C. Actions by UNESCO at regional and national levels

30. Reflecting the origins of the UNESCO Culture of Peace Programme, which was associated with United Nations efforts to resolve the proliferation of armed conflicts which followed the end of the Cold War, UNESCO assists its Member States to carry out national culture of peace programmes and initiatives which contribute to peace-building. In programmes such as those in El Salvador, Burundi, Mozambique and Somalia, UNESCO engages those previously in conflict to work together in the planning, execution and evaluation of human development projects, transforming conflict to cooperation. Increasingly, the actions at a national level are aimed at the prevention of violent conflict as well as post-conflict peace-building, and to that end, educational activities, both formal and non-formal, are emphasized.

31. In El Salvador, the community radio broadcast 'Buenos Tiempos Mujeres', providing information on women's rights and promoting consciousness-raising for poor women, was carried by 45 stations and integrated with a grass-roots educational campaign involving voluntary community peace promoters. The El Salvador initiative has been from the beginning a joint venture of UNESCO with both government ministries and organizations from a diverse spectrum of the civil society. The increasing acceptance of a culture of peace in El Salvador is reflected in other initiatives, including annual festivals for culture of peace and a 'salon cultura de paz' in the Parliament of El Salvador. Many of these initiatives are linked to the rights of women, such as competitions of literature by young women writers, the establishment of a Salvadorian Institute for Women's Development and the presentation in the Parliament of a draft law against family violence.

32. In Latin America, a series of workshops with women leaders of non-governmental organizations was organized in 1996-1997 under the Special Project Women in the Service of Civil Peace. At an Ibero-American meeting of Human Rights Ombudsmen held in 1996 in Antigua, Guatemala, participants signed a declaration committing themselves to promote justice and respect for human rights and established a network of Human Rights Ombudsmen for a culture of peace. The conflicts and experiences of mediation in Latin America were considered at a meeting in Barcelona, Spain, in May 1998, jointly organized by UNESCO, the University of Barcelona and the Ibero-American University of Mexico. In Guatemala, the peace agreements signed in 1996 include a special responsibility for UNESCO to provide support and continuity to the educational systems developed by indigenous peoples during the years that they were uprooted and displaced.

33. In 1996-97, UNESCO contributed to launching a programme on culture of peace in collaboration with the National Commission of Haiti. This programme has the objective to consolidate the democratic process through training and awareness-raising activities of the rural communities, local NGOs and UNESCO Clubs. Training has focused on techniques of conflict prevention and non-violent resolution of conflict. In addition, in 1998, a series of community radio programmes have been produced which address issues related to a culture of peace.

34. The DEMOS project, based upon experiences in five 'laboratories' in Latin America and the Caribbean, culminated in the Regional Summit for Political Development and Democratic Principles in Brazil (July 1997). Based on this, UNESCO submitted a document to the sixth Ibero-American Summit of Heads of State and Governments in Santiago, Chile (November 1997). The DEMOS project arose from the idea that prevention of violent conflict is the best way of establishing the security and stability that are essential to democracy. The project will encourage and support through the appropriate regional structures initiatives relating to governance and democracy in other regions, including Southern Africa and Eastern Europe.

35. The Culture of Peace Forum in Mali in March 1997 exemplifies cooperation between a country engaged in post-conflict peace building, neighbouring countries, and the coordinated actions of the United Nations, involving the UN Department of Political Affairs, UNESCO and UNDP. The Forum drew upon the peace momentum of the 'Flame of Peace' ceremony at which the Government of Mali destroyed some 3,000 weapons voluntarily surrendered by the Tuareg rebels. It brought together some two hundred high-level military and civilian officials from Mali and other neighbouring countries and was addressed by the Presidents of Mali and Côte d'Ivoire, as well as the Director-General of UNESCO. It adopted the Bamako Declaration in which participants deplored the proliferation of armed conflicts in Africa and expressed their conviction that it is only through a durable peace that Africa can address its challenges. Following recommendations of the Forum, a National Programme on Education for a Culture of Peace and Human Rights has been launched in 1998 with the support of UNESCO and UNDP.

36. Elsewhere in Africa, UNESCO has provided technical and financial assistance to the UNESCO National Commission of Côte d'Ivoire to organize a sub-regional meeting on 'conflict and culture of peace in Africa', and to create a sub-regional Chair at the University of Cocody for the culture of peace. In Mozambique, the culture of peace programme produces educational and training materials and works with a variety of partners in the civil society to train peace promoters, ranging from journalists and human rights organizations, to returning refugees and organizations of demobilized soldiers. At the invitation of the President of Mozambique, UNESCO helped organize an international conference on the culture of peace and governance in September 1997, which adopted the 'Maputo Declaration'.

37. In Burundi, the UNESCO House of the Culture of Peace is carrying out activities, which engage all parts of the society in peace education, training and promotion of democracy and human rights, as well as supporting the activities of local associations. The House works closely with a wide range of UN agencies, multilateral and bilateral donors. In neighbouring Rwanda, peace and human rights education is linked to assistance for the reintegration of returning children into the national school system.

38. UNESCO promotes peace process and national dialogue in Sudan in collaboration with UNDP. Two culture of peace symposia were organized in 1995 and 1996. As a follow-up, the Organization has provided technical guidance and backstopping for basic education. A third symposium in the frame of UNESCO's culture of peace programme is envisaged. Seen as non-partisan, UNESCO's culture of peace initiative is an integral part of international efforts to support the Sudanese peace process.

39. Also in Africa, following a request of the government and the United Nations Verification Mission in Angola (UNAVEM III), UNESCO has been assisting in the development of an education campaign for culture of peace and has supported the project 'the Angola Peace Song,' written and performed by musicians from both sides of the conflict in that country. Seminars of youth associations for culture of peace have been held in Burkina Faso by Afrique Jeunesse with the support of UNESCO as well as on a regional level in Togo for the Pan-African Conference of Associations and Clubs of UNESCO. UNESCO's Programme for Emergency Educational Reconstruction (PEER) continues to provide education to Somali refugees and displaced populations in Somalia. Following the recommendations made by a series of UNESCO-sponsored symposia which have brought together Somali intellectuals from all sides of the conflict in that country (Sana'a Yemen, April 1995; Addis Ababa, June 1996), a project of civic education using media has been initiated in 1997 with the support of UNDP.

40. UNESCO has been designated the lead agency for a component of the UN System-wide Special Initiative on Africa, entitled 'Communications for Peace-building'. Two international consultations were held (Paris, November 1996 and Addis Ababa, June 1997) to adopt a strategy and launch activities in six selected pilot countries, Angola, Burundi, Congo, Mali, Liberia and Ethiopia. Emphasis is being placed on the development of local capacity in media and communication, provision of technical advisory services for the production of locally-produced radio broadcasts. In order to strengthen independent media in Rwanda and Burundi, press houses have been established to provide technical and moral support to media professionals in the subregion.

41. A special project on Women and a Culture of Peace in Africa includes inter-agency women's peace missions to conflict areas in order to strengthen women's roles as peace-promoters and amplify local women's voices for peace. Case studies and information and training materials on women's best practices in peace-building are being developed in a number of countries, including Burundi, Cameroon, Congo, Central Africa Republic, Namibia and Tanzania. UNESCO supported a meeting in Burundi in April 1998 on Women and a Culture of Peace that brought together women from different regions and perspectives who agreed to join their efforts for reconciliation and peace-building.

42. In the context of the national culture of peace programme of the Philippines, to which UNESCO has given assistance and as a follow-up to the historic peace agreement signed in September 1996 between the Government and the Moro National Liberation Front in Muslim Mindanao, the President of the Philippines has created a working group to develop a Centre for the Culture of Peace. Also, at the request of the President of Sri Lanka, UNESCO is supporting a programme including peace education and conflict resolution to promote a culture of peace at the community level in the northern part of the country.

43. The German Commission for UNESCO dedicated its 57th General Assembly (June 1997) to UNESCO's culture of peace programme. The resolution adopted by the Assembly expresses support to UNESCO in its efforts to strengthen its endeavour for a culture of peace through further development of its conceptual basis and through action-oriented programmes in states which are in transition or emerging from violent conflict. Support was expressed to efforts of 'Initiative of Civil Peace-Service', especially training programmes. Actions were advocated to counter tendencies of marginalization or exclusion of immigrants by facilitating their economic, social and political integration and thus contributing to a culture of peace in Germany.

44. A cooperation agreement concerning education, culture and science was signed on 26 February 1998 between the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry for Development and International Cooperation in the Palestinian Authority. The agreement, drawn up under UNESCO's auspices, launched a process, known as Granada II, which is intended to contribute to building peace between Israelis and Palestinians. This follows the Granada I which began in July 1997 with a meeting of Israeli and Palestinian education, science and culture experts in Jerusalem and which was followed by technical meetings which identified some 15 cooperation projects.

45. In the former Yugoslavia, UNESCO has been the lead agency in the United Nations system for assistance to the independent media during the reconstruction period. The UNESCO SOS MEDIA programme includes a television programme bank which provides all Bosnian television stations with 300 hours of free quality programmes promoting a culture of peace, tolerance, mutual understanding and democracy. An antenna of the programme bank now supports local productions with funding and professional advice, based on the same principles.

46. Journalists from Greece and Turkey met at UNESCO in May 1998 to promote a culture of peace by contributing as professionals to the improvement of communication, mutual understanding, free and independent circulation of information between the two countries and to accurate coverage of events concerning Greek-Turkish relations. An International Conference on 'South-East Europe: A Crossroads of Cultures' was held at UNESCO, Paris, (9-10 February 1998) at the initiative of UNESCO's Permanent Delegates from the region concerned and in cooperation with the International Association of South-East Studies (AIESEE) with a view to strengthening cooperation in the region.

47. Actions to promote a culture of peace in the Russian Federation were recommended by an International Conference 'From the stereotypes of war to the ideals of peace through culture and education' held in Moscow on December 1997 in the Ministry for Nationalities and the Federal Relations of the Russian Federation, and are being followed up by a network of cooperating educational and academic institutions for a culture of peace in the Russian Federation.

48. In partnership with the Council of Europe, the European Commission and other intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, UNESCO has undertaken a comprehensive programme for the support of civic education in Central and Eastern Europe. The programme addresses the recommendations made by the 1995 Conference on Curriculum Development: Civic Education in Central and Eastern Europe organized by UNESCO in Vienna in October 1995 and a series of related conferences and workshops held since in Turkmenistan, Austria, Bulgaria, Estonia, Poland, Georgia, the Russian Federation, Finland and Denmark. Activities include publication and dissemination of civic education textbooks and teachers manuals, teacher-training seminars, inter-school projects, and a weekly supplement on civic education for the widely read Russian Teachers Newspaper.

49. In Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia activities for a culture of peace continue to be carried out in the framework of the International Forum for Solidarity against Intolerance, for a Dialogue of Cultures (Tbilisi, 1995). UNESCO is assisting in the creation of the Tbilisi International Centre for Dialogue between Cultures for Peace and Tolerance and the Central Asian Centre for Conflict Prevention (Kyrgyz Republic). Two issues have been prepared of a new quarterly magazine, Education for Culture of Peace and Tolerance and Conflict Prevention in Central Asia. The International Forum for a Culture of Peace and Dialogue of Civilizations against a Culture of War and Violence, Moldova (16-18 May, 1998), adopted a Declaration and a Programme of Action and expressed support for the project on human right to peace being elaborated at the initiative of the Director-General of UNESCO. The responsibility of the media in encouraging dialogue and the peaceful resolution of conflicts was underlined.

[<< return to previous page]

[turn to next page >>]

[cover page]
[table of contents]