United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization  

Partnership in Action
UNESCO's Educational Activities in The Europe Region 
1998 - 2000



  • Education for democratic citizenship and human rights

UNESCO’s long-term objective is to develop a comprehensive system of education and training for peace, human rights and democracy, international understanding and tolerance, embracing all levels of education, both formal and non-formal. To this end, efforts have been focused on encouraging Member States to elaborate national strategies, plans and programmes; promoting innovations in school curricula and educational contents and methods; elaborating and disseminating educational materials; and supporting national institutions in developing human rights training programmes. Special emphasis was placed in 1998 on the celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

In the field of human rights education, UNESCO organized a series of regional conferences on human rights education (Europe: Turku, Finland, 1997; Africa: Dakar, Senegal, 1998; Asia and the Pacific: Pune, India, 1999; the Arab States: Rabat, Morocco, 1999). The elaboration of national plans and programmes in the field of human rights education was initiated in sixteen countries during the last two years. Efforts were also focused on promoting an integrated approach to education for peace, human rights, democracy, international understanding and tolerance, in particular at the 9th Annual Meeting of Directors of Human Rights Institutes (UNESCO Headquarters, March 1998). In the same vein, the International Meeting of Chairholders of UNESCO Chairs in Human Rights, Democracy, Peace and Tolerance (Stadtschlaining, Austria, March 1998) adopted, inter alia, a Statement on the Role of UNESCO Chairs in the Promotion of a Culture of Peace and the Memorandum of Cooperation between UNESCO Chairs in Human Rights, Democracy and Tolerance.

In order to achieve significant results and to ensure continuity and sustainability, the UNESCO Secretariat works closely with National Commissions for UNESCO and a wide range of partnerships are being established with local and regional organisations having specific competencies in these fields, United Nations agencies and intergovernmental organizations, in particular the Council of Europe, relevant non-governmental organizations, Civitas International, etc.

The European Workshop ‘Exploring Civic Education’ (Copenhagen, October 1997) was organized by UNESCO and the Danish National Commission for UNESCO in co-operation with Blaagaard State College of Education. Some twenty-five participants from European countries took part, with special attention paid to countries of Central and Eastern Europe.

A feasibility study for the establishment of an International Academy for Education and Democracy in Copenhagen was ready in March 1999. The intention to create such an Academy had been announced by the Government of Denmark during the ‘Fifth International Conference on Adult Education’ (CONFINTEA) held in Hamburg, July 1997. The feasibility study describes the aims and planned structures and functions of the Academy, analyses the international network of institutions and partners to which the Academy should belong, and presents proposals concerning the fields, forms and modalities of co-operation between UNESCO and the Academy.

A seminar on Education for Peace and Tolerance was organized jointly by UNESCO and the Faculty of Philosophy of the University of Montenegro in Kotor, Montenegro, Yugoslavia, September 1998.

The International Conference on Democratic Governance and a Culture of Peace for the Countries of Eastern, Central and South Eastern Europe was organized by the Government of Ukraine in collaboration with UNESCO, March 1999, Kiev.

A very fruitful co-operation has been established with the Council of Europe underlining the complementary approaches of the two Organisations. The following conferences have been instrumental in strengthening this positive climate: the UNESCO conference in Druskininkai, Lithuania, on Exploring Civic Education: from curriculum building to teacher training (March 1998), in Dubrovnik, Croatia, on Common goals – varieties of approaches: promotion of peace, human rights and democratic citizenship through education (November 1998), as well as the Council of Europe seminar on Education for democratic citizenship – Basic concepts and key competencies (December 1997) and the jointly supported CIVITAS conference on International partnership for civic awareness (December 1998). As a result of the Conference in Druskininkai, the Ministry of Education and Science of Lithuania launched a large scale civics education training programme for 1300 teachers supported by UNESCO. In particular, UNESCO’s contribution helped the organization of training seminars as well as the translation and production of teaching materials.

To strengthen co-operation in the field of civic education, for the first time, a joint UNESCO/Council of Europe/EU conference on Education for Democratic Citizenship was organized in Warsaw, December 1999. The conference formulated practical recommendations for joint action of three organizations.

In May 1999, an international conference Through Civic Education Towards a Multicultural Society was organized in Tallin, Estonia, in close co-operation with the Jaan Tonisson Institute, the Estonian Ministry of Education, OSCE and CIVITAS International.

UNESCO has been developing close partnership with CIVITAS International. Several joint meetings were organized recently in the Europe region. The World Congress Making Education for Democracy an International Priority, held in Palermo, Italy, in June 1999 was among the major conferences organized by CIVITAS and supported by UNESCO.

In September 1999, UNESCO completed a large project in Croatia on Peace and Human Rights Education in Primary Schools which had been implemented by the Croatian National Commission for UNESCO and a qualified group of national specialists. The project created a good basis for further work in human rights and civics education in Croatia.

Co-operation in the field of intercultural education was established between UNESCO and the University of Jyväskyla, Finland. In September 1999, UNESCO supported the organisation in Jyväskylä of an International Congress on Intercultural Education. In May 2000, the University opened a UNESCO Chair on Intercultural Education. New chairs have also been established in Estonia - UNESCO Chair in civics education at the Jaan Tonisson Institute, UNESCO Chair on Peace, Tolerance through Languages and Civic Education at the Minsk State Linguistic University, Belarus, and a UNESCO Chair on Education for pluralism, human rights and democracy at the University of Ulster, Northern Ireland, UK.

In October 1998, UNESCO commissioned a team from the University of Heidelberg, Germany, to analyze the curricula of Bosnia-Herzegovina. The findings of the study served as a basis for improvement and revision of the current curriculum, in particular as regards the teaching of history, geography and sociology. A symposium on the curricula of the ‘national’ subjects in Bosnia and Herzegovina took place in Sarajevo in February 2000.

UNESCO and the Government of Albania signed (December 1999) a letter of agreement for the launching of a project entitled ‘Intercultural Education and Education for Human Rights’ (financed by the Government of Italy). Its objectives include the creation of a climate of intercultural understanding and respect for human rights in all educational establishments, by introducing the dimension of peace, human rights and democracy in educational curricula, both at the formal and non-formal level.

A pilot project on human rights education is being developed in Kosovo in collaboration with UNMIK. The project will focus the elaboration of teaching materials for primary and secondary schools.

UNESCO Moscow Office co-operated closely with the Russian National Commission for UNESCO in the elaboration and implementation of the Culture of Peace pilot project in Russia (1997-2000). Since January 2000, UNESCO has been co-operating closely with the Ministry of Education of the Federation of Russia in contributing to the elaboration and consequent implementation of a new Programme on Tolerance and Prevention of Extremism in Russian Society (POTPEX). The long-term objective of this programme is to contribute to the formation and assimilation of norms, values and practices based on the principles of tolerance and non-violence in a democratic pluralistic, multi-ethnic and multi-religious society.

UNESCO has produced a civic education kit. The materials included in the kit have been widely disseminated and adapted to local contexts (Albania, Croatia, etc.). The Lithuanian civic education kit was prepared on the basis of UNESCO’s materials.

In collaboration with the Georg Eckert Institute (Germany), UNESCO has produced an International Directory of Specialists in Textbook and Curriculum Revision. This Directory is available in French and English in book form and in CD-ROM format.

UNESCO’s activities on ‘non-violence education’ in Europe have concentrated on the follow-up to the UNESCO Interregional Project for a Culture of Peace and Non-violence in Educational Institutions, launched at the Sintra Conference (Portugal) in 1996. In April 2000, UNESCO organized, in co-operation with the UNESCO’s French National Commission, a national meeting entitled "Young People, Violence: What are the Answers?"

In Visby, Sweden, UNESCO organized in September 1999 an International Conference entitled ‘Disarming History’. Some sixty participants, representing south-eastern Europe – historians, writers and publishers of history textbooks, as well as government officials concerned with school curricula - gathered to consider ways of combating stereotypes and prejudice in history textbooks of the sub-region.

  • Associated Schools Project Network (ASPnet)

The Associated Schools Project Network (ASPnet) is one of UNESCO’s main instruments to promote education for peace, human rights, democracy, tolerance and intercultural understanding. As of March 2000, there are some 2,100 educational institutions in 45 countries in Europe participating in the network

As a follow-up to the Stability Pact and a resolution of UNESCO’s 30th Session of the General Conference on the Caucasus, ASPnet pays special attention to the south-east Europe and Caucasus sub-regions. A selected number of Associated Schools in south-east Europe will be linked up through the ‘Peaceful Alternatives to Conflict through Education’ (PACE). This project will encourage the integration of artistic and creative means of identifying and resolving conflicts as well as promoting intercultural understanding and tolerance in schools. The pilot phase will target the following seven countries: Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Romania and Slovenia.

PACE is a follow-up to the Art of Synergy Festival organized in Bulgaria in 1999. It brought together some 100 teachers and students from Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, FYROM, Moldova, Romania and Turkey for a week of dialogue and mutual understanding through various creative and artistic activities.

The UNESCO/ASP Baltic Sea Project (BSP), co-ordinated by Denmark (until July 2000) is designed to mobilize schools in favour of both environmental education and intercultural learning. This project, which involves some 200 schools in all 9 countries surrounding the Baltic Sea, has led to similar sub-regional projects such as the Blue Danube River Project (co-ordinated by Bulgaria), the Western Mediterranean Sea Project (co-ordinated by Spain), the Caribbean Sea Project (co-ordinated by UNESCO-Port-of-Spain) and the Zambezi River Project (co-ordinated by Malawi).

Within the framework of these ASP ‘flagship projects’, regular newsletters and teachers’ handbooks are published and regional teacher training sessions and summer camps for students and teachers are organized.

Some one thousand UNESCO Peace Packs were produced following the fiftieth anniversary of the United Nations and UNESCO in 1995 and series of seven sub-regional Children’s Culture of Peace Festivals, of which some 125 tried out with success by UNESCO Associated Schools in 26 European countries.

In order to foster a dialogue between ASP students around the world, the global telecommunications project ‘This is our Time’, was launched by the ASP Sintermeertencollege, Netherlands, on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the United Nations and UNESCO in 1995, which continues with a one-day 24-hour event every year giving the opportunity to both members and non-members of the ASPnet to learn not only about the United Nations and UNESCO’s role in the United Nations system but more about each other as well. In 1998, to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the third Time Project was held on Human Rights Day (10 December). The most recent Time-day was held on the 19/20 November 1999.

ASP has been involved in the international campaign: Youth Mobilizing Youth for a 21st Century Free of Drugs. Following a World Parliament for Children meeting at the French National Assembly (21-27 October 1999) composed of 350 young people mainly from ASP Schools, a manifesto for the 21st Century Free of Drugs was adopted. This manifesto bears witness to the attachment of youth to the defence of peace, solidarity, education and culture, economic and human development, and environmental protection and to the principles set forth by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 10 December 1948. It was presented to UNESCO’s General Conference on 26 October 1999.

 ‘Young People and World Heritage’ Project, Bratislava, Slovakia, May 1998: Several projects were organized, among them a World Heritage Education Training Seminar (Yerevan and Tsakhkadzor, Republic of Armenia, September 1998) a Meeting of World Heritage Education Co-ordinators from Europe (Island of Hvar, Croatia, July to August 1998) youth camp and teacher-training workshop on World Heritage (Norway, August 1999) and a Teacher and Student Camp (Tanum, Sweden, August 1999).

  • Multilingual Education and Languages Teaching

The LINGUAPAX project, which acts in favour of peace through languages, was reinforced through its university network which today comprises more than 100 member universities. The network has published two information bulletins on its activities. In cooperation with European UNESCO Centres, Chairs and institutions, LINGUAPAX participated in several meetings (Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Spain and the Russian Federation). LINGUAPAX collaborated closely with the LINGUAUNI (languages universities) network in favour of the promotion of foreign language teaching and social sciences. This network is also assisting LINGUAPAX in the preparation of the UNESCO Report on the world’s languages.

The purpose of the new PERICLES project (an experimental programme to revitalize young people’s interest in neighbouring cultures and languages based on the natural environment and cultural heritage sites) is to explain, within the context of school education, the conceptual and operational links which give internal consistency to projects for the preservation both of the intangible heritage, of which languages are a part, and of the tangible heritage. PERICLES is one of UNESCO’s contributions to the European Year of Languages (2001), initiated by the Council of Europe.

UNESCO plans to publish in 2001 the Report on the World’s Languages. This Report should provide scientific and practical information for the description of the different languages used throughout the world today, with the emphasis on the relations between them.

UNESCO is co-operating closely with the Council of Europe for the preparation of the European Year of Languages. The Director-General launched on 21 February 2000 at UNESCO Headquarters an ‘International Mother Language Day’, the aim of which is to promote linguistic diversity and multilingual education.

Mrs Vigdis Finnbogadottir, former President of the Republic of Iceland, was appointed UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Languages in October 1998. Mrs Finnbogadottir is paying particular attention to the objectives of the LINGUAPAX project and is helping UNESCO to provide a response to the problems raised by the search for peace, the defence of human rights and the promotion of education for democracy.

An Advisory Committee for Linguistic Pluralism and Multilingual Education was established by the 155th session of the Executive Board of UNESCO. The first session of the Committee was held at UNESCO Headquarters in September 1999.