Seville Statement on Violence

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

The Seville Statement on Violence is a statement on violence that was adopted by an international meeting of scientists, convened by the Spanish National Commission for UNESCO, in Seville, Spain, on 16 May 1986. It was subsequently adopted by UNESCO at the twenty-fifth session of the General Conference on 16 November 1989. The statement, then known as a 'Statement on Violence', was designed to refute "the notion that organized human violence is biologically determined".[1]

Core Ideas[edit]

The statement contains five core ideas. These ideas are:

  1. "It is scientifically incorrect to say that we have inherited a tendency to make war from our animal ancestors."
  2. "It is scientifically incorrect to say that war or any other violent behaviour is genetically programmed into our human nature."
  3. "It is scientifically incorrect to say that in the course of human evolution there has been a selection for aggressive behaviour more than for other kinds of behaviour."
  4. "It is scientifically incorrect to say that humans have a 'violent brain'."
  5. "It is scientifically incorrect to say that war is caused by 'instinct' or any single motivation."

The statement concludes: "Just as 'wars begin in the minds of men', peace also begins in our minds. The same species who invented war is capable of inventing peace. The responsibility lies with each of us."[2]

Founding scientists[edit]

The following is a list of the scientists who founded the statement:


Steven Pinker has criticized the Seville Statement as being an example of the moralistic fallacy.[3] Some scientists believe both evolutionary psychology and neuropsychology suggest that human violence does indeed have biological roots.[4] [5]

Pinker has used the Seville Statement as an example of the idea of biological determinism, the incorrect idea that genes are solely responsible for any of our behaviors.[3] A 2008 article in Nature by Dan Jones stated that "The decades since have not been kind to these cherished beliefs. A growing number of psychologists, neuroscientists and anthropologists have accumulated evidence that understanding many aspects of antisocial behaviour, including violence and murder, requires the study of brains, genes and evolution, as well as the societies those factors have wrought." Evolutionary psychologists generally argue that violence is not done for its own sake but is a by-product of goals such as higher status or reproductive success. Some evolutionary psychologists argue that humans have specific mechanisms for specific forms of violence such as against stepchildren (the Cinderella effect). Chimpanzees have violence between groups which have similarities to raids and violence between groups in non-state societies. Several studies have found that the death rates from inter-group violence are similar for non-state societies and chimpanzees. On the other hand, intra-group violence is lower in humans living in small group societies than in chimpanzees. Human may have a strong tendency to differ between ingroup and outgroup which affects altruistic and aggressive behavior. There is also evidence that both intra-group and inter-group violence were much more prevalent in the recent past and in tribal societies which suggests that tendencies to use violence in order to achieve goals are affected by society. Reduced inequalities, more available resources, and reduced blood feuds due to better functioning justice systems may have contributed to declining intra-group violence.[6]


  1. ^ Suter, Keith (2005). 50 things you want to know about world issues... but were too afraid to ask. Milson's Point, NSW, Australia: Transworld Publishers. ISBN 978-1-86325-503-5. 
  2. ^ a b "Seville Statement on Violence, Spain, 1986". EDUCATION- Non-Violence Education. UNESCO. Retrieved 2007-03-04. 
  3. ^ a b Pinker, Steven. How the Mind Works. W. W. Norton & Company, 1997, pp. 44 and 49.
  4. ^ Jones, Dan "Human behaviour: Killer instincts", Nature, January 30, 2008.
  5. ^ Moran, Melanie "Brain rewards aggression much like it does sex, food, drugs",, February 1, 2008.
  6. ^ Jones, D. (2008). "Human behaviour: Killer instincts". Nature. 451 (7178): 512–515. PMID 18235473. doi:10.1038/451512a. 

3. Adams, David (2005) [1] Introduction to the Seville Statement on Violence

External links[edit]