Alternative visions: Human Security and a Culture of Peace

What visions can we draw from for thinking, strategizing and planning for an alternative global security system?

  • Approximately 1 hour per discussion (up to 2 hours)
relevant sections of “a global security system: an alternative to war”
  • Become familiar with alternative visions of security, including The Culture of Peace and Human Security
  • Identify guiding values and principles that inform a peace system
  • Identify successful change efforts and explore possibilities for building upon their foundations
introducing study and action partner: ambassador anwarul k. chowdhury

Ambassador Anwarul K. Chowdhury is an inspirational champion for sustainable peace and development and has ardently advanced the cause of the global movement for the culture of peace that has energized civil society all over the world. He served as Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the United Nations in New York from 1996 to 2001 and as the Under-Secretary-General and High Representative of the United Nations, responsible for the most vulnerable countries of the world from 2002 to 2007. He led the effort for adoption within the United Nations General Assembly of the landmark Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace (1999),  and in 1998 for the proclamation of the “International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Nonviolence for the Children of the World (2001-2010)”.  You can read Ambassador Chowdhury’s full bio here.

Discussion Guides

Two discussion topics/guides are presented below. Each discussion should take approximately 1 hour. You are invited to do both and follow any sequence relevant to your purposes. If you are to choose only one discussion we encourage you to start with “Discussion 1 (Essential).”

Discussion 1 (Essential)Finding Hope through Alternative Visions

In preparation for this discussion watch the introductory video above and read the corresponding sections of AGSS.  (Total 60 min)


“People can’t work for a world they can’t imagine.” – Elise Boulding (Peace Researcher / Educator / Sociologist)

Understanding the implications of staying the present course and maintaining the war system are relatively obvious: increasing cycles of violence, environmental destruction, unequal distribution of resources and wealth, an exploding refugee crisis, and on-and-on. So then, how do we even know if another system is possible? What gives us hope for the future? What are the possibilities for an alternative system and how might we make the transition?

  • Take a quick inventory of the repercussions of maintaining the war system. What are the direct and indirect costs of peace pursued by military means? ( 10 min)
  • What changes in the past century and current trends give you hope that an alternative to the war system is possible?  ( 15 min)
  • War is a highly structured and organized form of learned human behavior often described as a self-perpetuating (or self-fulfilling) system. What could a robust alternative system look like? What combination of social, political, legal or other structures might be able to achieve and maintain an end to war? What institutions currently exist that can be built upon or transformed? What institutions (governmental, non-governmental, civil society-based) are emerging? What other possibilities still need to be considered?  ( 35 min)
  • Systems are comprised of interdependent, reciprocally reinforcing webs of relationships. Create a system map of the war system that identifies actors at all levels with diagrams illustrating their interdependent relationships (including individual actors, to the local, state and global institutions, economic institutions, non-governmental institutions, etc). Consider how this map might be brought out of balance through the introduction of new actors, systems or institutions. Identify one or two significant new peace actors/institutions that might support this shift and then consider what action you might be able to take to support this change.

Discussion 2 (Going Deeper): Establishing Cultures of Peace

In preparation for this discussion, watch the introductory and extended interview videos with Ambassador Chowdhury, review the corresponding sections of AGSS, and skim the additional resources below.  (Total 60 min)

Ambassador Chowdhury outlines several significant efforts undertaken in partnership between the United Nations and civil society toward supporting an alternative global security system. Human Security offers an alternative framework for global security that is human, rather than state-centered.   “The Culture of Peace” developed within UNESCO and the United Nations provide a vision and programme of action to support the development of a global security system that pursues peace by peaceful means.   Global Citizenship is yet another framework that provides hope and promise. What hope and pragmatic promises can be found in these alternative frameworks and how might they be implemented?

Extended interview with Ambassador chowdhury

  • What is “human security” and how does it differ from traditional approaches to global security? What might be some of the limitations of a “human security” approach? (Review the UN resources on human security under “additional resources” below).
  • The United Nations Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace establishes a set of “values, attitudes, traditions, and modes of behaviors and ways of life” that are intended to serve as the foundation of a peaceful security system. Review the principles outlined in the Declaration. Are these principles sufficient or should others be considered?
  • Review the Programme of Action carefully. What efforts are currently being pursued? What efforts still need attention? What efforts have yet to be considered? What obstacles stand in the way of the achievement of these actions? What changes might need to be pursued at the international level (the UN, International Court of Justice, International Criminal Court), nation-state / governmental level, or in civil society to make the programme of action more robust and effective?
  • Ambassador Chowdhury has been a champion of civil society efforts within the United Nations, including the culture of peace and issues related to gender, peace, and security. What are the benefits and possibilities for civil society and governmental cooperation? How might these pathways of cooperation be established more effectively as foundational to a global peace system?


Who is using STUDY WAR NO MORE?

Help World Beyond War and the Global Campaign for Peace Education learn who is using Study War No More (and where) by sharing your contact details with us. 

What did you learn from this discussion? Please share with others so we can build a global security system together...