20.09.2016 - Geneva Office

Assessing the UN agenda for a culture of peace, building new blocks for a sustainable development

@UNESCO/Rachel Phillips

Since its inception in 1945, the United Nations has made tremendous efforts towards building and maintaining global peace, enshrined in its universal values and principles.

However, achieving a lasting peace today rests on a complex and fragile fabric of interrelated values, attitudes and behaviours required both in the effective implementation of international treatises and in the course of daily life with the practice of respect, tolerance, openness, mutual understanding and dialogue.

In acknowledging these changing perspectives on peace, a better assessment of related challenges is necessary in the current global landscape, where poverty remains enduring, just as inequalities are deepening, in a world that is facing the most significant refugee and displacement crisis of our time. Besides, the ever-more frequent conflicts are tinted with acts of ‘cultural cleansing’ fueled by radicalization and violent extremism, continue to expose millions of women and men to immense suffering.

Addressing these issues are key for charting new avenues for the peace agenda of the United Nations. This is the ambition of a major inter-agency research project being conducted by UNESCO jointly with the Abat Oliba CEU University in Barcelona since 2015 on “Progress and Challenges for the Peace Agenda of United Nations entities after 70 years of the creation of the United Nations: a reflection in the context of the International Decade for the Rapprochement of Cultures”, which aims at analyzing how the UN system has contributed to the promotion of a culture of peace over the past seventeen years.  

An International Steering Committee of eminent scholars and peace activists across the world is involved in this project that also brought together some 28 UN agencies in a ground-breaking consultative meeting in Geneva on 21st June 2016, for looking at the UN system’s contribution to the promotion of peace, focusing on past, present and future perspectives of the UN peace agenda. A similar consultative meeting will be held in November 2016 in New York, to engage more the reflexion on such an essential topic.

The project offers a real opportunity to reframing the UN’s response in the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as the building blocks for a lasting peace, while giving fresh impetus to the ongoing International Decade for the Rapprochement of Cultures (2013-2022).

It further outlines the partnerships needed to promote a culture of peace, as called upon through ought the 17 SDGs. It will culminate in a publication reporting on the key findings and recommendations for making UN’s work for peace more effective and efficient. The outcome publication is to be presented in 2017, on the occasion of the International Day of Peace (21 September 2017).

More information:

First Meeting of the Steering Committee (Barcelona, Spain, 26 March 2016)

First Interagency Meeting (Geneva, 21st June 2016)

Universal Study on the United Nations’ Peace Agenda

2nd Consultative Meeting on “The United Nations system’s contribution to the promotion of peace: past, present and future perspectives




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