May 1, 1992
The United Nations in general and UNESCO in particular are children of the nation states and have always been under their control. Not only are their general programs subject to majority decisions of Member States - as represented in the General Conference in the case of UNESCO - but even more important each specific program is subject to the veto of the nation where it was carried out. UNESCO can not interfere in the internal affairs of a nation state.
But herein lies a paradox since wars are made by nation states. The fact that each Member State can veto the work of an agency of peace is by its nature a conflict of interest. The war-maker is given jurisdiction over the peace-maker.
Now the seemingly endless tides of war have risen again in their periodic deluge of civilization. From Namibia to El Salvador, from Cambodia to Yugoslavia, and the list can be expanded easily, nations lie in smoking ruins, bankrupt of all economic, political and spiritual assets. Meanwhile, the superpowers have exhausted their economies by chaining them to military production, starving their people to feed the monster, and endangering the very survival of the planet. Those seeking economic conversion have tried to break the chains, but so far without success. Now even China returns to increased arms production.
But human history is a dialectic. According to history, the pain and ruin of war has often given rise to great movements and popular consciousness for peace from Grotius to the League of Nations to the United Nations. Quincy Wright pointed this out in his Study of War and I have documented it in the detail for the United States in my book the American Peace Movements.
Once again today the dialectic operates: in the problem lies the solution. Today, in certain cases the nation state is being declared bankrupt as a result of war. In Namibia, El Salvador, Cambodia, Yugoslavia, agreements are in place which cede authority to the United Nations Security Council and its representatives, the Blue Helmets. In these painful places, a new international jurisdiction is born from ruins of the past. And it is in keeping with the dialectics of history that these new zones of peace are born like the sphinx from the ashes of war.
Today these zones of international jurisdiction are small and scattered, but they can be precedents for future development on a greater scale. They are test cases. They are like windows through which we catch glimpses of a new era in which the jurisdiction of peace is no longer under the veto of the nation state.
But soldiers and military force cannot by themselves bring peace. In fact they can be manipulated on an international scale and distorted into agents of mass destruction carried out in the name of peace. Peace must instead be constructed school by school, song by song, temple by temple, cooperative by cooperative, mind by mind.
We must insist that the new international institution of peace-keeping have a strong component of peace-building which is long-term, comprehensive, and carefully designed and organized to be successful.
The tasks must be carefully designed and fitted to each smoldering situation, after objective scientific investigation. The specific programs can't be predicted in advance or applied to every situation.
All the component skills are familiar to us. They include the training of teachers and artists, community organizers and artisans, election supervisors and editors, providing the tools and materials for their work, building an infrastructure of communication and democracy where all people and all cultures participate, respect and learn from each other.
Who else but UNESCO has the rich experience with these tasks and the ability to organize and synergize the various agencies and NGO's who also have much to contribute?
Are we ready for this challenge?
The address of this page is http://www.culture-of-peace.info/annexes/originalproposal/preface.html.