Living Together in Peace: UNESCO Showcased its contribution to Peace and Security in Africa

(Reposted from: UNESCO.  November 7, 2019)

UNESCO Liaison Office to ECA and AUC in Addis Ababa took part in the  African Union Peace and Security Council Open Session under the theme: “Living Together in Peace” on 5 November 2019 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in which it reiterated its long-standing commitments to peacebuilding.

Peacebuilding is at the heart of UNESCO’s mission that it promotes through education, sciences, culture and communication and information programmes.  Moreover,  the United Nations (UN) General Assembly during its meeting on 8 December 2017, call  for UNESCO to cooperate with other relevant bodies in facilitating the celebration of the “International Day of Living Together in Peace’’.

On the Open Session, Mr. Albert Mendy, Education Specialist for UNESCO’s Addis Ababa Liaison Office read the message of  Ms. Audrey Azoulay, Director General of UNESCO in which she noted, “In a world where we regularly find ourselves witnessing tensions, acts of hatred, rejection of others and discrimination, the quest for peace and the desire to live together in harmony are more fundamental than ever.” She further stressed UNESCO’s and United Nations commitment in working on a daily basis to empower people to achieve peace, not only because peace is one of the main objectives of the 2030 Agenda, but also because it is a prerequisite for sustainable development and the common good.

A good example of UNESCO’s contribution to awareness, training, prevention, conflict resolution but also to promoting living together while supporting the African Union is in its efforts at regional integration through the BIOPALT project or Lake Chad Biosphere and Heritage, on “Applying the model of cross-border biosphere reserves and World Heritage sites to promote peace in the Lake Chad Basin through the sustainable management of its natural resources.”

The project aims to promote coexistence and the peaceful settlement of conflicts in the sub-region, including the establishment of multi-actor consultation platforms within the framework of the proposal for biosphere reserves whose spatial zoning is done on the basis of consensus decisions of communities on the way natural resources are managed.

“Peace requires ever more active investment, enlightened leadership, powerful educational values and a progressive media world. The organization’s long-standing commitments to the development of education and science, the enrichment of cultural creativity, heritage and the cultural future, including a dynamic and focused global media structure peace, can in fact be seen as an active, flourishing and sustainable contribution to world peace”. Albert Mendy, UNESCO Education Programme specialist informed the delegates.

“Peace requires ever more active investment, enlightened leadership, powerful educational values and a progressive media world.”

The BIOPALT project has components that address a water resources and cultural issues. In regard to the water resources component, UNESCO’s tool known as the PCCP “Potential Conflict to Potential Cooperation” is being used to strengthen the capacity of actors (institutions, civil society and individuals) in negotiation and consensual management of water resources.

The Culture component of BIOPALT focuses on promoting intercultural and intergenerational exchanges in the form of cultural activities. The classification of Lake Chad on the World Heritage List under the name of the “Cultural Landscape of Lake Chad”. In addition there is the  classification of several cross-border spaces under the UNESCO International Label “Cross-Border Biosphere Reserve”. These re-organized, rehabilitated and better integrated spaces will now be co-managed by all the players of the five basin countries, with a view to sustainable development for the benefit of living together in peace.

In other regions in Africa, UNESCO is promoting Media and Information Literacy (MIL) among policy makers, journalists and Citizens online and offline. This includes support to the development of a national MIL policies and strategies in Member States and developing an open online course for the youth. In addition, it provides support to training institutions that can continually build on the skills and attitudes of journalists and citizens to be media and information literate. UNESCO has resources that help develop this competence at national and individual levels including policy and strategy guidelines for policy makers, curriculum for teachers and media educators, guidelines for broadcasters, online courses and campaign elements for citizens and the youth, online multimedia resources too and more.

In the African Union Peace and Security Council Open Session, Dr. Admore Kambudzi, Director of the African Union Commission’s Peace and Security department, reiterated the need for a multi-stakeholder approach to dealing with violence on the African continent in his opening remarks. He recognized growing intolerance, violence and rising challenges to respect for human rights, which threaten peaceful coexistence and respect of diversity. He further stressed the need for the recognition of the “International Day of Living Together in Peace” celebrated every year on 16 May which provides a platform for further enhancing efforts of the international community to promote peace, tolerance, inclusion, mutual understanding and solidarity.

The open session meeting, taking place at the African Union Commission headquarters in Addis Ababa, stressed the need for a comprehensive multi sectoral approach to solving and preventing conflicts, which encompasses political, economic, social, educational, religious and cultural dimensions of renouncing violence and of promoting the culture of peace, tolerance, amnesty, and respect for diversity.

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