Culture of Peace and Non-Violence

The culture of peace and non-violence is a commitment to peace-building, mediation, conflict prevention and resolution, peace education, education for non-violence, tolerance, acceptance, mutual respect, intercultural and interfaith dialogue and reconciliation.

Building peace in the minds of men and women

This commitment is at the very foundation of the United Nations, established after the “great and terrible” Second World War to create and maintain peace through economic, social or political agreements. But this is no longer enough today. The foundations of peace still need to be laid, with the help of the specialized agencies which make up the United Nations system such as UNESCO.

For over 60 years, UNESCO took over that mission in conformity with its Constitution which asserts that, “since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed”. In this regard, the same Constitution highlights that “a peace based exclusively upon the political and economic arrangements of governments would not be a peace which could secure the unanimous, lasting and sincere support of the peoples of the world, and that the peace must therefore be founded, if it is not to fail, upon the intellectual and moral solidarity of mankind”. This mandate has gifted the Organization with a longstanding experience in promoting mutual understanding while fighting discrimination, intolerance and violence.  

What is at stake: a culture of peace and sustainable development

 

Eirene (Peace) and her child Ploutos (Prosperity) by Kephisodotos (Roman copy), original ca. 375-370 BCE, (arms restored). Eirene (Peace) is said to be the daughter of Zeus and Themis (“divine law”), the sister of Eunomia (Rule of law) and Diké (Justice).

In the new, turbulent international globalised landscape, a central idea emerges: sustainable development calls to rethink our relationship to the economy, to society and the environment. The emerging and future challenges of humankind do require collective responses, implying the kind of solidarity that can result only from a culture of peace, non-violence and dialogue which condenses “that which binds” cultures and societies to each other and from within. In turn, a culture of peace fosters sustainable development since it is aimed at helping people cope resiliently and creatively with ethical, cultural, political, environmental and other social transformations.

 

The Programme on Culture of Peace and Non-Violence

In its essence, the culture of peace and non-violence is a commitment to peace-building, mediation, conflict prevention and resolution, peace education, education for non-violence, tolerance, acceptance, mutual respect, intercultural and interfaith dialogue and reconciliation. It is a conceptual as well as a normative framework envisaged to inspire thoughts and actions of everyone. Therefore, it requires cognitive as well as the emotional abilities to grapple with our own situation in a rapidly changing world as well as with the emerging world society. This aim entails not just more factual knowledge, but also the broadening of our consciousness and the willingness to develop a new awareness, a new way of being in this world, a new “mental mapping”.

As stated by the UNESCO Director-General, “Peace is more than the absence of war, it is living together with our differences – of sex, race, language, religion or culture – while furthering universal respect for justice and human rights on which such coexistence depends”. Therefore, peace is a choice to be made on each situation, an everyday life decision.

With a view to foster conditions where such every day peace is a tangible reality for all, UNESCO has established a new Programme to enhance a culture of peace and non-violence at global, regional, national and local levels, which will aim at the following results:                                

  • Fundamental principles of peace universally shared to be appropriated by different cultures, thanks to a genuine dialogue and mainstreamed into public policies;
  • Tension between universality and particularism, cultural identities and citizenship in a globalized world analyzed and better understood;
  • Everyday Peace to be conceived as an everyday living experience, not only in periods of conflict, but also in ordinary times.

This Programme of Action implies two essential approaches:

  • To rethink the dividends of cultural diversity, as benefits of a continuous exchange between cultures
  • To promote the principle of learning to live together, the challenging Art of Unity-in-Diversity conducive to a lasting conviviality

pursuing these three Main Goals:

  • To develop a new political, conceptual and programmatic approach in favour of a strong commitment by States and civil society to nurture “everyday peace” involving women and youth, (i.e.: through ICTs and social media);
  • To improve the world’s global understanding and deconstruct preconceived ideas by placing emphasis on the future as a humanistic aspiration (i.e.: by establishing guidelines for a global curriculum on shared values);
  • To promote a global movement in favour of the ideals and practice of a culture of peace and non-violence with emphasis on youth civic engagement and democratic participation (i.e.: by creating “hubs of peace”);

 

Among other information, you will find on this site the complete Programme of Action of the Intersectoral Platform for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence with its objectives, strategy and modalities, expected results and main partners, including some fundamental resources, a selected bibliography and a presentation of its Main areas of Action and Flagship activities.

  • Brochure “A new cultural policy agenda for development and mutual understanding. Key arguments for a strong commitment to cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue” (2011) Français/English
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