Building peace in the minds of men and women

War or peace? Which will it be: the way of the dinosaur or a united world to build the future?

This issue of the Unesco Courier goes to press at a time when peace in our world is poised over a precipice. Wars and conflicts, though "limited" in nature, have spread a broad swathe of death and destruction across many lands. And no sooner has one area of conflict ceased firing than the flames seem to attack another. At the same time the spectre of the nuclear and "conventional" arms race continues with mounting ominousness.

Just under three years ago, the Unesco Courier reported, in an issue devoted to the problems of disarmament (Nov. 1964) that the world's expenditure on arms had reached the astronomical figure of $ 120,000,000,000 a year. Today we are spending incredibly higher sums, and the arms race mania is engulfing many more countries.

Despite this - or rather because of all this - the voices that are being raised to put an end to the headlong race towards Armageddon are growing louder and louder. Resort to violence, as a means of settling differences, is being denounced more vehemently than ever before. And for millions upon millions of people everywhere in the world, war today is seen for what it really is man's greatest folly, a monstrous anachronism in an age where the survival of humanity itself is at stake.

Last November, the Plenary Session of the General Conference of Unesco adopted a resolution which called on all its Member States to reject war once and for all as an instrument of national policy and to condemn all forms of direct and indirect aggression and interference in the domestic affairs of States; to renounce recourse to violence in settling their differences; respect the right of all nations to self-determination and independence; and to take all action to contribute to an agreement on general and complete disarmament under international control.

The resolution also called on Unesco, as a world organization, "to disseminate the truth that war is no longer a possible solution to man's problems," and adopted as Unesco's mandate the U.N. Secretary-General's request that "Unesco bring home, at all times, to all peoples and governments in all parts of the world, what war means today." It recalled U Thant's message to Unesco in which he declared that "in the past 20 years, the very progress of science and technology has brought new, terrible and ever-present dangers to mankind as a whole, the dangers inherent in the new weapons of mass destruction."

It is to this purpose that the present issue of the Unesco Courier is devoted: on the one hand, to review the situation created by the present arms race with its escalation of nuclear weapons; on the other, to underline the urgency of reaching agreement on practical methods for the de-escalation of arms and weapons, that is, disarmament, and the no less urgent task of assuring the peaceful growth and progress of all countries, developed and developing alike.

Which is it going to be? The way of the dinosaur and the end of our species; or a united world building a common future? It is up to the peoples and governments of all nations to face the reality that all men have a common destiny today, and that that destiny must be to build a world community in peace by a combined effort.

Read this issue. Download the PDF.

August-Septembre 1967