|Contributing to Conflict Prevention and Post-Conflict Peace-Building|
187. In addition to the long-term action UNESCO is undertaking for peace, it is increasingly being asked to assist, together with the other United Nations system organizations, funds and programmes, in seeking solutions in the three fields of action referred to by the Secretary-General of the United Nations in An Agenda for Peace: conflict prevention, emergency assistance and post-conflict peace-building.
188. These are new fields of action for UNESCO, which is in consequence required to explore, with due caution, new roles in order to carry out its specific constitutional mission - constructing peace in the minds of men - by helping to lay the intellectual and moral foundations of reconciliation between parties to conflicts. It goes without saying that in such cases the Organization acts only strictly within its fields of competence and at the request of the Member States concerned or on initiatives taken under the auspices of the United Nations.
189. With regard to conflict prevention, UNESCO will strengthen its clearing-house function for the exchange of information on current research and experience concerning the means of ensuring the early detection and peaceful settlement of conflicts. To that end it will co-operate with research centres, institutes and organizations and programmes working on the theme of peace. The emphasis will be on the study of the new conditions for security and on the promotion of innovative methods of conflict management, drawing for instance on the rich store of experience of conflict management to be found in traditional cultures. UNESCO will also assist Member States that so wish to organize the transfer and sharing of experience in the matter, particularly through national or regional culture of peace forums or by establishing 'Culture of Peace Centres', where members of different communities in countries where there is ethnic tension will be able to talk together.
190. With regard to emergency assistance, UNESCO has become a strong advocate in the international community of the idea that humanitarian assistance cannot be reduced merely to the supply of food, medicine and blankets; that there must be a close link between the concepts of 'relief', 'rehabilitation' and 'long-term development'; and that emergency operations must include from the beginning a local training component. This idea has gained ground: there is growing recognition of the principle that the victims of conflicts have an equally inalienable right to education as all other human beings. UNESCO's strategy therefore consists in endeavouring to set up temporary educational structures in emergency situations, particularly for displaced persons and refugees. There, too, the Organization's role can only be as a catalyst: it is not so much to build schools or print school textbooks as to assess priority education needs, formulate strategies to meet them in conjunction with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), UNICEF and the World Food Programme (WFP) and contribute to the formulation of consolidated appeals for international humanitarian assistance co-ordinated by the United Nations Department of Humanitarian Affairs (UNDHA).
191. While education is one of the high priorities in emergency situations, assistance to the independent media can prove to be fundamental to the reconciliation process. We are only too well aware of the role played by warmongering propaganda and incitement to hatred in triggering and aggravating conflicts. UNESCO will therefore continue, as it has done in Bosnia and elsewhere, to support, together with the United Nations and professional organizations, local media whose independence of the parties to the conflict is internationally acknowledged, which provide non-partisan information and which defend the values of peaceful coexistence and mutual understanding.
192. It is most of all during the reconstruction period following the conclusion of peace agreements, however, that vast fields of action open up to UNESCO: peace-building, especially the building of civil peace, can rest only on genuine national consensus, that is on the widespread desire to plan and construct peace together. That implies a considerable effort to sensitize and educate the main actors in civil society, and here education, science, culture and communication all have their part to play. It does not just mean rebuilding the institutions destroyed during a conflict - even if that is a priority objective; it means doing so in such a way that the foundations of a democratic, pluralist and participatory society are laid at the same time.
193. Here again, education - in its broadest sense - has a key role to play, not only in building the bases of democratic citizenship; not only in alleviating the psychological after-effects of conflict for young people; but also in ensuring that all sections of the population who have been excluded because of their age or sex, their ethnic origin or religious beliefs, their political or economic situation or their geographical position are given a real opportunity to be brought back into social and working life. It is in that context that the concept of 'learning without frontiers' will find its most innovative field of application, the idea being to set up systems of intensive and varied training adapted to the needs of each learner that would enable everyone - and most particularly those who, because of the conflict itself, have 'missed' the education train - to enjoy a second chance of developing their full intellectual and human potential.
194. Communication is also an essential tool for reconstructing civil societies torn apart by conflict: freedom of the press, pluralism and independence of the media, development of community newspapers and radio stations are crucial to the re-establishment of social bonds and to the reconciliation process.
195. The national programmes UNESCO has launched in recent years in countries emerging from conflict (in El Salvador and Mozambique), the programmes currently being prepared (in Burundi, Guatemala, Haiti and Rwanda) and those it may initiate during the period covered by the Medium-Term Strategy are intended to support national reconstruction efforts in the Organization's fields of competence. Their originality, though, lies in the fact that they seek to create the necessary climate for the establishment of genuine interaction between all the parties concerned. They involve protagonists from all sides, governmental as well as non-governmental, in the implementation of development projects relating to the Organization's various fields of competence, and in many cases to several at once. The projects all contain an element of training in methods of conflict management and an educational component designed to disseminate the values of human rights and democracy. As such, these national culture of peace programmes are intended to illustrate and put into practice in the field, where the action is, the relation of interdependence between peace, development, human rights and democracy.
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