Council of Science and Technology, Mexico, and David Adams, as the director of the Culture of Peace News Network. Adams had been a signatory of the Seville Statement along with Federico Mayor Zaragoza. Mayor later became the Director-General of UNESCO, where he was responsible for the UN Declaration, along with Adams who was working with him at that time.

At the meeting in 2011, Adams and Mercadillo concluded it was time to take the next step to propose a specific program for the transition from the culture of war to the culture of peace through educational innovation and the participation of local governments.

The program includes proposals for radical reforms of the United Nations, that were developed in 2016 by Federico Mayor Zaragoza and David Adams including the formation of an alternative to the UN Security Council involving mayors of major cities, directed by a small volunteer secretariat.

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Question related to this article:

How can we develop the institutional framework for a culture of peace?

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It was thus that, in 2019, Mayor-Zaragoza, Adams, and Mercadillo undertook the task of elaborating a new Declaration following a cognitive approach of consciousness in four steps:

First, to recognize the current status;

Second, to remember what we have done so far;

Third, to understand what we have done and must do based on our present situation;

Fourth, to propose and define actions to move towards a Culture of Peace in the 21st century.

For the first step, called “we recognize”, the Declaration displays actions on the culture of peace carried out around the world during the last 20 years, as well as the violent actions and war that continue to prevail.

For the second step, called “we remember”, the Declaration reviews previous declarations and manifestos such as the Seville Statement and the Declaration and Programme of Action for a Culture of Peace, along with other declarations that emerged from the United Nations, with emphasis on those promoted by UNESCO referring to the Culture of Peace and science that can be linked to educational initiatives.

For the third step, called “we understand”, the Declaration analyses the revised previous declarations and manifestos in light of the problems, needs, and possibilities of the 21st and recovered the mention “we the peoples” that opens the Charter of the United Nations signed in 1945 to initiate future actions and consciences.

For the fourth step, called “we propose”, the Declaration describes strategies in two simultaneous routes: local and global. The local route is fundamentally pedagogical and is carried out mainly by organized civil society supported by local governments. The global route involves the expansion of the UN General Assembly and creation of councils for economic, environmental, and social affairs, along with the formation of an international security council of mayors, mentioned above, that would issue regular press releases demonstrating that the culture of peace could be achieved if the United Nations were governed by “we the peoples.”

The Declaration is available in two versions, the full version as described here, and a brief version consisting of the fourth step, “we propose.”

Download the full version of the Declaration

Download the summary version of the Declaration