Revision of the 1974 Recommendation: UNESCO Member States reach consensus

Editor’s Note:  The Global Campaign for Peace Education contributed to the process of the revision of the Recommendation concerning education for international understanding, co-operation and peace and education for human rights and fundamental freedoms (the 1974 Recommendation) by developing a technical note used by the International Expert Group that advised UNESCO through the revision process.  The technical note, New understandings of education’s contribution to peace: a review of what we know is effective, can be downloaded here.  That technical note has been adapted by the Global Campaign for Peace Education as the white paper What can education concretely (and realistically) do to mitigate contemporary threats and foster lasting peace?

“The revised text of the Recommendation marks a promise we make to learners around the world, a promise to provide them with knowledge and tools they need to become enlightened citizens, able to seize the opportunities and meet the challenges of our time, with a keen sense of respect for others and values of peace, coexistence and cooperation.”

(Reposted from: UNESCO.  July 13, 2023)

On 12 July, UNESCO Member States agreed on the revised text of the 1974 Recommendation concerning education for international understanding, co-operation and peace and education relating to human rights and fundamental freedoms. This international document provides a clear roadmap for how education should evolve in the twenty-first century to contribute to peace, reaffirm human rights and promote global citizenship and sustainable development in the face of contemporary threats and challenges.

Negotiations over the second draft of the revised text took place over two sessions of an intergovernmental special committee meeting, during 30 May – 2 June and 10-12 July 2023. Over 200 delegates from 112 countries – education and legal experts nominated by Member States and Associate Members of UNESCO – spent seven days discussing the revisions to reach the final consensus. Additionally, 50 observers from inter- and nongovernmental organizations, other entities and one UNESCO non-Member State were monitoring the transparency of the meeting and over 500 viewers connected online watching the debates.

UNESCO’s Assistant Director General of Education, Ms Stefania Giannini, said: “Throughout the revision process we have witnessed an extraordinary display of collaboration and commitment by our Member States. The revised text of the Recommendation marks a promise we make to learners around the world, a promise to provide them with knowledge and tools they need to become enlightened citizens, able to seize the opportunities and meet the challenges of our time, with a keen sense of respect for others and values of peace, coexistence and cooperation.”

The revised text of the Recommendation is the culmination of a long process that involved more than 3000 experts from over 130 countries – educators, non-governmental organizations, academics, youth, other intergovernmental and UN organizations, individual experts, and Member States. It updates guidance and introduces concepts that had not been included in the original Recommendation, drawing from the Futures of Education report released in 2021, such as gender equality, global citizenship education, education for sustainable development, lifelong and life-wide learning, and digital competencies, among others, to address current and future threats and ensure that education continues to serve its humanistic purpose for decades to come.

Now that Member States participating in the Special Committee meeting have agreed upon the text, it will be submitted to the General Conference in view of its adoption at the 42nd session in November 2023.

As a next step after final adoption in November 2023, UNESCO together with Member States will work on an implementation guide that will assist all relevant stakeholders with putting the principles from the Recommendation into practice.

It is expected that the newly updated and evidence-informed text of the Recommendation should help Member States transform and shape their education policies and systems over the next 30 years.

About the Recommendation

The 1974 Recommendation is the only international instrument that brings together and articulates education’s role in building peace, international understanding, human rights, and fundamental freedoms. It establishes international principles and standards for governing education in this field.

To ensure it remains relevant for the decades to come and fully addresses contemporary challenges and threats, UNESCO Member States decided to review the Recommendation at the 41st session of the General Conference in 2021. UNESCO led a transparent and participatory three-phase revision process, guided by the Organization’s Rules of procedure. The revision was also inspired by the results of the Transforming Education Summit and the Futures of Education report.

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