“CULTURES OF PEACE”

The international research network City for the Cultures of Peace and the Foundation for the Cultures of Peace allude to a notion of peace in the founding document of UNESCO (London, 16 November 1945), which affirms that peace is no fixed entity, but constructs itself time and again in people’s minds and imagination. Decades later, UNESCO resolutions and programs introduced and developed the concept of “a culture of peace.” In 1989, at a time when the Berlin Wall came down and Eastern European communist dictatorships collapsed, the “International Congress on Peace in the Minds of Men,” held in Côte d’Ivoire, first used this concept in its call upon UNESCO to “help construct a new vision of peace by developing a peace culture based on the universal values of respect for life, liberty, justice, solidarity, tolerance, human rights and equality between men and women.” In 1992, the Executive Board of UNESCO proposed a specific programme for a Culture of Peace as a contribution to United Nations peacekeeping efforts. Concurrently, UNESCO engaged in peace building in Central America (El Salvador), Africa (Mozambique, Burundi) as well as in the Philippines. In 1994, the first International Forum on the Culture of Peace was held in San Salvador (El Salvador). A year later, the 28th General Conference of UNESCO introduced the concept of “Culture of Peace” in the Medium-Term Strategy for 1996–2001 (28 C/4). From 1996 to 2001, NGOs, associations, the media, different communities and people, all working for peace, non-violence and tolerance implemented the idea of a culture of peace worldwide. In 1997, the General Assembly of the United Nations established a separate agenda section entitled “Towards a Culture of Peace” and proclaimed 2000 as the “International Year for the Culture of Peace. ” In 1998, a proposal made by Nobel Peace Laureates prompted the United Nations General Assembly to proclaim during its 53rd session the decade 2001 to 2010 an “International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World.” In November of the same year, the UNESCO Executive Board, meeting in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, adopted the Tashkent Declaration on the Culture of Peace and UNESCO’s action in Member States. In its Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace (resolution A/53/243) dated 1999 the United Nations General Assembly defined eight action areas to be linked through the concept of a culture of peace and non-violence into a single coherent approach. A year later, Nobel Prize Laureates translated the United Nations resolutions for a culture of peace in a Manifesto 2000 addressed to the broad public and open to signatures of people from around the globe. By September 2003, over 75 million persons from many different countries had signed the Manifesto 2000.

The Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace, adopted by the Assembly of the United Nations on 13 September 1999, includes a comprehensive definition of the culture of peace:

Article 1: A culture of peace is a set of values, attitudes, traditions and modes of behaviour and ways of life based on: (a) Respect for life, ending of violence and promotion and practice of non-violence through education, dialogue and cooperation; (b) Full respect for the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of States and non-intervention in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any State, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations and international law; (c) Full respect for and promotion of all human rights and fundamental freedoms; (d) Commitment to peaceful settlement of conflicts; (e) Efforts to meet the developmental and environmental needs of present and future generations; (f) Respect for and promotion of the right to development; (g) Respect for and promotion of equal rights and opportunities for women and men; (h) Respect for and promotion of the right of everyone to freedom of expression, opinion and information; (i) Adherence to the principles of freedom, justice, democracy, tolerance, solidarity, cooperation, pluralism, cultural diversity, dialogue and understanding at all levels of society and among nations; and fostered by an enabling national and international environment conducive to peace.

Article 2: Progress in the fuller development of a culture of peace comes about through values, attitudes, modes of behaviour and ways of life conducive to the promotion of peace among individuals, groups and nations.” (A/RES/53/243, 13 September 1999).

For UNO as well as for UNESCO, “culture of peace” is a “set of values, attitudes, modes of behaviour, and ways of life that reject violence and prevent conflicts by tackling their root causes to solve problems through dialogue and negotiation among individuals, groups and nations” (UN Resolutions A/RES/52/13: Culture of Peace and A/53/243: Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace).

The City for the Cultures of Peace and the Foundation for the Cultures of Peace as well as the Institute further develop this notion, while stressing and promoting the idea of a plurality of “cultures of peace” at work not only in different countries and peoples, but also in different disciplines and fields of action. The members of CCP and FCP realize their activities with the conviction that each individual can help build bridges among heterogeneous people through knowledge and acceptance of cultural diversity. They regard their work as a road towards “cultures of peace.”