Executive Board of UNESCO reaffirms Culture of Peace as a Priority
an article by David Adams
The Executive Board of UNESCO, in their session of September 26-October 12, 2006, called for a return to prominence of the culture of peace in the Organization's next medium-term plan (2008-2013). The Executive Board, made up of representatives from 58 Member States, is the interim policy-making body of the organization between General Conferences which only meet once every two years.
Under the previous Director-General Federico Mayor (1987-1999) the culture of peace had been the highest priority for UNESCO, while under his successor, Koichiro Matsuura, it has received little attention.
Summing up the Executive Board discussion, the Chairman, Mr Zhang Xinsheng of China stated that "Members of the Board strongly underlined the abiding, if not enhanced, relevance of the task set in UNESCO’s Constitution “to build the defences of peace in the minds of men” through international cooperation in education, science, culture and communication and information. UNESCO must persevere in this constitutionally mandated task, which can be pursued in manifold ways. Building a culture of peace was frequently invoked as an objective, and should be conceived as peace in action, through dialogue, contacts and other exchanges among peoples and promotion of universal values. UNESCO has a unique role to play in this regard by supporting and mobilizing for a culture of peace and the dialogue among cultures, civilizations, religions and peoples to achieve mutual understanding, reconciliation and a better knowledge of each other’s lives."
The Board's Decision, 175 EX/Decision 21, reflected their renewed commitment to a culture of peace. They included the following line in its initial section, entitled "UNESCO’s mandate and mission in a changing world" : "The Executive Board invites UNESCO to be unstinting in all its activities seeking to bring about a culture of peace." Later, in paragraph 43 entitled "Overarching Priorities", the culture of peace is mentioned again as one of 5 phrases: "(d) fostering cultural diversity, dialogue among civilizations, cultures and peoples, and a culture of peace."
It has yet to be seen whether the UNESCO Director-General and the secretariat will follow the Board's direction to strengthen references to the culture of peace in the Medium-Term Strategy. The earlier draft version which had been presented to the Executive Board in October gave only passing reference to the culture of peace.
Question(s) related to this article:
Will UNESCO once again play a role in the culture of peace?,
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Latest reader comment:
It is very appropriate that this new impulse for the culture of peace at UNESCO should come from Côte d’Ivoire, since the global movement for a culture of peace was initiated at a UNESCO conference in that country in 1989. See Yamoussoukro and Seville in the early history of the culture of peace.
Note added on September 2:
The official reports from the UNESCO Conference in Abidjian are now available: