Some Documents of Hope

TRANSCEND MEMBERS, 6 Nov 2023

David Adams | Transition to a Culture of Peace – TRANSCEND Media Service

Thanks to Roland Nivet of Mouvement de la Paix and Jean-Marc Cléry of the trade union FSU, I had to chance to speak to a hundred school teachers represented by the FSU in Bretagne. The blog this month is based on my remarks.

1 Nov 2023 – Your students, like all young people today are pushed towards pessimism by the mass media and the pronouncements of their national governments. Is there some way that we can give them hope for the future?

I want to give you four documents of hope. However, your students need to know that they will not be found by listening to the mass media or government. In fact, the media and government want to prevent them from knowing about these documents. Let me tell you something about their history.

The first is the Seville Statement. In 1986, the United Nations International Year for Peace, I was one of twenty scientists who met in Seville, Spain, to answer the question, “Does modern biology and social science know of any biological factors that constitute an insurmountable or serious obstacle to the goal of world peace ?” The scientists came from all regions of the world and from all the relevant scientific disciplines, including the most prominent experts in animal behavior, brain research on aggression and behavior genetics. After examining the scientific data, we came to the conclusion that war is a social, not a biological construction, and quoting the great anthropologist Margaret Mead, the same species that invented war is capable of inventing peace.”

The Seville Statement was adopted as policy by UNESCO and by many scientific organizations, including the American Psychological Association, American Anthropological Association and American Sociological Association. I organized the press conference to announce this. When I called the major news agencies, they said they were not interested, and one even said, “but call us back when you find the gene for war.”

Even Science magazine, the official news magazine of American scientific associations, refused to come to the press conference. So we sent a letter to the editor, signed by the president of several scientific organizations, including the American Psychological Association, which was technically their boss, but they refused to publish it.

This was only a few years after the Commission of the American Senate on CIA infiltration of the mass media that found all major news agencies had at least one CIA agent to determine what they could print. Someday, when the CIA archives are opened, I think they will find that there was an agent in Science magazine.

Thanks to one of the signatories of the Seville Statement, I went to work for UNESCO. Federico Mayor, who helped draft the Statement in 1986, was chosen as the Director-General of UNESCO in 1987 and he invited me to come to UNESCO to publicize the Statement.

At UNESCO, I proposed the culture of peace program and became responsible for the United Nations International Year for the Culture of Peace. In that capacity, we produced two documents.

One was the the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace that we sent from UNESCO to the UN General Assembly where it was adopted in 1999. This is the document that describes a programme for the culture of peace with eight areas of action. This approach has been adopted by Mouvement de la Paix.

The adoption of the Declaration and Programme of Action was opposed at each stage in its development by the the United States and the European Union. First, they tried to stop the submission of the draft document by saying that it had not been approved by the UNESCO Executive Board. Then, they tried to stop its adoption process by the UN General Assemby which led to a record number of informal consultation sessions where they expressed their opposition. During this process they managed to remove all references to the culture of war, claiming that there is no culture of war in this world. I had developed the draft document by listing the characteristics of the culture of war and proposing their opposites for a culture of peace.

Fortunately, the process of informal consultations was managed by the courageous ambassador from Bangladesh, Anwarul Chowdhury, who was trusted by the UN Member States from Africa, Latin America and Asia, and as a result they were able to get the document adopted despite the opposition of Europe and North America.

It has been said that the Declaration and Programme of Action is the most important UN declaration since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but the budget for its distribution and implimentation was removed from the resolution by the US and European Union.

The second document we developed at UNESCO is the Manifesto 2000. This is a popular version of the Declaration and Programme of Action, which individuals could sign, by which they promised to develop a culture of peace in their family, community and country. Their were six points in the Manifesto: Respect all life; Reject violence; Share with others; Listen to understand; Preserve the planet; and Rediscover solidarity.

The Manifesto 2000 was circulated in India by Brahma Kumaris. In Colombia by UNICEF. In Brazil by the UNESCO office. In Algeria it was sung from the minarets and distributed on the streets by the Scout Movement. In Japan by the National Federation of UNESCO Associations. In Korea by the National Commission for UNESCO. Overall, the Manifesto was signed by 75 million people, one of the largest peace mobilizations in all history.

What happened then? Federico Mayor had retired from UNESCO, and the United States installed a new director of programming who came from the Heritage Foundation. He told me bluntly that his tasks included getting rid of me and ending the culture of peace initiative. He even wrote a memo to the New York Office saying that I should not be allowed to enter it when I returned to the United States. There was a UN Decade for the Culture of Peace with UNESCO in charge, but they did nothing for it.

Once I left UNESCO, I developed the Culture of Peace News Network and did the research for two books, the History of the Culture of War and a utopian novel about how the world arrives at a culture of peace. The book is called “I have seen the promised land.” It imagines that after a global economic crash there is a window of opportunity to change the system of global governance by reforming the United Nations so that the Security Council is managed by representatives of the mayors of the world instead of nation-states with their culture of war.

I approached many book publishers but they told me they were not interested. Peace would not sell.

Despite l’opposition, these documents remain essential for the construction of a new world. If such a world is possible, it is the new generation who can achieve it. For this task they need to reactivate and use tools such as these.

All four documents are available online. Here are the links where you can read them.

Seville Statement on Violence

Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace

Manifesto 2000

I have see the promised land

See also the Culture of Peace News Network

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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.

Go to Original – decade-culture-of-peace.org


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