My Vision For The Culture of Peace Program

By Robert Stewart, Director, Canadian Centres for Teaching Peace , and A/Director of the Canadian Culture of Peace Program

July 2008





I start with 3 foundational principles:


  1. The vast majority of people (i.e. ~ 90%) in the world want peace for themselves and their families and their communities and ‘their world’.
  2. 1 to 2% of people may be considered homicidal, have weapons, and make life ‘hell’ for the rest (definition of homicidal = have the motivation, ability and resources to take the initiative to kill and maim).
  3. When I talk about peace I am referring to building peace at the individual level, family level, community level and world level as they and all linked and what we learn at one level can usually be applied to the others.


I choose to appeal to the vast majority for culture change (to a culture of Peace and Non-violence) over the long term (i.e. this is a decades approach).   And while I promote both a top down and bottom up approach, peace really does start with me/the individual, at home and spreads from there.  I acknowledge that it will spread faster if the top individual are affected.  Accordingly, our strategy is both top down and bottom up.


Top down characteristics of our strategy include: our organization style; promotion of servant leadership at the highest levels; promotion of protocol and values; our Charter; national networking; national conferencing; outreach to communities; national stakeholder networks and monitoring (report card); national peace education strategy; etc.  See our web site at (the Canadian Culture of Peace Program is a national strategy with local manifestation).


Bottom up characteristics of our strategy include: promotion of Community Centres for Teaching Peace and Peace Cafés; our organization style; promotion of servant leadership in all individuals; promotion of protocol and values; community networking; community conferencing; outreach within communities; community stakeholder networks and monitoring (report cards); community peace education strategy; etc.  See our web site at


As described by the UNESCO motto, ‘Since wars and violence are created in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be created’.  My approach is an educational one building on personal and community assets to replace ‘ignorance’ with information, knowledge and wisdom.  In the process, the aim is to help people carry out their roles and responsibilities as peace educators and servant leaders.


I recommend a code of conduct and ethics based on the principles of the U.N. Culture of Peace Program and summarized in Manifesto 2000 (Figure 1).

Figure 1 - Manifesto 2000:  The Code of Conduct / Ethics


Manifesto 2000 for a culture of Peace and Non-violence

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ecause the year 2000 must be a new beginning, an opportunity to transform - all together - the culture of war and violence into a culture of peace and non-violence.


ecause this transformation demands the participation of each and every one of us, and must offer young people and future generations the values that can inspire them to shape a world based on justice, solidarity, liberty, dignity, harmony and prosperity for all.


ecause the culture of peace can underpin sustainable development, environmental protection and the well-being of each person.


ecause I am aware of my share of responsibility for the future of humanity, in particular to the children of today and tomorrow.

I pledge in my daily life, in my family, my work, my community, my country and my region, to:


Respect the life and dignity of each human being without discrimination or prejudice;



Practise active non-violence, rejecting violence in all its forms: physical, sexual, psychological, economical and social, in particular towards the most deprived and vulnerable such as children and adolescents;


Share my time and material resources in a spirit of generosity to put an end to exclusion, injustice and political and economic oppression;


Defend freedom of expression and cultural diversity, giving preference always to dialogue and listening without engaging in fanaticism, defamation and the rejection of others;


Promote consumer behaviour that is responsible and development practices that respect all forms of life and preserve the balance of nature on the planet;


Contribute to the development of my community, with the full participation of women and respect for democratic principles, in order to create together new forms of solidarity;

We have drafted a related discussion paper at

The bottom line is captured best by M. Gandhi: ‘We must be the change we seek in the world’.   In others words, we must be servant leaders; we must walk the talk; we must model by example.  We must not be hypocritical, we must not model violence.  Having said that, we must recognize that no one is perfect.  We will make mistakes; we must turn them into learning opportunities to build upon (as versus break down).  In others words, ‘these are no mistakes, only learning opportunities’.



The Process


The Process is one of information collection, dissemination, networking, listening, dialogue, understanding, individual action, collective action, educating, leading (visioning, directing, supporting, challenging, inspiring, guiding), planning, monitoring, evaluating, change management.


The process is one of bringing light (enlightening) most of the time (eg. 80%).  The process is not one of ‘preaching’, coercing or violence.  Sometimes,  (eg. 20%) it may be necessary to ‘turn up the heat’.  Martin Luther King Jr. said  “Leaders change when they see the light or feel the heat”.  The latter (i.e. heat) is a sensitive tactical measure, and must be done without violence to maintain our integrity.


I visualize our role as servant leaders bringing a tray of food for thought.  People will consume of it when they are ready and when they want. (“You can bring a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.”)


“The most effective learning is self-appropriated, self-directed learning.”  (Carl Rogers).



The Venues:  Open Space to Open Minds and Hearts to Peace


The more venues the better.  I wish to make peace education ubiquitous (i.e. readily available everywhere).  These are to be safe spaces, sacred spaces.


We have commenced as follows:


1.      Websites e.g.


      With links, information, articles, books, videos (ala, youtube)

2.      E-mail list servers e.g. yahoo groups, offices without walls.

3.      Conferring (with a bias to open space conferencing)

4.      Community Centers For Teaching Peace / Peace Cafés





The Focal Point:  Peace Cafés


My focus is on the creation of Community Centers for Teaching Peace appealing to both peace professionals and the general public as Peace Cafés.  They will be resource centres with the best books, videos, music, art and people for peace – ‘Barefoot Universities’ of Peace, if you will.


Very simply, the goal is to significantly reduce the incident and cost of violence in the community (and ultimately the world).


By way of example, we have our first one going in Hamilton , Ontario .  Here is what it does:


·         Provides safe space for anyone to access peace resources.

·         Has an inventory of who is doing what with respect to any aspect of peace in the community (and will carry related brochures, etc).

·         Holds conversations cafes, workshops, conferences, guest speakers, art, music, films and others events.

·         Has Internet facilities, for research of peace.

·         Has a library of the best books and videos (see )

·         Has staff serving as Peace Guides.

·         Has people to do Culture of Peace Assessments and training (transformation teams related to the community, organizations or personal).

·         Provides fair trade and locally produced food, coffee and other refreshments.

·         Provides art, crafts and music with a peace theme.

·         Provides social/fun activities.

·         Is locally managed and controlled.

·         Is not-for-profit: It aims to create a surplus to ensure long-term viability and self-sufficiency, and re-investment in peace education infrastructure and programming.  No individuals obtain any personal ‘return’ or profit.

·         Receives donations for peace education infrastructure and programming.

·         Facilitates peace education infrastructure and programming in the community, including schools, businesses, government and other institutions.

·         Other programs and services as felt locally relevant.


My dream is to see Community Centers for Teaching Peace/Peace Cafés in every community across Canada and around the world. (There is room for more than one Peace Café in any community.  Peace Cafés can specialize in one or more topics if they wish – for example, a Peace Café in a particular ethnic area might specialize in topics related to that group and peace, as well as general peace.)


This is totally possible and I know it will make a significant difference in reducing violence at home and abroad.  It will be most helpful in creating a Culture of Peace and Non-violence.


It will also provide much needed Peace Education resources (peace education is currently starved of resources by those in power in order to maintain the status quo), and it will provide much needed jobs for Peace Education Students and Peace Professionals.



Peace Professionals


Through this process we will be enhancing the Peace Profession.  This will include the codification of standards, guidelines, education, qualification and monitoring.  We can learn from the successes and failures of other professions, but you can imagine how this may develop.



Transformation Teams


The U.N. Culture of Peace Program instructs us that, for the world to transform from a Culture of War and Violence, all institutions must transform from a Culture of Violence to a Culture of Peace and Non-violence.  These institutions include government, businesses, education, religion, unions, media, NGOs, etc.


Community Centres for Teaching Peace, with qualified Peace Professionals, will be naturally well placed to facilitate Transformation Teams, to facilitate institutional transformation (locally, provincially, nationally and internationally).


Our research has indicated that the best modality to affect such institutional change is through:

·         Stakeholder Networks (Ref. and )

·         employing Culture of Peace Assessment Tools. (Ref. )

·         and Conflict Transformation Methodology. (Ref Dr. Johan Galtung’s work,+Development+...%22+&ots=GZfVm1waRh&sig=x-0nPzzqoupNtUH08CSU9eUIcqU#PPP1,M1 )



This is the subject of a future presentation.



Social Entrepreneur:  Value Added Services = Success


To ensure Peace Cafés are financial and program successes, I believe we need to appeal to how we can help our target clientele be more successful in their daily lives at home, at work, in school, on the street.


In terms of target clientele:


·         Business people must be a key target group.  (They particularly have money, influence, breadth of skills and understand value propositions.  In addition, business is a significant part of the problem and must be part of the solution.)

·         Government People. (They particularly should be interested in improving local quality of life issues and should, in fact, be leaders in cultural change.)

·         Schools (violence in schools is a ‘hot issue’).

·         General Public (family violence, breakdown and personal peace are ‘hot issues’).


In terms of our related key (i.e. most pragmatic and marketable) skills, we know:


·         Conflict transformation (facilitating win/win/win solutions)

·         How to have better communication

·         How to build better relationships

·         Social development / social intelligence  (How to live together more successfully)

·         Spiritual intelligence / development  (How to develop peace within)

·         Servant Leadership (How to grow socially responsible organizations)

·         Etc.


If we can help solve people’s problems, and help improve their ‘bottom lines’ (whatever they may be, such as profit, crime/violence rates, family cohesion, etc.), then they will “employ” us (or “transact” with us).  If we can help them be successful, then we will be successful.


This is the definition of Social Entrepreneur.  (For a good, related book I recommend “How to make one hell of a profit and still get to heaven” by Dr. John Demartini.  You can read highlights at )





My goal is to open the Calgary Centre for Teaching Peace and Peace Café within 6 months.  My vision is to see Community Centres for Teaching Peace and Peace Cafés in all communities across Canada and around the world.  If you would like to be involved, or know others who would, I invite your participation.


You can contact Robert (Bob) Stewart at stewartr[at]