MAIN THRUSTS — INTERNATIONAL UNDERSTANDING AND A CULTURE OF PEACE
Recommendation concerning Education for International Understanding, Co-operation and Peace and Education relating to Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, UNESCO General Conference, Paris (updated in 1995)
FOR INTERNATIONAL UNDERSTANDING
The term ‘international understanding’, whilst not specifically defined in UNESCO’s Constitution, was, in the early years, taken to mean developing fraternal and positive attitudes conducive to mutual accord. However, the scope of education for international understanding soon evolved to include teaching about the United Nations and human rights, and to address the problem of peace and other major world issues (8). In 1968, the International Conference on Public Education subscribed to various propositions on this topic before adopting a more comprehensive Recommendation on Education for International Understanding as an integral part of the curriculum and life of the school. Referring to the main international normative instruments, it not only reviewed the contribution of various subject matters to the development of international understanding, but also pointed out what needed to be done in terms of school life, curricular and extra-curricular activities, and teacher training.
A vision of mankind transformed
‘Education in its present form encourages the child’s sense of
isolation and his pursuit of his own interests [...] Children are
taught not to help one another, not to prompt those who do not know
something, to think of nothing but their own advancement, to aim
solely at winning prizes in competition with their companions. And
these pathetic egotists, mentally wearied as experimental psychology
reveals them to be, then go out into the world, where they live side
by side like grains of sand in the desert - every one cut off from his
neighbour, and all sterile. If a gale arises, this human dust, with no
spiritual essence to give it life, will be swept away in a
[...] and this death-dealing whirlwind was just appearing on the horizon;
for this was in 1937.
[...] and this death-dealing whirlwind was just appearing on the horizon; for this was in 1937.
On 7 December 1949, during a reception in her honour at UNESCO House,
Jaime Torres Bodet, UNESCO’s Director-General, paid tribute to her
life’s work, when in the course of a speech he said:
Adapted fromThe UNESCO Courier, December 1949 and 1964.
In 1974, in the continuing cold war period, a compromise between Eastern and Western countries enabled UNESCO’s General Conference to adopt a Recommendation concerning Education for International Understanding, Co-operation and Peace and Education relating to Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. Enlarged to cover human rights and basic freedom, this instrument defines education for international understanding as a key component in all stages and forms of modern education, ‘necessarily interdisciplinary’, aimed at achieving the overall development of the personality in all its cognitive, ethical, affective and aesthetic aspects. It also provides a framework and guidelines for implementation. Consequently, a Plan for the Development of Teaching of Human Rights was elaborated in 1980 (9). In 1983 UNESCO organized an intergovernmental conference,(10) which had inter alia, to review measures taken in different countries to apply the 1974 Recommendation with a view to creating a climate of opinion favourable to strengthening security and disarmament. This conference attracted considerable governmental attention, because the issue of education for disarmament was perceived as controversial. Nevertheless, the conference recommended that a plan for the development of education for international understanding, co-operation and peace be prepared. A ten-year Action Plan was established accordingly and adopted by the General Conference of UNESCO in November 1983.
Lionel Elvin (United Kingdom)
Director of the Department of Education, UNESCO, from 1950 to 1956
If UNESCO were only an office in Paris, its task would be impossible. It is more than that: it is an association of some sixty-five countries which have pledged themselves to do all they can, not only internationally but within their own boundaries, to advance the common aim of educating for peace. The international side comes in because we shall obviously do this faster and better and with more mutual trust if we do it together.
The UNESCO Courier, May 1953
Address on the occasion of his visit to UNESCO, September 1962
James P. Grant (United States)
International Conference on Education, Geneva, 1994
(9) As follow-up to an international congress in Strasbourg, France (1978)
and the World Congress on Disarmament Education held in Vienna in 1980.
(10) Intergovernmental Conference on Education for International Understanding,
Co-operation and Peace and Education relating to Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms,
with a view to Developing a Climate of Opinion Favourable to the Strengthening of Security
and Disarmament, UNESCO, Paris, April 1983.