© UN Photo / M. Perret

Vote Counting starts after Timor-Leste Presidential Election © UN Photo / M. Perret

From the outset, UNESCO has played a key role in the promotion of democratic values and principles. Its Constitution upholds the democratic ideals of justice, liberty, equality and solidarity, and considers these principles as fundamental factors in the building of peace. Indeed, the Preamble makes a direct link between "the denial of the democratic principles of the dignity, equality and mutual respect of men" and the "great and terrible war". The realization of the democratic ideals is therefore at the core of UNESCO's actions.

After concentrating its work on the theoretical analysis of the principles of democracy, UNESCO developed a strategy in 2002-2003 for an international programme on democracy [PDF, 36 KB]. This strategy is coordinated by the International Centre for Human Sciences (ICHS) at Byblos (also referred to as the Byblos Centre) in close cooperation with the International Panel on Democracy and Development (IPDD).

The overall theme of the democracy programme is "democracy, culture and peace". It contains three main areas of action: fostering comparative analytical research on democracy and its relationship to culture; organizing international dialogues and prospective analysis on the future of democracy; and supporting democracy in post-conflict societies.

The International Centre for Human Sciences (ICHS)

Established in 1998 under a convention between UNESCO and the Lebanese Government, the International Centre for Human Sciences is an international social science research institution. Located in Byblos, Lebanon, it enjoys, by its statutes, full academic freedom and diplomatic immunity.

The purpose of the Centre is twofold: to contribute to the development of social and human sciences and to promote a culture of peace. In addition to promoting interregional and international cooperation and building research capacities in different regions, the Byblos Centre works to foster comparative analytical research, disseminate its results and encourage the creation and strengthening of networks of social science institutes.

Contact: Old City of Jbeil - Saint John Street P.O. Box 225, Byblos (Jbeil), Lebanon, Tel.: +961 9 545401, Fax: +961 9 545402, E-mail: info(at)

The International Panel on Democracy and Development (IPDD)

The International Panel on Democracy and Development was created by UNESCO in 1998 with the objective of analysing the relationship between democracy and development and providing recommendations to guide UNESCO's future programmes on democracy.

The IPDD is chaired by Mr. Boutros Boutros-Ghali and composed of sixteen leading international figures. In 2002, the IPDD published a report entitled The Interaction between Democracy and Development. The recommendations made by the panel in this report are guiding the implementation of UNESCO's international programme on democracy.

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