By Justin Curmi
United Nations Educational, Cultural, Scientific Organization (UNESCO) passed a proposal (140 EX/28) in 1992 to officiate a program called the Culture of Peace. The purpose of the proposal was to create a think tank that dabbles with the concept of creating a culture that produces peace. Yet, it ran into challenges and issues, primarily institutional limits and ultimately, the concept moved from a proposal (think tank), to a resolution passed by the General Assembly.
The first test for the culture of peace was a pilot program that was conducted in El Salvador from 1993 to 1997. The program raised funds for projects which adhered to four criterion, namely, those that aid the peace process; those that change held beliefs to more shared values; those that taught about peace; and those that funded peace innovations. This pilot taught UNESCO some valuable lessons about the participants of the program. First, individuals are autonomous who enjoy their independence and their freedom of choice. Secondly, an ideological approach to creating peace ignores other variables such as identity, emotions, and historical narrative.
UNESCO produced several engagements with state and non-state actors to encourage support for the Culture of Peace. Nevertheless, the program needed more of a structured system. The General Assembly subsequently passed a resolution (A/53/243) in 1999 to create the Culture of Peace program. This provided a strategy as well as objectives for UNESCO to develop a culture of peace. These methods included but were not limited to creating a communication network, educational programs and support networks, all of which had a strong emphasis on learning. One example of this is the Saudi Arabia Plan, which created outreach programs for the youth. These programs raised resources and bolstered communication networks in the hope to foster peace. The Saudi Arabia plan is the only one that has a clear budget that directly states that its use is for Culture of Peace. Finally, UNESCO utilizes and supports nongovernmental organizations that align with their aims by donating directly to them.
In recent years, there have been culture of peace events where Member States to the United Nations congregate to discuss topics within the Culture of Peace. For instance, the High Level Forum on the Culture of Peace, an annual event which took place on 1 September 2016, brought together many nations to discuss the importance of the culture of peace. There was a general consensus that peace is an inalienable right for everyone and to attain such a life we need to collaborate together. In addition, the event brought NGOs together to hear and listen to the ideas and information that was being produced for the movement, for instance when they met in Hanoi, Vietnam on the fifteenth of May in 1999 (National Workshop on a Culture of Peace). This allowed for a free flow of information and networking between different parties, which will will allow for the sprouting of conversation, in the hope that it blossoms into a strategy or further ideas.
Going forward, UNESCO hopes to continue the progress of the culture of peace movement in 2017 with more aid, support, and dialogue. It wants to bolster more incentives and programs to foster a culture of peace. This will be achieved by encouraging the youth to participate in government and on increase their knowledge on the subject of liberal ideas. Also, It increases the awareness on the plight of the female narrative in a society. This will all be achieved through creating effective networks, programs, and discussion, which focuses on higher educational attainment. As an end result, this should lower the aggregators of a culture of war.
Despite the constant hardships and push-backs, UNESCO is constantly pushing forward for a culture of peace. Even the minutiae advances are large in the grand schemes of it.