UNESCO: Building Peace In The Minds Of Men And Women

The motto of UNESCO is “Building peace in the minds of men and women.” UNESCO seeks to build a culture of peace through peaceful approaches to living and international interaction, for example, non-violence, mutual respect, acceptance, intercultural dialogue, and interfaith reconciliation.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan (R) on 26 April 2000, reading a placard held by a Senegalese girl before the opening of the two-day UNESCO World Education Forum in Dakar. Photo credit: SEYLLOU DIALLO/AFP/Getty Images

The UNESCO constitution asserts that “since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed.” Construction of peace requires peace education, and a pedagogy that supports avenues to peace, such as toleration, mediation, and conflict prevention.

Support for peace by not just governments, but the citizens of those governments, requires a peace education that is deeper than the peace treaties and international agreements concluded at the intergovernmental level. According to the UNESCO constitution,  “a peace based exclusively upon the political and economic arrangements of governments would not be a peace which could secure the unanimous, lasting and sincere support of the peoples of the world, and that the peace must therefore be founded, if it is not to fail, upon the intellectual and moral solidarity of mankind.”

Building peace and tolerance in the minds of men and women is a necessary complement to the international peace negotiations of diplomats at the bilateral governmental level, or in the halls of the United Nations General Assembly. It is this building of peace among global citizens that is the simultaneous goal of UNESCO, and the Global Citizenship Education Network.