Magazine article UNESCO Courier

'Culture Must Be One of the Foundations for World Understanding.'

Magazine article UNESCO Courier

'Culture Must Be One of the Foundations for World Understanding.'

Article excerpt

In order to grasp the full significance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it is well to he fully aware of the world situation that gave birth to the United Nations and to UNESCO. The devastation wrought by the wars of the last half century had brought home the fact to everybody that, with the present-day level of technical achievement, the security of nations could he based only on supra-national institutions and rules of conduct. It was understood that, in the long run, an all-destroying conflict can he avoided only by the setting up of a world federation of nations.

So - as a modest beginning of international order - the United Nations was founded. This organization, however, is but a meeting ground for delegates of national governments and not for the peoples' representatives acting independently on the basis of their own personal convictions. Furthermore, U.N. decisions do not have binding force on any national government; nor do any concrete means exist by which the decisions can be enforced.

The effectiveness of the United Nations is still further reduced by the fact that membership has been refused to certain nations, whose exclusion seriously affects the supra-national character of the organization. Yet, in itself, the fact that international problems are brought up and discussed in the broad light of day favours the peaceful solution of conflicts. The existence of a supra-national platform of discussion is apt to accustom the peoples gradually to the idea that national interests must he safeguarded by negotiation and not by brute force.

This psychological or educational effect I regard as the United Nations' most valuable feature. A world federation presupposes a new kind of loyalty on the part of man, a sense of responsibility that does not stop short at national boundaries. To be truly effective, such loyalty must embrace more than purely political issues. Understanding among different cultural groups, mutual economic and cultural aid are the necessary additions.

Only by such endeavour will the feeling of confidence he established that was lost owing to the psychological effect of the wars and sapped by the narrow philosophy of militarism and power politics. No effective institution for the collective security of nations is impossible without understanding and a measure of reciprocal confidence. …

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