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International Seminar on Youth and Culture of Peace, Bilbao, Spain
an article by Oliver Rizzi Carlson for the UNOY Newsletter(abbreviated)

The International Seminar on Youth and Culture of Peace in Bilbao brought together several experiences from different world regions, highlighting projects done to promote a culture of peace especially among youth. These presentations were framed by two keynote addresses, one by Federico Mayor Zaragoza, former Director-General of UNESCO and President of the Fundación Cultura de Paz; the other by myself as UNOY Representative to the UN. The Basque government, represented by the Minister of Culture and the Director of Youth, welcomed participants to the conference.

keynote address by Federico Mayor Zaragoza (right)

click on photo to enlarge

The event was relatively small in size, with perhaps 10 speakers and about 100 attendees. Mayor Zaragoza delivered a wide-ranging speech on the importance of creating a culture of peace to remedy the many problems our world is facing, including warfare, environmental destruction, and human rights abuses. The array of presentations on work done on the ground was very diverse, geographically as well as in terms of thematic focus. There were presentations from Indonesia, Lebanon, Australia, Central America, Spain and the Basque Country, focusing on a culture of peace and the environment, cultural and religious coexistence, gender, ethnic minorities, historical memory and new technologies. They all focused on youth as well . . .

After a brief overview of UNOY, its members and activities, I took the opportunity to present some of my own thoughts on the culture of peace as one example of the contribution that youth can make. In this context, I spoke about cultural violence as defined by Johan Galtung and the importance of education for a culture of peace, emphasizing certain related concepts. I went on to speak about the past and current work of the UN to promote a culture of peace, and mentioned that these are documents and events that we as youth can now use as tools for our own culture of peace work, within and without the UN. I also showed a video produced by the campaign for a Human Right to Peace, which includes the right to education for a culture of peace.

In general, I tried to present new perspectives on the culture of peace, the role of youth, and the UN, so as to not only inform, but stimulate new reflections and inspire participants to contribute to the culture of peace. The audience responded very positively to my presentation with many questions, and we had an interesting discussion. Afterwards, a student and her professor came to me on behalf of the whole group of 30-some students present at the conference to know more about UNOY and education for a culture of peace.

The response of participants to my talk despite the intense nature of the conference reminded me of the huge potential and contribution ready to be awakened in every one of us. I believe some young peacebuilder seeds were planted!


Question(s) related to this article:

Youth speaking to youth on peace, Do you know of other examples?

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Latest reader comment:

This discussion question applies to the following articles:

Peace Ambassadors
Teens Making a Difference:  Study Circles in Action
Rencontre internationale de la jeunesse à Dakhla : Création d’un réseau mondial pour la paix
United Youth
International Youth Meeting in Dakhla: Creation of a World Network for Peace
Youth as Actors in Peace and Human Rights Education
International Seminar on Youth and Culture of Peace, Bilbao, Spain  
Children's Peace Statue finds a new home
Peace Seminar organised by UNOY Peacebuilders
Photo exhibit promotes culture of peace
This is a wake up call!
Taking the Peace Pledge
Estudantes da periferia de São Paulo encenam espetáculos para defender cultura de paz
Students from the suburbs of São Paulo go on stage to promote the culture of peace
Bangui : La jeunesse s’initie à la culture de la paix et de l’Unité nationale [République centrafricaine]
Bangui, Central African Republic : Youth organize for the culture of peace and national unity
DIF estatal fomenta cultura de paz en escuelas (México)
State DIF promotes culture of peace in schools (Mexico)
Costello students take part in UK Peace Jam

This report was posted on December 8, 2011.