A Progress Report
|Drafting the Statement||Page 2|
The initial idea for the project came from the successful use of the UNESCO Statements on Race (1950, 1951, 1964, 1967, 1978). By formulating the scientific consensus that there are no superior or inferior races, the UNESCO Statements on Race gave a solid scientific foundation to the political work of the United Nations and other political bodies. They served as the basis for the work against racism and its most terrible manifestation in the apartheid system of South Africa. Having served on the drafting body of the UNESCO Statement on Race, anthropologist Santiago Genoves of Mexico suggested that a similar Statement on Violence could now play an analogous role in the struggle against war .
The drafting body of the Statement on Violence was convened in Seville under the unofficial auspices of the International Society for Research on Aggression (ISRA), of which Santiago Genoves is a leading member, and the Spanish National Commission of UNESCO. At first we had hoped to hold the meeting under the formal auspices of ISRA and with the formal support of UNESCO in Paris. ISRA was appropriate because it includes aggression researchers from around the world and all disciplines. UNESCO was appropriate because of its effective sponsorship and use of the statements on Race. However, ISRA is constitutionally barred from issuing formal statements and so the drafting conference was held as a satellite meeting after a regular ISRA meeting. And UNESCO, beset with financial difficulties after the walkout by the US and UK, could not undertake new projects. Psychobiologist Martin Ramirez, an ISRA member at the University of Seville, approached and obtained the backing of the Spanish National UNESCO Commission for the satellite meeting.
The core of those invited to take part in the drafting conference were biological and social scientists in ISRA and their colleagues. Special care was taken to ensure a balance of East and West, North and South, biological and social sciences, and various academic disciplines. We realized that the success of the document would depend not only upon what was said, but also upon who was saying it.
The instructions to the drafting body were a variation on the theme of the UNESCO Statements on Race. I sent copies of the 1964 Statement on Race, along with a two-page synopsis of its use by UNESCO toward the elimination of prejudice, intolerance, racism, and apartheid, and suggested that each participant submit a brief contribution bearing on the following question:
Does modern biology and social science know of any biological factors, including those concerned with the biology of violent behavior of individuals, that constitute an insurmountable or serious obstacle to the goal of world peace based upon the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples and including an ultimate goal of general and complete disarmament through the United Nations?
The phrasing for this question was drawn from the UN Charter and from the UN Disarmament Resolution of 1959. This was done in order to base our work on the broadest possible international consensus.
Funding for the drafting conference was a difficult problem. Ramirez obtained some funding from the University of Seville and from Spanish UNESCO which took care of the conference center and transportation for a few of those invited. Grant requests to major US foundations were rejected except in one case.
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