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Scouting and Peace

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Scouting and Peace

Post  Warloque on Thu Nov 20, 2008 4:06 pm

The concept of peace is important and frequently used. In the ordinary sense of the term, it is used as an opposition to war or conflict. To quote the Encyclopaedia Britannica: "Since the beginning of history, peace has been regarded as a blessing and its opposite, war, as a scourge."

However, the concept is both elusive and ambiguous. It can have military and civilian connotations, collective or individual connotations. It can be used, for example, to signify "a state of security and order within a community", an absence of war between rival nations, a "state of harmony in human or personal relations", an absence of activity and noise, or "a mental or spiritual condition marked by freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions."

It can be used as a noun, as an adjective, as an adverb, and even as an interjection! It can be used with both positive and negative connotations. It can be used with a very precise legal or diplomatic meaning and also as everyday language!

For this reason, the scope of a reference paper such as the present has to be limited out of necessity. Therefore, our thinking has been guided by the key question: Since the inception of Scouting, what have been the main facets of its contribution to peace? In order to answer this question, it is important to first adopt a historical perspective and look at B-P’s concept of peace. Has it been present since the beginning of the Movement? Was it reflected in the original Promise and early practice? Has it followed the historical evolution of the Movement? Is it reflected in the WOSM Constitution and in World Scout Conference Resolutions?

The subject then needs to be considered from a conceptual perspective, examining a definition of peace on the basis of which its different dimensions and the many contributions that Scouting has made in this field can be explored. Finally, a prospective approach considers the future and identifies new possibilities open to the Movement, both as a result of its internal dynamism and of the recent evolution in the worldwide situation.

This brings us back to the question posed at the beginning of this reference paper: "Since its inception, what have been the main facets of Scouting’s contribution to peace?"

In order to provide a clear answer, we have to take a definition of peace whose different components can be examined and linked to the Scout Movement’s contribution. In other words, such a definition should have both logical consistency and pragmatic value. Needless to say, our task would be greatly facilitated if such a definition had been produced at the inception of the Movement. How-ever, this was not the case, for the simple reason that B-P used the word "peace" in the ordinary sense of the term, and its meaning was clear to everyone.

One such suitable definition is given in the Report of the Secretary General to the 32nd World Scout Conference held in Paris in July 1990. It is largely based upon the one prepared by the "International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement".

"Peace is not simply the absence of war. Peace is a dynamic process of collaboration between all states and peoples. This collaboration must be based on a respect for liberty, independence, national sovereignty, equality, respect for the law, human rights, as well as a just and equitable distribution of resources to meet the needs of peoples."

According to this definition, peace is not simply the absence of war, and contributions to peace do not only occur in the sectors of peace-making and peace-keeping. In this narrow sense of the word, Scouting’s contribution is obviously very indirect. In the true sense of peace, however, Scouting’s contribution becomes immediately obvious, and concerns the very heart of the issue.

This definition has several dimensions, which, for the purpose of our analysis, can be grouped into a number of broad areas:

The first dimension is the one that comes to mind the most spontaneously: "peace" as opposed to "war", as opposed to "conflict".

This dimension is political (see section 4.2). The second dimension covers the broad area of personal, interpersonal and intercultural relationships. Peace is considered here in the light of the development of the individual and his/ her relationships with others, including the relationships between cultures (see sections 4.3 to 4.5).

The third dimension en-compasses the relationships between humankind and the available resources on earth: on the one hand, the fair distribution of those resources among all individuals in order to satisfy their needs (i.e. questions of justice and equity) and, on the other hand, the relationships between humankind and nature/environment (see sections 4.6 and 4.7).

This political dimension of peace might appear as the least related to Scouting. This is, in fact, not the case. Since its inception, Scouting has helped to build peace by creating a feeling of brother-hood and understanding crossing national barriers, through the practice of a peaceful lifestyle and by integrating into the Scout method a number of practices which encourage brotherly conflict-solving attitudes and behaviour.

World Jamborees are per-haps the most distinctive feature of World Scouting in the minds of the general public. Organized every four years, they are hosted by a National Scout Organization whose invitation has been formally accepted by the World Scout Conference. Although each World Jamboree has left the participants with indelible memories, the "Jamboree of Peace" ("Jamboree de la Paix"), held in France in 1947, deserves to be singled out. It was the first one to be held after the death of B-P and also after 10 years of interruption due to the Second World War. In addition, Indian Scouts celebrated their country’s independence during the Jamboree.

For these reasons and others linked to the programme itself, this Jamboree was particularly symbolic and emotional. Starting in 1975, at the initiative of the World Programme Committee, every World Jamboree has been accompanied by a "Join-In-Jamboree" (JIJ) intended to convey the World Jamboree spirit to Scouts of all ages. JIJ comprises activities and events - ranging from a big national camp or jamboree to a small gathering of a few troops or packs, or a fair or evening involving parents - which strongly identify with the spirit and activities of the Jamboree and the culture of the host country. Evaluations indicate that between two and four million Scouts from all age sections participate in JIJ activities. World Scout Conference Resolution 8/75 adopted the decision that "...Join-In Jamborees shall be a permanent feature of all future World Jamborees..."

The concept and implementation of JIJ earned WOSM the Silver Anvil Award. Along similar lines, Jamboree- on-the-Air (JOTA) is an annual international amateur radio Scouting event held during the third weekend of October. Thousands of contacts are made over the air between Scouts all over the world.

World Moots (formerly called World Rover Moots) are gatherings of members of senior branches of National Scout Associations and other young adult members. Participants range in age from 18 to 25. Moots provide an opportunity for young adults in Scouting to meet together with the objective of improving their international understanding as citizens of the world.

The educational dimension of these events has been reinforced by the addition of World Scout Forums.

The Scout Universal Fund, better known as the "U" Fund, was created by Resolution No. 6 of the 1969 Helsinki World Scout Confer-ence, since when its method of operation has been slightly modified. It provides a way for all members of the Scout Movement to help Scouts in other countries. Donations to the "U" Fund are regularly received from National Scout Associations, Scout groups and individuals. Contributions from the Fund have helped Scouts, particularly in less privileged countries, to start community development projects, to set up training and activity centres, to undertake relief work after natural disasters, to print Scout handbooks in local languages, and many other projects.

Twinning schemes have been practised for many years in Scouting. They are a particularly effective way to promote contacts between Scouts from different countries. Scout units, groups or districts, or National Associations, are linked together to pursue clearly identified programme objectives, ranging from small initiatives at grassroots level to ambitious projects at national level. (45)

Peace Week. The 31st World Scout Conference (Melbourne, 1988) adopted Resolution 7/88, recommending that activities related to education for peace be conducted during a special Peace Week around Founder’s Day in February 1989. The World Scout Bureau produced a range of resource material to support Peace Week, and a final report was com-piled illustrating some of the many projects undertaken by Scouts, often with Girl Guides and other youth organizations.

The World Scout Committee has encouraged National Associations to continue to promote activities related to peace and human un-derstanding as part of their Founder’s Day celebrations each year. In response to this appeal, many National Associations carried out such activities.

Last edited by Warloque on Thu Nov 20, 2008 4:11 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Scouting and Peace

Post  Warloque on Thu Nov 20, 2008 4:09 pm


This dimension covers the whole area of personal development, i.e. the contribution of the Scout Movement to the development of young people, who can achieve inner peace through the voluntary acceptance of a "code of living" and a system of values.

In order to fully understand the originality of Scouting’s educational method (particularly taking into account that it was created at the beginning of the century), it is important to examine how B-P envisaged the development of the personality of children and young people, which, in a nutshell, can be summarized as follows:

1) He saw it as individualized, and not as a mass system.

2) However, young people are not alone; they are linked through the patrol system.

3) Giving responsibility to young people.

4) Giving them a system of ethical reference, a code of values.

In a sentence, it can be said that the whole educational philosophy of Scouting seeks to favour the development of open, mature and balanced personalities.

The purpose of Scouting, and therefore its daily task, is to provide young people with a favourable environment for their development, to guide them in their personal growth and to offer them the support they need. This is achieved by designing and implementing programmes adapted to the different age groups and to the specific conditions in which the young people live (in other words, responsive to the needs and aspirations of young people in their respective societies).

Since it is the purpose of Scouting, it automatically becomes the daily task of every unit (be it a Cub Scout pack, a Scout patrol or troop, a Rover clan, a team of Venturers, etc), of every group, of every district, of every National Scout Association.

For this reason, it is difficult to single out specific instances where this occurs. It is rather a combination of the different elements forming the appropriate balance: a Scout programme which is challenging, attractive and useful, a system of adult leadership which is able to provide adult resources in sufficient quality and quantity to fulfil its mission, and a sound management structure which enables the National Association to use its resources to the best possible advantage of its educational mission.

The ultimate result is what B-P called "character building" and which in today’s terminology may be called "development of the personality"; in other words, the emergence of individuals with a sense of personal identity (ego strength), who are able to have or to seek "peace of mind" through the voluntary acceptance of a "code of living", a value system, which provides them with "inner guidance", strong enough to guide them through life and flexible enough to be adapted to their changing circumstances.


This dimension covers the whole domain of intercultural relations in which Scouting can play a significant role by helping young people understand each other’s culture and way of life, thus promoting respect and appreciation for different cultures and lifestyles.

In other words, culture helps us to view the world in a certain way. Through the process of socialization, the young child progressively acquires a cultural identity, a "cultural reference frame-work", and he learns to judge events from his own view, his own approach. Culture teaches him to determine what is "good" and what is "bad", what is "fair" and what is "unfair", what is "familiar" and what is "alien".

In this respect, the process of socialization in a given culture is at the same time normal and necessary (since life would be impossible without cultural values and norms) and dangerous, since it creates what has been called "ethnocentrism". In its broadest sense, this is the tendency of every individual to judge another culture on the basis of the criteria established by his own culture, by his own view of the world. In the strictest sense of the term, "ethnocentrism also implies a tendency to believe that one’s own culture is superior to others and to judge other cultures through the standards established by one’s own culture."

Since its inception, the Scout Movement has been extremely aware of the importance of educating young people in a spirit that goes far beyond the simple practice of "tolerance" and respect for other cultures, recognizing the need to help them fully understand and appreciate the richness of other people’s cultural heritages so that, through the daily practice of intercultural learning, they are enriched with the contribution of other cultures.

Among the initiatives aimed at promoting intercultural learning, Eurofolk and the National Integration Camps in India are worth a particular mention:

Eurofolk is a European cultural festival organized every four years by the European Scout Committee and the European Guide Committee. The first was held in Turkey in 1977, the second in Germany in 1981, the third in Spain in 1985 and the fourth in Italy in 1989. The tradition will continue when Austria hosts the fifth Eurofolk in 1993.

The principles of its organization are simple: in preparation for the event, participating groups prepare their selected items: dances, music, songs, pantomimes, games, costumes or cultural shows. Once at the camp, they share the folklore and traditions of their respective countries or regions with others, and at the same time they learn new aspects of other cultures in workshops. A wide variety of workshops is offered, including painting, drawing, weaving, spinning, singing, dancing, self-expression through movement, glass-blowing, dressmaking and cookery. Usually, local artists and craftsmen lead the workshops.

National Integration Camps are a unique feature of the "Bharat Scouts and Guides" of India. They are held periodically on a multi-state basis, to help pro-mote social and cultural integration among young people from states with different traditions and cultures. These camps are a cornerstone of the association’s "nation-building activities" and have been widely recognized at national level as a powerful factor in the promotion of intercultural awareness and appreciation, which in turn is a very important aspect in the promotion of national peace.

In addition, many National Scout Associations have introduced "cultural badges" to enable Scouts to become better acquainted with the rich cultural heritage of their country and, therefore, to contribute to the preservation of national cultural values. Many associations have also created badges such as "citizen of my country" and "citizen of the world", which are learning units intended to open the eyes of Scouts to the rich diversity of cultures.


This area includes the world imbalance between the North and the South, and the efforts deployed by Scouts at home and abroad to practise community involvement in its different forms: community development and community service, development education and development cooperation. Likewise, it covers the involvement of Scouting in the promotion of Human Rights in general and the Rights of the Child in particular, as well as different forms of emergency relief and reconstruction.

Over the last 20 years, the World Scout Bureau has produced abundant literature to support the involvement of National Scout Association. in the above-mentioned fields, and the international visibility of Scouting has been enhanced by its contribution to international efforts such as the "International Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation Decade", "International Literacy Year" and the UNICEF "Child Survival and Development Revolution".


Scouting’s contribution to peace, while educational and therefore unspectacular, is, however, fundamental, since it prepares the ground for true and lasting peace.

How can it be summarized?

1) Since its inception, Scouting has helped to build peace by creating a feeling of brotherhood and understanding which transcends national barriers, by promoting a peaceful lifestyle and by integrating a number of precepts and practices which encourage brotherly conflict-solving attitudes and behaviour into the Scout principles and method.

2) Scouting helps to create a more democratic and responsible type of citizenship at all levels, local, national and international, helping the citizens of tomorrow to have an informed opinion on the issues that concern their respective countries and the world today and, therefore, allowing them to have a say in decisions at all levels.

3) Scouting helps individuals to develop a sense of personal identity, enabling them to seek or to enjoy peace of mind through the voluntary acceptance of a "code of living", a system of values, which provides them with "inner guidance".

4) Scouting helps young people to develop enjoyable, mature and responsible interpersonal relation-ships, to develop a sensitivity to others based on reciprocity and fairness. Through his/her ability to establish constructive relation-ships with others, a Scout then becomes a messenger of peace.

5) The same applies to the field of intercultural relations. The whole educational approach of Scouting helps to create open-minded, mature and balanced individuals, deeply-rooted in their own cultures and receptive to the richness of other cultures.

Thus, a Scout is willing to work at the same time for the preservation of national cultural values and to show understanding and appreciation for other people’s cultures and ways of life. This is particularly important in today’s world, where, in many countries, intercultural awareness and appreciation are a powerful factor in the promotion of peace.

6) Scouting also helps to create peace in the world through its contribution to the cause of justice. By involving young people in the efforts to eliminate hunger and reduce poverty, both in their own communities and abroad, to fight illiteracy and promote Human Rights all over the world, Scouting is lending its hand to the task of building a human community where men and women can live truly human lives. In this way, Scouting is establishing the pre-conditions for the achievement of true and lasting peace.

7) The same can be said of Scouting’s contribution to peace between man and his environment. By creating an awareness and a feeling of responsibility to-wards their natural environment, Scouting is helping to educate a generation of citizens and decision makers determined to avoid the ecologically disastrous decisions of the past, willing to adopt a lifestyle which is compatible with the protection of natural resources and to bear witness to the new "environmental ethic" necessary for the survival of our world.

8 ) The above elements can be multiplied a thousandfold by the international dimension of Scouting, which is a living reality and source of enrichment for all, both youth and adults, from rich and poor countries, from the North and the South, from the East and the West. The cause of peace has many fac-ets and can be served in many ways, some spectacular, while others very seldom make the headlines. By focussing on the development of the individual, at grassroots level, and by striving towards an ideal of fraternity and understanding, Scouting plays a tremendous role in the promotion of peace at all levels. This role is performed in a quiet and unspectacular, yet in-depth way, by creating a feeling of brother-hood which is the true infra-structure for peace - among the youth who will be the citizens of tomorrow’s world.

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