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NATIONAL WORKSHOP
ON A CULTURE OF PEACE
IN VIETNAM

Hanoi - Vietnam
14 - 15 May 1999

VIETNAM NATIONAL COMMISSION FOR UNESCO
UNITED NATIONS EDUCATIONAL, SCIENTIFIC AND CULTURAL ORGANISATION

 


FINAL REPORT

 

1. The National Workshop on A Culture of Peace in Viet Nam was organised by the Viet Nam National Commission for UNESCO (VietNatcom) in collaboration with UNESCO from 14 to 15 May 1999 in Hanoi, Viet Nam. (See Annex I - Agenda)

2. Purpose of the Workshop

(1) To raise the awareness and understanding of the concept of a Culture of Peace among the Vietnamese authorities and the public alike, through providing the participants representing various institutions dedicated to the promotion of peace with a forum in which they can pool their opinions and discuss a number of subjects in the perspective of the world's current endeavour toward a culture of peace and the relevance of the Vietnamese experience; and,

(2) To work out a number of recommendations on how to further and more effectively promote the culture of peace in Viet Nam, in Southeast Asia and in the world as a whole.

3. Attending the Workshop were 70 participants, including 10 deputies of the National Assembly, high-level officials of different government bodies, and representatives from relevant academic institutions, public organisations and the mass media. UNESCO was represented by Mrs Rosamaria Durand, Representative of the UNESCO Director-General and Mr F. Edouard Matoko, Senior Programme Specialist, Department of Education for A Culture of Peace, UNESCO PARIS. (See Annex II - List of Participants)

4. Opening of the Workshop

4.1 The Workshop was formally opened by H.E. Mr. Nguyen Dy Nien, President of the Viet Nam National Commission for UNESCO, Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs. In his introductory remarks, Mr Nguyen Dy Nien recalled that this is the first workshop on the culture of peace to be organised in Viet Nam and extended his thanks to UNESCO for supporting this national initiative and to all representatives from different ministries and branches at central and local levels for their participation. The success of the workshop will be Viet Nam's contribution to the common endeavour of world people for a long lasting peace and to the forthcoming celebration of the International Year for the Culture of Peace (Year 2000) and the Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non Violence for the Children of the World (2001-2010). He also recalled that, in the Vietnamese people's concept, the aspiration for peace is closely linked with that of national independence and freedom. He concluded by wishing that through discussions and exchanges of views, the knowledge of the concept of culture of peace will be enriched and the Vietnamese people's tradition of peace be further well known.

4.2 A message from H.E. Mr Federico Mayor, UNESCO Director-General, was read out by Ms Rosamaria Durand, Representative of the Director-General of UNESCO, who then delivered her welcome address at the Workshop.

In his message, the Director General of UNESCO expressed his support to the Vietnamese authorities for having taken this initiative which will undoubtedly further the cause of peace, dialogue, solidarity and tolerance in the perspective of the celebration of the International Year for a Culture of Peace (Year 2000). He also reiterated the commitment towards further strengthening the co-operation between Viet Nam and UNESCO with a view to contributing to the transition from a culture of war to a culture of peace. Recalling the history of Viet Nam and recognising the heroic efforts of the Vietnamese people for peace and freedom, Ms Durand indicated that the organisation of this workshop was a clear demonstration of the national will to look for ways and means through which the notion of peace can be embedded in all facets of society. She concluded by recalling that the notion of a culture of peace which is widely accepted at international level needs to be integrated on the basis of the aspirations of each country and society.

4.3 A Welcome Speech was also given by H.E. Mr Nguyen Khanh, Former Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman of the Government's Administrative Reform Commission, Former Chairman of the Viet Nam National Committee on the World Decade for Cultural Development. He pointed out that the concept of a culture of peace is not new to Viet Nam. Indeed, a culture of peace has been deeply rooted in this country and in the mind of its people, gradually evolving throughout their millennia-long history of national building and safeguarding. On the other hand, he questioned the concept of a culture of war as opposed to a culture of peace since, in his opinion, culture - in its positive and true meaning - only relates to fine and noble ideals and causes of peace, happiness and sustainable life of the mankind. He welcomed the proclamation by the United Nations of the International Year for the Culture of Peace 2000 as timely and relevant on the eve of the third millennium and in the context of the current situation in the Balkans. He urged active and appropriate response from the Vietnamese authorities and people to this historical event ushering in the International Decade of A Culture of Peace and Non Violence for the Children of the World 2001-2010 that will significantly coincide with Viet Nam's decade-long commemoration of Thang Long-Ha Noi 1010-2010. He concluded by wishing for continued fruitful and close co-operation between Viet Nam and UNESCO so that the Vietnamese culture in general and its culture of peace in particular will be better known and understood among the world community.

(See Annex III - Opening and Welcome Speeches)

5. Election of the Office Bearers

The participants unanimously elected the following officials of the Workshop :

5.1 Chairperson - HE Mr Nguyen Dy Nien, President of the Viet Nam National Commission for UNESCO, Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs;

5.2 Vice Chairpersons - Ms Rosamaria Durand, Representative of the Director-General of UNESCO, and Prof Dr To Ngoc Thanh, Secretary General of the Viet Nam Union of Literature and Arts Associations;

5.3 Rapporteurs - Ms Le Kim Hong, VietNatcom and Mr F Edouard Matoko, Senior Programme Specialist, Department of Education for A Culture of Peace, UNESCO PARIS.

6. Presentations and Discussion

6.1 Two keynote presentations on UNESCO's concept and programme of a culture of peace were given respectively by Ms Rosamaria Durand, Representative of the Director-General of UNESCO, and Mr F Edouard Matoko, Senior Programme Specialist of A Culture of Peace, UNESCO PARIS.

(See Annex IV - Keynote Speeches)

6.2 Eight (8) theme papers relating culture of peace were presented in the following orders and titles :

A. "Viet Nam - A Peaceful Nation" by Mr Duong Trung Quoc, Secretary-General of the Viet Nam Association of History Studies,

B. "Some Initial Ideas on Peace and A Culture of Peace" by Mr Nguyen Van Huynh, Vice-President of the Viet Nam Peace Committee,

C. "Vietnamese Laws and Peace" by Dr Vu Duc Khien, Member of the Standing Committee, Chairman of the National Assembly Committee for Legal Affairs

D. "President Ho Chi Minh - A Resplendent Personification of the Culture of Peace" by Prof Song Thanh, Director of the Ho Chi Minh Research Institute,

E. "Vietnamese Women and Peace" by Mrs Dao Thi Nhien, Member of the Presidium of the Viet Nam Women's Union, Director of the Viet Nam Women's Museum,

F. "Hanoi - A Culture of Peace City" by Dr Luu Minh Tri, Vice Chairman of the Hanoi People's Committee,

G. "Vietnamese Aspiration for Peace in Folklore" by Prof Dr To Ngoc Thanh, Secretary General of the Viet Nam Union of Literature and Arts Associations,

H. "Education of Peace in the Vietnamese Schools" by Prof Dr Vu Ngoc Hai, Vice Minister of Education and Training, Vice President of the Viet Nam National Commission for UNESCO.

(See Annex V - Theme Papers)

6.3 Most of the participants took floor for animated deliberations during which a culture of peace and the Vietnamese experience were further studied and elaborated from different angles and approaches. The main themes of interventions including the participants' recommendations are summarised as follow :

6.3.1 The participants commended UNESCO Paris, the Viet Nam National Commission for UNESCO, the Ministry of Culture and Information and other concerned offices for their co-ordination in organising the National Workshop on a Culture of Peace in Viet Nam and were of an unanimous view that this was a good opportunity for them to exchange their understanding of this new concept and reaffirm their position on the subject.

6.3.2 The participants acknowledged UNESCO's view of a culture of peace as "all the values, attitudes and forms of behaviour that reflect respect for life, for human beings and their dignity and for all human rights, the rejection of violence and all its forms and commitment to the principles of freedom, justice, solidarity, tolerance and understanding among peoples and between groups and individuals".

6.3.3 Interventions at the Workshop approaching the issue from different perspectives confirmed its multi-dimensionality, therefore further clarifying the nature as well as the content of the subject, helping to facilitate in-depth discussion of the issue in future workshops and seminars. It would at the same time serve as a solid basis for appropriate policy-making, particularly for the formulation by various branches of projects and programmes of action.

6.3.4 Unanimity was recorded on the following issues :

(i) Confirmation of peace as an age-old aspiration of the Vietnamese people. Humanitarianism, tolerance and friendship were not only the human nature, but also the foundation for Viet Nam's cultural conduct towards nature, society, neighbours, defeated enemies, religions and cultural differences. This is why the Vietnamese people never launched aggression against anyone, and though Viet Nam is a multi-ethnics nation, in the course of its long history, no ethnic and/or religious conflicts were ever recorded.

(ii) It was for the love of peace that the Vietnamese people had staunchly fought for the protection of national independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity. There was no peace at any price. There was only peace in national independence. This truth permeated into the entire people's mind to the extent that it embedded in their consciousness. In their thousand year-long history, it seemed that every century, the Vietnamese people had to wage one or two wars for national safeguard. The people, women and men, the old and the young all did their conscientious best in a common endeavour to fight till final victory. Many heroines and teen-age heroes have carved their niches in Viet Nam's history. The quiet yet great sacrifices of the Vietnemese women and anonymous mothers were heroic actions.

(iii) The participants reaffirmed that without national independence, the basic human rights would not be protected, but on the contrary be tyrannically trampled underfoot. Cultural creativeness could only be initiated when people were to live as masters of their own country.

(iv) The Vietnamese women had actually participated in all issues of national importance. They not only fought alongside their men and children, but also played an important role in national reconstruction, reproduction of wealth and bringing up of their children along the national ethics and virtues line.

(v) In war as well as in peace, the Vietnamese treated each other in the spirit of affection, sharing, forgiveness and mutual assistance. Reconciliation was the solution to the differences. Nowadays, reconciliation was considered as a legal means in Viet Nam's laws.

(vi) President Ho Chi Minh inherited the national tradition of morality to become the symbol of Viet Nam's humanitarianism and tolerance in the XX century. He had further developed this noble spirit to become the conscience of the peace-loving humanity.

6.3.5 Some issues for future discussions :

(i) Is there a culture of war and violence? Could war and violence which cause untold sufferings and trample upon human dignity be considered as "culture"?

(ii) If that is not the case, then could the war of resistance resorting to violence for national defence be "culture" as well?

(iii) How can the ideals and aspiration for the Culture of Peace become a reality when the world is in a "hot peace"? And when the humankind is still witnessing the manoeuvres by the hegemonist imperialist forces to dominate the peoples?

6.3.6 Recommendations

Through interventions and discussions at the Workshop, the participants made the following unanimous recommendations :

(i) Continue to promote the understanding of the culture of peace among the national leaderships and all strata of the population under the watchword of "Peace and the Culture of Peace are the cause of the entire people and humankind".

(ii) Disseminate, propagate and teach about the Culture of Peace among the people, particularly the youth; continue to dig deep into this issue for a better understanding through mass media and publication of printed matters; organise training courses for propaganda workers and workshops or seminars on the Culture of Peace.

(iii) Strengthen international and regional co-operation aimed at facilitating mutual understanding and exchange of views and experiences in matters related to the Culture of Peace, and fostering willingness and a common voice on how to build and preserve peace at international and regional levels.

(iv) Mobilise nation-wide participation by different forces in the society, from the government offices, mass organisations and associations to all strata of the population in national activities within short and long-term programs on the Culture of Peace.

(v) As the co-ordinator of all UNESCO's activities in Viet Nam, the Viet Nam National Commission for UNESCO - in consultation with ministries, branches and offices at national and local levels and with mass organisations and associations - would concretise the recommendations mentioned-above through programmes of action in co-ordination with UNESCO for their implementation.

6.3.7 For specific and effective implementation of these recommendations, the participants at this Workshop expressed their wishes to have support, co-operation, active and regular co-ordination from UNESCO PARIS and PROAP.

7. Adoption of Hanoi Statement

The participants unanimously endorsed the draft of Hanoi Statement on the Culture of Peace.

(See Annex VI - Hanoi Statement on the Culture of Peace)

8. Closing of the Workshop

8.1 The Workshop was formally closed by H.E. Mr Nguyen Dy Nien, Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs, President of the Viet Nam National Commission for UNESCO. In his closing remarks, he expressed his thorough satisfaction with the excellent results of the workshop. Highlighting the significance of the workshop, he said that it marks the beginning of a long-term process of co-operation between Viet Nam and UNESCO in the field of culture of peace. He thanked the UNESCO representatives and all participants for their valuable and constructive contribution to the Workshop. He also expressed his high appreciation of the effective and efficient work done by the VietNatcom staff and the interpreters. His special thank went to the Hanoi People's Committee which had actively contributed to and supported for a number of Workshop-related activities.

8.2 A closing remark was given by Ms Rosamaria Durand, Representative of the Director-General of UNESCO. She lauded the workshop as a great success with rich and fruitful discussion and good organisation. She promised to report the workshop's results to the Director-General and senior officials of UNESCO upon return to Paris.

8.3 On behalf of the Vietnamese participants, Prof. Vu Khieu expressed his deep thanks to VietNatcom and UNESCO for organising this Workshop and his earnest wish that a culture of peace initiated and championed by UNESCO would soon become a reality prevailing all over and every part of our world.

A number of participants joined him in expressing their wish that a regional seminar on a culture of peace could be held next year in celebration of the International Year and the Decade for the Culture of Peace (2000-2010) and in welcoming the Third Millennium.

Hanoi, 15 May 1999

 

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