The promotion of peace through education is at the heart of UNESCO’s mission. As stated in its constitution of 1945, UNESCO advances international peace and the common welfare of humanity through educational, scientific and cultural relations between peoples of the world.

 

Though the world has changed over the past sixty years and continues to change at an ever increasing rate, UNESCO’s mission - a commitment to promoting universal values of peace and nonviolence, human rights and social justice, intercultural dialogue and mutual understanding – persists with growing urgency. UNESCO’s approach to educating for peace is multidimensional, in that it links education with a range of activities that address the root causes of violence, from human security to sustainable development. The goal of UNESCO’s education programmes and partnerships is the development of comprehensive systems of education that embrace the values of human rights, intercultural understanding and tolerance. Education for peace and non-violence promotes the knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviours that reflect and inspire these values.

 

In the framework of the NET-MED Youth Project, and on the occasion of the International Day of Non-Violence (Oct. 2) and the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, UNESCO Beirut organized from 2 to 7 October 2018 a regional training workshop titled “Capacity development in youth engagement and research in non-violence”.

 

The workshop, addressed to a group of 25 young activists and researchers from across the Arab world, and held in partnership with the Academic University for Non-Violence and Human Rights (AUNOHR), aimed at equipping participants with academic and practical tools to promote non-violence and a culture of peace and coexistence in their societies.

 

During the 5-day training, participants shared their field experience and initiated a research on non-violence. The training, provided by a team of local and international experts selected by AUNOHR, addressed various key notions and themes, including: An overview of the most prominent male and female pioneers of non-violence; The human being and the nature of violence and non-violence; Successful experiences and youth stories from the Arab region and beyond; The Youth as creators of positive peace initiatives; Effective advocacy on non-violence; Research on non-violence and research methodologies.

 

In the opening session, Seiko Sugita, Programme Specialist at UNESCO Beirut, said: “UNESCO seeks to implement UN Security Council 2250 which calls for the promotion of the meaningful role of youth in peace-building. This training on Capacity Development in Youth Engagement and Research in non-violence falls into SDG#16 which calls for the promotion of peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development. UNESCO seeks to help transform the culture of war and violence into a culture of peace; and you, young people from the region, play a crucial role in spreading a culture of peace in your societies”.

 

Participants expressed their satisfaction with the workshop. Ayham Stitan, from Palestine, said: “This is a one-of-a kind experience! I was introduced to young people from the region who, like me, are passionate and want to improve their societies through associative work, volunteering, or research into peace and non-violence. I really gained a lot, and I hope that this activity is a stepping stone toward achieving something big on a regional scale that mobilizes all the participants.”

 

As to Abdulnizar Khaled Hamza, from Iraq, he stated: “I gained an academic, scientific understanding of non-violence: its rationale, the people who historically promoted it, ways of achieving it, etc… The experts were very engaging, and the discussions we had among us was truly interesting… We gained lot from each other’s experience”.

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