Online Toolkit

Part 4 - Key Concepts, Models, and Tools

Peace Education

"Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed" – Preamble of the UNESCO Constitution, 1945

Peace Education is a multi-disciplinary approach to teaching about peace, and for peace. It aims to help students acquire a critical awareness of nonviolent conflict resolution, and the skills and commitment to be actively engaged in the pursuit of peace.[80]

As defined by UNICEF, it is the process of promoting the knowledge, skills, attitudes and values needed to bring about a change in behaviour that will enable children, youth and adults prevent violence, both direct and structural; to transform conflicts peacefully; and to create conditions conducive to peace, from an interpersonal, inter-group, national or global level.[81]

Culture of Peace

In discussions on peace, one often hears the concept: Culture of Peace. But what does it mean?

As defined by the United Nations, the Culture of Peace is a set of values, attitudes, modes of behaviour, and ways of life that reject violence and prevent conflicts by tackling their root causes to solve problems through dialogue and negotiation among individuals, groups and nations (UN Resolutions A/RES/52/13). [82]

The term Culture of peace was inspired by an educational initiative called Cultura de paz developed in Peru (1986), and by the Seville Statement on Violence (1986) adopted by scientists from around the world, which stated that violence is not inherent in human nature, and that war is not determined by genes, violent brains, or instincts, but is rather a social invention!
Therefore, "the same species that invented war is capable of inventing peace."

United Nations proclaimed the "International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-violence for the Children of the World" (2001-2010), with a view of eliciting public awareness and promoting actions towards a culture of peace, harmonic co-existence and respect for human rights, with special emphasis on girls, boys and youths who suffer the brunt of violence, intolerance, and discrimination. During this decade, NGOs, including youth organisations, implemented a wide range of activities aimed at creating a culture of peace. More about this can be found in the mid-term and end-of decade report from the civil society.

How can we promote this Culture of Peace? – through eight action areas!

Following the proposal made by UNESCO, the UN General Assembly in 1999 came up with the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace (resolution A/53/243) that called for everyone – governments, civil society, the media, parents, teachers, politicians, scientists, artists, NGOs and the entire United Nations system – to assume responsibility in this respect. It stated 8 action areas to be carried out at the national, regional and international levels:

  • Fostering a culture of peace through education

    Revising the educational curricula to promote qualitative values, attitudes, and behaviours of a culture of peace, including peaceful conflict-resolution, dialogue, consensus-building and active non-violence.

  • Promoting sustainable economic and social development

    Reducing economic and social inequalities by eradicating poverty, and by assuring sustainable food security , social justice, durable solutions to debt problems, empowerment of women, special measures for groups with special needs, and environmental sustainability.

  • Promoting respect for all human rights

    Human rights and a culture of peace are complementary: whenever war and violence dominate, there is no possibility to ensure human rights; at the same time, without human rights, in all their dimensions, there can be no culture of peace.

  • Ensuring equality between women and men

    Through full participation of women in economic, social and political decision-making, elimination of all forms of discrimination and violence against women, support and assistance to women in need.

  • Fostering democratic participation

    Indispensable foundations for the achievement and maintenance of peace and security are democratic principles, practices and participation in all sectors of society, a transparent and accountable governance and administration, and the combat against terrorism, organised crime, corruption, illicit drugs and money laundering ...

  • Advancing understanding, tolerance and solidarity

    To abolish war and violent conflicts we need to transcend and overcome enemy images with understanding, tolerance and solidarity among all peoples and cultures. Learning from our differences, through dialogue and the exchange of information, is an enriching process ...

  • Supporting participatory communication

    Freedom of information and communication and the sharing of information and knowledge are indispensable for a culture of peace. However, measures need to be taken to address the issue of violence in the media, including new information and communication technologies ...

  • Promoting international peace and security

    The gains in human security and disarmament in recent years, including nuclear weapons treaties and the treaty banning land mines, should encourage us to increase our efforts in negotiation of peaceful settlements, elimination of production and traffic of arms and weapons, humanitarian solutions in conflict situations, post-conflict initiatives ...

How to create Peace
Want to make a difference, but don't know where to start?
Tips and advice from young peace-builders

TRY ...
- Starting from within ourselves: acting on a personal level, then extending it to others
- Engaging in inter-cultural dialogues
- Understanding each other and accepting people's differences
- Listening, learning, speaking out, and acting on socio-political and civic issues
- Strengthening young people's desire to volunteer

What are the qualities of a peace-builder?

- Good diplomatic and communication skills (both listening and talking)
- Open-minded, and willing to work in a team
- Optimistic and energetic
- Realistic and responsible
- A desire to affect change - to be passionate about peace!