03.04.2017 - Geneva Office

Researching the United Nations’ peace agenda: exploring contributions across the system

@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 lasting peace today depends on the complex interweaving of values, attitudes and behaviours required both in the effective implementation of international treaties and in the course of daily life with the practice of respect, tolerance, openness, mutual understanding and dialogue.

Understanding and responding to the evolving perspectives of peace calls for the assessment of the interrelated challenges of the current global landscape, which include enduring poverty, deepening inequalities, and the most significant refugee and displacement crisis of our time. Furthermore, many contemporary conflicts are marked by acts of ‘cultural cleansing’ fuelled by radicalization and violent extremism, which continue to expose millions of women and men to immense suffering.

Addressing these issues is key for charting new avenues for the peace agenda of the United Nations. This is the ambition of a major research project being conducted by UNESCO jointly with the Abat Oliba CEU University in Barcelona (Spain) 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 peace over the past seventeen years.  

The project has so far brought together over 35 UN agencies in two consultative meetings in Geneva, in June 2016 and in New York in December 2016, in order to look at the contribution of the UN system to the promotion of peace, focusing on past, present and future perspectives on the UN peace agenda. The project also brings together an International Steering Committee of eminent scholars and peace activists from around the world.

The project offers a valuable opportunity to look at the UN’s response to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as the building blocks for 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 peace, development and human rights - the core themes of the SDGs. The project will culminate in a publication exploring how the entire UN system is contributing to building peace worldwide.

For further information:

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

First Interagency Meeting (Geneva, 21st June 2016)

2nd Consultative Meeting on “The United Nations system’s contribution to the promotion of peace: past, present and future perspectives" (New York, 2 December 2016)


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