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Values, Attitudes and Behaviors: Culture of War to Culture of Peace

The United Nations resolutions on a culture of peace are based on an analysis of the values, attitudes and behaviors that are necessary for a culture of war and violence. What are they?

Audiences throughout the world have responded to the question by making their own lists of the characteristics of the culture of war. The lists differ in the terms used and in the order they are presented, but they have a remarkable consistency. Apparently, the culture of war and violence is present and recognized throughout the world. In the following table these results are presented in terms of eight characteristics, each expressed in several ways:

Power based on force / Belief that violence works / Military training

Enemy images/ Intolerance and prejudice against people who are different / Extreme patriotism / Religious intolerance (suspicion and fear)

Authoritarian governance / Corruption / Obedience to orders from the top down (subservience and fear)

Propaganda / Secrecy / Government control of media / Militaristic language / Censorship

Armaments / Armies / War preparations / Military industry

Disregard for human rights (people living in fear)

Profiting from the exploitation of people and nature within and/or between countries (greed)

Male domination and power / Patriarchy

In drafting the UN Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace (UN document A/53/370), the eight characteristics of a culture of war were taken into consideration and alternatives proposed to each one. To quote the document, it provides a "conceptual framework" to address "the deep cultural roots of war and violence" and "the basis for a coherent strategy for a transformation to a culture of peace and non-violence." To give one example, the document states "There has never been a war without an 'enemy', and to abolish war, we must transcend and supersede enemy images with understanding, tolerance and solidarity among all peoples and cultures."

Audiences around the world come up with the same alternatives, shown here in the form of a table with the culture of war values, attitudes and behaviors on the left and, on the right, those of a culture of peace corresponding to the eight programme areas in the UN resolution A/53/243:

CULTURE OF WAR AND VIOLENCE

CULTURE OF PEACE AND NON-VIOLENCE

Belief in power that is based on force

Education for a culture of peace

Having an enemy

Tolerance, solidarity and international understanding

Authoritarian governance

Democratic participation

Secrecy and propaganda

Free flow of information

Armament

Disarmament

Exploitation of people

Human rights

Exploitation of nature

Sustainable development

Male domination

Equality of women and men

The eight programme areas of the UN resolution were used by the Nobel Peace Laureates in drafting the Manifesto 2000, and they have been reformulated as the eight peacekeys of CPNN.

Since the Manifesto 2000 was designed for everyday life of individuals and communities, it was a bit different than the UN resolutions which were designed for nation-states. For example, education for peace was not included as such in the Manifesto and disarmament was translated to reject violence. Both democracy and women's equality were included, in addition to community development, under "rediscover solidarity." Both the free flow of information and tolerance, solidarity and international understanding were included in listen to understand. And "preserve the planet" was considered so important that it was separated out from "share with others" as daily life equivalents of sustainable development. When the eight peacekeys were formulated at a later time, democracy and women's equality were recognized as separate keys. Also, the share with others peacekey took on an education for peace content (see footnote below).

UN RESOLUTION

MANIFESTO 2000

CPNN PEACEKEYS

Education for a Culture of Peace

(implied in all other points)

Developing attitudes and skills for living together (content of share with others)

Tolerance, solidarity and international understanding

Rediscover solidarity and Listen to understand

Rediscover solidarity

Democratic participation

(included in Rediscover solidarity)

Participate in democracy

Free flow of information

Listen to understand

Listen to understand

Disarmament

Reject violence

Reject violence

Human rights

Respect all life

Respect all life

Sustainable development

Share with others

Share with others (title only)

Sustainable development

Preserve the planet

Preserve the planet

Equality of women

(included in Rediscover solidarity)

Work for women's equality

Here, you have a strategy for the transition from a culture of war and violence to a culture of peace and non-violence: starving the culture of war of the nutrients it needs and without which it cannot continue. Insofar as a culture of peace grows, the culture of war can no longer survive. Without an enemy there can be no war. Without authoritarian governance, propaganda and secrecy, and the belief that power comes from force, the people will no longer accept to go to war. Without armaments it becomes more difficult to carry out wars.

At the same time, peaceful alternatives are provided for the necessary functions now performed by the culture of war and violence, including governance, solidarity and economic and social development. The very concept of power is redefined as listening, dialogue, negotiation and cooperation instead of force.

Footnote: Perceptive readers may note that the formulation of the third table was slightly revised in July 2004).