By Leslie Brice (2016)
Table of Content
UNESCO'S Culture of Peace Crisis and Transition Response Programs The Five Strategic Objectives Toward Building a Culture of Peace Crisis and Transition Response Mission Response towards countries in PCPD situations The five operational strengths for PCPD responses UNESCO's Role in Building a Culture of Peace in Relation to Responding to PCPD Situations UNESCO's Recent Post Crisis Situations Special Programs Culture of Peace Programs Notes
UNESCO'S Culture of Peace
Since the end of World War II to the present time, international focus has been on bringing an end to issues such as discrimination, apartheid, racism, violations of human rights, and attainment of nationhood. UNESCO has been working to combat these issues by instituting “culture of peace” programs in specific states. These “culture of peace” programs support a “commitment to peace-building, mediation, conflict prevention and resolution, peace education, human rights education, education for non-violence, tolerance, acceptance, social cohesion, mutual respect, intercultural and interfaith dialogue and reconciliation, together with development considerations.”(1)
Crisis and Transition Response Programs
UNESCO responds to countries in crisis and transition situations by implementing post conflict response programs in a number of these countries. The post conflict response programs are directly parallel to the organization’s “culture of peace” programs. These programs focus mainly on the areas of education, communication, information, and culture. The programs are made up of projects that are classified into one of the five strategic objectives toward building a culture of peace. The Five Strategic Objectives Toward Building a Culture of Peace
Strengthening peace and non-violence through formal and non-formal education.
Fostering social cohesion and inclusion, democratic participation, and human rights.
Harnessing the media.
Promoting heritage and creativity.
Reinforcing the role of education, the sciences, culture, and communication.
Crisis and Transition Response Mission
Contribute to the relief and reconstruction of countries in post crisis and/or post disaster (PCPD) situations specifically in the fields of education, the sciences, culture, and communication.(2) UNESCO aids countries in crisis and transitioning (PCPD) situations by making contributions and assisting in the areas of education, science, culture, and communication. UNESCO places its emphasis on the human and institutional dimensions of relief, recovery and reconstruction, with specialized strengths in education at all levels, media and press freedom, mitigating threats to culture and World Heritage.
Response towards countries in PCPD situations
UNESCO’s response to countries in crisis and transition situations is a link between peace building and sustainable development. The organization’s response focuses on building sustainable peace, breaking the cycle of violence, and reducing the risk of the country relapsing back into conflict. Specifically, UNESCO advocates for the rehabilitation of education systems after conflict. Special education and support for peace education and psychosocial rehabilitation, as well as to critical areas for recovery and longer-term development, such as technical vocational and educational training (TVET) and life skills, for demobilized ex- combatants, internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees, secondary education, as well as higher education, including teachers’ education and training. UNESCO advocates for the safeguarding and preservation of cultural heritage when it is specifically targeted during conflict and post conflict. The organization also advocates and supports the safety of journalists as well as the restoration of freedom in crisis settings. The five operational strengths for PCPD responses
Education in emergencies and reconstruction.
Natural disaster risk and reduction.
Culture and world heritage in emergency situations.
Media in conflict and post-conflict situations.
The promotion of gender equality in crisis situations.
UNESCO's Role in Building a Culture of Peace in Relation to Responding to PCPD Situations
UNESCO’s objectives in their peace building operations directly relate to their objectives in their response in assisting countries in post crisis/post disaster situations. In both sets of objectives UNESCO’s main focus is on improving education and communication, promoting social cohesion, and preserving the culture and heritage of the country. The main purpose of this organization in responding to PCPD situations is to assist the countries in relief and recovery efforts while simultaneously building a culture of peace across the regions.
Building a culture of peace is not just about conflict resolution by means of non-violent solutions. Building a culture of peace is about non-violent social change. In order to develop the culture of peace that UNESCO is striving toward, there must be an increase in tolerance, understanding, and communication within the international community. Intercultural tolerance, understanding, and communication are achieved through education, the inclusion of women, and the open flow of information through the media. UNESCO essentially aids countries in conflict and post conflict situations by building a culture of peace. All of the areas this organization focuses on enhancing in countries in PCPD situations provides the basis necessary for creating a culture of peace there.
UNESCO's Recent Post Crisis Situations
UNESCO has post conflict programs, or country response programs, in 21 countries across the Arab States, Africa, Asia, Europe, and South America. A detailed look at these response programs can be found by visiting the UNESCO Country Responses web page.
UNESCO has special programs that deal with specific conflict situations such as for example the Syrian Crisis, the crisis in Mali, and the conflict as well as transition efforts in the MENA region. The specific themes UNESCO deals with when responding to conflict and post conflict situations, as previously stated, are education, media, culture, and gender equality. According to UNESCO, these response programs are directed toward those countries that are in crisis and transitioning situations. Through these programs UNESCO aids in providing relief to these countries and in the reconstruction of the fields such as education, science, culture, and communication.
Syrian Crisis Response: The response to the Syrian crisis by UNESCO is largely focused on the restoration and improvement of the education system in the region. The Syrian crisis has had a profound negative impact on the quality of education available in the area. UNESCO believes that education can be a powerful tool in post conflict resolution. Lack of available quality education can make conflict resolution a much more difficult process as it can lead to extremism, high levels of unemployment, and violence.
In Syria, UNESCO is working to protect the cultural heritage of Syria. There is a project currently in progress called the Emergency Heritage Safeguarding project that is directed toward restoring social cohesion, stability, and sustainable development through the protection and safeguarding of Syrian cultural heritage.(7)
Iraq: According to the UNESCO website, “UNESCO has been acknowledged as lead agency on literacy and life skills, secondary, vocational education and training and Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE) training”.(3) UNESCO’s response to the Syrian crisis in Iraq is directed toward improving access to and the quality of education that is available to all of the Syrian refugees. The organization is developing community learning centers throughout the country to educate individuals of all ages in literacy and essential life skills such as health, legal awareness, human rights, early child development sessions for parents, and counseling. There is also an operation to enhance teacher training in order to provide quality education to refugees and the youth alike.
Jordan: UNESCO’s response to the Syrian crisis in Jordan is largely geared toward the Syrian refugees and the youth. In Jordan UNESCO is specifically working toward strengthening the quality of education in the state and providing both the youth and the refugees with skill development in areas such as hospitality, art and design, graphic design, engineering, construction, and media production.
UNESCO has started two projects in Jordan that address the emergency situation involving both the Syrian refugees as well as Jordanian youth. The first project, the Sa’a Suriya Radio Programme, promotes freedom of expression of Syrian refugees in four different governorates in Jordan through radio.(4) The program serves as a communication platform specifically geared towards refugees and Jordanian youth to share personal stories and voice their opinions in a journalistic way, have access to information, interact with the local community, and get assistance as well as information about the services available for the refugees in the state. The second project, Information Centres for Syrian and Jordanian Youth in the North of Jordan, establishes Youth Information Centers that assist displaced Syrian youth through enhanced information flows, provision of non-formal education, social and economic services.(5) Both of these projects foster social cohesion, builds toward the empowerment of the youth, and assists refugees in their path toward recovery which are all specific UNESCO objectives toward building a culture of peace and responding to PCPD situations.
Lebanon: In Lebanon, UNESCO is working to enhance the quality and availability of education to the Syrian refugees as well as developing a “catch-up” program to assist the population of children refugees that is currently out of school. The organization is also working on the promotion of freedom of expression and the access of information for the youth as well as Syrian refugees through the creation of school libraries and multimedia centers.(6) In addition to this, UNESCO is building toward the establishment of a culture of peace by engaging Syrian and Lebanese youth in peace education activities.
There are a number of projects that UNESCO has completed in Lebanon as part of their response to the Syrian crisis. Majority of the projects aided in their task to improve the quality of education available to the Syrian refugees. Through one of these projects UNESCO conducted training sessions on quality education that met the INEE minimum standards to around 100 school principals in areas of the country that had a large population of Syrian refugee children. Middle Eastern and North African Regions (MENA): The Middle Eastern and North African regions are deeply engaged in conflict. As part of their response, UNESCO is taking action in the area in order to improve the quality of education, enhance the freedom of expression as well as the access to information, protect the cultural heritage of the regions, assist in building more democratic societies, and promote economic opportunities in the region by empowering the youth.(8)
In the MENA region the quality of education does not meet the INEE minimum standards. So UNESCO is developing programs geared toward the enhancement and availability of education for the youth as well as women. A number of countries in the region that have previously had extremely restrictive media controls are now in the transition stages of becoming more media friendly by shifting to independent media that allows for more freedom of expression and easier access to information. Cultural heritage in the region is highly endangered. The region’s cultural heritage includes seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Egypt, eight in Tunisia and five in Libya. Cultural heritage is not only a source of national pride but also of income generation, with cultural tourism being one of the most important sectors of the economy. UNESCO’s actions in the region aid in the promotion of tolerance, good governance and rule of law; the organization’s actions serve to strengthening human rights and supporting civil society, including youth and women’s organizations.(9)
Emergency Actions in Mali: In response to the conflict situation in Mali, UNESCO has created a safeguarding program to protect the world heritage sites in Mali. The conflicts taking place in Mali has led to the destruction of several historical monuments and buildings of religious importance. The destruction of these sites, specifically the religious sites, adds to the heinous epidemic of cultural cleansing that has been plaguing society for decades. This cultural cleansing takes away from the efforts of building social cohesion, which has a negative impact on the overall goal of building a culture of peace. There can be no such culture of peace without social cohesion. UNESCO is conquering the act of cultural cleansing through their multiple safeguarding programs. There are currently also cultural safeguarding programs in Syria and Iraq.(10)
Culture of Peace Programs
Along with the numerous country response programs that UNESCO has initiated, the organization also has culture of peace programs in countries throughout the world. UNESCO believes that “the culture of peace should be seen as the essence of a new humanity. The flourishing of a culture of peace will generate the mindset in us that is a prerequisite for the transition from force to reason, from conflict and violence to dialogue and peace. A culture of peace will provide the foundation for a stable, progressive, and prosperous world for all.”(11) UNESCO’s culture of peace programs focus on eight different areas of action. These areas of action include: Education; Sustainable Economic and Social Development; Respect for all Human Rights; Equality between Women and Men; Democratic Participation; Understanding, Tolerance and Solidarity; Participatory Communication and Free Flow of Information and Knowledge; and International Peace and Security.(12)
One of the largest culture of peace programs UNESCO has is in Africa. Developing a culture of peace in Africa is one of UNESCO’s top priorities. “In Africa, the concept of a culture of peace delineates the integration of values, belief systems and forms of spirituality, local knowledge and technologies, traditions and forms of cultural and artistic expression that contribute to the respect of human rights, cultural diversity, solidarity and the rejection of violence to build democratic societies.”(13) In order to achieve a culture of peace in Africa, UNESCO is currently in the process of developing a flagship program titled “Promoting a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence”. This program will focus on:
Strengthening peace and non-violence through education, advocacy and media including ICTs and social networks;
Developing the use of heritage and contemporary creativity as tools for building peace through dialogue;
Promoting scientific and cultural cooperation for the management of natural trans boundary resources;
Empowering and engaging young people, women and men for democratic consolidation, community development and a culture of peace.”(14)
Along with the development of this flagship program, UNESCO has developed various forums of reflection on a sub-regional and regional basis, specialized networks for the promotion of a culture of peace in Africa, and public awareness, specifically, Make Peace Happen Campaigns. UNESCO has also created projects and activities that focus on the following areas:
Promotion of peace and non-violence through education;
Scientific cooperation to foster the dissemination of a culture of peace;
Empowering young women and men’s participation in building more democratic and inclusive societies;
Fostering dialogue and building peace through heritage, dialogue and creativity;
Media and information literacy for peace and non-violence.
Efforts to build a culture of peace in Africa have been made all across the continent including in the countries of: Burundi, Cameroon, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. In these countries actions are being taken in the areas of education, economic and social development, human rights, equality, tolerance, international peace and security, democratic participation, and communication. The most dominant areas of action, however, are education, human rights, and social as well as economic development.
Education: In the area of education, actions that have been taken under the peace program consist of seminars and conferences on peace issues, trainings on conflict resolution skills, celebrations of international day of peace, peace through sports, and peace camps. Efforts have been made to incorporate a culture of peace into the structure of the school curriculum throughout Africa.
Sustainable Economic and Social Development: “The most frequent projects in this field are sustainable development micro-projects, reforestation, environmental sanitation, or the invitation of politicians to needed areas that urge development measures.”(15) There are also professional skills development training programs in order to foster broader community participation. Human Rights: Efforts being made in the area of human rights consist of working toward the increased awareness and trainings about the rights of the people, advocacy activities such as reports on human rights violations, and intervention activities such as the assistance to victims of war, HIV infected orphans and less privileged children, or women ex-prisoners. Equality: Actions geared toward the promotion of women’s rights and the equality between men and women included training on gender mainstreaming, forums on women’s role in peace advocacy, and the promotion of women’s cooperatives in rural areas. Democratic Participation: Various workshops and trainings on democratic leadership as well as electoral issues have been conducted throughout Africa in order to promote and enhance democratic participation.
Tolerance: In order to promote understanding, tolerance, and solidarity awareness activities such as conferences, workshops, and the publication of materials have been conducted. Activities targeting refugees, people in need, and internally displaced persons have also been created. Communication and Information: Journalist trainings on peace journalism are one way that UNESCO is assisting in the promotion of free flow of information and communication. The UNESCO Club from Port Bouet has assisted in empowering youth leaders by reinforcing “the climate of peace in Côte d’Ivoire through peace and nonviolence via information and computing technologies (ICTs).”(16)
International Peace and Security: There are a number of ways UNESCO and other partnering organizations are promoting and educating people on international peace and security. Various programs and workshops on disarmament of small arms as well as counseling services for individuals to disarm themselves have been created. The Federation of African Women’s Peace Networks is also “campaigning for a profound reform of international organizations and institutions targeting world equity for the populations.”(17)
Details on UNESCO’s culture of peace programs throughout the remaining regions of the Arab States, East Asia and Australia, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, North America, Central and South Asia can be found by reading the Report on the Decade for a Culture of Peace.(18)
(1) Intersectoral Platform for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence, Bureau for Strategic Planning, editor. “UNESCO’s Programme of Action Culture of Peace and Non-Violence: A Vision in Action.” UNESCO's Programme of Action: Culture of Peace and Non-Violence; a Vision in Action, 2013, p. 6. http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0021/002177/217786e.pdf (2) UNESCO, “Mission of Post Conflict and Post Disaster Response | United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization,” UNESCO, UNESCO. http://www.unesco.org/new/en/unesco/themes/pcpd/mission/. (3) UNESCO, “UNESCO Response in Iraq,” Iraq | United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization,” UNESCO, UNESCO. http://www.unesco.org/new/en/syria-crisis-response/regional-response/iraq/. (4) UNESCO Office in Amman, “Sa’a Suriya: Enhancing Access to Information and Freedom of Expression for Syrian Refugees in Jordan through Radio Programs,” Sa’a Suriya Radio Programme | United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, UNESCO Office in Amman. http://www.unesco.org/new/en/amman/projects/communication-and-information/saa-suriya-radio-programme/. (5) UNESCO Office in Amman, “Information Centres for Syrian and Jordanian Youth in the North of Jordan,” Information Centres for Syrian and Jordanian Youth in the North of Jordan | United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, UNESCO Office in Amman. http://www.unesco.org/new/en/amman/projects/communication-and-information/information-centres-for-syrian-and-jordanian-youth-in-the-north-of-jordan/. (6) UNESCO, “UNESCO Response in Lebanon,” Lebanon | United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, UNESCO. http://www.unesco.org/new/en/syria-crisis-response/regional-response/lebanon/. (7) UNESCO, “UNESCO Response in Syria,” Syria | United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, UNESCO. http://www.unesco.org/new/en/syria-crisis-response/regional-response/syria/. (8) UNESCO, “Supporting Transition in the MENA Region,” Supporting Transition in the MENA Region | United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, UNESCO. http://www.unesco.org/new/en/unesco/themes/pcpd/special-pages/supporting-transition-in-the-mena-region/. (9) UNESCO, “Supporting Transition in the MENA Region,” Supporting Transition in the MENA Region | United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, UNESCO. http://www.unesco.org/new/en/unesco/themes/pcpd/special-pages/supporting-transition-in-the-mena-region/. (10) UNESCO, “Emergency Actions in Mali,” Emergency Actions in Mali | United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, UNESCO. http://www.unesco.org/new/en/unesco/themes/pcpd/special-pages/emergency-actions-in-mali/. (11) Chowdhury, Anwarul K., “Report on the Decade for a Culture of Peace: Final Civil Society Report on the United Nations International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-violence for the Children of the World (2001-2010),” p.3. http://www.fund-culturadepaz.org/spa/DOCUMENTOS/Report_on_the_Decade_for_a_Culture_of_Peace.pdf. (12) Chowdhury, Anwarul K., “Report on the Decade for a Culture of Peace: Final Civil Society Report on the United Nations International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-violence for the Children of the World (2001-2010),” p. 4. http://www.fund-culturadepaz.org/spa/DOCUMENTOS/Report_on_the_Decade_for_a_Culture_of_Peace.pdf. (13) UNESCO, “Africa: Sources and Resources for a Culture of Peace,” UNESCO, p. 1. http://www.unesco.org/new/fileadmin/MULTIMEDIA/HQ/AFR/pdf/Eng-Brochure-Africa-nov15.pdf. (14) UNESCO, “Promoting a culture of peace and non-violence,” Promoting a culture of peace and non-violence." http://en.unesco.org/partnerships/partnering/promoting-culture-peace-and-non-violence. (15) Chowdhury, Anwarul K., “Report on the Decade for a Culture of Peace: Final Civil Society Report on the United Nations International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-violence for the Children of the World (2001-2010),” p. 13. http://www.fund-culturadepaz.org/spa/DOCUMENTOS/Report_on_the_Decade_for_a_Culture_of_Peace.pdf. (16) Chowdhury, Anwarul K., “Report on the Decade for a Culture of Peace: Final Civil Society Report on the United Nations International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-violence for the Children of the World (2001-2010),” p. 14. http://www.fund-culturadepaz.org/spa/DOCUMENTOS/Report_on_the_Decade_for_a_Culture_of_Peace.pdf. (17) Chowdhury, Anwarul K., “Report on the Decade for a Culture of Peace: Final Civil Society Report on the United Nations International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-violence for the Children of the World (2001-2010),” p.14. http://www.fund-culturadepaz.org/spa/DOCUMENTOS/Report_on_the_Decade_for_a_Culture_of_Peace.pdf. (18) Chowdhury, Anwarul K., “Report on the Decade for a Culture of Peace: Final Civil Society Report on the United Nations International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-violence for the Children of the World (2001-2010).” http://www.fund-culturadepaz.org/spa/DOCUMENTOS/Report_on_the_Decade_for_a_Culture_of_Peace.pdf.