quarta-feira, 13 de abril de 2011

Letter of peace


He was the Director of the Unit for the International Year for the Culture of Peace, proclaimed for the Year 2000 by the United Nations General Assembly. He had come to UNESCO in 1992 to develop the Culture of Peace Programme as an supplement and alternative to military peacekeeping operations. His responsibilities have included development of national culture of peace projects, research and development of the culture of peace concept and training in peace-building and conflict resolution. On behalf of UNESCO he prepared UN documents, including the draft Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace (1999).

How do we evaluate the process of the 10-year anniversary of International Peace Culture?

When we designed the peace culture action programme we knew that some member states did not agree with the idea. Some of the proposed objectives were: “Associations between different agents must be established and developed in order to create a worldwide movement in favour of peace culture between the agents; civil society should take part in local, regional and national planning”. We know that the role of civil society is very important and we do not lose hope that this can be achieved.

What happened to the World Peace Culture Report that was formulated over 10 years? 

The report was integrated by the ambassador of Bangladesh before the United Nations and the General Secretary Ban Ki Moon in the middle of 2010. With the help of the Peace Culture Foundation copies were printed and taken to New York, where they were placed on the delegates’ desks during the debate. The original transcription affirms that the Spanish ambassador said “thank you civil society for this report”. This was more than we could have hoped for.

Can we talk about peace in today’s world?

No, we have to change the world. We have to make radical changes in the world. Many people believe that that we have to change the states in order to attain peace culture. Personally I believe that we must take another route. In order to build a peace culture, peace networks or peace cities, we must make the UN take responsibility and act. 

What conclusions can we make from this process?

First awareness must be raised in the world about the need to build peace culture. Many people currently say that we must replace global culture with peace culture. I also believe that states must compensate for mistakes that have been made. 

But people want peace, governments must do what people want…

I don’t think this is true. I think that world is always founded on the power of the state. 

What will our children’s future be like?

The future will be difficult because the global economy will crash. In the 80’s I saw what happened in the Soviet Union, how those terrible events took place. I see many of these problems here now. When the global economy crashes we will have a moment in which we will see a new system, the old systems will disappear, the states, the corporations, there will be a moment when changes will happen. People ask me when the changes will start to happen, when everything will crash; my answer is very simple: very soon. We have very little time to get ready. We must work very quickly to prepare ourselves. 

What has changed in the last decade of working on the Decade Peace Culture Report? 

First of all people’s consciousness. I think that there is now more awareness against war and in favour of peace. And this is very important.

Which of the world’s regions must work hardest to promote peace?

My favourite country is Brazil. It is very strong in terms of working towards a culture of peace, I have worked in San Pablo, Santos, and I see many cities where people work very hard for a culture of peace. In general Latin America is very strong in promoting a culture of peace. It is stronger than in the North, because here war culture prevails. If you listen to Evo Morales in Bolivia, he too talks about peace culture. 

And what is happening in other regions, for example in South East Asia? 

Not much, I think that Latin America is in a period of growth. There is also a lot of potential in Africa, but not for now. The problem in Europe and North America is that there are many individuals who think that the system is fine. People ask me: David, are you happy with Obama? And my answer is no. Obama is a good man, but he does a job. And what is the job of the United States president? Being the commander of the empire. That is his job. 

Finally, what do you think about social networks and the contribution young people make towards peace? 

You saw me at the 2010 Forum with a lot of people around my table. People from different countries like Brazil, Colombia, India, Sri Lanka, Egypt, Pakistan, The Philippines, different European countries and the United States. The new generation is the global generation. It is very important to work with them face to face, not through facebook. And events such as the World Forum are very important in this sense, because we can all be together.

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By Helora Schlegel Bello Silva