Category Archives: EDUCATION FOR PEACE

Congo and UNESCO to Cultivate Peace in Youth

. TOLERANCE & SOLIDARITY .

An article by Don Verdon Bayeni in Vox

The Minister of Youth and Sports, Civic Education, Employment and Qualifying Training, Hugues Ngouélondélé indicated on August 12 in Brazzaville a capacity building workshop for leaders of juvenile associations will be held to cultivate the culture of peace and non-violence among young people.


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“Those who choose to be beneficiaries of this training as agents of awareness of the culture of peace and social cohesion, thus realize their responsibility as citizens to help young people to turn away from negative values, violence and identity withdrawal, ”explained Hugues Ngouélondélé.

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Question related to this article:
 
Youth initiatives for a culture of peace, How can we ensure they get the attention and funding they deserve?

Can a culture of peace be achieved in Africa through local indigenous training and participation?

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The capacity building workshop on the culture of peace organized by UNESCO and the Pan-African Youth Network for the Culture of Peace, in collaboration with the ministry in charge of youth, intends to equip and empower the leaders of youth associations.

“This training should be a moment of strengthening the patriotic spirit at all levels of Congolese society. For the trainees, it will be a question of ensuring the transmission of the lessons received to propote the culture of peace, social cohesion and living together as the theme of all young people”, said Fatoumata Barry Marega, the UNESCO representative in Congo.

After this workshop, the beneficiaries are called upon to pass on the information received to their respective associations as well as to other youth circles and through outreach and media campaigns.

(Click here for the original French version of this article)

Childrens Message for Peace

EDUCATION FOR PEACE .

A message from the Japan Art Mile Foundation, received by email from Joanne Tawfilis

This mural was created by the 66 members of the Yuge Elementary School graduating classes of 2004.


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This mural was born in the process of a Peace Study.

Their town is located near City Nagasaki, where the second Atomic Bomb was dropped in 1945.

The image of the painting was developed from “The Statue of Peace”; the symbol of Nagasaki Peace Park.

His right hand stretching up means “the threat of the Atomic Bomb” and his left hand stretching horizontally shows “Peace”.

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Question for this article:

Do the arts create a basis for a culture of peace?, What is, or should be, their role in our movement?

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The children tried to express their wishes for peace in the beautiful rainbow derived from the tip of the statue.

The rainbow is a bridge for peace, extending to the bright future.

The children poured their love into this mural, not only toward their home area but also toward our planet.

They enclosed their wishes, hopes and dreams within this painting.

(Thank you to Joanne Tawfilis for sending this to CPNN.)

See the following CPNN articles about or by Joanne Tawfilis:

US: The First Mural Museum in the World is a Culture of Peace Museum

Oceanside woman promotes peace through murals (US)

UNA-USA San Diego 2006 Eleonor Roosevelt Human Rights Award

BAM in a Box

Peace through Art

The Art Miles Mural Project

Declaration for the Transition to a Culture of Peace in the XXI Century

. . DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION . .

An article by Roberto Emmanuele Mercadillo Caballero from the Global Campaign for Peace Education

It is time for a new step forward in the transition from the culture of war to the culture of peace.

The first step was taken in 1986 with the Seville Statement on Violence which showed that war is a cultural invention, not a biological process, and therefore a culture of peace can also be invented.

The second step forward was taken in 1999 with the Declaration and Programme of Action for a Culture of Peace, developed at UNESCO and adopted by the United Nations General Assembly, which provided a precise definition of the culture of peace.

In 2011, the 25th anniversary of the Statement was celebrated at the XXXIII International Colloquia on Brain and Aggression held in Rome, Italy. Participants included Roberto Mercadillo as a researcher from the National Council of Science and Technology, Mexico, and David Adams, as the director of the Culture of Peace News Network. Adams had been a signatory of the Seville Statement along with Federico Mayor Zaragoza. Mayor later became the Director-General of UNESCO, where he was responsible for the UN Declaration, along with Adams who was working with him at that time.

At the meeting in 2011, Adams and Mercadillo concluded it was time to take the next step to propose a specific program for the transition from the culture of war to the culture of peace through educational innovation and the participation of local governments.

The program includes proposals for radical reforms of the United Nations, that were developed in 2016 by Federico Mayor Zaragoza and David Adams including the formation of an alternative to the UN Security Council involving mayors of major cities, directed by a small volunteer secretariat.

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Question related to this article:

How can we develop the institutional framework for a culture of peace?

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It was thus that, in 2019, Mayor-Zaragoza, Adams, and Mercadillo undertook the task of elaborating a new Declaration following a cognitive approach of consciousness in four steps:

First, to recognize the current status;

Second, to remember what we have done so far;

Third, to understand what we have done and must do based on our present situation;

Fourth, to propose and define actions to move towards a Culture of Peace in the 21st century.

For the first step, called “we recognize”, the Declaration displays actions on the culture of peace carried out around the world during the last 20 years, as well as the violent actions and war that continue to prevail.

For the second step, called “we remember”, the Declaration reviews previous declarations and manifestos such as the Seville Statement and the Declaration and Programme of Action for a Culture of Peace, along with other declarations that emerged from the United Nations, with emphasis on those promoted by UNESCO referring to the Culture of Peace and science that can be linked to educational initiatives.

For the third step, called “we understand”, the Declaration analyses the revised previous declarations and manifestos in light of the problems, needs, and possibilities of the 21st and recovered the mention “we the peoples” that opens the Charter of the United Nations signed in 1945 to initiate future actions and consciences.

For the fourth step, called “we propose”, the Declaration describes strategies in two simultaneous routes: local and global. The local route is fundamentally pedagogical and is carried out mainly by organized civil society supported by local governments. The global route involves the expansion of the UN General Assembly and creation of councils for economic, environmental, and social affairs, along with the formation of an international security council of mayors, mentioned above, that would issue regular press releases demonstrating that the culture of peace could be achieved if the United Nations were governed by “we the peoples.”

The Declaration is available in two versions, the full version as described here, and a brief version consisting of the fourth step, “we propose.”

Download the full version of the Declaration

Download the summary version of the Declaration

Argentina: Teachers lead national strategy for Comprehensive Environmental Education

EDUCATION FOR PEACE .

An article by Graciela Mandolini from Education International

We live in a historical time in which all kinds of emergencies are constantly being played out: environmental, climate, energy, health, economic … All of these converge in what many authors define as the crisis of civilization. The environmental agenda has been setting the pace and environmental conflicts have burst into school settings, appearing with unprecedented speed and persistence.

If we understand education as a process that is permanently under construction, we could say that teachers in Argentina are carrying out some important actions in terms of comprehensive environmental education. These include interventions in curricular designs, as well as in projects and programs aimed at incorporating the environmental dimension for sustainable development as part of teaching-learning proposals.

Teacher and Union Training School

For 25 years, the Confederación de Trabajadores de la Educación de la República Argentina (CTERA) [Educational Workers Confederation of the Argentine Republic] has generated teacher training processes in Environmental Education: postgraduate courses and specializations in environmental education for sustainable development, in cooperation with public universities, face-to-face meetings with in-service teachers, projects, programs and actions on environmental education for secondary school students and teachers… practical, recreational and learning activities have also been organized, such as planting trees, composting activities, etc.

The union has worked with dedication on a project aimed at creating spaces for building knowledge in order to promote a dialogue of knowledge and skills development, consolidating teacher training at all levels and modalities of the formal educational system, so as to promote environmental education for sustainable development.

This issue has been one of the fundamental pillars of the training activities promoted by our organization’s “Marina Vilte” Teacher and Union Training School.

Initially, in the late 1990s, CTERA produced a training proposal for an Advanced Specialization Course in Environmental Education for sustainable development, in cooperation with a public university that offered lectures nationally through its grassroots entities. In the training space, more than 4,000 teachers specialized in Environmental Education.

Pandemic and environmental education

During 2020, as we moved through the stages of isolation and later of social distancing, whilst tackling the pandemic, a pedagogical proposal was drawn up based on training itineraries and paths, to consider different theories and concepts on the issue affecting us.

Firstly, through mechanisms designed for this purpose, the CTERA Education Secretariat and various grassroots entities offered training opportunities using the co-self-assisted methodology, so that teachers felt this was an invitation to study and an occasion for lifelong learning, without feeling pressured to meet requirements that could create an overload of teaching work. These training formats made it possible to reflect on educational practice, based on personal interests and motivations and in a self-regulated manner.

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(Click here for the article in French or here for the article in Spanish

Question for this article:

What are good examples of environmental education?

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Secondly, and in coordination with the INFoD (National Teacher Training Institute), CTERA further developed the proposal, moving towards creating a tutored course.

In both situations, it was felt necessary to consider the particular conditions that lead to problematizing the Teacher Training curriculum, based on the situations it addresses and analyzes, the complexity of associated trends and the practices of meaning, intervention, research, outreach and transcendence, which allow it to interact in and with the communities of origin.

Pino Solanas Law

The National Congress of Argentina recently approved the National Law of Comprehensive Environmental Education. This law, named after the Argentine filmmaker, Pino Solanas, proposes a “permanent, crosscutting and comprehensive” national public policy for all educational establishments in the country. It covers the interdependence of all the elements that make up and interact in the environment; respecting and valuing biodiversity; equity; recognizing cultural diversity; caring for our natural and cultural heritage and exercising the right to a healthy environment.

The law proposes the establishment of a National Strategy for Comprehensive Environmental Education. It promotes the creation and development of Jurisdictional Strategies and raises the issue of an Intergenerational Environmental Commitment. It also provides for the implementation, on the educational agenda, of actions to improve institutions. It affirms that any educational proposal must be based on educating young people and children. This project clearly establishes a public policy that reinforces the paradigm of citizen participation for sustainability.

Environmental education, education for life

We believe that any environmental education proposal, project or program for sustainable development that we carry out must, without question, interact with history, trajectories, institutional projects, stakeholders, local and regional projections, that will give it meaning and make it unique.

Environmental Education, based on the paradigm of Latin American Environmental Thought, makes it possible for the community’s knowledge to be discussed, thus recovering its voices, trajectories, expectations, experiences, demands, concerns and proposals, in order to highlight environmental conflicts in the territory, dismantling naturalized practices on a daily basis, generating dialogue and linking different disciplinary knowledge so as to reimagine and alter our practices.

CTERA sees Environmental Education for sustainable development as the establishment of environmental criteria, as raising awareness about environmental conflicts, understanding environmental complexity, as creativity, wonder, empathy; it means thinking in an inter-connected manner; learning as you live and learning from life.

It is a conceptual proposal that is interwoven and integrated with methodological work. That is why how we make the content available, the way we present work dynamics and proposals, and encourage participation is very important. This includes:

* Recreational activities that allow us to express our sensations, emotions, and feelings, our mind-body thoughts

* Actions that make it possible to develop proposals where identity is expressed in an artistic and creative way.

* Ancestral ceremonies that occur, highlighting the need to re-connect with nature, recognizing ourselves as children of Mother Earth.
Taking part in tree planting, composting, recycling, materials recovery, camping activities, etc.

The didactic strategies that we can use as environmental education workers to address the issues, problems and conflicts that affect and challenge us, are under continuous construction. In this process, much searching is done to ensure culture and nature, teachers, students, schools and the community support each other, generating creative processes committed to reality, promoting the construction of teaching – learning processes aimed at creating a society based on environmental, social and, of course, curricular justice.

(Thank you to Phyllis Kotite, the CPNN reporter for this article.)

Gabon: Youth for the Culture of Peace

. TOLERANCE & SOLIDARITY .

An article by Jerry Bibang, special to CPNN

The Pan-African Youth Network for the Culture of Peace, Gabon section (PAYNCoP Gabon) recently launched, in Libreville, a project to promote the culture of peace and fight against violence in schools.


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In Gabon, violence in schools has reached worrying proportions, according to a recent study conducted by UNICEF in partnership with the Gabonese government. Approximately, 79% of the actors of the education system are victims of verbal or psychological violence; 59% are victims of physical violence and 50% are victims of sexual violence. Aware of this state of affairs, the Government has drawn up a national strategy to strengthen the response to violence in schools.

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(Click here for the original French version of this article)

Question related to this article:
 
Youth initiatives for a culture of peace, How can we ensure they get the attention and funding they deserve?

Can a culture of peace be achieved in Africa through local indigenous training and participation?

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The project to promote the culture of peace and fight against violence in schools, initiated by PAYNCoP Gabon and supported by the French Development Agency (AFD) is part of this national strategy to strengthen response to violence in schools.

The initiative will sensitize key actors (supervisory staff, students, parents of students) on the effects of violence in schools, train them on the culture of peace and peaceful conflict resolution. In order to engage students in the continued promotion of the culture of peace within the school, the project also plans to create a club of young peacemakers within the school.

For Jerry Bibang, the coordinator of this initiative, “this is a pilot experience that is part of our activities to promote the culture of peace, in connection with government action. If the experience is positive, we plan to extend this project to other establishments in the capital but also to the interior of the country ”

The project involves several key players, including supervisory staff, students, teachers and parents, in an inclusive and participatory process.

The 3rd Latin American Congress of Restorative Justice closed with more than 4,400 registered participants

. . DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION . .

An article published by El Litoral (translation by CPNN)

On Saturday [June 12] the closing day of the 3rd Latin American Congress of Restorative Justice took place in a format that was entirely virtual. During the three days of the event, there were more than 60 exhibitors from various countries: Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Brazil, Peru, Honduras, Uruguay, Bolivia, Guatemala, the Dominican Republic and Great Britain.

On the last day there were keynote conferences by Austen Ivereigh entitled “How to get out of the crisis – the message of Pope Francis in Soñemos Juntos” and by Roberto Pérez “Forgiveness as a way to repair and restore the social fabric, the bond personal and with others “.

Other panels during this day included (9) Socialization of restorative experiences: advocacy for democratic and inclusive communities and (10) The Restorative Pedagogy and Culture of Peace. And, finally, the Ombudsman of Santa Fe [Argentina], Raúl Lamberto, and the Ombudsman General of Lomas de Zamora [Argentina], Eduardo Germán Bauché, gave a final word.

PANEL 9: Socialization of restorative experiences

Panel 9 had as its axis the Socialization of restorative experiences: advocacy for democratic and inclusive communities, and featured lectures by Esteban Ramos from the National Autonomous University of Honduras; Natalia Cuenca, member of the “Wheels of Coexistence” program of the Ministry of Education of the province of Santa Fe; and Silvia Vecchi, Jessica Name and Sergio Pepe, who presented the interdisciplinary judicial experience in the province of Tierra del Fuego. The table was coordinated by the member of the Latin American Institute of the Ombudsman Ana Agostino.

Kicking off the panel, Esteban Ramos spoke and addressed the importance and conclusions of the training programs developed in Honduras as a contribution to the culture of peace: “Public policies are empty without the entire population participating in them, if the recipients of these policies are not considered subjects ”.

“We developed a training program focused on peace education at the University of Honduras where we work on axes related to peace and conflict resolution, to train citizens committed to pacifist practices,” he said and added: “Its content is related with the training components: training workshops; actions based on peace composed of work phases; and the community coexistence seen with the visit to the rural community of Honduras ”.

Finally, he stated that “since Honduras is one of the most violent countries in the world, being a cross-cutting issue in Honduran society, our training programs are very important for creating a reflective space for coexistence in which those who participate can debate without fear of being judged “, and he concluded “We develop dynamic spaces to think and feel what is happening. It is a practice with each other within the program, but which are applicable to the socialization of each of the participants outside the program ”.

Then, it was the turn of Natalia Cuenca, who explained the public policy “Wheels of coexistence” that is applied in part of public secondary schools in Santa Fe [Argentina]: “We address these provincial programs and plans to guarantee the pillars of education such as inclusion and educational quality, to be able to think of school as a place of life, as a place to learn to live in the common ”.

“The Coexistence Wheels are a device that tries to democratize the institution of the school, through meetings where secondary students socialize their perceptions about school conflicts, and propose peaceful resolutions,” he explained and deepened: “They have horizontality as a point and seek improve coexistence in the classroom through dialogue. Thus the educational communities elaborate their coexistence plans, and the student is the protagonist of the legalities that govern them, which makes him part of them ”.

Closing the panel, Silvia Vecchi, Jessica Name and Sergio Pepe made a joint presentation on their role of contributing to social peace, taking clear action to achieve these objectives: “It is of great importance to be critical and identify the shortcomings to the time of not being able to resolve certain situations because, for example, a criminal court can prevent a conflict from being reconciled “.

 

“Perhaps the tools are not available when dealing with a victim who has vulnerabilities, that is why we believe that the values ​​and premises of Restorative Justice allow us tools that improve and humanize these processes”, they highlighted and maintained: “We must rely on, for example, the Directorate of Alternative Methods that help us provide tools for certain conflicts to know when the application of the traditional criminal law may fail to solve the conflict.”

They also explained that “public policies on access to justice are promoted as important places in developments for the transformation of culture and the pacifying possibilities of society”, and invited “members of society in general and even to our colleagues who need to talk to reflect, to dialogue with each other’s own experience, to think about possible personal and common itineraries. We encourage everyone to talk to each other seeking shared interests and to address differences ”.

Finally, they emphasized that “we must make criminal justice the application of last resort. There are other ways that we cn activate and connect with each other to resolve a social conflict sooner.”

PANEL 10: Restorative Pedagogy and Culture of Peace

Panel 10 was called The Restorative Pedagogy and Culture of Peace and was attended by Celia Maria Oliveira Passos from the Institute of Advanced Solutions of Brazil; and Rodolfo Nuñez from Network and Community Work at the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights of the Argentine Nation. The panel was coordinated by Pablo Noel, president of the Buenos Aires Province Magistrate College.

Rodolfo Nuñez analyzed the experience of social networks and restorative justice, and in that sense he stressed that “there are many points of connection between the two since both force us to understand that there are heterogeneous units, diversity of experiences, knowledge, understanding and trajectories already existing. There are plots that pre-exist us, we must abandon the belief that we create the networks ”.

He continued, “We have to get out of the judicial field to realize that the subjects are crossed by that knowledge, understanding, different experiences and that all are influenced in some way by public policies.” And to access that pre-existing knowledge we must create spaces of dialogue with other plots, which we must do with restorative justice as well ”.

Through a presentation he spoke of the community of links, which “must establish interactions between plots to understand adolescents in situations of socio-criminal vulnerability. One of them, for example, is to do community work on the same situation. In our experience working in an area of ​​high social vulnerability we were able to realize that this community has very little detailed knowledge of the State”.

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(Click here for the original article in Spanish)

Discussion questions

Restorative justice, What does it look like in practice?

Mediation as a tool for nonviolence and culture of peace

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“Participants in the intervention must have a rights approach, there must be voluntariness, a community approach, territorial and local management, and it must be inter-agency. Today there are those who question voluntariness, I think it is wrong, voluntariness should not be ignored because young people have things to say, you have to listen to them. It is a restorative practice,” he concluded.

[Editor’s note: the principle of voluntariness is that which “provides that all those involved in a mediation process should have the absolute freedom to decide if they want to be or not parts of it. This translates into two aspects: first, the willingness to enter a mediation, and second, the freedom to remain in it or withdraw from the process at any time.”]

For her part, Celia María Oliveira Passos invited us to think “what is restorative justice, what type of restorative justice are we talking about”, and stated: “Restorative justice is built according to the communities, the spaces, culture, there is no single definition. Each one understands it from their world, from their perspective, so it is necessary to create new spaces to study it ”.

This introduction served to advance around the four waves that can be differentiated in restorative justice and its links with neuroscience and quantum physics: “The first two waves in restorative justice include the restoration of damage, response to pain or offense, the third wave brings us new challenges, to think of restorative justice as a way of life, a philosophy of life, as a way of being, and the fourth wave demands that we understand the current world as a cry for social justice, of outrage at inequalities “.

Regarding the link between neuroscience and restorative justice, she explained that emotions “cannot be foreseen, they arrive, arise and dominate the brain, the organism emanates adrenaline, under tension a person loses the ability to reason. On the other hand, when hormonal reactions such as oxytocin appear, there is a better procedure, there is a better reaction. When there is dialogue, when there is empathy, we can expect peaceful reactions ”.
 

Plenary speeches

The first of the lectures was given by Austen Ivereigh and was entitled “How to get out of the crisis: the message of Pope Francis in Let’s Dream Together”. The presentation focused on the journalist’s conversation with Pope Francis about the content of the pontiff’s publication.

He explained, “The book is divided into three parts that follow the classic dynamics of Latin American Catholicism, which is to see, judge and act or how the Pope prefers to reformulate it, contemplate, discern and propose. Contemplating and seeing is important because you have to see reality as it is and accept it as it is, the second step is to discern or choose and choosing is to see what humanizes us and what dehumanizes us, to see the good and to see the bad, and the third step is to act where we can propose ways of acting that reflect these new awareness of values ​​”.

“When the church speaks of the preferential option for the poor, it means that we must always take into account the impact on the poor of the decisions we make, but it also means that we must put the poor at the center of our way of thinking”, He continued: “The most moving part of the book has to do with something that you will remember, when the Pope was still in Buenos Aires as Archbishop he organized a mass every year in June in the Constitution Square of Buenos Aires and the periphery would come there”. “It says in the book that he felt the good spirit before that praying crowd, which reminded him of the humble people who followed Jesus, he says that the people always carry a promise in their hearts, an invitation that makes them walk towards something they desire despite the marginalization they suffer. The preaching of Jesus evoked ancient promises they carried in their entrails, in their blood, an ancestral awareness of the closeness of God and their own dignity, for that reason they followed Jesus because he gave them dignity ”.

The coordination of both conferences was in charge of María de los Ángeles Pesado Ricardi, a member of the General Defender of Lomas de Zamora [Argentina], who thanked Ivereigh for his participation and gave the floor to Pérez.

In turn, Roberto Perez spoke about “Forgiveness as a way to repair and restore the social fabric, the personal bond and with others:” I am convinced that we are in a moment of re-evolution of consciousness. It is about jumping to another level of conscience that humanity needs to continue to exist. And that is why, in this re-evolution of conscience, there is a path that we must never forget, and that is that generally the situations that surround us are fraught with tension and violence. ”

“There is a well-known saying: ‘Dad, if we kill all the bad guys, do we get all the good guys? No, son, we are all murderers.’ Changes are not made with violence, they are made with education. To hold an event like this is to believe in Peace, it is to believe that changes are not made with violence without education.” “ Forgiveness is the fundamental key to maintain the social fabric of community, of family. All agents of justice must have an attitude that allows for forgiveness, and forgiveness can be generated when the people who are participating in conflict situations carry this attitude of hospitality within them ”.

To conclude, Pérez pointed out that “to be able to forgive, to achieve peace, you need to love. And in this violent society we have to go back to this concept of Plato, who says that to love is to want the good. What is good? Good is the full development of what I love. Therefore to love is to want my own good and the good of others ”.

Congress closing

At the closing of the Congress, and outside the planned program, the Minister of the Supreme Court of Justice of the Province of Buenos Aires, Sergio Torres, said that “sometimes it is not enough to be right, but it is also necessary to be many and this confernce is a good example.”

“The concept of restorative justice has an extremely valuable aspect which is the role of the victim. With the appearance of the nation states and the expropriation of criminal action by the states the victim began to disappear, first languished and then disappeared” , he recapitulated and added: “The role of the State, instead of aiding the victim, diluted her, transformed her into someone anonymous and made her disappear.”

Finally, he highlighted that “this logic of restorative processes that are used successfully to address and resolve some conflicts and damages in different contexts and settings such as families, neighborhoods, schools, sports, places the victim in a central position.”

Later, Raúl Lamberto spoke, after thanking all the participants and organizers of the event, remarked that “the book that we presented yesterday is a paradigmatic change that we need and should be posted on the pages of all the organizers so that it is available of all ”, and emphasized:“ It is necessary that the restorative culture be developed, known and practiced ”.

Finally, he valued: “This congress has a virtue, no one was asked how they thought, where they came from, what their ideology was, what their spirituality was, but they asked if they shared the idea of ​​restoration as an idea of ​​a new and modern practice to deal with conflict ”.

Finally, Eduardo Germán Bauché remarked that “surely there were exhibitors outside of this program who we would have liked to hear. I invite you to the 4th Latin American Congress of Restorative Justice that will be held on August 4, 5 and 6, 2022.”, He concluded, “I am grateful, happy and convinced that the future will bear the fruit of what we are sowing today, here, in each home and in our daily tasks ”.

Building peace, from the bottom up: A Q&A with Séverine Autesserre

EDUCATION FOR PEACE .

This interview, conducted by Jessica Alexander, was originally published by The New Humanitarian, a news agency specialised in reporting humanitarian crises. It is reprinted here by permission.]

As the number of displaced people around the world reached 80 million people due to conflict and persecution last year, Filippo Grandi, the UN’s high commissioner for refugees, acknowledged: “The international community is failing to safeguard peace.” 

Séverine Autesserre addresses these failures and offers a different, more hopeful outlook on ending conflict in her new book, The Frontlines of Peace, released today [May 13]. 

Severine Autesserre with UN peacekeepers

Drawing from research in 12 conflict zones around the world – from the Democratic Republic of Congo, to Afghanistan, to Colombia – Autesserre details what’s wrong with what she refers to as “Peace, Inc.” This traditional approach to ending wars, she explains, relies on foreign-led peacebuilders who lack an in-depth understanding of the societies and cultures in which they work and the causes of violence. 

Lasting peace, she explains, isn’t imported by externals, or driven from elites sitting in capitals. Instead, it relies on the activism of ordinary citizens. It’s time, Autesserre says, for those inside Peace, Inc. to change their relationships with local insiders, shed their unhelpful assumptions, and recognise the potential and power of grassroots initiatives to end conflict. 

Autesserre sat down with The New Humanitarian to talk about her new book and the ways in which international peacebuilders can do better. She describes places like Idjwi, an island in Lake Kivu in Congo that has become a peaceful sanctuary amidst a decades-long conflict. She talks about the way a mother knows that peace has come because her child starts speaking in the future tense.

And she explains why some peacebuilding efforts fail, yet others flourish. 

This interview has been edited for length and clarity. 

The New Humanitarian: Your new book is full of examples of successful local level peace initiatives. Why did you feel the need to write this book? And why are its messages especially relevant today? 

Séverine Autesserre: I didn’t set out to write a book about local peace initiatives; I wanted to write a book about how to end violence. One and a half billion people live under the threat of violence in more than 50 countries around the globe. Even countries like France and the United States are facing an increasing number of hate crimes, gang fighting, terror attacks. It’s critical that we do something.

When I started working on The Frontlines of Peace, I had already written two books and dozens of articles on why and how we fail to stop war and end violence. So I wanted to look at success – at what actually works to build peace during and after mass violence.

And it’s because I looked more at the success of peacebuilding that I ended up writing about grassroots efforts, because what works is usually innovative grassroots initiatives that are sometimes supported by foreigners, and they also often use methods that are shunned by the international elite.

TNH: Which kinds of methods are shunned? Can you give an example? 

Autesserre: Take Idjwi, an island in the middle of Lake Kivu near the border between the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda. The DRC is home to one of the deadliest conflicts since World War II, but the island of Idjwi itself is a haven of peace. When you look at how Idjwi has maintained peace for the past 20 years, it’s not the usual suspects – the state or the police – who have managed to control tensions; it’s not foreign peacebuilders or peacekeeping missions or international organisations; it’s members of the community themselves.

When I talk with international peacebuilders and peacekeepers, they tell me that ordinary citizens do not have the skills to build peace; they cannot help their situation. And I show that they do.

Residents of Idjwi have what they call a culture of peace – they resolve conflicts through grassroots structures, community meetings, and many other local initiatives that international peacebuilders often dismiss as being completely irrelevant. 

People in Idjwi draw on a very strong belief that helps deter violence by both insiders and outsiders. For instance, you have blood pacts – traditional promises between two parties who agree never to hurt each other. You also have beliefs around witchcraft:

There is a myth that Idjwi is the home of the most powerful sorcerers – that makes Idjwi this kind of place where Congolese in surrounding provinces are afraid to attack because they worry that the sourcerers will attack them back. 

There are many different methods, beliefs. They vary depending on the context, but they are all very specific, local, and rooted in society and cultures. 

TNH: If these local initiatives may have a better chance, and foreign intervention may mess things up or make the situation worse, how do you distinguish which efforts are worthy? 

Autesserre: I don’t say that local initiatives have a better chance, or that foreign intervention messes things up. What I say is that certain local initiatives have a better chance, and certain foreign intervention efforts mess things up; just like there are certain local initiatives that are doomed to fail, and certain foreign intervention efforts that actually make a positive difference – both at the highest level and on the ground. 

In the book, I detail foreign peacebuilders who come from all over the world – working for different organisations in very different countries. They are what I call model interveners, who do actually make a difference at the highest level and on the ground. 

There are a few characteristics which they have in common. They don’t believe that they, as outsiders, know better, or that they have the right theories, skills, and expertise, or that they bring the ideal solutions to people’s problems. Instead, they respect local residents; they listen to them. They are open minded; they understand that other people have a different understanding of peace, democracy, and development.  

They know the local context well; they speak at least some of the local languages; and they have extensive local networks. They are in it for the long run; they stay on-site for years, sometimes decades. They don’t put themselves at the forefront of peace efforts. They don’t put their logos everywhere. Instead, they maintain a low profile and they turn the spotlight on the achievements of their local partners: elites, local staff, ordinary people. 

They are flexible. They keep adapting their strategies based on the results and feedback that they get and the way the situation evolves. They understand that sometimes there are hard choices, because all these things may not fit together so we may have to choose between worthy goals. The best interveners understand that they should not be the ones to make these choices: The people who have to live with the consequences of the decision should be the ones making it.  

TNH: So, it’s not a dichotomy of only local; it’s about having a mix?

Autesserre: Yes, we need top-down and bottom-up. We need both insiders and outsiders. We don’t want to replace top-down with bottom-up or international with local grassroots peacebuilding – we need both. But the reason why I insist on more grassroots bottom-up efforts is because currently most of the international resources and attention is on top-down efforts working at the national and international levels. We need international involvement, but as I show in the book, we also need to change the way we work at the highest level. We need to follow the characteristics of the model peacebuilders which I’ve outlined. 

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Question for this article:

What are the most important books about the culture of peace?

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TNH: How do you define success in peace efforts? 

Autesserre: When I was doing the research for the book, I didn’t come in with my own definition of success. I asked people: ‘Do you have peace in your neighborhood, your village, your district or country, and do you think this or that initiative has been successful and, if so, why?’ 

“It’s things like a mother in Congo telling me that my child is now speaking in the future tense; a woman in Colombia saying I know that there is peace in my village because I can sleep in my pajamas.”

Peace and success which I document in the book are based on what peace practitioners and people on the ground feel and experience. It can take a lot of different forms, some of which I would never have thought about. It’s not love and harmony between world leaders or country leaders. It’s things like a mother in Congo telling me that my child is now speaking in the future tense; a woman in Colombia saying I know that there is peace in my village because I can sleep in my pajamas. Before, she always thought there would be fighting during the night and she would have to get dressed and run out, so it was better to go to sleep fully dressed. To her, peace was sleeping in her pajamas. In Colombia, many people mention how they sleep as an indication of peacefulness – with the windows open, the doors unlocked. There are so many other examples: You can use the toilet in your garden when you don’t have toilets in your house at night; you don’t have to use a chamber pot. These are definitions of peace and ways that people perceive peace and success that I would have never thought about.  

TNH: We are hearing similar calls today within the humanitarian sector to take a look in the mirror, to decolonise the humanitarian system and make aid more localised. 

Autesserre: We are all due for a good look in the mirror – peacebuilding, development, humanitarians. I got a message from a friend, a leader of a big humanitarian organisation who said she’s given the book to her board and to her operations director, because we still use too much of “Aid, Inc.” I receive a lot of messages like that, by leaders or people lower down in the chain saying that they are using the book to help advocate for the ideals that they believe in and that I believe in. 

The book is hopefully helping not by showing what we do wrong, but that we can approach peacebuilding and aid differently, and it’s actually effective and possible within all kinds of organisations, countries, and cultures.

TNH: TNH has a new coverage series exploring peacebuilding  – often at the community level – and some of the reports show the power of locally driven approaches. But they also seem vulnerable to political dynamics beyond the community’s control, at the regional and national levels. How do you propose we address that?

Autesserre: A really big issue with our standard approach to peace is that many conflicts revolve around political, social, economic issues that are distinctively local – at the level of individuals, families, and the community. So our common approach [to peacebuilding], which is focused on governments and elites in capital cities, isn’t enough.

I realised this in one of my first visits to Congo in 2003. I met a woman my age, her name was Isabelle. Local militia had attacked her village. They had killed many men, raped many women, looted everything, and tried to kidnap her. Her husband defended Isabelle and said, ‘no, take me’. He went with the militia and Isabelle never saw him again. 

Isabelle told me that the rebels attacked her village not because of the national and international tensions that everyone is talking about, meaning the war between Congo and Rwanda. It was because the rebels wanted to take the land that the villagers needed to survive. I remember her story all these years because it’s about the awful consequences of local conflicts that foreign peacebuilders and peacekeepers and international organisations so often ignore. 

“What I’ve seen when investigating conflicts around the world, is that ordinary citizens and grassroots leaders have a lot more power, skills, and ways to resolve their own problems than we usually believe.”

Locally driven peace approaches are also about building on insiders: people who lead the conflict. Of course, local leaders, ordinary citizens, are not by definition better, more peaceful, or less corrupt than national and international elites. But to me, they are better placed to address the local context, the grassroots issues, because only they know the ins and outs of their specific situation.

What I’ve seen when investigating conflicts around the world, is that ordinary citizens and grassroots leaders have a lot more power, skills, and ways to resolve their own problems than we usually believe. In every single conflict that I’ve researched, in every country, I’ve found examples of ordinary citizens and grassroots activists who use their personal connections to convince the leaders of surrounding armed groups to come and negotiate. What is fascinating is how personal peacebuilding actually is. It is fathers, mothers, uncles, cousins, brothers, sisters reaching out to family members who are fighting. Teachers, who go to meet their former students, or village leaders within their own community, telling them they had to stop fighting. 

Take Somalia, which is extremely violent, has terror attacks, and violence every week, versus Somaliland, an autonomous region in the north of Somalia that has experienced very little violence for the past 20 years, very little terrorism, has a well functioning state, decent public services, and even some kind of functioning democracy. The key difference to me is that Somaliland benefited from sustained grassroots peacebuilding initiatives that were led by insiders, by Somali leaders themselves. If you look at the rest of Somalia, you see the usual top-down, outsider-led Peace, Inc. approach used. To me, Somaliland is important to keep in mind because it shows that, yes, there are places where the local peace can be jeopardised by an armed group or the government, but Somaliland shows you there are ways to make bottom-up peace very robust and sustainable. 

TNH: When you look at today’s violence in Tigray: a cross-border conflict and a civil war – surely a place where you would need foreign involvement  – what advice would you have for leaders at this stage in finding peace? 

Autesserre: You should ask people in Tigray, not me. We need to ask and not just jump in no matter what. Listen and respect the wishes of the people you’ve been talking to before jumping in. 

TNH: Local power dynamics can exclude the voices of some – like women in a place like Afghanistan. How can that be addressed? 

Autesserre: You have the same problem with national and international dynamics. The fact that local power dynamics exclude the voices of women is not specific to local dynamics. It’s something that happens with all kinds of peace agreements and peace processes. When you look at the representation of women in the current Afghan peace talks – and virtually all other international and national peace talks for that matter – it’s highly problematic.

Representation of women is very low. And it’s not only women – there are also a lot of minority communities that are excluded from these processes. 

“When you ask me, how do we address power dynamics which cut out the voice of some, you have to ask people who are excluded –  what do they want?”

One of the characteristics of the model peacebuilders that I talk about is that sometimes there are hard choices. Sometimes we have to choose between worthy goals – for instance, between peace and democracy or peace and justice. If you take peace and democracy, there has been a lot of research showing that elections organised right after the end of the conflict often fuel violence rather than promote peace. So you have tension between peace and democracy. 

It’s the people who have to live with the consequences of the decision who should be the ones making it. When you ask me, how do we address power dynamics which cut out the voice of some, you have to ask people who are excluded –  what do they want? Ask women in Afghanistan what they want us to prioritise. 

TNH: Syria talks on a possible new constitution seem stalled before they got started. Is there a point at which the UN should throw its hands up and recognise when talks aren’t going anywhere? 

Autesserre: If you’re asking me when should we stop trying to build peace, my answer is never. When should we stop using what I call the Peace, Inc. approach and consider an alternative way to build peace? Well, my answer is right now. 


Source of this article

Afghanistan: Striving for Human Security While Ending Forever Wars

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

An article from the Global Campaign for Peace Education

The announcement of the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan has initiated an essential discussion of the terms and conditions under which the demilitarization of security might be carried out without undermining the human security of the populations involved.  While the process of demilitarization will be long and complex, the immediate requirements of something more than careless abandonment are evident in Afghanistan. We urge the peace education community to inquire into the terms of the withdrawal of forces from Afghanistan that would be as ethical and constructive as possible. We see such an inquiry as a first step toward the design of a comprehensive and effective transition strategy from a militarized to human security system. In the near future further pieces on the problematic of troop withdrawals and human security will be shared here as we explore the possibilities for such design.


A woman walks in front of tents at an internally displaced persons (IDP) site in Kandahar, southern Afghanistan. (Photo: OCHA Afghanistan/Fariba Housaini)

We recommend that educators begin this process with a discussion of Nicholas Kristof’s Op Ed in the May 17, 2021 issue of the New York Times reproduced below. Carefully review the multiple practical needs withdrawal that he outlines, and reflect together on Kristof’s assessment of the significance of education.  Also, note that he quotes our colleague and longtime GCPE member and IIPE participant, Sakena Yacoobi. And, if you are so moved, write to the President and other US responsibles, urging them to assure that the withdrawal process does not cause further suffering among the Afghan people.

-BAR, 5/17/21

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Question related to this article:

Is peace possible in Afghanistan?

(article continued from left column)

Education Poses an Existential Threat to Extremism

(Reposted from: New York Times.  May 15, 2021)

By Nicholas Kristof

Lying in her hospital bed in Kabul, Afghanistan, having survived an extremist group’s bombing  that killed more than 80 students at her school, a 17-year-old named Arifa was as determined as she was frightened.

“I will continue my education, even if I’m afraid,” Arifa, who hopes to become a doctor, vowed  to Richard Engel of NBC News.

Afghan girls and boys may lack books, pens and laptops, but in their thirst for education, they have plenty to teach the world. Indeed, one of the few things the extremists and the students seem to agree on is the transformational power of education, especially girls’ education.
In some hideous way, perhaps it was rational for fundamentalists to blow up the school, because girls’ education poses an existential threat to extremism. That’s why the Pakistani Taliban shot Malala Yousafzai in the head. It’s why the Afghan Taliban threw acid in girls’ faces.

In the long run, a girl with a book is a greater threat to extremism than a drone overhead.
“The way to long-term change is education,” said Sakena Yacoobi, a hero of mine who has devoted her life to educating her fellow Afghans. “A nation is not built on temporary jobs and mining rights, contractors and political favors. A nation is built on culture and shared history, shared reality and community well-being. We pass these down with education.”

Since 9/11, we Americans have sought to defeat terrorism and extremism with the military toolbox. As we pull our forces out of Kabul and Kandahar, this is a moment to reflect on the limits of military power and the reasons to invest in more cost-effective tools to change the world, like schooling.

After almost 20 years and $2 trillion, the mightiest army in the history of the world couldn’t remake Afghanistan. Some Americans are critical of President Biden for withdrawing from Afghanistan, but I think he made the right decision. I’ve long argued that we were losing ground and that the war was unsustainable.

I reached that conclusion after Afghan contractors in Kabul who supplied U.S. forces told me  that for every $1,000 America paid them, they gave $600 to the Taliban in bribes to pass through checkpoints. To support a single U.S. soldier in Helmand Province, contractors paid the Taliban enough in bribes to hire 10 men to fight against that American.

Yet while America’s longest war is unsustainable, we must remember our obligations. We should greatly accelerate visas for the roughly 17,000  Afghan translators, aides and others who have worked with the United States and will be in danger when our forces are gone. Otherwise, their blood will be on our hands.

So with a heightened appreciation of the limits of military power, let’s try to chip away at extremism with tools like education. It’s also much cheaper. For the cost of deploying a single soldier in Afghanistan for one year, we can establish and pay expenses of 20 rudimentary schools.

There’s a misperception that the Taliban will not allow girls to be educated. It’s not easy, but it can be done. The Taliban tolerates many girls’ schools, particularly primary schools and those with female teachers, but aid groups must negotiate with communities and win support. It doesn’t work to have a sign saying it’s donated by America.

“Most aid groups have been able to operate successfully on both sides of Taliban front lines,” noted Paul Barker, who has spent many years in the region as an aid worker.

Girls’ education is not a magic wand. Schools were built in all corners of Afghanistan over the last 20 years, yet this was not enough  to stymie the Taliban.

“It’s not that you go to school and suddenly are empowered,” a young Afghan woman told me. Let’s be honest: Nothing works as well as we would like to overcome extremism.
Yet this young woman is an example of what’s at stake. She studied on her own in the Taliban heartland and then was able to come to the United States — where she is now doing research on quantum algorithms.

Education is an imperfect weapon against extremism, but it helps. It works through some combination of opening minds, building a middle class, giving women a greater voice in society and reducing population growth and thus a destabilizing “youth bulge” in the population.

So I hope that as we, chastened, pull military forces from Afghanistan, we will learn something from extremists and their victims alike: Promoting girls’ education isn’t about mushy idealism, but about employing an inexpensive tool that is frustratingly slow — but sometimes the best tool we’ve got.

“There is no other way to build a nation,” Yacoobi told me. “Maybe someday we will melt down some of these guns and trade them in for medicines and new Homeric epics. If we wish to get there, we must always start with education.”

Imagine Project receives Global Education award

… EDUCATION FOR PEACE …

A press release from The Association for Historical Dialogue and Research

The Association for Historical Dialogue and Research (AHDR) proudly announces that the ‘Imagine’ project has been awarded with the “GENE Global Education Award 2020/2021: Quality and good practice in Glocal EDucation across Europe” which is an annual award given to global education initiatives in recognition of their work in order to highlight good practices within the field.


Video of Imagine project

A GENE is the network responsible for Global Education in European countries and it “has been working for 20 years towards the day when all people in Europe – in solidarity with people globally – will have access to quality Global Education”. The award includes a certificate for quality work in Global Education and recognition which is accompanied by the Prize of 10.000 euros that will be used to further improve activities for the promotion of a Culture of Peace in Cyprus through education.

The ‘Imagine’ project, is an educational program on anti-racism and peace education, which aims to increase contact and collaboration among the communities in Cyprus.

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Question for this article:

Where is peace education taking place?

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As of 2021, the ‘Imagine’ project succeeded in bringing together 5091 students, accompanied by 582 teachers. In the last years, ‘Imagine’ also offers opportunities for further interaction between students and teachers by enriching its existing activities with sustainability actions; educational walks across the walled city of Nicosia; and study visits to locations of historical, cultural, environmental and other significance around the island. In addition to activities with students, 340 teachers were trained in Peace Education and another 92 head teachers and school administrators participated in the ‘Imagine’ Head Teachers conference.

As the implementing  organisation of the ‘Imagine’ project, AHDR would like to thank the Co-Chairs of the Technical Committee on Education Dr. Michalinos Zembylas and Dr. Ersun İşçioğlu, as well as former Co-Chair Dr. Meltem Onurkan-Samani, for embracing the project and placing it under the auspices of the Committee; the Home for Cooperation for their partnership; UNFICYP and the Office of the Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Cyprus for their continuous support and appraisal; the Federal Foreign Office of the Republic of Germany for funding and making the project possible; H.E. the Ambassador of Germany in Cyprus Franz Josef Kremp for his commitment to the cause; the staff and board members of the AHDR for their hard work and inspiration; PeacePlayers Cyprus for their collaboration; the ‘Imagine’ pool of trainers for their dedication; and, most importantly, the ‘Imagine’ teachers and students for their participation and contribution to the success of the project. Last but not least, we would like to extend our Global Education Network Europe (GENE) for the recognition and the award.

As AHDR, we would like to express our dedication to continue working towards creating change by imagining novel ways to encourage interaction and promote a Culture of Peace and Non-violence all around the island!

The ‘Imagine’ Project is implemented by the Association for Historical Dialogue and Research and the Home for Cooperation under the auspices of the Technical Committee on Education. It is funded by the Federal Foreign Office of the Republic of Germany and is supported by the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) and the Office of the Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Cyprus.

[Thank you to the Global Campaign for Peace Education for calling this article to our attention.]

South and Southeast Asia: Digital Games for Peace: Creativity, Innovation & Resilience

… EDUCATION FOR PEACE …

.An announcement from the Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development

The #DigitalGamesForPeace challenge calls upon youth (aged 18-35) from South and Southeast Asia who are game designers, game developers, or researchers in the fields of peacebuilding, prevention of violent extremism, or intercultural dialogue – to submit their applications for a chance to develop innovative ideas on the use of games for peacebuilding.

What is the Challenge about?

The #DigitalGamesForPeace Challenge aims to harness the creative energies of youth from South and Southeast Asia and the promise of game-based innovations in cultivating pertinent competencies for prevention of violent extremism. The Challenge is being organised by the United Nations Office of Counterterrorism (UNOCT), United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC), and United Nations, Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) through the Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development (MGIEP).

Who is it for?

Youth who wish to apply must: – Be between (and including) 18 and 35 years old. – Be nationals from or have a domicile in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Pakistan, or Sri Lanka. – Have experience with 1 or more of the following areas of expertise: social and emotional learning (SEL), the prevention of violent extremism (PVE) or (video)gaming. – Have good research and writing skills – Apply before June 7, 2021, 11:59 PM IST

What’s in it for me?

If selected, you will have the opportunity to spearhead a UN project. Further, your capacities on intercultural dialogue, social and emotional learning, game-based methodologies will be significantly improved such that post the project, you will have additional skills to wage sustainable peace in your respective community. You will meet and work with a formidable group of young gamechangers from South and Southeast Asia. Additionally, you will be part of a select group of individuals who will have the opportunity to meet and interact with experts from the fields of social emotional learning, game-design, and prevention of violent extremism.

Questions for this article:

Where can one find games for peacebuilding?

How do I participate?

To be considered for selection, submit the call for application on the link that helps us understand your motivations and past experiences to be a gamechanger. We are also seeking some specific information related to digital games and how you think they have the potential to promote ideas of peace, social and emotional learning and prevention of violent extremism.

Apply to be a Gamechanger

Timelines

Phase 1 (June – September 2021)

Release of Call for applications to shortlist 51 gamechangers between the ages 18-35 years. The shortlisted youth will embark upon improving their capacities on game-based methodologies for peace. This includes exclusively curated training, bootcamps, and mentorship opportunities by thought and industry leaders in the disciplines of game design/development, social-emotional learning, and prevention of violent extremism. The shortlisted youth would then review and test existing games that contribute to building intercultural dialogue and SEL competencies for PVE.

Phase 2 (October – December 2021)

21 selected youth will move into the next phase based on their activity reports and participation in Phase 1. The cohort of gamechangers will ideate, design, and develop innovative projects on the use of games for peacebuilding.

Expected Products

The final products would range from creating a repository of reviewed video games, designing alternate endings to existing games, defining ideal governance practices that define the future of gaming and PVE, designing game storyboards of SEL and PVE, adapting games for SEL and PVE curricula and other possible projects that expand the scope of games for peacebuilding. A team of experts and partners will continue to mentor the gamechangers towards the fruition of their selected project.

Expected Outcomes

1. Youth-led, innovative, game-based methodologies are harnessed to enhance social emotional learning and intercultural dialogue competencies for PVE amongst young people in South and Southeast Asia.

2. Young people in South and Southeast Asia have improved skills capacities for intercultural dialogue and social emotional learning to prevent violent extremism, using the practical guidance developed.

Expected Impact

It is expected that at the conclusion of the initiative, the long term impact will be the use of digital games by young peacebuilders, education professionals and students – to cultivate social and emotional competencies in youth for intercultural dialogue in the South and Southeast Asia Region.

Be a Game Changer! Apply Now!

Interested to learn more? Contact Dani at d.dani@unesco.org or youth.mgiep@unesco.org