Peace Lessons from Around the World

Andrea S. Libresco & Jeannette Balantic, co-editors.  Produced by the Hague Appeal for Peace in Cooperation with the International Advisory Committee of the Global Campaign for Peace Education.


Peace Lessons from Around the WorldPeace education is a comprehensive and holistic participatory process that includes teaching and learning for and about human rights, non-violence, social and economic justice, gender equality, environmental sustainability, disarmament, international law, human security and traditional peace practices.

This collection of sixteen lessons, from Albania, Cambodia, Philippines, Kenya, India, Nepal, US, Catalunya (Spain) and South Africa, is based on the Hague Agenda for Peace and Justice for the 21st Century (UN Ref. A/54/98) They should be adoptable and adaptable to any culture and will serve to stimulate values and skills for a culture of peace. Included are suggested guidelines on how to make a peace lesson.

The 144-page Peace Lessons book follows our previous publications, both of which are available online: Learning to Abolish War: Teaching Toward a Culture of Peace, by B. Reardon and A. Cabezudo and Peace and Disarmament Education, changing mindsets to sustain the removal of small arms, Gloria Levitas, editor.

Conceptual Introduction to the Lessons

Betty A. Reardon

“Peace Lessons from Around the World” is the fruit of peace education in all world regions, contributed by educators associated with the Global Campaign for Peace Education. Like its predecessor Learning to Abolish War, the initial teaching resource produced by the Campaign, the conceptual structure of “Peace Lessons” is based upon the four organizing strands of the Hague Agenda for Peace and Justice for the 21st Century.¹ So, four lessons are presented under each of the four strands.

The conceptual base of Learning to Abolish War² is elaborated in Book 1 of that resource. It is equally applicable to this resource, and we urge the educators using “Peace Lessons” to consult it in preparing to use these teaching units in their classrooms.

“Peace Lessons” was conceived as the much needed and requested supplement to Book 2 of Learning to Abolish War that comprised lessons for both elementary and secondary levels. The lessons here supplement those offered for the secondary level, where there is always need for more and varied teaching materials. The Campaign, however, still adheres to the assertion that peace education can and should be provided at all grade levels in a developmental approach.

One of the major goals of peace education is preparing learners for active participation in efforts to overcome the violence and injustice that characterize the present culture of war, by engaging in the kind of creative and innovative thinking that can guide citizen action and public policy toward the abolition of war and the evolution of a culture of peace. The Hague Agenda for Peace and Justice for the 21st Century comprises fifty proposals for actions and policies, which taken together, could move the world toward the end of war and the beginning of a culture of peace. Each proposal is in itself a discrete step that would reduce violence, and merits pursuit in its own right. However, the strength of the Agenda lies in the complementary relationships that strengthen and reinforce each proposal to bring about the requisite changes in the international system that could move it from a war system to a peace system.

The fifty steps are organized under 4 major conceptual strands. Each step constitutes a subconcept of the organizing category and is an essential component of the goal articulated in the strand. As with the individual proposals, these conceptual strands are interrelated–making the “Agenda” a comprehensive and holistic approach to the task of abolishing the institution of war. Conceptual approaches–core organizing principles and ideas for change–are essential to system change. Because changing from a heavily armed military system of international conflict and problem-solving to one of nonviolence and justice is a complex task; it calls for holistic thinking and comprehensive measures. So, peace education seeks to cultivate the capacity to think conceptually and comprehensively. We hope that those who use these lessons will make efforts to apply them in a way that inquires both into the strands to which they relate and how the strands relate to each other, to give students experience in this kind of thinking.

The first and foundational strand, Roots of War/Culture of Peace puts forth eleven specific normative goals that lead us to uncover the roots of violence and injustice and develop a value system conducive to a culture of peace.

Strand 2 on International Humanitarian and Human Rights Law calls for fourteen legal and institutional measures that would provide the legal underpinning to realize culture of peace values, assure the outlawing of the root causes of war through international standards to prevent injustice, protect human dignity and provide legal recourse in lieu of armed conflict, and lead to the legal abolition of all that comprises the war system.

The third strand, Prevention, Resolution and Transformation of Violent Conflict calls attention to the fact that conflict per se need not be violent, and proposes fourteen measures that would make it possible to conduct conflict constructively without inflicting unnecessary harm on the conflicting parties. It suggests processes that facilitate and reinforce the legal measures that could prevent and ultimately eliminate war.

Strand 4, Disarmament and Security proposes the means by which the tools and mechanisms for waging war could be eliminated through systematic and complementary measures for disarmament and demilitarization by removing the obstacles that military force presents to international law, human rights, nonviolent conflict-resolution and all those values that would enable us to live in a culture of peace.

We hope that those educators using Peace Lessons will review the Hague Agenda and prepare themselves to introduce their students to these concepts, develop the practical steps to realize them and understand the interrelationships among them that make possible the serious consideration of the abolition of war and the means to achieve it.

We hope, too, that they will endeavor to create their own peace lessons, specifically relevant to their own students. Toward this end we have included in the Resource Section A Ten-Question Guide to Constructing Your Own Peace Lesson.


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