The Decade For A Culture Of Non-Violence
an apeal to humanity by The Nobel Peace Prize Laureates

To:  Heads of States of all member states of the General Assembly of the United Nations:

Today, in every country throughout the world, there are many children silently suffering the effects and consequences of violence.

This violence takes many different forms : between children on the streets, at school, in family life and in the community. There is physical violence, psychological violence, socio-economic violence, environmental violence and political violence. Many children - too many children - live in a "culture of violence".

We wish to contribute to reduce their suffering. We believe that each child can discover, by himself, that violence is not inevitable. We can offer hope, not only to the children of the world, but to all of humanity, by beginning to create, and build, a new Culture of Non-Violence.

For this reason, we address this solemn appeal to all Heads of States, of all member countries of the General Assembly of the United nations, for the UN General Assembly to declare : 

That the first decade of the new millennium, the years 2000-2010, be declared the "Decade for a Culture of Non-Violence."

That at the start of the decade the year 2000 be declared the "Year of Education for Non-Violence."

That non-violence be taught at every level in our societies during this decade, to make the children of the world aware of the real, practical meaning and benefits of non-violence in their daily lives, in order to reduce the violence, and consequent suffering, perpetrated against them and humanity in general.

Together, we can build a new culture of non-violence for humankind which will give hope to all humanity, and in particular, to the children of our world.

With deepest respect,

 The Nobel Peace Prize Laureates

Signed by: Mairead Maguire Corrigan, Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa, Aung San Suu Kyi, The 14th Dala? Lama (Tenzin Gyatso), Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev, Shimon P?res, Elie Wiesel, Mgr. Desmond Mpilo Tutu, Adolfo P?rez Esquivel, Yasser Arafat, Mgr Carlos Felipe Ximenes Belo, Jos? Ramos-Horta, Norman Borlaug, Oscar Arias Sanchez, UNICEF, Frederik Willem de Klerk, Betty Williams, Lech Walesa, Joseph Rotblat.

 Why was this Appeal made ?

The conflicts of the second half of this 20th century with the devastating power of their atomic and chemical weapons have shown that the human species and its environment are under threat of extinction. Violence, under so many forms, has invaded human society.

It is therefore urgent to do everything in our power, with determination and tenacity, to reverse the processes which have made our 20th century the scene of the greatest carnage in history.

We will transmit to the children of the third millenium the wonders of our technology, with its promises of progress in all of Lifes spheres.But our legacy is also our sick planet, global economic war in our global economic village, a human family - broken and confused - worshipping before the altar of the Free Market.

If we are to escape from the ever-increasing threat of famines, war, poverty, exclusion and ecological catastrophies, then our children must acquire the wisdom that we lack.

This aim of Appeal is not senseless dramatization. The aim of the Appeal is to bring people together to reflect, in the simplest of terms, on the future we want to build for ourselves and our children. Never in human history has mankind disposed so much power to transform himself and his world, the possibilities for creating a better life and a healthier environment - or - of destroying it all.

Life is permanent transformation by organic processes.

If we, as human beings, do not at long last sincerely opt for Peace, and give ourselves the means to achieve Peace through non-violence, then we will have opted for extinction.But Peace is not an inborn reflex. It is something to be acquired, learnt, merited.

We believe that it is our duty to participate in the eclosion of a peace generation. Our duty also to invite our children, and - through them future generations, to avoid our own errors, and break free from the suicidal culture of violence that we live in. It is our duty to help them become aware of the possible alternatives, so that they may live in self-respect, at peace with their consciences, at peace with their world.

 How the Appeal started

The first person to express the idea that non-violence should be taught to children at school was Thich Nhat Hanh.

Mme Marie-Pierre Bovy, president of FOR and member of a community founded by Lanes de Vast, suggested during a community meeting in 1996 that there should be a " Year of Non-Violence. "Mr. Pierre Marched, founder of the humanitarian organization " Partage avec les Enfants du Monde " 24 years ago, and IFOR delegate to the UNESCO in the Culture for Peace programme, decided to take up that challenge by launching a world-wide campaign.

Pierre Marchand met with the Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Mairead Corrigan-Maguire, in Belfast and she agreed to lead the campaign. A generous donor, who has asked to remain anonymous, met the cost of these initiatives. Sri Loganathan, one of the leaders of the Gandhian mouvement and friend of Vinoba Bhav?, proposed that children should be taught about non-violence in kindergarten. The text of the appeal was written in a Childrens Village in India by Pierre Marchand.

From there, Pierre Marchand went on to Calcutta where Mother Teresa, recovering from her latest operation, signed the appeal in her hospital bed before she died.

The third Nobel Peace Prize laureate to sign was Aung San Suu Kyi during a long discussion with Pierre Marchand in her Rangoon home under the close surveillance.

Mairead Corrigan-Maguire and Pierre Marchand were then received in Washington by many dignitaries, including the Dalai Lama, and by Mrs. Sorensen at the UN headquarters.

Mr. Federico Mayor - Director General of UNESCO, Mrs. Carol Belamy Director General of UNICEF and Mrs. Hildegard Goss-Mayr Chairwoman of IFOR, have since signed letters in support of the Nobel Peace Prize Laureates Appeal.

In a word the consensus was there from the start. Today all the Nobel Peace Prize Laureates have signed the Appeal, (with the exception of two who we were unable to contact.)

At the end of May 1997, a letter was sent to all Heads of States to inform them of the Nobel Peace Prize Laureates Appeal and their Proposed Resolution (text included below). The General Assembly of the United Nations should be able to examine this text during the next session in October 1997.If, as we hope, this resolution is adopted we will have made but the first step. Then the real work will begin : to transform the best intentions of the worlds governments into concrete measures.As we stated earlier, education is the key factor. Education nourishes Culture. It is an interactive process which starts at the earliest instants of life.We already know that we can count on the support of several hundred organizations throughout the world to help us start programmes adapted to the culture and living conditions of children, young people and adults.

Among these organizations ready to help are the Serpaj in Latin America, The Peace People in Ireland, the Mouvement Social in Lebanon, Compartir in Lebanon, ASSEFA in India, The House of Grace in Isra?l, Milijuli in Nepal and most of all IFOR.

Founded in 1915, IFOR was the first organization for education in Non-Violence. IFOR has branches in over forty countries and brings together thousands of men and women committed to Non-Violence. IFORs role will be to co-ordinate the necessary measures with governmental and non-governmental organizations, teachers, artists .. throughout the World.


In response to the "Appeal for the Children of the World", addressed by Nobel Peace Prize Laureates to each Head of the Member-States of the United Nations from Bethlehem in May 1997 ;Recognizing the reality of the different forms of violence which inflict today suffering on countless numbers of children, and conscious of the fact that this violence can be transformed to free ourselves, in order to live and to behave without being the cause of suffering, with a deep respect for Life, for the duties, the rights and the dignity of every human being and specifically of each child ;

Aware of the rich spiritual heritage of humanity, manifest in our different religious traditions, handed down from generation to generation since the dawn of consciousness in the human species, and aware of the need to live our lives according to this heritage, to live mindfully and to transmit this heritage carefully to future generations, for it is the basis of a non-violent and meaningful art of living all together ;

Recalling that the aim of the United Nations is to promote harmony and reconciliation between all members of the human family, and with our environment ;

Recalling that the mission of UNESCO is to promote Peace through Education, Science and Culture, particularly through the "Culture of Peace" program ;

Considering the spirit of the International Convention on the Rights of the Child, signed and ratified by almost all of the United Nations member states ;

Considering the Heads of States Summit and Action Plan for Children, convened in 1990 by UNICEF ;

Recalling the Report of Mrs. Gra?a Machel, in 1996, about the horrifying and unacceptable impact of armed conflict on children ;

Recalling the constructive work done, since 1919, by all the members of the "International Fellowship of Reconciliation", particularly with the Mahatma Gandhi and the Reverent Martin Luther King, to promote non-violence as a new way of living mindfully ;

The Assembly General of the United Nations :

Declares the decade 2000 2010 "The decade for a Culture of Non-Violence" ; Declares the year 2000 "The Year of Education for Non-Violence" ; Invites each member state to take the necessary steps so that Non-Violence be taught at every level in our societies during this decade, so that children become aware of the real, practical meaning and benefits of Non-Violence in their daily lives, in order to reduce the violence - and consequent suffering, perpetrated against them and humanity in general. Invites the president of the International Foundation "Appeal of the Nobel Peace Prize Laureates : Share with the Children of the World" to deliver a report to the United Nations Secretary General on January 1st 2000, containing propositions for achieving these aims of mindful art of living, with the active support of the member states, the different organs of the United Nations and relevant N.G.O.s. as the "International Fellowship of Reconciliation", the "Peace People" and "Servicio Paz y Justicia".

This resolution involves no specific U.N.O. budget for its application. The International Foundation "Appeal of the Nobel Peace Prize Laureates : Share with the Children of the World" calls upon individuals and collectivities (Nations, U.N. agencies, organizations, state enterprises and private companies, etc) to share their resources, freely and willingly in order to build, all together with women and men of good will, without any discrimination of any kind and nobody left behind - specifically with all our children - a new way of life for all : A Culture of Non-Violence.

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