The UN, Peace and Peace Education

EDITORIAL, 25 Oct 2010

#135 | Johan Galtung, 25 Oct 2010 - TRANSCEND Media Service

Voksenåsen, Oslo: Ladies and gentlemen, what an honor to celebrate the 65th anniversary of the United Nations on my own 80th birthday, this 24 October 2010, being invited to deliver the Dag Hammarskjöld lecture!  My own health is good, how about the 15 years younger UN?

Let me start celebrating the greatest UN secretary general of them all, Dag Hammarskjöld.  From a country with a century of neutrality after three centuries of the sweet-sour taste of big power status.  Knowledgeable, wise, spiritual, attached to something out there, Sanskrit tat tvam asi, all-embracing, beyond religions. Capable of promoting resolutions serving as precedents for future resolutions, making Chapter 6, or “6 1/2”, peacekeeping, a reality.

In Sinai, in the Congo.  And that became his bane.  Born in 1905 he perished in 1961 in an air accident in Ndola, deeply engaged in the sttruggle between the newly independent Congo–the victim of a genocide of 10 million under Belgian King Leopold and the UN on the one hand, and the secessionist province of Katanga where the riches were located and the very powerful Union Minière and international economic interests on the other.  And the mercenaries they hired.

The first UN officer to see his corpse was Norwegian general Björn Egge who wrote in Klassekampen 11 Aug 05 that unlike the others Hammarskjöld’s corpse had no burns.  But a hole in his forehead. later removed from photos.  Like the autopsy report from the files.

Björn Egge was my friend even, in an untidy relation as one of his tasks was to spy on the fledgling Peace Research Institute in Oslo.  This lecture is also dedicated to Björn, a firm UN believer.

What is known is that the US president at the time, Eisenhower, in a presidential directive authorized killing Congo’s president, Patrice Lumumba.  And that the CIA center for spying on UN delegates was located in the Twin Towers of 9/11 fame.

And that brings me to five major world trends today:

[1]  The fall of the US Empire: contradiction become conflict become violence and then demoralization sets in, but the USA may blossom;

[2]  The de-development of the West, rapidly moving backwards like the USA and the UK, maybe followed by PIIGS, certainly by Mexico;

[3]  The rapid rise of the Rest, not only BRIC, not only in economic terms but in terms of having projects, momentum, initiatives;

[4]  The rapid emergence of other development models as the Buddhist, the Islamic, the Japanese and the Chinese and the Western Marxist, not on the Western liberal based on economic growth, individual democracy and civil-political human rights.

(5)  The general decline of the whole state system being too small for our transportation-communication potentials except the biggest ones, Russia, China, India–maybe not the USA–by forces:

-from above: globalization, regionalization, corporatization;

-from below: non-dominant nations, civil society, local authorities.

Strong forces these six.  Making a UN as United Governments giving veto power to victors from the Second World War looking very antiquated.  Of course, it would help learning from the African Union renaming the UNSC the UN Peace and Security Council, the UNSC the UN Economic, Social and Cultural Council and talk about Human and People’s Rights.  It would help expanding UNSC to 50+ members like the UNESC to be more representative, abolishing the veto power and Article 12a, and moving the UN out of Manhattan, New York NYC to a more dynamic place like Hong Kong.  But the center for political action is moving.  Thus, people give their lives for nations and civilizations, not for states or regions.  A reason, incidentally, why little Norway is, like Quisling, harking back to Viking times with helmets and death to inspire Norwegian killing in a racist war. If little Norway does that, read WikiLeaks for some others.

And under and above all of this we have the old fault-lines, between the two genders, the three generations, the five races, the three economic, political, military and cultural classes, nations and territories.  How about peace in his enormous complexity?

Not that complicated: cooperation for mutual and equal benefit.  The Rest is yearning for equity, the West will never yield their positions of dominance, the ultimate being the cloning of the Rest by imposing the Western development model as the single one, not even a common one.  The West wants an edge in its favor, and that is why their decline is irreversible till a new balance is created.  The United Nations, so filled with Anglo-Saxon paranoia about “security” (meaning theirs), based on “members are states” can no longer carry that vision.  A United Regions may help.  So would, indeed, a UN Peoples’ Assembly with one delegate per million, based on free and fair elections.  So would United Local Authorities. So would a much stronger international civil society.  So would federalism with democracy inside the constituent nations.  And equity across fault-lines: parity between genders and generations, races and classes, nations and states.  For human dignity.

How about peace education in all of that?  Training in handling complexity is basic, and the first tool to go is the world map using four colors to highlight the dying state system.  An illusion, the real world is much more complex.  A prize for revealing images!

Training in handling conflict in general, in knowing how to take on as conflict–an incompatibility somewhere–has an enormous challenge to unravel the knots, creating a new reality where the incompatible becomes compatible.  TRANSCEND’s Sabona Project, teaching kids how to handle conflict through empathy, nonviolence and creativity, does exactly that.  In families, schools, at work.  And that is our little birthday gift, to the 65 years old UN.

This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 25 Oct 2010.

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2 Responses to “The UN, Peace and Peace Education”

  1. D Aurobinda Mahapatra says:

    Wish you Johan Happy Birthday belated! It is a happy coicidence that your birthday falls on the day the UN was created.On a small note I was also born on the same day in 1974.

    Personally I believe every good work takes time to have its impact fully felt worldwide. There is a saying good things take time in contrast to bad thing which happen and spread fast. True that good things endure. I am sure your mission for a peaceful world will spread further and reververate at each and every corner of the world. Your mission is immortal and it will make you immortal.

    Wish you live hundred years to guide all of us!