At high-level forum, top UN officials stress importance of individual in ‘culture of peace’
an article by United Nations News Centre
People in positions of power and authority have a
moral and political responsibility to improve
understanding across borders and cultures, top
United Nations officials said opening a day-long
General Assembly forum [September 6] on the
promotion of a ‘culture of peace.’
Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson. UN Photo/Rick Bajornas
click on photo to enlarge
At UN Headquarters in New York, Deputy Secretary-
General Jan Eliasson told a high-level forum to
discuss the implementation of the UN Programme of
Action on a Culture of Peace that in a world of
profound challenges, religious leaders, public
office-holders and others must set an example by
rejecting violence and promoting dialogue.
“This is a moment in history when we need a
culture of peace – not just the absence of war,
but a fully formed culture of peace – so that we
can pull together as a single human family to meet
our shared challenges,” he said, adding that a
culture of peace permeates the work of the UN from
the principles of the Charter to the universal
rights that the Organization upholds.
Mr. Eliasson also stressed the importance of
focusing on human beings – the men, women and
children – and not just larger constructs, such as
cultures, faiths and nations.
“When we do not see the person and find only the
proverbial ‘other’, we are on a treacherous course
toward polarization, dehumanization, and worse,” the
deputy UN chief said.
He also stressed that a culture of peace should
have tangible meanings for people suffering
extreme poverty and exclusion, particularly as the
UN completes its 1,000 days of action towards the
Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and
establishes a post-2015 sustainable development
Also addressing the event, General Assembly
President Vuk Jeremic urged the international
community to foster harmony amongst religions in
the age of sustainable development – “a time of
growing interdependence and multiplying
challenges” that integrate economic, social and
As well as actions to promote sustainable economic
and social development, Mr. Jeremic also noted the
importance of education in shifting attitudes
towards tolerance and understanding of others.
Adopted by the Assembly in 1999, the UN Programme
of Action on Culture of Peace prioritizes
education, in particular actions that foster peace
through education – such as ensuring that
children, from an early age, benefit from
instruction on values and attitudes to enable them
to resolve any dispute peacefully.
At last year’s High-Level Debate on the Culture of
Peace, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon launched his
‘Education First’ global initiative to bring
together a partnership to give every child the
chance to attend school.
Each year since the adoption of the Programme of
Action on the Culture of Peace in 1999, as well as
a related Declaration, the Assembly has adopted a
resolution on the topic, proclaiming the year 2000
as the ‘International Year for the Culture of
Peace,’ and the period of 2001-2010 as the
‘International Decade for a Culture of Peace and
Non-Violence for the Children of the World.’
(Click here for a French version of this article)
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Following the Second High Level Forum of the United Nations on the Culture of Peace, Anwarul Chowdhury, a former Under-Secretary General of the UN, had this to say about what the UN is doing for a culture of peace. His remarks were published by the Independent European Daily Express.
Civil society worldwide has been in the forefront of the global movement for the culture of peace, working diligently and patiently at the grassroots level, he said.
"I find it is the governments and power structures which are the most persistent foot-draggers with regard to advancing the culture of peace through policy steps and action," said Chowdhury, a former U.N. under-secretary-general and currently representing civil society and the Global Movement for the Culture of Peace. . .
The United Nations, he pointed out, has shown great vision by adopting its historic, norm-setting Declaration and PoA on the Culture of Peace in 1999, but has not been organised enough in making the document a system-wide flagship effort of the world body.
"I am a believer that the world, particularly the governments, will come to realise its true value and usefulness sooner than later," Chowdhury said.