Speech to Mayors for Peace
TRANSCEND MEMBERS, 8 Nov 2021
1 Nov 2021 – Text I provided to the first national forum of the AFCDRP (Association of Mayors for Peace, France) that took place October 13 in Montpelier.
First of all, I would like to thank Loréna Schlicht who invited me here and who has done a tremendous work to organize this conference.
Back in the year 2000, I was responsible, with Enzo Fazzino, who has just spoken, for the organization of the United Nations International Year for the Culture of Peace. We mobilized seventy-five million people to sign the Manifesto 2000 with the commitment to work for a culture of peace in family, work, community and country. So we were responsible for writing the Declaration and Program of Action on a Culture of Peace which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly.
`The Declaration provided a definition of the culture of peace which lays a basis for everything we do in this regard.
- strengthening a culture of peace through education;
- promote sustainable economic and social development;
- promote respect for all human rights;
- advance understanding, tolerance and solidarity;
- ensure equality between women and men;
- promote democratic participation;
- support participatory communication and the free flow of information and knowledge;
- promote international peace and security.
But the 1999 declaration is not enough. It has taken for granted the current structure of world governance, that is, power in the hands of the Great Powers, the countries that run the United Nations Security Council. At that time we could not expect that a declaration by the United Nations could call into question its own structure.
Today, the Great Powers continue to cling to the nuclear weapons that threaten the existence of mankind and their decisions in the Security Council continue to support the culture of war, continuing to profit from the sale of armaments.
Now it is clear that we cannot make the transition to a culture of peace with this system of global governance. We need another structure.
The ideal would be a new democratically elected structure. This is our project: The United Nations and its Security Council made up of representatives of mayors from all regions of the world. Mayors and their cities do not have a culture of war. No interest in nuclear weapons. They have no enemies, no army, no military-industrial complex, no borders to defend. They are elected to promote education, health, respect for human rights, and the security of all citizens on an equal basis, that is, a culture of peace !
With this perspective, we have proposed a new Declaration, the Declaration for the Transition to a Culture of Peace in the 21st Century.
According to the Declaration, the role of cities is key. They can and should:
Promote and support peace education projects in public institutions and in non-formal contexts. Share with communities and neighborhoods, the history of world cultures and their actions in favor of peace, recognizing our unity with other peoples; knowing their symbols; and creating new shared symbols that promote the acceptance of others, solidarity, respect and cooperation.
Promote transparency and the free flow of information: avoiding the secrecy of the State; promoting, supporting and giving freedom to the imagination and the creation of new vocabularies, languages and narratives about peace; and transforming the negative and violent portrayal of conflict in the mass media.
Publicize the knowledge and actions of organized civil society: enabling participatory democracy; training citizens, teachers, journalists, activists, social and religious leaders, policemen, students, professionals, politicians and scientists to participate in the exercise of their human rights, monitoring guarantees of all human rights including housing, health, sanitation, education and public safety.
Establish spaces for reflection, listening and dialogue between people of different ages, different physical, affective, cognitive and socioeconomic needs, and different ethnic, linguistic and gender identities, and welcome with generosity and fraternity the refugees and immigrants who have fled wars and injustices for which we are all responsible.
Promote democratic participation through equitable representation mechanisms for ethnic and gender diversities, free from the influence of military industry, financial monopoly corporations, and institutions that influence national politics.
Prioritize agriculture, manufacturing, consumption, local and sustainable development that depend less on oil and corporate monopolies, that respect the diversity of regional species to help combat climate change and environmental problems, and that promote the creation of cooperatives that work for a social and solidarity economy focused on fair trade and the well-being of the families and groups that comprise them.
Ensure equality between women and men through the integration of a gender perspective in the application of all economic, social and political decision-making; through measures for the elimination of all forms of discrimination and violence against women; and through support and assistance to women who are victims of all forms of violence.
Guarantee the peace and security of citizens by the control of firearms, by public institutions for conflict resolution and restorative justice and by local police forces trained in these procedures.
The city can become a vector of the culture of peace by institutionalizing and disseminating these actions. It can and should establish a city culture of peace commission that measures and reports on progress in each of these areas. It can and should share this process with other cities through networks such as Mayors for Peace, through twinning with cities from other continents and through advocacy for the role of cities at the United Nations.
The invitation to become partners with the Biennale of Luanda – “Pan-African Forum for the Culture of Peace” is a golden opportunity to implement this approach. Yes ! it would be a big step forward for Africa. But at the same time it would be a big step forward for France and the rest of the world who are in dire need of hope and vision in this time of turmoil.
As the Declaration for the Transition to a Culture of Peace in the 21st Century concludes:
We hold that history is in our hands and that another world is possible.
A global culture of peace is possible.
Let’s not mourn, but organize!
Dr. David Adams is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment and coordinator of the Culture of Peace News Network. He retired in 2001 from UNESCO where he was the Director of the Unit for the UN International Year for the Culture of Peace. Previously, at Yale and Wesleyan Universities, he was a specialist on the brain mechanisms of aggressive behavior, the history of the culture of war, and the psychology of peace activists, and he helped to develop and publicize the Seville Statement on Violence. Send him an email.
Tags: Culture of Peace, Education for Peace
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