Meeting in Paris in 1995 on the 50th Anniversary of its founding, the Member States of UNESCO looked at the future and declared that the major challenge at the close of the twentieth century is to begin the transition from a culture of war to a culture of peace. This reaffirms the mandate of UNESCO, which was established after World War II with the Constitutional mandate to use education, science, culture and communication in order to "construct the defences of peace in the minds of men."

The International Year for the Culture of Peace, proclaimed by the General Assembly of the United Nations for the Year 2000, is a major milestone along the way towards this goal.

The decisions of UNESCO and the United Nations are not enough, however. As stated in the UNESCO Constitution, the political and economic arrangements of governments are not enough to secure a lasting peace: "Peace must be founded on the intellectual and moral solidarity of mankind." The development of a culture of peace requires the full participation of everyone.

Peace, as we now understand, is no longer the exclusive business of governments and international organizations. It is more than the absence of war and violence. It is our values and attitudes in our communities, our families, our schools. Peace must be cultivated and learned and, above all, put into practice. To make peace, we must act to transform the conflicts of everyday life into co-operation to make the world better for all.

Therefore, on behalf of the UNESCO and the United Nations, I invite all of you, every parent and child, teacher and student, reporter and editor, mayor and parliamentarian, every person in whatever capacity you may contribute, to join together in a global movement for a culture of peace and non-violence. Let us each resolve to make the year 2000 the first step in our commitment to this task which, I am personally convinced, is our highest calling at this moment of history.


Federico Mayor