Building peace in the minds of men and women
The United Nations was founded after the “great and terrible” Second World War to create and maintain peace through economic, social or political agreements. But this is not enough. The foundations of peace still need to be laid, with the help of the specialized agencies which make up the United Nations system.
Since its foundation over 60 years ago, UNESCO took over that mission in conformity with its Constitution which asserts that, “since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed”. In this regard, the same Constitution highlights that “a peace based exclusively upon the political and economic arrangements of governments would not be a peace which could secure the unanimous, lasting and sincere support of the peoples of the world, and that the peace must therefore be founded, if it is not to fail, upon the intellectual and moral solidarity of mankind”. This mandate has gifted the Organization with a longstanding experience in promoting mutual understanding while fighting discrimination, intolerance and violence.
What is at stake: a Culture of Peace and sustainable development
The programme on Culture of Peace and Non-Violence
In its essence, the Culture of Peace and Non-Violence requires cognitive as well as the emotional abilities to grapple with our own situation in a rapidly changing world as well as with the emerging world society. This aim entails not just more factual knowledge, but also the broadening of our consciousness and the willingness to develop a new awareness, a new way of being in this world, a new “mental mapping”.
As stated by the UNESCO Director-General, “Peace is more than the absence of war, it is living together with our differences – of sex, race, language, religion or culture – while furthering universal respect for justice and human rights on which such coexistence depends”. Therefore, peace is a choice to be made on each situation, an everyday life decision.
With a view to foster conditions where such every day peace is a tangible reality for all, UNESCO has established a Programme on the culture of peace and non violence, which will aim at the following results:
- Fundamental principles of peace universally shared to be appropriated by different cultures, thanks to a genuine dialogue and mainstreamed into public policies;
- Tension between universality and particularism, cultural identities and citizenship in a globalized world analyzed and better understood;
- Everyday Peace to be conceived as an everyday living experience, not only in periods of conflict, but also in ordinary times;
The Programme of Action on Culture of Peace and Non-violence implies two essential approaches:
- To rethink the dividends of cultural diversity, as benefits of a continuous exchange between cultures
- To promote the principle of learning to live together, the challenging Art of Unity-in-Diversity conducive to a lasting conviviality
Pursuing these three Main Goals:
- To develop a new political, conceptual and programmatic approach in favour of a strong commitment by States and civil society to nurture “everyday peace” involving women and youth, (i.e.: through ICTs and social media);
- To improve the world’s global understanding and deconstruct preconceived ideas by placing emphasis on the future as a humanistic aspiration (i.e.: by establishing guidelines for a global curriculum on shared values);
- To promote a global movement in favour of the ideals and practice of a culture of peace and non-violence with emphasis on youth civic engagement and democratic participation (i.e.: by creating “hubs of peace”);