UNESCO at the 2019 Geneva Peace Week

The 2019 Geneva Peace Week took place at the Palais des Nations (the United Nations Office in Geneva) and the Graduate Institute in Geneva from 4 to 8 November 2019. UNESCO, whose mission is to build peace in the minds of men and women, participated in the weeklong event, bringing the photo exhibition Les Mains de la Paix (The Hands of Peace) and the workshop Intercultural Competencies + Youth = Peace to Geneva, otherwise known as the Capital of Peace.

The exhibition Les Mains de la Paix by Séverine Desmarest (on display until 14 November at the Passerelle, Palais des Nations) presents a series of portraits of famous or anonymous personalities, who work assiduously in favour of peace. The diversity of the range of their action illustrates the vastness of the territories yet to chart in order to establish UNESCO’s mission: “Since wars begin in the minds of men and women, it is in the minds of men and women that the defenses of peace must be constructed.” Fighting poverty, conflict prevention, sustainable development, equal opportunities, advocating for women’s rights, education and childhood protection, represent some of the struggles towards a new humanism.

“Cultural diversity to peace is what biodiversity is to our planet.”
Vincent Defourny, Director of the UNESCO Geneva Liaison Office

The promotion of intercultural competencies is another essential component in peacebuilding—for conflict prevention and reconciliation—to increase the resilience of individuals and communities and to promote a culture of peace. One of UNESCO's approaches to peacebuilding among the youth is the dissemination of knowledge about cultural diversity and the evolving notion of cultures and their interdependence.

“Mutual respect and open-mindedness are the key to intercultural communication. First of all, listen and comprehend rather than reject and disagree.”
Amina Hamshari, Program Specialist at UNESCO

Geneva Peace Week offers an opportunity to connect and highlight the work of different stakeholders and to expand the space for building peace and resolving conflict through dialogue and negotiation; it also emphasizes that every person, actor and institution has a role to play in building peace and resolving conflict.