Creating a Culture of Peace
A Workshop Kit Produced by Canadian Voice
of Women for Peace
The UNESCO Culture of Peace Programme
From its beginning, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has focused on the need to transform the deep cultural roots of violence and war. Its founding constitution states that "since war begins in the minds of men (sic), it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed". Thus the transition from a culture of violence and war to a culture of peace can be seen as having always been implicit in UNESCO's work... Since 1994, UNESCO has made this an explicit priority, creating a comprehensive, transdisciplinary Culture of Peace programme.
Recently, the United Nations has also taken up this task. From the time of its founding, the fundamental aim of the United Nations has been "to save future generations from the scourge of war". Up until now, most of the focus has been on intervening in violent conflicts after they erupt and then doing post-conflict peacebuilding. The culture of peace approach alms, instead, at addressing the root causes of violent conflict, thus preventing its emergence. The UN General Assembly has called for the promotion of a culture of peace as an integral approach to preventing violence and armed conflict and has designated the year 2000 as the International Year for the Culture of Peace.
The transition from a culture of war and violence to a culture of peace is a process of individual, collective and institutional transformation, developing within particular historical, sociocultural and economic contexts. A culture of peace aims at:
· transforming values, attitudes and behaviors based on violence to those which promote peace and non-violence;
· empowering people at all levels with skills of dialogue, mediation and peacebuilding;
· democratic participation of people in political decision-making;
· equal representation of women in decision-making at all levels
· the political and economic empowerment of women;
· the free flow of information and transparency and accountability of governing structures;
· the elimination of poverty and sharp inequalities within and between nations;
· the promotion of sustainable human development for all;
· the preservation of the planet and all its species;
· advancing understanding, tolerance and respect for diversity among all peoples.
The Culture of Peace programme supports a global movement that is already underway. The activities that constitute the project occur through national and subregional programmes, especially in post-conflict situations, -through the participation of NGOS, through the coordinated activities of the entire UN system, through networking and information at all levels. Education is seen as the major modality to promote a culture of peace. A special programme at the international level looks at the contribution of women to a culture of peace.
Shown to the right is a diagram of "Education for a Culture of Peace: A Comprehensive Approach, The Canadian Commission for UNESCO". To see the diagram in detail, click here.
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