The UN has stressed the need for peace education at childhood to promote ideals of non-violence, equality and mutual respect. UN General Assembly President Peter Thomson and UN Secretary-General António Guterres both stated this at an all-day event in New York with a focus on early childhood development.
Thomson, who convened the high-level event, said it was to emphasise how to achieve a culture of peace amid current global challenges and threats to stability, prosperity and the planet. “We have to teach our children the values of peace, tolerance, equality and respect. They should be under no illusions as to the self-destructiveness of the alternative.
“We must equip them with the skills and education they need to peacefully resolve disputes; to confront injustice and intolerance; and to reject all forms of discrimination and hate,” he said. Thomson noted that creating peaceful and just societies was dependent on eradicating poverty, increasing inclusive prosperity, promoting human rights, strengthening the rule of law, and building effective and accountable institutions.
According to him, creating a peaceful and just societies is one of the goals of the Sustainable Development Agenda which has guided the international community’s anti-poverty efforts since 2015. “Fostering a culture of peace requires all of us – individuals, nations and international organisations – to work together to promote understanding of our common humanity.
“We must promote intercultural respect, strengthen interreligious understanding, and inspire people’s hopes for the future. Above all we must unite for peace,” Thomson said. The event brought together representatives from UN Member States, UN system entities, civil society, media, the private sector and others with an interest in exchanging ideas and suggestions on ways to build and promote a ‘culture of peace’.
The UN Secretary-General, who said in addition to early childhood education and investment in children, stressed the need to invest in youth to promote world peace. Guterres called young men and women “the barometer of social discontent, economic marginalization and political exclusion,” and said they must be recognised as active agents of change and custodians of peace.
In a speech delivered by his Senior Advisor on Policy, Ana Menéndez, Guterres also recognised women’s contributions and participation in long-term peace efforts. The UN chief said that women’s meaningful participation generated a different perspective in solving problems, and needed to be supported in all aspects of life. Guterres also highlighted the importance of investing in inclusion and cohesion, so that diversity is seen as a benefit and not a threat.
“To prevent intolerance, violent extremism and radicalization, we need to promote the inclusion, solidarity and cohesion of multi-ethnic, multicultural and multi-religious societies. It is the best antidote to racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism,” the UN chief said.
The first forum on the ‘Culture of Peace’ was held in September 2012, and recognised the need for continual support to further strengthening the global movement for peace.