In May 1999 the Global Campaign for Peace Education (GCPE) was launched at the Hague Appeal for Peace conference. The Hague Conference was the largest international peace conference in history, bringing together nearly 10,000 people from over 100 countries.
The conference launched the Hague Agenda for Peace and Justice for the 21st Century, a set of 50 recommendations for the abolition of war and the promotion of peace. The Agenda represents what civil society organizations and citizens considered some of the most important challenges facing humanity for the 21st century. It highlights four major strands:
- Root Causes of War & Culture of Peace
- International Humanitarian and Human Rights Law and Institutions
- Prevention, Resolution, and Transformation of Violent Conflict
- Disarmament and Human Security
Peace education plays a critical and strategic role in addressing each of these strands by preparing citizens with the knowledge necessary for understanding violence and nurturing those essential capacities needed to transform a culture of violence into a culture of peace. The founders of the GCPE made this clear in the GCPE’s campaign statement:
“A culture of peace will be achieved when citizens of the world understand global problems; have the skills to resolve conflict constructively; know and live by international standards of human rights, gender and racial equality; appreciate cultural diversity; and respect the integrity of the Earth. Such learning can not be achieved without intentional, sustained and systematic education for peace.”
How do we achieve intentional, sustained and systematic education for peace?
While it’s generally easy to observe the positive impacts of peace education in localized contexts and on the lives of individual learners, the political task of infusing and integrating peace education into all spheres of education has been a challenge. The success of peace education writ large is up against many deeply entrenched beliefs informed by unique historical, social, political, psychological and cultural conditions.
The good news: in the short 15+ years since the beginning of the GCPE, peace educators around the world have been steadily engaging teachers and politicians in dialogue and creative and transformative learning opportunities that have led to the adoption of peace education policies from the local to the national. For example, on October 1-2, a National Encounter on Peace Education was held in Colombia, bringing together more than 600 from across the country to explore the role and possibility of education for a culture of peace. Peace education is becoming a required subject in the schools of Colombia. According to law 1732, adopted in 2014, the national government has decreed that “the teaching of Peace is regulated in all educational institutions of the country”. Colombia isn’t the only country having success. Significant efforts and policies have been enacted in South Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, the Philippines, and Kenya (just to name a few). These policies are still works in progress, and much is yet to be achieved. However, one important lesson we can draw from each of these examples is the critical role civil society plays in educating the public and policy makers about the needs and objectives of peace education.
Thus, one way we can pursue intentional, sustained and systematic education for peace is by learning from these experiences of others. The GCPE, through its monthly newsletter, has been sharing the knowledge, experiences and ideas of others for nearly 15 years. While the newsletter has been a great conduit for sharing, we’ve long believed that we could do more in making knowledge more accessible and finding ways to facilitate deeper learning exchanges. While we continue to explore the limits and possibilities of learning in the virtual space of the World Wide Web, we are hopeful and confident in the improvements we’ve made to our website and newsletters that should increase our opportunities for learning with and from each other.
Welcome to the “new” GCPE news and website!
We’ve re-envisioned the GCPE website as a clearinghouse and meeting place for peace educators. We didn’t’ think it was necessary to create another “facebook”; we already find ourselves stretched thin by participating in dozens of social media spaces. The renewed GCPE website is set-up as a moderated community depository for all things peace education related. At the GCPE secretariat we search the web daily to identify content of relevance to peace educators. The site now features a stream of news, reports, research, curricula, publications, events, trainings and more.
You are invited to share and generate content! You are encouraged to share news, activity reports, curricula, research, training opportunities, courses, events and more via our easy to use online submission form. Content shared should be relevant to peace educators: elements specific to education, teaching and/or learning should be prominent your submissions, although we also invite other content of relevance to peace educators as long as a clear connection can be made. After review by our editors, we’ll get your news or event quickly posted and share it with thousands around the globe.
Dialogue and reflect. With the new website we’ve made it easier for you to share your thoughts, provide feedback, and join others in dialogue. We encourage you to engage in discussion by commenting and providing reflections on articles. How are you using the material? What ideas do you have to advance new perspectives or improve practice? At the end of each article you will find a comment/dialogue option. This feature is fully integrated with facebook so you can also share your thoughts with your friends and colleagues (if you so choose)!
#SpreadPeaceEd. We also encourage you to #SpreadPeaceEd by sharing any of the content on the GCPE via social media. Every article includes a convenient toolbar for easy sharing.
Learn and read in your language of choice! Our new website can be instantly translated into most any language. Make your choice from the top of the sidebar menu on the right. If you language isn’t on the list let us know. And, if the translation isn’t accurate, you can instantly submit edits and revisions for the benefit of future visitors!
Get the News you want – when you want it – and just the right amount! We now offer several subscriptions in addition to the traditional monthly newsletter: you have the option to receive news directly in your inbox daily, weekly or once a month. We also have an “action alerts” option for time sensitive campaigns. You can even choose all of the above and you can change your subscription options at any time via the “edit your subscription” link found at the bottom of all GCPE emails. Go ahead a give it a try for a week or a month – you can easily change the frequency of the news you receive at any time.
These are just a few of the new website features. You can read about other features here.
Developing a global peace learning community: the best is still to come!
Now that the new website is up and running we are planning other exciting projects. In the coming months we will begin partnership with a leading academic journal and peace and justice organizations around the world to facilitate focused campaigns to generate & share knowledge, curricula and research on critical issues for peace educators. We will be announcing themes, along with calls for submissions, near the end of 2015. This will be a major effort and contribution to intentional, sustained and systematic education for peace. We envision this as a collaborative learning opportunity to help grow the field in theory and practice and shape educational policy.
We are excited about these new beginnings… and there is much, much more on the way! We look forward to partnering with you on this learning journey.
– The Global Campaign for Peace Education
*The Peace Education Initiative at The University of Toledo coordinates the Global Campaign for Peace Education