It was in 1989, during the International Congress on Peace in the Minds of Men, in Yamoussoukro, CĂ´te dâ€™Ivoire, that the notion of a â€śCulture of Peaceâ€ť was first mentioned. Over the past ten years, the idea has come a long way. In 1994, Federico Mayor, Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), launched an international appeal on the establishment of a right to peace; in February 1994, UNESCO launched its Towards a Culture of Peace programme; in 1997, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed the year 2000 as the â€śInternational Year for the Culture of Peaceâ€ť; and in 1998, the same Assembly declared the period 2001-2010 the â€śInternational Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the Worldâ€ť. This is how the notion of a Culture of Peace conquered the world.
What Does â€śCulture of Peaceâ€ť Mean? Although the expression â€śCulture of Peaceâ€ť took shape in 1989, such a culture already existed before the word was created. UNESCOâ€™s creation is a testimonial to the existence of such a culture as early as 1945. Even though UNESCO has several mandates, it has but one mission, namely that of constructing peace. The purpose of the Organization is to contribute to peace and security by promoting collaboration among the nations through education, science and culture in order to further universal respect for justice, for the rule of law and for the human rights and fundamental freedoms which are affirmed for the peoples of the worldâ€ť (Article I of the Constitutive Act of UNESCO).
The culture of peace is peace in action. Introducing such a culture is a long-term process requiring both a transformation of institutional practices and individual modes of behavior. Finally, in order to survive and become entrenched in our values, a culture of peace requires non-violence, tolerance and solidarity. The idea of consensus, or peace, is sometimes mistaken for an absence of conflict or for societyâ€™s homogenization process. However, in order to achieve mutual understanding, there must first be differences with regard to sex, race, language, religion, or culture. The quest for mutual understanding begins with the recognition of these differences and of a will to overcome them to reach a common objective.
Achieving mutual understanding protects a society from self-destruction by letting it build foundations so as to design a new way to live together. Indeed, mutual understanding fosters certain values vital for peace, including non-violence, respect of others, tolerance, solidarity and openness to others. Mutual understanding does not mean homogenization of society. On the contrary, a culture of peace is enhanced by the variety of traditions. The fact that a common vision emerges from a multi-cultural society proves that living together is possible and that this society lives according to the pulse of a culture of peace.
A culture of peace is thus a comprehensive union of existing movements, hence UNESCOâ€™s desire to create a worldwide movement for a culture of peace and non-violence. The International Year for the Culture of Peace will be one of the key moments for the creation of such a movement. This global movement should help change the culture of war into a culture of peace by uniting all groups, agencies, associations, governments and, especially, individuals within a comprehensive network that works towards the emergence of a culture of peace.
Peace in our communities and in the world requires a connection to respect for our multiple differences, and for the right of all people to justice, freedom, and dignity. This leads to trust, community, and co-existence. We understand we are all in this together, that all people have the same basic needs and desires, and so we act for the common good rather than for the benefit of a few. Peace is more than the absence of war, violence, or conflict, but we connect to the power of love that transcends fear, anger, sorrow, and aggression, and leads us to compassion and a desire to end the suffering of all. Education is the principle means of promoting a culture of peace. This includes not only formal education in schools, but also informal and non-formal education in the full range of social institutions, including the family and the media.
The very concept of power needs to be transformed – from the logic of force and fear to the force of reason and love. Education should be expanded so that basic literacy is joined by the ‘second literacy’ of ‘learning to live together’. A global effort of education and training, supported by the United Nations, should empower people at all levels with the peace-making skills of dialogue, mediation, conflict transformation, consensus-building, cooperation and non-violent social change. This campaign should be based upon universal principles of human rights, democratic principles and social justice, and at the same time, build upon the unique peace-making traditions and experiences of each society.
Content of theory-based peace education Could include: the role of values systems in religious and secular world views, the history and present day struggles for justice and equality in race and gender, the ethics of science and technology, understanding of the causes of violence and war and other local, national and international disputes, the theory of conflict resolution, visions of the future, political and social change, the economics of war and oppression, human rights and citizenship, violence, war and peacemaking in the media, nonviolence in literature and the arts.
Content of practical expressions of peace-making for use in peace education Models of peace-making, peace history â€“ local, national and international, the role of the United Nations and Non-governmental Organizations, how community groups affect peaceful change, vocations for social change, the role of personal and community health and nutrition in a healthy society, understanding other cultures through language, custom and stories, parenting and child care, bullying and anti-bullying methods, peer mediation and conflict resolution skills for children in the classroom.
A useful description for positive peace has been adopted by the U.N. General Assembly. Recognizing the long term nature of the work, the U.N. General Assembly (Resolution 52/15) declared the year 2000 as the International Year for the Culture of Peace. Broadly, cultures of peace include seven core elements that vary in form across cultures, yet are universals of positive peace. These elements may be envisioned as spokes of a wheel, a weakness in any one of which may produce systemic weakness or collapse.
The elements are:
â€˘Social justice: institutionalized equity in distribution and access to material, social, and political resources; truth-telling, reparations, and penalties for infractions; full participation and power sharing by different groups; gender justice and full participation by women;
â€˘Human rights: rule of law and adherence to human rights standards;
â€˘Nonviolence: institutionalized arrangements for nonviolent conflict resolution and reconciliation; values and attitudes of civility; norms and processes that promote human security, cooperation, interdependence, and harmonious relationships at all levels;4
â€˘Inclusiveness: respect for difference; participation by different groups; meeting identity needs; cultural sensitivity;
â€˘Civil society: strength and diversity of civic groups in sectors such as health, business, religion, and education; community action, support, and hope through these venues; full citizen participation in government;
â€˘Peace education: formal and informal, experiential education for peace at all levels; socialization of values, attitudes, and behaviors conducive to peace and social justice.
â€˘Sustainability: preservation of global resources; meeting the needs of the current generation without compromising the ability to meet the needs of future generations.
Psychologists may contribute to the construction of cultures of peace through work at many levels. Therapists who help to reduce family violence and to build equitable, nonviolent relationships in families contribute to cultures of peace. Educators who teach skills of nonviolent conflict resolution or work for social justice at the community level also contribute to the construction of cultures of peace.
Peace is very important in our lives; it is basic requirement for our existence. In todayâ€™s world peace is also important because if we look around us, we see a number of nations who are at war with each other. We need a better world for our next generations. We can enjoy the benefits of the latest technological and scientific advancements only in times of peace.
I realized that Peace is an ideal. It is both intangible and concrete depend upon the personâ€™s situation; complex and simple by the way a person looks at it ; exciting and calming by how a person feels about it. Peace is personal and political depend who that person is; it is spiritual and practical how a person understands it; local and global how deep a person recognized it. It is truly a process and an outcome, and, above all, a way of being.