April 4th, 1997
The Milano Charter
The Non Governmental Peace Strategies Projekt is a private, non-profit organization aimed at devising new vehicles to engage the private sector in the international civil society. Contributing to international social responsibility, respect for the individual, prevention of conflicts and pursuance of world governance represents our global ethical target (GET). Accordingly, our advisory board members have signed today, April 4th, 1997, in Milan, a charter against intolerance as a contribution to the culture of peace.
In the last few decades of our century, the culture of violence has reached new peaks. Indeed, the international civil society has witnessed a disproportionate number of civilian casualties over soldiers and fighters during conflicts, acts of terrorism, aggression and political upheavals. The breakdown of state structures has undermined the sense of identity which in turn created new enemies and fed the culture of violence.
Further, we have seen large-scale physical cruelty against innocent individuals. All this while the spread of common values across the planet has brought about the creation of international institutions, covenants, agreements at the political, social and economic level with the participation of the largest number of countries ever.
The end of the ideological divide between East and West has deprived many of the image and reality of "the enemy". The orphans of enemy have lost no time in searching for a surrogate and quickly began to spread violence under the false pretense of ethnicity, religion, culture and, perhaps soon, even civilization.
Some seen to have been fascinated by the search for a new enemy and have provided "theoretical support" to those who hide their violence behind the hate for the civilization, religion and culture of others. Yet the last few years have disproven in no uncertain terms the validity of any theory which claims that people which share the same religion, or civilization or culture share also common interests. From the Caucuses to the Middle East to Europe to Africa and to the Western Hemisphere, we have seen daily that the new enemy is not another`s civilizations but simply intolerance and that common interest unite across cultural barriers.
Intolerance is a difficult enemy to fight because it cuts across cultures, civilizatons and religions; nevertheless it seems to us to have emerged as the real enemy of the 21th century. Recognizing it is indeed a first step in rallying together those who wish to pursue a culture of peace, irrespective of their political, geographical and religious location.
It is also a way to pull the carpet out from underneath those who hide behind the misrepresentation of history, religion and culture as an excuse for their own misdeeds. To contribute to the culture of peace is also important in defining and thus pursuing peace itself. In recent conflicts many have claimed that peace and justice cannot be reconciled and that the world may have to accept the one without the other as a practical and realistic compromise. They are deluding themselves and, indeed, surrendering to intolerance. While Justice with capital letters may well be not of this world, peace whitout hope for justice, no matter how faint that hope, is not peace at all. Intolerance against the other`s culture, civilization, religion and ethnicity is the very origin of the culture of violence.
The young generations across this planet have seen during the last decade much about the culture of violence. They they should be reassured that we have not surrendered the hope for a culture of peace because a moral banner has not been raised with enough courage. Appeasement in the face of intolerance has only prolonged conflicts and fed the arrogance of the intolerant and the violent, as the world has seen during this decade. To invoke impartiality against the intolerant is to become an accomplice to the culture of violence.
The recent years have yet taught us that intolerance has to be fought without weakness but with determination on all fronts: that of terrorism, that of the so-called ethnic cleansing, that of those who claim the purity of religion, culture and civilizatoin as a justification to spread violence.
A practical action to claim back territory for the culture of peace is to raise the banner of the struggle against intolerance in a determined and consistent way both as individuals and as society. History, religion, culture, civilizaton and institutions are not murderers: only individuals can perform acts of violence. To those who practice cultural or religious or ethnic racism we call for a culture of peace. A first step is to identify intolerance as it`s enemy.
Milan, April 4th, 1997
George Bush Ingvar Carlsson Michail S. Gorbachev
Javier Pérez de Cuéllar Glandomenico Picco
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