FIRST INTERNATIONAL FORUM ON
THE CULTURE OF PEACE
San Salvador, El Salvador, 16 - 18 February 1994
The First International Forum on the Culture of Peace was held in San Salvador, El Salvador, from 16 to 18 February 1994. It was organized by the Government of El Salvador with financial and technical assistance from UNESCO.
The Forum examined, from the perspective of countries at different stages of peace-building, the processes being used and the results which can be achieved in constructing a culture of peace. Three keynote addresses and five panel discussions, and a number of background papers provided the substantive background to the Forum.
At the end of the Forum, a number of general conclusions were presented by the Rapporteur. These received the general agreement of the Forum participants.
At its 142nd session in October 1993, UNESCO's Executive Board approved an Action Programme to promote a Culture of Peace, which called for the development of projects which will strengthen a climate of reconciliation, and foster and institutionalize the culture of peace in those countries which are in the process of establishing peace following conflict as well as in areas where conflicts might arise and where UN peace-keeping operations are being carried out.
El Salvador is the first country to participate in the Culture of Peace Programme. Following the signing of the Chapultepec Agreement (1992), El Salvador has assumed the wide-ranging job of reconstructing the country and promoting national reconciliation through concrete actions, so that peace will not be perceived as the mere absence of conflicts, but rather as a permanent endeavour that must be encouraged by all sectors of society. In accordance with this initiative towards consolidating peace, a National Forum of Reflection on Peace, Education and Culture, organized under the auspices of UNESCO, was held in San Salvador in April 1993.
The El Salvador Culture of Peace Programme aims to contribute to the process of national reconciliation and reconstruction of Salvadorian society, affected by 12 years of armed conflict. As the Culture of Peace Programme's "pioneer" country, the Government of El Salvador, with the support of UNESCO, sponsored the holding of the First International Forum on the Culture of Peace in its capital, San Salvador, from 16-18 February 1994. It was seen as an opportunity to share the Salvadorian experiences in peace-building, as well as those of other countries, with the aim of finding elements that will aid in consolidating peace in the minds of men.
OBJECTIVES OF THE FORUM
(a) To contribute, using the Salvadorian experience as well as that of other countries, to the refinement of the concept of a culture of peace.
(b) To identify objectives, mechanisms and strategies that could support a world-wide culture of peace, which could become a supporting factor in the prevention of conflict.
(c) To foster the strengthening of the processes of a culture of peace through education, science, culture and communication.
(d) To encourage reflection on the part of the international community on the importance of promoting, sustaining and supporting a culture of peace.
(e) To contribute to the development of the Culture of Peace Programme in El Salvador.
Representatives of 13 countries and the Palestine Liberation Organisation were the chief participants in the Forum. In addition, 31 country delegates and representatives from a wide range of Salvadorian organizations, agencies of the United Nations system and other representatives of the international community participated in the Forum.
The first day of the Forum was devoted to the case El Salvador and a presentation of UNESCO's Action Programme for the Culture of Peace. On each day of the Forum, a keynote address was given. Five panel discussions provided the opportunity for different countries at various stages of peace-building to present their efforts at promoting a culture of peace. Unfortunately, for lack of time, plenary discussions following each panel were limited.
His Excellency Alfredo Cristiani, President of the Republic of El Salvador, opened the Forum.
Former Secretary-General of the United Nations, Javier Pérez de Cuéllar, took the floor on behalf of the Director-General of UNESCO, Federico Mayor. He pointed out the significance of holding the meeting in El Salvador, as symbolic of the will and desire of a people to cease using war as an instrument to solve political and social conflicts throughout the world.
He said that a motto of the First International Forum on the Culture of Peace might be: "No one is so devoid of reason as to prefer war to peace," which Herodotus said some 2500 Years ago.
"Silence the weapons in Angola, Bosnia, Afghanistan, in the whole world, and let man speak," Mr Pérez de Cuéllar said. A new chapter was being written in the history of mankind, calling for words, law, productive work and the solidarity of all people, and this chapter was the "dawn of a culture of peace."
In an audio-visual message projected in the plenary room, UNESCO's Director-General reminded the meeting that "No one, no nation, no human group has ever won a war. It is only possible to win peace." This means not only avoiding armed confrontation, but working with tenacity and intelligence to create instruments that lead to the eradication of the causes of violence -- injustice and oppression, ignorance and misery, intolerance and discrimination.
It is our common duty to see that violence never again prevails. El Salvador began a new stage in its history at Chapultepec, the Director-General said, and he congratulated "all those who had the lucidity and the courage to decide, in spite of the many recent wounds, to walk in the direction of reconciliation and agreement" -- in particular, President Cristiani, the FMLN and "all those who favored the force of reason to the force of strength."
He praised "all those who knew how to be pioneers in the culture of peace." Article One of the Declaration of Human Rights, which says that human beings are born free and equal, is the cornerstone of democracy, accomplished especially through education, science, culture and communication.
President Cristiani then took the floor. "We Salvadorians have suffered the culture of violence ... We paid heavily to lay the first bases of a new culture of peace. We believe that the first requirement of a culture of peace is that it stems from the people, the community, from all humankind."
He affirmed that from that perspective, the culture of peace is simply the culture of life. The people of El Salvador, who have been so exposed to the culture of violence -- the culture of death -- would seem to have a "privileged position" from which to understand the urgency of establishing a culture of peace.
Tolerance, the respect for differing opinions, the responsibility for enforcing human rights and the healthy development of individuality are all elements of a culture of understanding and peace.
President Cristiani concluded by saying that the Forum was being held to encourage people to reflect on the concept of peace, not as a utopic ideal, but as a concrete programme to benefit future generations.
REPORT OF THE FORUM
I. FIRST KEYNOTE ADDRESS: THE NATURE OF A CULTURE OF PEACE
José David Escobar Galindo
Mr Escobar Galindo spoke of the multiple dimensions of a culture of peace in today's world, where there is a permanent presence of a culture of war, as well as the absence of a culture of peace. The effort to consolidate a culture of peace can be reached by three means -- education, democratization and participation.
Moreover, the culture of peace can be viewed as a vehicle for harmonizing the different threads -- moral, political and social -- that make up national identity.
As a moral phenomenon, peace is the result of ensuring basic values -- freedom, democracy, justice, legality and solidarity, achieved mainly through education. As a political phenomenon, peace is the result of the balance between different ways of interpreting historical experience; and democracy is the best method for guaranteeing peace and stability. As a social phenomenon, peace is a synonym of development. Basic human needs must be met before a culture of peace can exist.
At both national and international levels, the culture of peace must mean a commitment to democracy and the overcoming of domination, which can be accomplished above all through changes in attitudes towards education and culture.
Sustainable human development poses a series of choices -- between violence and understanding, arbitrary political power and democracy, marginalization and solidarity, and rationality and irrationality.
Finally, the culture of peace means getting along with each other -- with those who think like you as well as those who think differently.
II. UNESCO's CULTURE OF PEACE PROGRAMME
A short presentation of UNESCO's Culture of Peace Programme outlined the concepts, objectives, content, methodology and strategies of the Programme. The Programme itself is being further developed and is benefiting from the results of exercises such as the Forum. The major issues highlighted in the presentation are summarized below.
The concept of a culture of peace was elaborated at the International Congress on Peace in the Minds of Men, held in Yamoussoukro in 1989, organized under the auspices of UNESCO. The Congress declared that it should be based on "the universal values of respect for life, liberty, justice, solidarity, tolerance, human rights and equality between women and men."
In 1992, United Nations Secretary-General Boutros Boutros Ghali submitted the report "An Agenda for Peace" to the Security Council. It called for, among other things, a concerted effort at conflict prevention and post-conflict peace-building. UNESCO responded to this report when, in October 1992, the Organization's Executive Board called for the establishment of an Action Programme for the Culture of Peace which would strengthen and co-ordinate on-going UNESCO activities, as well as initiate new practical activities to contribute to conflict prevention and peace-building as demanded by "An Agenda for Peace."
The Culture of Peace Programme has a number of objectives, including elaboration of the concept and methodology for a culture of peace, support for related ongoing UNESCO activities, elaboration of new activities in conflict prevention and peace-building, and co-ordination with the other institutional actors in this area. The Programme provides an integrated approach to the on-going efforts made by UNESCO over a long period of time for the prevention of conflicts. These include efforts such as the wide-ranging "Education for All" Programme, (Jomtien, 1990), research, dissemination of normative instruments and the free flow of ideas.
El Salvador is the first country to participate in UNESCO's Culture of Programme. The content and methodology of the Culture of Peace Programme are being worked out in the context of national programmes, such as the one in El Salvador. These programmes call for the participation and concerted action of all the key actors of society in the design and implementation of the programmes. Thus, UNESCO has engaged representatives of the government, the opposition parties, as well as members of the civil society, the United Nations agencies and non-governmental organizations. They have met in order to design projects in human development, democratic citizenship, national identity, education for peace and human rights, and information and communication for peace. The programme focuses its action on the most vulnerable groups of society, in particular women and youth, with priority on the training of trainers, such as teachers of basic education, cultural promoters and local development agents who already have experience in working directly with the population who will receive ancillary training on matters related to the construction of peace enabling them to become "promoters of peace".
The Culture of Peace Programme is co-ordinating its activities with those of the United Nations system and intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations through the establishment of an information and networking system. This will help the Programme to develop a strategy which- addresses it objectives, clearly differentiates its activities from those of other programmes in order to avoid interagency duplication, and increases its effectiveness through co-operative activities.
III. THE CASE OF EL SALVADOR
MODERATOR: Mr. Augusto-Ramirez Ocampo,Special Representative of the Secretary General of the United Nations
PARTICIPANTS: Representatives of the Government of El Salvador, the Frente Farabundo Marti para la Liberacion Nacional (FMLN), the Catholic Church, the armed forces of El Salvador and private enterprise (ANEP).
Participants from the different political parties participating in elections discussed the historical context and present political situation in post-war El Salvador. They said there was a need for educational transformation, as education was the basic instrument for consolidating the new concepts, values and behavior models relating to the culture of peace.
They spoke of the growing climate of understanding and tolerance in the country and noted that the cease-fire had not been violated since its signing. They recognized the legality of the electoral process, in which government and opposition were participating extensively, and all participants confirmed their commitment to the peace process, recognizing the co-existence of different points of view. They agreed that the consolidation of the FMLN as a political party was an important step towards the peace process, and it should be accepted at all levels.
They also agreed that the Peace Agreements were the starting point in a process of national reconstruction, agreement and unification of national efforts -- favoring stability, economic and human development -- leading to a culture of peace. Participants spoke of the institutional changes stemming from the Peace Agreements, such as the Economic-Social Concertation Forum, the reduction of the armed forces and the restructuring of their doctrine and internal educational processes, emphasizing human rights education.
They also mentioned differences in the interpretation of the development of the peace process. They all had different criteria for compliance with the peace agreements. The importance of continuing negotiations regarding the compliance of the Chapultepec Agreement was stressed, even if it proves to be a more difficult task than the signing of the Agreement itself. Some participants wondered if there was a loss of political will or of the strength required to enforce the agreements.
Participants noted that there were some problems, the timing of the First International Forum on the Culture of Peace, during the pre-election period, was inappropriate, a number of significant NGOs were not invited and the Culture of Peace Programme in El Salvador had not been widely circulated.
The peace process is a national task, needing the support of the international community and the United Nations. They stressed that "the construction of peace is a task that never ends and that pertains to everyone."
IV. PANEL ONE: THE CULTURE OF PEACE IN ELECTION PROGRAMMES IN EL SALVADOR
MODERATOR: Mr Anders Kompass, Resident Representative of UNDP in El Salvador
PARTICIPANTS: Representatives of the different political parties in El Salvador (Arena, Convergencia Democratia, FMLN, MAC, MNR, Movimiento de Unidad and PCN)
Representatives of seven Salvadorian political parties, referring to the implications of a culture of peace during the electoral period, agreed on the need for a commitment to the peace process, as established in the Chapultepec Agreements in 1992. They also agreed on the need to reflect this commitment in the political, socio-economic and educational domains.
Participants recognized that the strengthening of the democratic process and representative system is the best way to resolve differences, and called for a strengthening of the commitment to democracy.
The participants recognized that, in socio-economic terms, human development was the main building-block of a culture of peace. They referred to the need to "place the human being at the core of development," and not lose sight of the social aspects of economic policies. They also stressed the need to understand the international implications of building a culture of peace.
Varied opinions were expressed regarding education and culture as potential factors for building a culture of peace in El Salvador. Education was recognized as an important means for changing attitudes during the reconciliation and reconstruction stage of national identity-building. Topics such as tolerance, respect for the law and national values must be taught from the first stages of education, and must be extended to include non-formal education as well as other participants actively committed to peace, such as the media.
The participants stated the need for a commitment to building a culture of peace among the political parties, acknowledging that peace, as a national aspiration, is a pre-requisite for the existence of freedom and democracy. They agreed that economic and social stability, and the strengthening of the educational system are the pillars on which a culture of peace can be built.
V. SECOND KEYNOTE ADDRESS: NATIONAL AND REGIONAL CONTRIBUTION TO ESTABLISH A CULTURE OF PEACE
Carlos Alberto Montaner
The speaker indicated that the El Salvador Culture of Peace programme significant because it shows that Salvadorians have understood the fundamental truth that it is "in the hearts of men, in their values and attitudes where democracy or dictatorship find their roots." It is not the presence of arms or the existence of an army in a country that is the threat to democracy.
He said the great achievement of El Salvador was, therefore, cultural -- not only political and diplomatic -- as it is in cultural values and attitudes that the conditions for either democracy and peace or dictatorship and violence lie.
He described the Culture of Peace programme in El Salvador as "a programme of cultural engineering, by which the values and attitudes of the Salvadorian people, which in the recent past led them to violence and war, will be transformed into forces of democracy and peace." The deliberate effort to transform cultural values into forces of peace and democracy is one of the tools to control the "beast which all of us have inside."
Furthermore, he said, the "adoption of democracy and a free market economy is also important for the preservation of peace and the integrity of a nation" because such a system is able "to reward people with both material and cultural wellbeing." He said that the Culture of Peace programme should always bear in mind that democratic regimes have to comply with the people's expectations of wellbeing or they will be put out of power.
VI. PANEL TWO: LESSONS DERIVED FROM EXPERIENCES OF RECOVERY AFTER CONFLICT THAT MAY BE USEFUL FOR THE CONSTRUCTION OF A CULTURE OF PEACE
MODERATOR: Julio Labastida, Secretary-General of FLACSO
PARTICIPANTS: Cambodia - Mozambique - Nicaragua
Representatives identified the roots of the conflict in their countries, and described their experiences in national recovery. Together, they sought elements of a common ground for building a culture of peace.
After describing the process of negotiating and implementing peace accords in their respective countries, they emphasized the importance of long-term efforts to consolidate peace. One speaker said, "there cannot be peace without development and democracy." Problems of hunger, poverty and discrimination have to be overcome before a culture of peace can be established. Various programmes for human development, with an emphasis on those for refugees, displaced people and ther victims of war, were described. In each case, an important aspect of the peace process has been the preparation for multi-party elections, including the process of civic education to prepare people to take part in them.
Participants agreed that special attention had to be given to formal and non-formal education programmes, to restore the material and spiritual values of the people, taking into consideration the socio-cultural characteristics of each country. In addition to peace and civic education in schools and universities, there needs to be distance education, vocational and professional training, and the training of trainers.
The major challenge in the Nicaraguan programme of the transition from a culture of war to a culture of peace has been to allow for "development with human dimensions." The Ministry of Education has requested UNESCO to prepare new textbooks of citizen education, with an emphasis on democracy, peace and human rights.
The representative from Cambodia stressed that in post-conflict times, the mental condition of human beings must not be hidden by economic values and concentrated only on the materialistic aspects of development. In that case "a mercantile society will prevail, and its scale of values will allow no room for a culture of peace."
They all stressed the importance of international co-operation. In Mozambique, peace has been aintained thanks to the co-operation of the United Nations in the compliance of the peace agreements.
Finally, the participants agreed on the advantage of reducing their armies, the consolidation of States of Law and the demilitarization of the civil society as important steps towards the consolidation of peace.
VII. PANEL THREE: LESSONS DERIVED FROM THE EXPERIENCES IN THE CONSOLIDATION OF PEACE
MODERATOR: Ambassador Mohamed Sahnoun, Special Adviser to UNESCO for the Culture of Peace
PARTICIPANTS: Costa Rica - Egypt - India
The basic instrument for the consolidation of peace is the respect for human dignity. If human rights are not respected in a country peace and development will be affected. Peace and human rights -- which includes the individual's right to safety, social welfare, education and health, among other things -- are indivisible.
Participants agreed that peace can only come out of an environment where the essential conditions of democracy, respect for human rights, development, education, security, disarmament and preservation of the environment are met. Tolerance is an integral part of democracy. It was noted that Mahatma Gandhi's message of a non-violent struggle for freedom, equity, justice and fraternity has become a permanent source of inspiration and guidance for all countries moving towards an era of peace and harmony.
After years of crisis, violence and wars, Central America is now using democratization processes to establish itself as a region of peace and freedom. Through the peaceful solution of conflicts and national concertation processes, including the signing of peace agreements, a new model for the construction of peaceful societies was being developed in the region.
Some practical measures were suggested for defusing tense situations, discrimination and violence including:
(a) constitutional guarantees, through a democratic system, for all basic human rights and freedoms;
(b) planning the education system to promote the fundamental values of peace;
(c) training and encouraging the media to be active and dynamic;
(d) encouraging NGOs to play an important role in human rights, democracy, human development, preservation of the environment, etc.;
(e) encouraging universities, professional organizations and trade unions to play a role in the promotion of culture of peace; and
(f) finding imaginative and innovative ways to tackle explosive situations which lead to violence.
Finally, participants noted that it was especially fitting that the First International Forum of Culture of Peace be held in El Salvador, where the first Culture of Peace programme has been set up by UNESCO.
VIII. PANEL FOUR: PERSPECTIVES FOR DEVELOPMENT OF A CULTURE OF PEACE IN AREAS AFFECTED BY CONFLICT
MODERATOR: Mr Francisco Barahona Riera, Vice Rector of the University of Peace
PARTICIPANTS: Angola - Belarus - Guatemala
Coming from diverse cultural and historic perspectives, the participants noted the importance of recognizing the particular context of each country when defining strategies for building a culture of peace. National reconciliation was considered a pre-requisite to any strategy and programme of the culture of peace.
The culture of peace was viewed from three possible perspectives: what is desirable; what is possible; and what is beneficial to the interests of the different sectors of society.
Participants agreed on the importance of peace building and strengthening of democratic processes in countries in conflict. A cease-fire agreement and national elections with international supervision do not in themselves guarantee national reconciliation for many reasons, including lack of trust between the opposing parties, lack of emergency assistance for those most affected by the conflict and the absence of disarmament before the electoral process begins.
There are countries where the "colonial legacy" and the imposition of foreign cultural and social systems must be overcome before the challenge of constructing a culture of peace can be met.
Some participants stressed the role of the civil society in taking the initiative to promote dialogue and negotiation, adding that their co-operation was also essential in the signing and compliance of peace agreements. Mention was made of the need to transform or neutralize those sectors of society that benefit from war.
At a time when relationships between countries are changing throughout the world, participants pointed to the need to review the role of the United Nations.
IX. THIRD KEYNOTE ADDRESS: INTERNATIONAL CONTRIBUTION TO A CULTURE OF PEACE
Mr Javier Pérez de Cuéllar, Former Secretary-General of the United Nations
Mr Pérez de Cuéllar began by paying tribute to the people of El Salvador, who showed "good will" in signing the Chapultepec Agreement. The conditions of peace in El Salvador and elsewhere, he said, are justice, democracy and respect for human rights.
He then asked what should be understood by the expression "culture of peace"? He said culture -- that is, the co-existence of different groups and communities with different identities -- is what gives human beings the possibility to evolve towards democracy and peace. Peace is not just the absence of war, or the process of pacification; rather, it is the fruit of a true co-existence and co-operation among different cultures within one country or among nations. Both culture and peace require a respect for human dignity and human rights.
The main goal, therefore, of the culture of peace is to give each individual the chance to contribute to the preservation of justice, democracy and human rights in his or her own country as well as elsewhere in the world.
Today, with the end of the Cold War and because of advanced communication technologies, each individual has the possibility to play a role, even if very modest, in world affairs. Within this perspective, he said, "the culture of peace can be said to be the internationalization of the individual, and his or her transformation into an active subject of international law."
There is a "harmonious convergence" between the culture of peace and the behavior of democratic societies and countries, who solve their conflicts peacefully, and aim to end injustice, which is not the case in undemocratic countries. This provides another of the meanings of the culture of peace -- that "the links and solidarity among human beings should be strong enough to neutralize the undemocratic behavior of governments."
El Salvador should now become a "herald of peace," Mr Pérez de Cuéllar said, and should help other countries to avoid the problems and suffering they went through before the consolidation of peace in that country. "What the international community is preaching through the culture of peace," he concluded, "is that the peaceful solution of conflicts, on the basis of justice, freedom, democracy and respect for human rights, is the best way to deal with them."
X. PANEL FIVE: CONTENTS OF A CULTURE OF PEACE
MODERATOR: Mr Leslie Atherley, Director, Culture of Peace Programme, UNESCO
PARTICIPANTS: Colombia - Israel - Palestine Liberation Organisation - The Philippines
Several modalities for the resolution of conflict and the peace building process were brought out during the presentations and discussions. Some participants pointed to the need to overcome the causes of violence, whether of a socio-cultural (ideological, ethnic or religious) or economic (redistribution of wealth) nature. A Culture of Peace Programme is made up of a variety of efforts in different fields, all leading towards providing the conditions for sustainable human development. Justice, human rights, educational opportunity, freedom of expression must all be features in the overall programme.
Political parties and the civil society have an important role in the consolidation of peace and must participate in the processes, they said, and use dialogue as a mechanism for the agreements.
Participants expressed the need for consultation and permanent negotiation between all members of society and called for the creation of ad hoc commissions to study different situations, proposing reforms in the law and in constitutions. Peace, they said, must reflect everyone's feelings.
They said a culture of peace must be a collective effort, along with other political, social and economic efforts to ease conflict-solving, offering realistic physical and moral reconstruction, especially to victims of conflict.
They called for international efforts to join with governmental and non-governmental efforts, to give equal importance to tolerance and human rights when creating programmes of education for peace and life under democracy.
The first step towards building a culture of peace must be mutual acknowledgement. Participants said that agreements have not always been satisfactory, as a formal peace (on paper) is not the same as peace in the minds of men.
Participants spoke of ethnic, religious, cultural and linguistic differences as well as economic borders between peoples. They stressed the need to strengthen education for peace, tolerance and human rights.
One participant spoke of a culture of liberation, while another stressed that peace implies a better quality of life for everyone, and the right to reap the benefits of a culture of peace.
Among the different goals to be achieved, they mentioned the need to eliminate exclusivity and ethnic purity, to respect religious differences and to encourage compliance with international law.
XI. GENERAL CONCLUSIONS
The Forums presentations and debates offered a wide range of suggestions for reasonable directions for a culture of peace. These, together with the many papers presented, yielded a number of valuable conclusions.
(a) The objective of a culture of peace is to ensure that the conflicts inherent in human relationships be resolved non-violently, based on the traditional values of peace, including justice, freedom, equity, solidarity, tolerance and respect for human dignity.
(b) Peace and human rights are indivisible and concern everyone. A guiding principle of peace is that human rights must be respected and guaranteed -- not only civil and political rights, but also economic, social and cultural rights.
(c) The construction of a culture of peace is a multi-dimensional task, requiring the participation of people at all levels -- in their relations with each other and with the environment and at community, national, regional and international levels.
(d) A culture of peace should contribute to the strengthening of democratic processes, taking into account political pluralism, active participation of the civil society, in which people take part in the decisions which affect their lives and the promotion of human dignity.
(e) The implementation of a culture of peace requires a thorough mobilization of all means of education and communication, both formal and non-formal. All people should be educated in the basic values of a culture of peace. This must be a joint effort, including every single person in the society.
(f) A culture of peace requires the learning and use of new techniques for the peaceful management and resolution of conflicts. People must learn how to face conflicts without resorting to violence or domination and within a framework of mutual respect and permanent dialogue.
(g) A culture of peace should be elaborated within the process of sustainable, endogenous, equitable human development and cannot be imposed from the outside. It must be seen as a national process which depends on the country's history culture and traditions and must be reflected in concrete, daily action. Peace, democracy and, development are linked such that no one of them can be sustained without the others.
(h) UNESCO's decision to initiate an Action Programme to Promote a Culture of Peace is timely in the present international context. Its strength derives from its respect for the national and cultural characteristics of the country. Its guiding principles allow it to involve an extensive network of governmental and non-governmental organizations, from all sides of the political and social spectrum. The programme in El Salvador is an inspiration to other countries who seek to prevent violence or consolidate peace.
(i) The realization of a culture of peace will require the full support of the international community at all levels -- social, political and economic. As we enter the 21st century, it is important to ensure that the world's resources are invested in a culture of peace rather than a culture of war.
The closing ceremony began with the words of a young boy, speaking on behalf of Salvadorian children. He described the hardships suffered due to the war, the hopes of young Salvadorians, and the importance of learning to live in peace.
ADDRESS OF UNESCO'S ASSISTANT DIRECTOR-GENERAL
FOR SOCIAL SCIENCES
Ms Francine Fournier
Ms Fournier began by stating that peace resides in the respect of human rights as universal and indivisible. "Universal" does not mean that all institutions must be the same, but rather, that they must adjust to cultural diversity; "undivided" means that civil and political, economic, social and cultural rights must be equally and simultaneously respected.
UNESCO's mandate for peace-building operates through the Organization's fields of competence -- education, science, culture and communication. However, she stressed that the link between them is not automatic, since education, science and culture can all be abused and used to violate human rights or promote violence. It is therefore essential that governments, the civil society and NGOs work together with educators to prevent abuse.
Peace cannot be imposed by repression or force, but can only be attained by making it a way of life -- that is, a culture of peace, which should be assimilated by all societies, and become the basic characteristic of a global society.
The causes of violent conflicts are rooted in injustice and the violation of human rights, and methods to promote dialogue, social integration, education as training for mutual respect and democracy and the free circulation of ideas and information must be developed to confront them.
This Forum had contributed to the advancement of development programmes destined to foster a culture of peace. The central idea to be derived from the Forum is the need to learn from high-level considerations as well as real-life experiences on the path to building a culture of peace.
ADDRESS ON BEHALF OF THE PARTICIPATING COUNTRIES
Dr Hector Rosada Granados
Dr Rosada Granados expressed his thanks for the organization of the Forum, which he considered an important step in the development of a world-wide concept of a culture of peace.
A culture of peace begins with the freedom that makes individuals able to reconcile their differences. He said structural changes in society were needed to combat hunger, poverty, unemployment and to create the political climate for democracy.
Now is the time for peace. This requires the unconditional respect of human rights and cultural diversity and the building of a new concept of education which will lead toward the building of a new nation.
REPORT OF THE RAPPORTEUR,
Dr Anaisabel Prera Flores
The rapporteur presented a draft report of the Forum. In addition to stressing the importance of the participants' contributions, she expressed her gratitude for the effort, dedication and support she received from the technical team.
CLOSING ADDRESS BY THE MINISTER OF THE PRESIDENCY,
Dr Oscar Alfredo Santamaria
The speaker said that, given the diversity of the participants, as well as the circumstances under which the Forum was carried out, that is, in a post-war period, when people may still be sensitive and mistrustful, the Forum has indeed been a historical event, one of the most important held in El Salvador in recent times.
He thanked the participating countries -- those who have attained peace or are still searching for peaceful solutions to conflict.
UNESCO has guided the reflection on the subject of a culture of peace, he said. Now it was up to the countries to breathe life into it.
He said that El Salvador had adhered to certain guiding principles that can be shared with other countries, including the conviction that active peace calls for the absolute respect for human rights, and that the eradication of poverty shall be an on-going objective.
Whatever definition one gave to the word "culture" there was no doubt that the expression "culture of peace" refers to a set of values, principles and guidelines which lead to the highest forms of human co-existence, including tolerance and co-operation.
He concluded by saying that today more than ever, we must remember that it is in the minds of men that peace must be built.
His Excellency Alfredo Felix Cristiani
President of the Republic of El Salvador
Today sees the opening of the first International Forum on the Culture of Peace, organized under the joint auspices of the Government of El Salvador and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). It is a true privilege for our country, an exceptional responsibility for our government and a well-merited honour for our people, that El Salvador - a land which was devastated by such a long drawn-out historical conflict before being redeemed by the bold decision in favour of peace representing the triumph of reason over arms - should be the venue that the world's leading organization responsible for promoting universal culture has chosen for today's Forum, the purpose of which is to give thought to and make proposals on the topic of peace and its impact on a world that is seeking new forms of understanding, equilibrium and coexistence.
Our country emerged from near-anonymity to international notoriety as a consequence of painful and sensational events. The adverse developments of the past had bequeathed to us an unhappy combination of static conservatism and radical unrest. The war made the whole world conscious of the reality of our country in the crudest and most terrifying terms. Our little nation seemed destined to be a Gordian knot in the Cold War net. But as soon as the world began to change, our Central American sub-region also embarked upon a slow and difficult process leading to stability. El Salvador - benefiting from this new international trend steered a course towards a political solution of the conflict and the opening of its democratic horizon.
We were helped by our friends from elsewhere in this strenuous endeavour which many thought unlikely to succeed. However, the main help came from within, from the stoic and unshakeable spirit of sacrifice of our own people who were not led astray by the temptations of violence. On the contrary, our people were turning their backs on war and uniting around a project of democracy which, despite its extreme fragility, bore a loud message of hope. We, the people of El Salvador, were victims of the culture of violence. We did not accept it as a people or as a nation. But in face of great suffering we still laid the foundation stones of a new culture of peace. If a culture of peace is to become a living reality, the first criterion in our view is that it must stem from the people themselves, from the community and from small groups of men. Culture is a daily endeavour which is revealed in many different ways. Culture is not the work of artisans behind the closed doors of their workshops. It is born from life and destined to serve life. In that sense, the people of El Salvador are pioneers in the culture of peace which the world is seeking to build on a new foundation. And we are pioneers in the finest sense of the term: we are not setting out theories but taking practical action.
Following the collapse of the great bipolar confrontation which was guided by ideological hysteria, mankind is now trying to organize its history on a more realistic basis. Ideologies are absolutist abstractions and therefore have little to do with reality and with life. What human beings all over the world are demanding today is an encounter with reality, an acceptance of practical problems so as to find solutions and a recognition of the fact that - beyond all our differences - there is one thing which inevitably binds us together: the human condition which we all share.
From that angle, the culture of peace is quite simply the culture of life. We who have been exposed with such great intensity and peril to the culture of violence, which is a culture of death, would seem to have a particularly privileged vantage point from which to understand the urgent need for the culture of peace and its moral imperative.
Although the culture of peace has its origin in the man in the street with his emotions, work and aspirations, we view it as I a programme of moral restoration. In this universal change to an undogmatic and non-exclusive, but profoundly humanist spirituality, we discern in outline that oldest of all human desires - the, desire for men to live under the sign of solidarity which, for us Christians, means respecting the commandment to love one's neighbour.
The culture of peace might find a solid foundation in that inescapable commandment to love our neighbour as ourselves. Intolerance, sectarian fanaticism, arbitrary forms of behaviour, contempt for fundamental individual rights, the controversy over solutions to collective problems and false pride in individualism are particularly effective ingredients of a culture of rejection and violence. Tolerance, respect for different opinions, acceptance of the democratic rule of law, constructive responsibility with full regard for human rights and the healthy development of individuality are the basic elements of a culture of understanding and peace.
In the historical context, it would indeed be short-sighted to endeavour to reduce this new culture in the service of life to a vague vision with no basis in life itself. Human beings must be trained and educated, not just to be human but to act as humans in every aspect of their lives. We therefore believe that the culture of peace must be underpinned by an effective education for peace. It would be naive to believe that a proposal to this effect would be sufficient and that the conditions are favourable for the culture of peace to be given as a gift. Peace is not gratuitous, not even in its most elementary manifestations.
The example of El Salvador is particularly revealing in this regard. For us, the peace agreement was the point of departure of a new phase in our national life. It did not occur by spontaneous generation. A whole series of circumstances had to come about before the peace agreement could be possible. Some of those circumstances were extremely hard to accept. The first point that was accepted was the mutual conclusion by each of the main protagonists in the armed conflict that nothing more could be gained by the conflict and that the only solution lay in the adoption of political methods which implied substantial concessions on both sides. Peace is not gratuitous, peace demands sacrifices and the culture of peace is not gratuitous either. The culture of peace requires a deep-rooted learning process leading to reconstruction.
Because peace is a goal that is so far-reaching, the culture of peace merits the closest attention and the greatest possible effort of analysis and imagination. However, the precise meaning of the culture of peace is still not clear in our minds and this particularly important Forum has, as one of its basic objectives, the generation of ideas and concepts on the culture of peace. Since it is a moral requirement, the culture of peace must be founded on values such as freedom, legality and solidarity. Since it is a pragmatic requirement, this culture must gradually unfold as the source of new approaches to personal and social life, based on the safeguarding and protection of the human being as the main beneficiary of all development efforts, be they political, economic, social or cultural.
With the collapse of ideologies, some people believe that we have reached the end of history because man is about to attain the perfection of his human condition in real terms and in the satisfaction of his basic needs. We are certain that this is not the case. With the disappearance of the dominion of ideologies, an unexpected parenthesis has opened in the history of mankind. The old formulas which seemed to be infallible, or at least extremely solid, have left behind a vacuum which is perhaps very salutary but remains, nevertheless, a vacuum. This vacuum must be filled during the period of transition. Before new theoretical formulations make their appearance and aspire to a new hegemony, we must make use of the available time to lay the first foundations of the culture of peace that is so necessary to us all.
It cannot be a sectoral or regional culture, even though allowance must be made for specific cultural differences between peoples and between different forms of experience. The culture of peace must have a distinctly universal inspiration because it deals with that deep part of man in which the substantial identity of human nature is manifest. That is why the culture of peace must be a deep-rooted culture which finds its way into all the attitudes of mind and institutional forms which shape the course of reality. If we succeed, the contribution made by the present generation to the destiny of mankind will be permanent. Our age will then not merely have been a period of great surprises but an epoch in which a great leap forward was taken.
This Forum is taking place guided by that inspiration and that sense of responsibility. We must think of peace not as a beautiful achievement but as a programme of work for the benefit of the future. Even though this may not be apparent at first sight, the ideological vacuum leaves space for the imagination. The establishment of a culture of peace means playing our role as eminently creative human beings. There can be no doubt that this will become apparent on the occasion of our Forum. As Salvadorians, and as men of peace, such is our hope and we invite you all to play your part.
May the proverbial hospitality of our people who are peaceful by nature serve as the backdrop to this Forum, which has brought together so many different intellectual outlooks and expectations.
We are all hoping for the success that an endeavour in the service of peace must surely merit.
May God give guidance to all who work for peace, now and in the future.
Mr Javier Pérez de Cuéllar
Former Secretary-General of the United Nations
Representative of the Director-General of UNESCO
Mr President of the Republic,
Presidents of the State Authorities of the Judiciary, and Legislative Authority,
Representatives of Accredited Countries,
Representatives of political parties,
Representatives of NGOs,
May I begin by thanking the President of the Republic of El Salvador, Mr Alfredo Cristiani, for honouring me with his kind invitation to attend this first International Forum on the Culture of Peace, which is being organized jointly by the Government of El Salvador and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
I also have great pleasure this morning in bringing you greetings and good wishes for the success of your proceedings from my distinguished friend, Professor Federico Mayor Zaragoza, Director-General of UNESCO.
Mr President, distinguished participants, may I now share with you some thoughts on the tasks which this Forum holds in store for us.
'No one is so devoid of reason as to prefer war to peace.' Those words written 2,500 years ago by Herodotus might well be taken as the motto of our venture.
The task with which we are confronted today, especially here in El Salvador, a country which has suffered more than most others from unreasoning violence, is that of working towards the restoration of the good sense and calm that are necessary to banish from the face of the earth war as an instrument for the solution of political and social conflicts.
For many centuries the number of persons who have tried to settle their differences through the use of force has been great enough, given the circumstances prevailing in each period of history, for them to impose their views on the men and women who desired peace. The appeal for love and tolerance has been defeated by the cries of hostility and rancour.
But this equation might undergo a radical change, perhaps for the first time in history, on the eve of the new millennium in the wake of the atrocious experiences of the twentieth century that has seen two world wars, followed by a Cold War which left us with 40 years of anxious uncertainty on the verge of a nuclear holocaust.
The triumph of democratic principles in Central Europe, the rapid and radical transformation of the former Soviet Union and the nuclear arms limitation agreements were the first pointers to the fact that a civilization based on fear and military power might be drawing to a close. The organization of society around possible or actual violence referred to by Federico Mayor as the 'culture of war', is on the wane and has begun to give way to different political and social structures which reflect the aspirations of men and women all over the world for peace, freedom and justice.
In his outline of a possible interpretation of history in terms of war, Ortega y Gasset pointed out that 'social power seems to be distributed, in each period of history, as a function of the quality and quantity of the means of destruction possessed by man'. The impetus of democracy today is bringing about a radical change in this historical constant. It is the means of creation and education which will in future determine the attribution of 'social power, now that freedom and equality for all are shaping the environment which will make it possible to acquire new knowledge and find new solutions to the problems facing us today.
One of those innovative solutions, a truly revolutionary effort of transformation, is currently taking place in El Salvador, the host of our Forum. As a pioneer in rebuilding a social fabric torn apart by fratricidal violence, this country which is small in terms of its geographical extent nevertheless presents a great example to the whole world. Thanks to the resolute political determination of the government presided over by Mr Cristiani, the sincere desire for dialogue and negotiation of the leaders of the FMLN and the aspiration of the whole population of El Salvador to peace, the country has found a just, peaceful and lasting solution which I have witnessed with immense satisfaction. The first complete programme of the Culture of Peace has begun to be applied here; that programme has been advocated by UNESCO and taken up with enthusiasm by the people and the authorities of El Salvador.
This multi-faceted task of peace is as complex as society itself. Broadly speaking, it may be said to have two main aspects. On the one hand is the eradication of the factors which promote violence in a country: social injustice and political oppression; religious intolerance and racial discrimination; economic stagnation and the degradation of our natural and cultural environment all these factors are negations of human rights.
On the other, there is an orderly political effort to shape and spread values and attitudes that permit a peaceful solution to conflicts and encourage respect for minorities, ecologically sound development in every area, the promotion of public freedoms and democratic participation, and a strong emphasis on the true dignity of man, in other words, respect for human rights.
When violence reigns, reason is reduced to impotence and silence. As Montesquieu put it, when weapons speak, the law falls silent. We are gathered here to attempt the very opposite: to make weapons fall silent once and for all and see to it that justice and the rule of law prevail at both domestic and international levels.
Silence the weapons in Angola, Bosnia, Afghanistan, in the whole world and let man speak! May a new chapter in the history of mankind open with the word, the law, creative work and universal solidarity. And may this new chapter itself prove to be the dawn of a culture of peace.
Message from Federico Mayor Zaragoza
Director-General of UNESCO
Five years have now passed since we held our 'International Congress on Peace in the Minds of Men' at Yamoussoukro, and just one year since we met here in San Salvador at the Forum of Reflection on Education and the Culture of Peace. In that period, we have seen the ideal of a culture of peace take root and develop. It marks the opening of a new page in the history of mankind: that of peaceful coexistence based on the principles of freedom and democracy; of social justice and sustained economic development; of tolerance, solidarity and respect for human rights.
That ideal, which has already begun to take shape, will now acquire a sharper profile thanks to the clear-sightedness and experience of the participants in this first International Forum on the Culture of Peace. Many of the countries represented here have suffered greatly from violence in their recent past, while others are still victims of the calamities of war. Their contribution will be all the more decisive in guiding the discussions and deliberations of this Forum.
In granting its patronage to the programme for the Culture of Peace in El Salvador, UNESCO is complying with one of its fundamental precepts which is to 'build the defences of peace in the minds of men'. Today, the task that we have set ourselves is more urgent than ever before. The expectation of peace, co-operation and accelerated development brought about by the end of the Cold War has only been realized to a limited extent. It is true that the balance of terror and the threat of planetary destruction implicit in nuclear rivalry between the two superpowers have now disappeared. But old conflicts still persist and are spreading and new conflicts rooted in national, cultural, ethnic and socio-economic differences are flaring up and leading to violence that is sometimes fratricidal.
An end to violence forever! That is our shared duty. Chapultepec witnessed the dawn of a new phase in the life of El Salvador and brought a feeling of enormous relief. I want to thank all those who had the clear-sightedness, the courage and the objectivity to decide to take the path of reconciliation and concord despite the freshness of so many wounds: President Cristiani, the Liberation Front and all those who countered the argument of force with the force of argument, and all those who became pioneers of the culture of peace, convinced that violence and conflicts result in sacrifice and death for reasons which should far rather be a source of life. Through education, science, culture and the communication of human rights, this must be the corner-stone of every democratic edifice, that all human beings are born free and equal. It is up to us to see that they remain so.
We are with all of you, Mr President, representatives of all the political parties and of the non-governmental organizations, to prove, through a flexible education system adapted to the prevailing circumstances, that no one has lost the opportunity for education in El Salvador. Let us outlaw war, which brings only misfortune. The challenge of peace can be met through daily attitudes which are bound to benefit from the reports that will be presented to this Forum.
It is important to remember that, contrary to the teachings found in our history books, nobody, no nation, no human group has ever won a war. The moral and material cost of war is so high that all the triumphant outcomes are no more than pyrrhic victories. Only peace can be won.
And winning peace does not just mean avoiding armed conflict, but developing with tenacity and understanding the instruments which enable the causes of individual and collective violence to be eradicated: injustice and oppression, ignorance and poverty, intolerance and discrimination. Building without undue haste, but without let-up either, a framework of values and attitudes to replace the culture of war which for centuries has been shaping the course of our civilization. Winning peace means a successful commitment to build, on the foundations of democracy, a new culture of tolerance and generosity which is, in a word, a task of love.