By Alexandra Rojas and Anne Lescure
On 7 September 2017 the President of the 71st Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA71), Peter Thomson, convened a High-Level Forum on the Culture of Peace under the theme: “Sowing the Seeds of the Culture of Peace: Early Childhood Development is the Beginning”. The Forum was an opportunity for the representatives of Member States and other stakeholders to exchange ideas on further promoting a Culture of Peace throughout the world. In the face of diverse global challenges and multifaceted threats to stability, the speakers highlighted education, doctrines of non-violence, access to justice and deepened international cooperation as critical tools to spread the Culture of Peace. While the speakers recognised women as important partners to spread ideas of tolerance and non-violence in conflict-torn societies, their statements largely failed to include any concrete recommendations for strengthening women’s formal political engagement.
Reinforcing the power of Article 26 of the UN Charter, which demands the minimising of spending on armaments, and Critical Area D of the Beijing Platform for Action, which links gender equality and the call for the control of excessive arms spending, the speakers reiterated the importance of reducing military spending and redirecting this expenditure towards sustainable peace and development. Most notably, in her opening statement, Dr. Betty Williams, the 1976 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, claimed: “Why do we have military budgets? To create weapons to destroy each other? That’s insane!”. The speakers therefore agreed that militarisation cannot be part of the international community’s efforts to build a Culture of Peace.
Read WILPF’s full analysis of the High-Level on the Culture of Peace here>>