The world community must promote respect for life, equal rights, freedom of expression, tolerance, gender equality, and greater understanding between nations, ethnic and religious groups, the General Assembly was told this morning as it began its consideration of the new agenda item, "Towards a culture of peace".
The representative of Barbados, speaking for the countries of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said the United Nations must continuously re-examine its stewardship in preserving and enhancing peace. Its peace missions must coordinate and implement humanitarian relief, civil affairs, electoral assistance, police and judicial reorganization, human rights, and economic and social reconstruction long after guns had been silenced.
The representative of Fiji said his country had taken part in almost every United Nations peacekeeping operation and several soldiers from Fiji had given their lives for peace. He called on the Assembly to create a special United Nations division or unit for preventive diplomacy and conflict resolution. Early detection of potential conflicts was more important in building peace than reacting to situations in which violence had already broken out.
The transition from a culture of war to one of peace was the great challenge facing humanity, said the representative of El Salvador, speaking for Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama. In his region, he said, that meant a clear vision of a society where education strengthened people's collective awareness of the principles of non-violence and their sense of belonging.
A culture of peace meant avoiding policies that deepened the rift between rich and poor countries and reflected a desire for knowledge and security, the representative of Syria said. Famine, poverty and oppression threatened international peace and sowed the seeds of anarchy.
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The representative of Paraguay, speaking for the Rio Group of Latin American countries, said a culture of peace should be on the agenda of educators, politicians and governments. It must also encompass non-governmental organizations, civil society, religious groups and the media.
Statements were also made by Panama, Myanmar, Philippines, Côte d'Ivoire, Ecuador, Namibia, Cuba, Sudan, Colombia, Senegal, Romania, Benin, Peru, Russian Federation, Tunisia and Guinea-Bissau.
The representative of Luxembourg, speaking on behalf of the European Union, asked that adoption of the draft resolution on the item "Towards a culture of peace" be delayed.
Israel and Syria spoke in exercise of right of reply.
Also this morning the Assembly appropriated $155 million gross ($150 million net) for the United Nations Observer Mission in Angola (MONUA) -- the successor to the United Nations Angola Verification Mission (UNAVEM III) -- for the period from 1 July 1997 to 30 June 1998. It also decided to continue using the Verification Mission's special account for MONUA.
In other action, the Assembly decided to reduce the appropriation for the United Nations Observer Mission in Liberia (UNOMIL) to approximately $9 million gross ($8.4 million net) for the period of 1 July 1997 to 30 June 1998. Taking into account the $5.1 million gross ($4.7 million net) already assessed for July through September, the Assembly decided to defer the apportionment of the additional $3.8 million gross ($3.7 million net).
The Assembly will meet again on Monday 3 November, at 10 a.m., for an election to fill the remaining vacancy on the Economic and Social Council.
Assembly Work Programme
The General Assembly met this morning to begin consideration of its agenda item, "Towards a culture of peace". It had before it a note from the Secretary-General endorsing the report of the Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and a draft resolution on the item.
The Assembly was also expected to take action on draft resolutions on the financing of the United Nations Observer Mission in Liberia (UNOMIL) and on the United Nations Observer Mission in Angola (MONUA), the successor to the United Nations Angola Verification Mission (UNAVEM III).
Culture of Peace
According to the report (document A/52/292), "a culture of peace consists of the set of values, attitudes and behaviours that reflect and inspire social interaction and sharing, based on the principles of freedom, justice and democracy, tolerance and solidarity; that reject violence and endeavour to prevent conflicts by tackling their roots; that solve problems through dialogue and negotiation; and that guarantee to everyone the full exercise of all rights and the means to participate fully in the endogenous development of their society."
The report describes UNESCO's educational activities which, it says, must be associated with social justice and sustainable human development. At the global level, according to the report, UNESCO's educational activities promote international understanding, cooperation and peace, and human rights and freedoms. At the national level, especially in post-conflict situations, activities are coordinated with United Nations peace-building efforts.
The UNESCO report was prepared in accordance with General Assembly resolution 51/101 of 12 December 1996. In order to place the "culture of peace" on the United Nations agenda, the report presents elements for a draft provisional declaration and programme of action. The elements for a draft declaration include a respect for life, human beings and their rights; rejection of violence in all its forms; recognition of the equal rights and opportunities of women and men; and recognition of the right of everyone to freedom of expression, opinion and information.
A culture of peace, the report states, is not only an aim, but a comprehensive process of institutional transformation and long-term action, which grows out of beliefs and actions, and takes into account the historical, socio-cultural and economic context of each country. Some of the main actors involved in its promotion are the State, civil society and the media.
The report outlines aims and strategies for a programme of action. Action will be taken to promote non-violence and respect for human rights;
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foster democratic participation and sustainable human development; ensure equality between women and men; support participatory communication and the free flow and sharing of information and knowledge; and advance understanding, tolerance and solidarity among all peoples and cultures. Placing a culture of peace at the centre of the United Nations agenda, the report says, would foster an atmosphere of true equality and unity among Member States.
Partnerships should be developed with various intergovernmental, governmental and non-governmental organizations, including educators, journalists, parliamentarians and municipal authorities, religious communities, and organizations of youth and women (reflecting the World Programme of Action for Youth to the Year 2000 and Beyond, and the Beijing Platform for Action). It is proposed that a coherent vision for a culture of peace be formulated in everyday words and disseminated to young people, inviting them to join with the United Nations in its quest.
Finally, the report says, the United Nations and UNESCO will establish a coordinating mechanism, including a timetable, monitoring system and special fund, to ensure effective collaboration. In addition, the United Nations may wish to declare a year and decade for a culture of peace and non-violence, during which time the Secretary-General would lead a campaign involving every level of society, especially youth, to promote the values, attitudes and behaviours of a culture of peace.
According to the terms of the draft resolution (document A/52/L.4), the Assembly would request the Secretary-General and the Director-General of UNESCO to submit a draft declaration and a programme of action on a culture of peace at its fifty-third session. The Assembly would also decide to include the item in the provisional agenda of that session.
The draft is sponsored by Afghanistan, Antigua and Barbuda, Bangladesh, Barbados, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Fiji, Guatemala, Guinea-Bissau, Honduras, Morocco, Namibia, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Senegal, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tunisia, Turkey, Uruguay, Venezuela and Zambia.
Financing of UNOMIL
The draft decision on the financing of UNOMIL (document A/C.5/52/L.5) would have the Assembly decide to reduce the appropriation for the Mission to about $9 million gross ($8.4 million net) for the period from 1 July 1997 to 30 June 1998. In June, the Assembly authorized some $20.5 million gross ($18.9 million net) for the same period.
Taking into account the $5.1 million gross ($4.7 million net) already assessed for July through September 1997, the Assembly would also decide to defer the apportionment of the additional amount of some $3.8 million gross ($3.7 million net), under the draft's terms.
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Also by the text, the Assembly would endorse the observations and recommendations contained in the report of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) on financing the Mission.
In that report, the ACABQ states that as an unencumbered balance of some $2.5 million gross ($2.1 million net) remains in the Mission's budget, no additional assessment is necessary. (For further information, see Press Release GA/AB/3176 of 23 October.)
The Observer Mission was established by the Security Council for an initial period of seven months to support Liberian peace agreements. Its mandate was subsequently renewed, most recently through Council resolution 1116 (1997) of 27 June by which it was extended from 1 July to 30 September, with the expectation that it would end on that date. With the holding of Liberia's presidential and legislative elections and the installation of a new government last August, the Secretary-General informed the Council that the Liberian peace process had successfully concluded.
Financing of UNAVEM III
By the terms of the draft on the financing of UNAVEM III (document A/C.5/52/L.6), the Assembly would appropriate $155 million gross ($150 million net) for the operation of the Verification Mission's successor, the MONUA, for the period from 1 July 1997 to 30 June 1998. That amount includes almost $50 million gross ($48.2 million net) authorized by the Advisory Committee for the period from 1 July to 31 October 1997. The Assembly would also decide to continue using the Verification Mission's special account for MONUA.
The draft would also have the Assembly decide to maintain the level of the posts for the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General and the Chief Administrative Officer at their originally authorized levels, and approve the reclassification of the post for one Chief of the Human Rights Division at the level of Director (D-1).
The Assembly would ask the Secretary-General, in order to reduce the cost of employing General Service staff, to employ locally recruited staff for General Service posts for the Observer Mission commensurate with the operational requirements of such posts.
Annexed to the draft, which contains 19 operative paragraphs, is a chart indicating the monthly assessments for the Mission's operation for the period from 1 November 1997 to 30 June 1998.
The Mission was established by Security Council resolution 1118 (1997) of 30 June for an initial four-month period until 31 October, during which it would take over and deploy UNAVEM assets and military units in Angola until they are withdrawn.
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Towards a Culture of Peace: Statements
Bangladesh introduced the draft resolution (document A/52/L.4) entitled Towards a Culture of Peace. Four additional sponsors to the text were Georgia, Guyana, Mali and Mauritania.
RUTH DECEREGA SMITH (Panama) said that since 1989, the concept of the Culture of Peace had occupied an important place in the intellectual efforts and the operational activities of UNESCO. The guidelines of the project could be achieved only under United Nations leadership. Panama supported the decision of the Economic and Social Council to proclaim the year 2000 as the International Year for the Culture of Peace, and also the call by the winners of the Nobel Peace Prize to dedicate the years 2000 to 2010 as a decade of the Culture of Non-Violence.
She said the texts addressing the declaration of the Culture of Peace and the proposed programme of action had various merits, and coincided with commitments undertaken by Members States since 1992, as well as with plans of action and declarations approved at conferences in Rio de Janeiro, Vienna, Copenhagen and Beijing . Through the project the United Nations would be establishing the scientific assertion that humans were not naturally predetermined to war.
U WIN MRA (Myanmar) stressed that historical, socio-cultural and economic contexts were not mere passive conditions for the development of a culture of peace, but the determinants of the process. Myanmar's national experience provided an insight into the task of peace-building. Undeterred by the setbacks of previous governments in peace efforts, the State Law and Order Restoration Council emphasized a new approach, under which the Government launched development projects for the border areas where insurgency once reigned, and addressed the basic needs of their peoples. National races in areas concerned were provided with an opportunity to take part in those projects.
He said the promotion of a culture of peace was not confined to one country or one region. Nevertheless, it was essential to firmly establish such a culture at the national level. Failure or success in the national efforts would determine whether there would be success at the global level.
POSECI BUNE (Fiji) said Fiji had shown its commitment to peace by participating in almost every United Nations international peacekeeping operation. Several brave peacekeepers from his country had given their lives for peace. All the major United Nations conferences in the past six years had stressed the role of education in achieving peace, justice, equality and development. Fiji continued to call on the Assembly to create a special United Nations Division or Unit for preventive diplomacy and conflict resolution. Early detection of potential conflicts was more important in
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building peace than reacting to situations in which violence had already broken out.
He said Fiji paid special tribute to UNESCO for its involvement in culture of peace activities at global, regional and national levels. A culture of peace would contribute to international cooperation for economic and social development, and making the world a better place to live for people in developing and developed countries alike. There could be no peace without development and no development without peace.
FELIPE MABILANGAN (Philippines) said the construction of a culture of peace was a welcome and timely initiative, and having experienced the tragic consequences of armed conflict his country stood solidly behind it. The Philippines sponsored the Second International Forum on the Culture of Peace in Manila in 1995, in cooperation with UNESCO. As a follow-up to that forum, President Fidel Ramos had agreed to the proposal of the UNESCO Director- General to establish a Centre for the Culture of Peace in the Philippines.
He said the main task of the United Nations was to link the various peace efforts throughout the world and promote a global movement for peace. It should forge a network of partnerships between governments and institutions of civil society within and across national borders. Some form of coordinating mechanism was needed to ensure the implementation of the programme of action. Of crucial importance was the funding of activities to promote a culture of peace. A possible starting point was the pooling of resources already available within the United Nations system earmarked for peace-related activities to fund joint programmes.
RICARDO G. CASTANEDA (El Salvador), speaking also for Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama, said the transition from a culture of war to a culture of peace was the great challenge facing humanity. The peoples of Central America had directly and indirectly suffered the consequences of war, and for more than a decade had experienced the physical and spiritual destruction of the principles inspired by democracy, liberty and social justice.
He said the shared effort to build a culture of peace had changed from an academic debate to an everyday fact where it was now necessary to promote all elements that contributed to the integral lives of people. In his region it meant having a clear vision of the society they wanted to build for their people. Education played an important role, but it was necessary that education reach the specific needs of the people, strengthening their collective awareness and sense of belonging. There should be stronger international cooperation in pursuit of the culture of peace. The Declaration adopted in March at the First Parliamentary Conference of the Americas supported the effort of UNESCO. The Secretary-General's report had many important elements; contributions by delegations would be helpful in further defining drafts.
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YOUSSOUFOU BAMBA (Côte d'Ivoire) said many United Nations peacekeeping operations had been successful, demonstrating that the Organization was skilled in carrying that crucial part of its mission. His country was pleased that the United Nations set aside large amounts of money for that purpose. While it was necessary to intervene in conflicts after they broke out, more effective prevention by attacking the root causes of war was indispensable.
He said that during the post-conflict stage it was necessary to integrate the culture of peace into the reconstruction process. Côte d'Ivoire had made peace its second religion because without it no sustainable constructive activity was possible. Peace in his country was nurtured by continuous, patient dialogue and social cohesiveness, making it possible to channel all the country's energy into development. The deeply rooted culture of peace in Côte d'Ivoire made that possible.
B. HUGO SAGUIER CABALLERO (Paraguay), speaking for the Rio Group of Latin American countries, said the transformation from a culture of war and violence to a culture of peace and non-violence was a response of the global community to the principles established in the United Nations Charter. Those principles included promoting social progress, practising tolerance and living in harmony with one's neighbours. Creating a global strategy, with respect to human rights, the values of individuals and society, incorporating the principles of liberty, justice, democracy, tolerance and solidarity, had been for a very long time the goal of humankind, and UNESCO had included those values into its programme to promote a culture of peace.
The Rio Group aspired for a better world in the twenty-first century, where the principles of peace, tolerance, respect for human rights, and friendship between nations created an environment for the achievement of universal education and employment. This was not an individual task, of one country or organization, or of the United Nations alone; it also encompassed governmental and non-governmental organizations, civil society, religious groups and the media. The culture for peace should be on the agenda of educators, politicians and governments, and all those responsible for its achievement in the future.
MONICA MARTINEZ (Ecuador) said it was time to renew commitment by Member States to work together to promote the culture of peace. At the domestic level integral parts in the right to development were justice, the democratic tradition and the promotion of human rights. The concept of the culture of peace was one that was deep-rooted among the people of Ecuador. The path towards the culture of peace in the interdependent world of today required international cooperation, disarmament and demilitarization by all concerned.
She said Ecuador commended the Secretary-General's report, and also the highlighting of possible elements that could form a draft programme of actions in the future. Her country reaffirmed its support for the draft resolution.
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MARTIN ANDJABA (Namibia) said the international community had reached a historic juncture where dialogue was preferred over conflict. At its independence in 1990, Namibia had embarked on a progressive policy of national reconciliation, a difficult but necessary process. The root causes of violence must be addressed and conflict prevented before it broke out. In addition, conflict prevention was more cost-effective.
He said Namibia, Mozambique and Zimbabwe had embarked on education in human rights and democracy with financial support from the Danish International Development Agency. The four-year project begun last month, would involve development of educational materials, appropriate methodology and teacher training. Promotion of a culture of peace complemented other actions for peace in the United Nations system such as preventive diplomacy, peacekeeping, disarmament and economic development. Partnership between the United Nations, civil society and governments was essential for a culture of peace.
MARIA DE LOS ANGELES FLORES PRIDA (Cuba) said the international community could not talk of a true "culture of peace" if it did not go to the root of problems, and if it overlooked a clear-cut definition of their nature and their scope. How could Member States speak in doctrinal and philosophical terms of a culture of peace in a world where the numbers of poor multiplied and where 358 individuals had assets greater than the combined annual revenue of countries inhabited by 2.5 billion people, almost 45 per cent of the world's population? Not even the dreadful rhetoric of "neoliberal globalization" had managed to conceal today's hard realities. More than 507 million people, nearly 13 per cent of the world's population, died before 40 years of age, more than 800 million were illiterate and over 158 million children were malnourished.
She said culture, in its diversity, was bound to play a role in communication and greater understanding among people and countries. Peace was more than just the absence of war. It entailed the commitment to renounce force or the use of force in international relations. It demanded observance of the principles of self-determination and territorial integrity of every nation. It also meant opposition to every manifestation of colonialism and neocolonialism, racism and racial discrimination and human rights violations. Peace could not be achieved under the dictates of big Power attempts to impose unilateral extraterritorial measures and laws on the world aimed at subjecting independent peoples and nations by force and intimidation.
DAFFALLA OSMAN (Sudan) said the achievement of a culture of peace was not a mere objective but a comprehensive operation to create institutionalized, long-term action to build peace in the minds of men and women. At the twenty-ninth session of UNESCO, held in Paris this month, important issues concerning the Sudan and the organization were taken up and mutual cooperation was reinforced. Since UNESCO initiated the culture of
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peace programme, the Sudan had extended full cooperation to achieving the objectives of the programme.
At the national level, he said, the Sudan had taken serious measures to achieve a culture of peace. Different programmes involving the National Broadcasting Corporation, mass media, regional and national seminars, and school programmes were undertaken, to inculcate the values of peace. The goal was to create an environment which respected human life, renounced violence, and promoted tolerance, solidarity, understanding and coexistence between various ethnic and religious groups. The Sudan was a co-sponsor of the draft resolution, which was a balanced text reflecting principles shared by all mankind. It was the duty of the United Nations to transform peace into a culture for future generations.
FAYSSAL MEKDAD (Syria) said politics, economics and social factors were indissolubly linked to a culture of peace. Political action was necessary to prevent a worsening of the international situation. It was no longer acceptable to intervene in the affairs of States, to inflict decisions on States or to restore colonial influence. A culture of peace meant avoiding policies that deepened the rift between rich and poor countries. A culture of peace reflected a desire for knowledge and for security. Famine, poverty and oppression threatened international peace and sowed the seeds of anarchy.
The causes of war must be addressed, he said. The United Nations should continue acting in favour of peace. The Arab States were doing everything they could to promote peace whereas Israel rejected the principle of land for peace. The Israeli Government was doing everything it could to sow the seeds of war, encircling Syria from the north and south, and possessing nuclear weapons. The international community must deter the Israeli Government from implementing policies that ran counter to a culture of peace. The Israelis must withdraw to their pre-1967 borders and respect the right of peoples in occupied territory to self-determination. The right of peoples to defend their land must be an essential part of the culture of peace -- occupation was a breeding ground for violence. The diversity of world cultures enriched the possibilities for peace, but they all must respected. No one culture should be imposed to the detriment of the culture of others.
CARLSTON BUTCHER (Barbados), speaking for the countries of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said it was crucial for the United Nations, on a continuing basis, to re-examine its stewardship in preserving and enhancing peace. Most conflicts now occurred within countries and not between countries. Ninety per cent of casualties were civilians, not soldiers. Many lessons had been learned from United Nations peace-keeping. Instructions had been blurred and sometimes peacekeepers had been expected to assume tasks for which they had not been mandated, organized or equipped. The mission of peace must be to coordinate and implement humanitarian relief, civil affairs, electoral assistance, police and judicial reorganization, human rights and economic and social reconstruction long after guns had been silenced.
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He said CARICOM believed the concept of the culture of peace was an idea whose time had come, and he applauded the pioneering work of UNESCO in advancing the initiative. A culture of peace would build on the foundations of the Agenda for Peace and initiatives on peace and security stemming from the United Nations reform process. It rejected violence and promoted respect for life, equal rights, freedom of expression, tolerance, gender equity, understanding between nations and between ethnic and religious groups. The culture of peace was a process to which every nation could contribute.
EDITH CAMERANO (Colombia) said that for some years, in various ways, the Assembly had been working around the issue of a culture of peace. It was important to develop an integrated programme that involved education and every section of society, including children. It could mean a population more united socially. Last Sunday, in Colombia, 9.5 million votes were cast in an election which was an expression of the wish for peace and non-violence. Through that process, the Colombian people had made peace a new mandate and created a challenge to make it more real.
In Colombia, she said, a pilot plan had been initiated in a region where there had been conflict. It was an integrated process that took account of socio-economic factors, justice and coexistence. It involved all aspects of civil society, churches and non-governmental organizations in a 10-year plan that focused on health, housing, education and justice. All elements of the justice system were gathered together to work against corruption, and to determine who was responsible for violence in the region. In such plans, one component without the other could not achieve the desired results; socio- economic development was not enough. For such reasons Colombia fully supported the draft resolution before the Assembly.
IBRA DEGUENE KA (Senegal) said peace was another name for development. It was not just the absence of war. Violence was a fact of life in every country of the world, and the international community could not ignore that fact without risking destabilization. Racial and ethnic hatred, religious intolerance, poverty, xenophobia, an absence of ethics, ignorance, scorn of the culture of others and the stifling of freedoms damaged peaceful coexistence among nations. As a result, a culture of violence had sprung up that did not even spare children, women and the elderly, and threatened humanity as a whole. That was why Senegal believed promoting a culture of peace must be among the fundamental concerns of the United Nations. The old adage "might makes right" must be reversed to "right makes might".
He said dialogue must take precedence over confrontation. The Member States of the United Nations, non-governmental organizations, civil society, organized religions and local communities must carry out educational and awareness-raising efforts to promote peace, tolerance, plurality of opinions and respect for human rights. Ongoing educational efforts stressing respect of differences, dialogue with others and strategies aimed at achieving social cohesiveness were the best way to reach those goals.
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PETRU DUMITRIU (Romania) said the United Nations had come to a point where profound reform was needed and expected more than ever. The Security Council, the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council, and the Secretariat must all be reformed to ensure the institutional and structural readiness of the United Nations to become more efficient and more influential. Reforming mentalities through education was a fundamental complement to that process. The United Nations and UNESCO should fully take the opportunities to be authoritative voices in the new environment of the cyberspace.
He said the report of the Director-General of UNESCO revealed the profound inter-linkages between the culture of peace and the culture of democracy. Many of the essential ingredients for a culture of peace as defined by UNESCO were also elements for a solid democratic culture and state of mind. Those elements transcended the demarcation lines between north and south, east and west, and between developed and developing nations. The efforts to promote a culture of peace were complementary to all other actions for peace by the United Nations system including conflict prevention, peacekeeping, peace-building, disarmament, sustainable human development and democratization.
FASSASSI A. YACOUBOU (Benin) said all developing countries faced the challenge of sustainable development, which could be achieved only in a climate of peace and stability. Mobilization against intolerance and racial discrimination were vital in achieving that goal. The role of non- governmental organizations in a culture of peace should be stressed and supported by United Nations agencies. Working against racism, violence and xenophobia, he went on, must be a daily task and a willingness to engage in dialogue must be the main tool in conflict resolution. However, each protagonist must show sincerity and good faith. Education remained the lynchpin of this endeavour. Since education began in the home, therefore, strengthening the family structure was more important than ever, and the United Nations system must inculcate family values as well as those of democracy and human rights.
He said United Nations efforts in Africa, especially the Great Lakes region, were necessary and encouraging. He noted that Benin had peacefully moved from a one-party State to a democratic regime in 1991. The process was ongoing and gaining strength. Tolerance, human rights and respect of difference were policies in Benin and vital for implementing a culture of peace.
FERNANDO GUILLEN (Peru) said one of the main aims of his country's foreign policy had been closely linked to the maintenance of international peace and security, international integration and cooperation, and a steadfast rejection of a culture of war and violence. Peru reaffirmed and reiterated its unwavering commitment to the obligations arising from the charter of UNESCO. But, to give effect to that commitment it was essential to ensure
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that UNESCO, with the support of its members, be placed at the service of peace and coexistence within and between nations.
He said that to enjoy credibility within the international community, States must demonstrate the existence of societies that were free, democratic and peaceful towards the outside world. States must also respect the principles and rules of international law, observe treaties, and educate their people for peace and good neighbourliness. Education in Peru was built on those foundations. Permitting educational systems to inculcate a culture of violence was contrary to a culture of peace.
OLEG Y. SEPELEV (Russian Federation) said the idea of a culture of peace had received increasing international support. His country had been actively involved in implementing such a culture, particularly among young people, through the chairs on human rights established at educational institutions by UNESCO. The Russian Federation was also making efforts to ensure the purposefulness of UNESCO projects to educate young people in a culture of peace. It was examining ways to make military training more humane by establishing a network of scientific programmes to study non-violence in the military and the role of the army in a democratic society. The chairs at higher academies acted as a support structure for that process.
He said his Government was in favour of more consistency and realism in promoting a culture of peace. More action-oriented programmes, not just philosophical ideas, were needed. Such programmes could help implement the great ideas enshrined in the Declaration on Human Rights.
WALID DOUDECH (Tunisia) said tolerance, human rights and democracy were the pillars of the culture of peace. United Nations conferences were essential ways of supporting those pillars. Education and the broadest dissemination of the ideals of peace were necessary. The UNESCO had played a major role in implementing the culture of peace by carrying out education on cultural issues and promoting mutual respect of the cultures of the world's peoples. Cultural activities must promote and shape peace.
As the world's 1997 cultural capital, Tunisia had organized many cultural events to promote tolerance, improve dialogue and bring peoples closer together on global and regional levels, he said. His country hoped a draft declaration on the culture of peace would help make the issue a priority for the entire United Nations system.
ALFREDO LOPES CABRAL (Guinea-Bissau) said he was pleased at the support of the international community for the culture of peace, which met the aspirations of all people for peace. The United Nations had an important role to play in its implementation, and in the creation of the necessary environment for the establishment of peace. There was a need to think collectively about the future and importance of dialogue, and the establishment of a true global village, as well as to strive in a spirit of
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tolerance and give a new dimension to the concept of the United Nations. Violence had to be banished so a culture of peace, in which ideas had space to develop and thrive, could be promoted. Without a culture of peace, anchored in the hearts and minds of people, there could be no true democracy.
He said lasting peace must involve negotiation, taking into account the views and feelings of all parties. This culture of peace needed to be promulgated in the United Nations and in the respective countries. Africa, which faced new conflicts, was a part of this new adventure. Only cooperation and tolerance could bring about the development of countries. There was a need not only to reinforce the idea of a culture for peace, but also to proclaim total support for it as stated in the draft resolution.
BEATRICE KIRSCH (Luxembourg), speaking for the European Union, said members of the Union would like to request that action on the draft resolution be delayed so that negotiations with the co-sponsors could continue.
IFTEKHAR AHMED CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh) said that along with the other co-sponsors his delegation was disappointed at the request for a delay. This morning's full debate had contributed to ideas on a culture of peace. The report on the item had been available since 19 September and the draft text since 16 October. However, Bangladesh also valued the importance of consensus on such an important issue and wanted all Member States to support it. Therefore, it would agree to the proposal by the representative of Luxembourg. He hoped a minimum number of changes would be made to the draft text, which should be adopted no later than 10 November.
EMILIA CASTRO DE BARISH (Costa Rica) said her country had been one of the Member States to ask for the inclusion of the item "Towards a culture of peace" in the Assembly's agenda and was also one of the co-sponsors of the draft resolution. She wished to be associated with the statements of the representatives of El Salvador and Paraguay.
She said it was difficult to understand the reason for delaying action on the text, which could be adopted today with broad support by the Assembly. But her Government would heed the comments made by Bangladesh, in order to arrive at a consensus.
MOSES M. DLAMINI (Swaziland) said the agenda item was such a delicate issue that every delegation should give it priority. He felt uncomfortable about the request for a delay. If peace was an expensive commodity in any community, then it was imperative to move quickly to cement it. He expected swift movement to develop a culture of peace. Those requesting a delay should stipulate when they intended to act.
Mr. MEKDAD (Syria) said he hoped that any proposed amendments to the draft should be minimal.
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Assembly Vice-President ANDRE MWAMBA KAPANGA (Republic of the Congo) said action on the draft resolution would be delayed.
Mr. DLAMINI (Swaziland) said it was not clear when action would be taken and the Assembly was hedging.
Mr. CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh) said action on the text was anticipated by 10 November.
Right of Reply
MARTIN PELED-FLAX (Israel), speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said it was unfortunate that Syria had subjected the Assembly to a tirade, and had attempted to exploit the forum to engage in polemics. Israel called on Syria to return to the negotiating table so that the peace both peoples desired could be achieved. Making bellicose statements in an international forum was not the way to promote a culture of peace.
Mr. MEKDAD (Syria) said that when his delegation spoke of a culture of peace it clearly spelled out what that should be. It must be built on the foundations of international law, the United Nations Charter and United Nations resolutions. Occupation was one of the main causes of war. The arrogance of Israel was amazing, he said. Were those defending their land going against the culture of peace? The occupation of Arab lands deprived the Lebanese, Syrian and Palestinian peoples of every last shred of dignity. Syria had always expressed its willingness to pursue the peace process based on the principle of land for peace and respect of United Nations resolutions. When Israel showed readiness to respect the foundations of peace, Syria would continue the process.
Action on Drafts
The Assembly adopted without a vote, the draft resolution on the financing of United Nations Angola Verification Mission (UNAVEM III).
It then adopted without a vote, the draft resolution on the financing of the United Nations Observer Mission in Liberia (UNOMIL).
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