Prime Minister on the International year of the Culture of Peace - December 10, 1999
of Education, Human Resource Development, Youth & Sports; Your
Excellencies, Members of the Diplomatic Corps, Members of the organizing
committee of the National Commission for UNESCO, Madam Secretary General,
meet today for a double-purpose. This
double-purpose has significance for us as a people, and for the United Nations
and UNESCO representative organisations of our civilization.
today is International Human Rights Day.
On this occasion, people the world over, take time off to draw public
attention to infringements of universal human rights and to acknowledge
advances made in the continuing struggle for human rights .
it is the day chosen by the National Commission for UNESCO to launch the
International Year for the Culture of Peace, a year during which we will also
usher in a new decade, a new century and a new millennium.
the old century wanes, its dark shadows loom over all the fresh hopes promised
by a new century. In sharp
contrast to the early hopes which blossomed after the Second World War, the global forecast is
gloomy. Economic progress has
been achieved by some. In other
countries, there is widespread disenchantment as unemployment deepens and the
gulf of inequalities widens. The
noise of civil strife between nations grows louder as ethnic groups engage in
mortal combat. Great wealth
co-exists with terrible deprivation. Citizens
of the poorest nations have given up hope. The numbers of street children are
growing with alarming rapidity throughout the inner cities of the so-called
Third World. Lawlessness, child
abuse, gender violence and neglect of the elderly continue with little
mandate of the United Nations is "to save succeeding generations from the
scourge of war". The United
Nations has now recognized that this must be extended beyond the practice of
merely engaging peacekeeping forces in areas and situations of conflict.
According to United Nations Secretary General, Kofi Anan, peace and
security cannot simply be understood in military terms.
Human security, he insists:
must encompass economic development, social justice, environmental protection,
democratization, disarmament, and respect for human rights and the rule of
AND THE CULTURE OF PEACE
United Nations has consequently invited the United Nations Educational,
Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), to collaborate with it in
preparing an international programme to establish a culture of peace.
since its creation at the end of the Second World War, UNESCO has taken as its
mission the principle of a culture of peace. Its constitution states that:
war begins in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of
peace must be constructed".
concept of a culture of peace first emerged during the "International
Congress on Peace in the Minds of Men" held in Yamoussoukro, Ivory Coast
in 1989. In its final
declaration, the Congress recommended that UNESCO should:
construct a new vision of peace by developing a "peace
culture" based on the universal values of respect for life,
liberty, justice, solidarity, tolerance, human rights and equality between men
term "peace culture" was inspired by the 1986 educational initiative
"cultura de paz" in Peru, and by the Seville Statement on Violence,
elaborated in 1986 by scientists from around the world.
These scientists proclaim that war is not determined by genes, violent
brains, human nature or instincts. Rather,
it is a social invention. Therefore,
"the same species that invented war is capable of inventing peace".
recognition of the importance of the UNESCO experience, the 52nd
United Nations General Assembly in 1997 proclaimed the Year 2000 as the
"International Year for the Culture of Peace". Further, the 53rd
United Nations General Assembly in 1998, proclaimed the decade 2001-2010 as
the "International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the
Children of the World". The
theme selected for the Year for the Culture of Peace is "Peace
is in our Hands".
culture of peace is meant to become a global movement.
It urges the transition from a culture of war, of violence, of
oppression and of discrimination, to a culture of peace, of non-violence, of
dialogue, of tolerance and solidarity. It
has been defined by the United Nations General Assembly Resolution A/53/243 of
13th September, 1999
a set of values, attitudes, traditions and modes of behaviour and ways of life
for life, the end of violence and promotion and practice of non-violence
through education, dialogue and co-operation;
respect for the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity and political
independence of states and non-intervention in matters which are essentially
within the domestic jurisdiction of any state, in accordance with the Charter
of the United Nations and international law;
respect for and promotion of all human rights and fundamental freedoms;
to peaceful settlement of conflicts;
to meet the developmental needs of present and future generations;
for and promotion of the right to development;
for and promotion of equal rights of, and opportunities for women and men;
for and the promotion of the right of everyone to freedom of expression,
opinion and information;
to the principles of freedom, justice, democracy, tolerance, solidarity,
cooperation, pluralism, cultural diversity, dialogue and understanding at all
levels of society and among nations.
FOR ST. LUCIA
vision and action envisaged by the culture of peace certainly poses a
challenge for Civil Society at all levels.
How can we change and remould attitudes and behaviour, which
increasingly accept violence as the norm?
How can peace become our culture of life?
St. Lucia, over the past decade or so, we have witnessed the frightening
descent of this society into a reckless disregard for the rule of law,
increasing intolerance and disrespect of one another, of each other's
opinions, of each other's rights, and the discarding of our civil
responsibilities. This trend has
led to increased and unpunished incidents of violence at all levels of
society, in homes, in schools, and in communities.
Minor incidents which in the past were settled amicably, today flare up
into raging conflicts. The love
and respect we once demonstrated towards the elderly is fast becoming a faded
memory. In our houses and on our
streets, we are bombarded with the mind-numbing, much too loud sounds of
stereo music. In many neighborhoods, cutlass wielding individuals openly
terrorise the old and the young.
may argue that St. Lucian society has not degenerated into the kind of civil
strife which has been the daily expenditure of some countries in Africa and
Europe. Absence of war, however,
is no guarantee of peace. In our
societies, the attacks are mounted, not in the form of war tanks or other
traditional military equipment, but in the guise of injustice, intolerance,
violent settlement of disputes, illiteracy, poverty, ignorance and
There are no easy solutions to these daunting challenges which confront us on
the threshold of a new millennium. Nevertheless,
the International Year for the Culture of Peace provides us with the unique
opportunity to reconstruct the broken fragments of our dreams for peace, for a
better world, for a secure and prosperous St. Lucia for our children and
ourselves. It is a time for quiet
reflection, for consultation, for collaboration to develop strategies which
will lay the groundwork for re-inventing this society.
We must seize the occasion of a new century to redesign this society
and recommit ourselves to the principles of peace and non-violence.
the new millennium, this Government looks forward to advancing a moral agenda
and respect for the person and rights of all others.
for life through all its ages and stages.
and strengthening of the justice system.
moral and traditional values that remain foundational to good, harmonious and
peaceful human relationships.
has a fundamental role to play in achieving the ideals of peace, social
justice and liberty. While
education has traditionally been perceived in St. Lucia as the formal transfer
of knowledge and skills in an institutionalized setting, we believe that
education, in order to better serve our nation, must be extended to encompass
what the UNESCO International Commission on Education for the Twenty-First
Century describes as the four fundamental pillars, namely:
"Learning to know, learning to do, learning to be, and learning to live
central target of the National Programme to observe the International Year for
the Culture of Peace, focuses, quite rightly, on education.
We cannot take peace for granted.
We need to learn it. We
need to understand it. We need to
believe in it. Otherwise, we
cannot practice it.
civilized and democratic society cannot be one in which justice does not
prevail. A culture of peace
cannot be meaningful where there is no recourse to justice. Likewise, if justice is dispensed unfairly, peach cannot
endure. The social fabric of any
society is threatened where there is fear and distrust of a nation's police
force or legal system. Citizens
must be made to feel that they can enter police stations without fear of
reprisal and be treated civilly. It
is for such reasons that this government seeks to ensure that the institutions
which enforce our laws and secure our stability and integrity are
reinvigorated, and that good governance, transparency and integrity are
restored. These are essential
elements for making this country a just, safe and better place in which to
peace is to prevail, then we must continue our search for economic justice and
empowerment. Economic empowerment
is about our capacity to take responsibility for our own lives and the
attainment of our personal goals. The
satisfaction of these goals is a critical factor in the search for a more just
and equitable world. For a
culture of peace to take root in St. Lucia, it must be accompanied by an
attack on poverty and ignorance.
hope to establish the beginning of a better St. Lucian society. I have already
announced that I shall be calling our nation to social renewal in the coming
months. Peace and an atmosphere
of peaceful relations can only come when we examine and renew those areas of
our lives and communities that stand in need of urgent repair.
We must not be afraid to confront our social inheritance, our social
values and institutions.
applaud the Organizing Committee and the National Commission for UNESCO for
their efforts in designing concrete proposals which will include the entire
St. Lucian community in making peace our culture of life. I wish to appeal to everyone gathered here to make a special
commitment to peace and to the pledges of the Manifesto 2000 drafted by the
Nobel Peace Prize Laureates, to respect life, reject violence, share, listen,
preserve the planet and rediscover solidarity. The responsibilities of maintaining a culture of peace are
onerous, but the challenges of a culture of violence are disastrous.
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