What Is The Formula For Peace?

By Robert Stewart | 1999-05-01 12:00:00

The research on peace is diverse and extensive. We currently have the knowledge, technology and infrastructure to achieve peace. The problem is motivation and leadership.

On the basis of rigorous scientific evidence, the Seville Statement of 1986 refutes the myth that human beings are predisposed to violence through five key propositions.

  1. We have not inherited a tendency to make war from our animal ancestors.
  2. War or any other violent behavior is not genetically programmed into our nature.
  3. In the course of human evolution there has not been a selection for aggressive behavior more than for other kinds of behavior.
  4. Humans do not have a violent brain. (How we act is shaped by how we have been conditioned and socialized. Nothing in our neurophysiology compels us to react violently.)
  5. War is not caused by instinct or any single motivation.

For these reasons and more, peace is achievable.

The Peace Formula

What, then, is the formula for peace? The following variables must be in place:

  1. A credible governmental code of ethics, with a basis in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
  2. An international system of justice. Without justice there can be no peace. Every nation has instituted criminal and civil court systems to resolve disputes in a fair and reasonable manner. An international system of justice is necessary for crimes against humanity, the environment, and other international matters. At the same time, there must be a reliable Conflict and Dispute Resolution System for parties to work together towards a solution.
  3. A global sustainable economy. There must be a proper economy to provide reasonable employment and eradicate poverty and hunger. Nobel Prize winner Amartya Sen has shown us how systematic public action can eradicate the terrible and resilient problems of starvation and hunger. However, the economy must also be in balance with this small planet's ecology. This is probably the most difficult challenge. The Union of Concerned Scientists, among others, has issued a "Warning to All of Humanity" to change its habits. "A great change in our stewardship of the earth and the life on it is required if vast human misery is to be avoided and our global home is not to be irretrievably mutilated." The warning is signed by thousands of senior scientists around the world, including more than 100 Nobel laureates.
  4. Universal access to competent education systems. This principle is included in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights for good reason. Particularly, the education of women is key to both economic and peace developments. Women's skills of exchange, co-operation, and solidarity, as well as their experience of giving birth, bringing up the next generation, and managing informal economies, are all essential to the evolution of a culture of peace. Further, in the past, education was designed to make people (men) strong, rich, and intelligent in order to dominate and progress at the expense of others. Today, the very basis of the educational system must change. As Albert Einstein said "Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding."
  5. A compassionate health and welfare system. This principle is also included in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Within a framework of universal human rights and responsibilities, the more privileged have a humanitarian responsibility to help the under-privileged.

These five measurable, and hence manageable, factors are in place to varying degrees in every nation. By strengthening these factors, the world would become more peaceful.

Motivation: Leadership

From the top down, research is overwhelmingly in support of a new world order. This planet, in the past century, has become too small and its limitations too apparent for us not to realize that the world's populace must act together. We have a global problem that will require a global solution. This will take leadership at the international level . The United Nations must provide this leadership. However, it would have to be reformed to undertake this onorous responsibility.

Current national foreign policies must also change. For example, social justice, as a goal urged by the United Nations, refers to striving for equality between entire peoples. However, a global attack on global poverty cannot be launched without radically changing the current trade patterns and financial arrangements between the affluent and impoverished worlds and without expressly disavowing national policies of the sort proposed shortly after World War II by George F. Kennan, whose "containment strategy" dominated U.S. foreign policy. At that time he said: "We have about 50% of the world's wealth, but only about 6.3% of its population. In this situation we cannot fail to be the object of envy and resentment. Our real task ... is to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity without detriment to our national security... We need not deceive ourselves that we can afford ... the luxury of altruism ... We should cease to talk about ... unreal objectives such as human rights, the rising of living standards and democratization. The day is not far off when we are going to deal in straight power concepts."

If the United Nations fails, the globe will be at tremendous risk. Only the rich and powerful may prosper, temporarily. Although the planet is not at the brink yet, we may be there within fifty years, and it is timely for world leaders to make a choice now.

Motivation: Civil Society

From the bottom up, today more than ever before, civil society is experiencing a proliferation of non-governmental organizations in which individuals can engage in non-violent action for peace and justice. With the emerging world communication network, they are increasingly able to link their struggles on a global scale. Among the thousands of NGOs working for peace, many are adopting the culture of peace as an explicit priority.

Peace is possible. There are actions that may be taken to help achieve it.

Robert Stewart, C.A., directs the Canadian Centres for Teaching Peace. Respond to him at <stewartr peace.ca>.

Relevant Web Sites

The Seville Statement <http://www.unesco.org/general/eng/publish/order.html>

UNESCO Culture of Peace <http://www.unesco.org/cpphttp://www.unesco.org/cpp/uk/leaflet/leaflet.html>

Canadian Centres for Teaching Peace web site at <http://www.peace.ca>

Universal Declaration of Human Rights <http://www.udhr50.org/UDHR/default.htm>

Universal Declaration of Human Responsibilities proposal <http://www.asiawide.or.jp/iac/Declara1/EngDecl1.htm>

International Crime Court <http://www.un.org/icc>

Hunger Project <http://www.thp.org>.

Public Action To Remedy Hunger, by Amartya Sen <http://www.thp.org/reports/sen/sen890.htm>

Warning to All of Humanity: <http://www.pgs.ca/woc/warning.htm>.

World Systems Crash Scenario visit <http://dieoff.org/>

"UNESCO and a Culture of Peace" <http://www.unesco.org/general/eng/publish/order.html>

The United Nations in the Twenty-first Century: <http://www.pgs.ca/woc/wdun2198.htm>

Conceptions of World Order by Anatol Rapoport <http://www.pgs.ca/woc/rapoport.htm>

United Nations <http://www.un.org>

Peace Magazine May-June 1999

Peace Magazine May-June 1999, page 26. Some rights reserved.

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