(ix) The International Year for the Culture of Peace [This section is based on ECOSOC document E/1998/52 submitted by UNESCO. Input has also been provided by United Nations Volunteers.]

117. The International Year for the Culture of Peace, 2000, proclaimed by General Assembly resolution 52/15, can serve as the launching period for the programme of action proposed in the present document. The main objectives of the International Year, as indicated by ECOSOC Resolution 1997/47, are consistent with those of the present programme of action: to strengthen respect for cultural diversity and to promote tolerance, solidarity, cooperation, dialogue and reconciliation, based on activities at the national and international levels.

118. At the local and national level, the International Year may serve to stimulate and launch national action plans and develop the various partnerships needed for the activities of the International Year. In this regard, it is anticipated that in addition to national committees for the Year, as foreseen for all International Years by ECOSOC resolution 1980/67, there may be established an extensive network of committees and commissions in all regions and at all levels, including by parliaments, local communities and non-governmental organizations. This process of the Ainstitutionalization@ of a culture of peace can serve to engage those who wish to volunteer their energy and enthusiasm to help build a culture of peace in the new Millennium.

119. The International Year affords the opportunity to make national and regional actions broad-based, providing a special opportunity to promote reconciliation and national unity and to prevent violent conflicts. UNESCO is in the process of consulting its Member States, since their support and collaboration in planning and in executing activities will be highly valuable.

120. At the regional and international level, the Year will underline the priorities of peace, development and democracy and the central role of the United Nations system in promoting a culture of peace. Given the high importance UNESCO attaches to these major objectives, the Organization is planning a number of activities with a millennium vision. The Millennium Assembly and associated Millennium Forum of non-governmental organizations planned by the United Nations for the 55th General Assembly in the Year 2000 could be associated closely with the programme of activities for the International Year.

121. The celebration of cultural diversity will be a major focus of activities to be undertaken in the framework of the International Year. In this regard, the Director-General of UNESCO and the Secretary-General of the United Nations, in consultation with Member States, may designate a number of sites in different regions as symbolic and inter-cultural sites to serve as venues for major events that diffuse the message of the culture of peace. A 'cultural diversity week' may be designated during which time special events are organized to engage people and develop their consciousness of cultural diversity as a richness rather than a liability. Further, UNESCO will undertake to study the theme of 'recognition of all humanity as one in spirit' as a contribution to the International year.

122. Mobilizing public opinion to promote a culture of peace is an essential activity of the International Year. A summary in everyday words of this declaration and programme of action should be disseminated widely, especially to youth, in national languages and in various formats, through both print and electronic media, along with suggestions on how they can volunteer to join with the United Nations system, Member States and non-governmental organizations in realizing its objectives.

123. A global system of communication and information exchange may be established linking all of the partners and their work and emphasizing the involvement of young people. To be effective, this system should be a permanent, decentralized network in many languages, taking full advantage of up-to-date interactive communication technology, including the Internet. In addition to providing an exchange of information about activities undertaken to promote a culture of peace, it can serve as a source of information about organizations and institutions where one can volunteer to undertake such activities and about media productions which reflect and promote the values of a culture of peace.

124. The International Year for the Culture of Peace, 2000, precedes the International Year of Volunteers, 2001, and in this regard, given the importance of volunteer work for a culture of peace, UNESCO and the United Nations Volunteers may explore practical ways to ensure full synergy between the celebration and activities undertaken during the two years.

125. The Year 2000 has a landmark significance, coming at the end of one millennium and heralding the beginning of a new one. It may be seen by people as an historic moment around which they can mobilize for fundamental change. This is a unique opportunity to engage people in a common endeavour to effect the transition from the values, attitudes and behaviours of the past, which often led to war, violence and social injustice, to those values, attitudes and behaviours which can make possible a future characterized by a culture of peace. As stated by ECOSOC in proposing the proclamation of the Year 2000 as the International Year for the Culture of Peace, this provides 'the opportunity to boost the efforts of the international community towards establishing and promoting an everlasting culture of peace'.

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