A unique opportunity to revive a global consensus on education for peace and human rights

During the 41st session of UNESCO’s General Conference, UNESCO’s 193 Member States recognized, once again, the core role of education in changing mind-sets, attitudes and behaviours as a means of achieving a culture of peace, human rights and tolerance.

The 41st session of the UNESCO General Conference officially approved the Director-General’s proposal to revise the 1974 Recommendation concerning Education for International Understanding, Co-operation and Peace and Education relating to Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms – referred to as the 1974 Recommendation.

The Recommendation was drafted and adopted during the Cold War as a moral aspiration for universal peace, in a context of acute geopolitical tension. Since then, this non-binding legal instrument has been providing international standards for the promotion of human rights, international cooperation, understanding, human survival and global peace through education.

Even today its importance cannot be denied. The Recommendation is a key tool to monitor progress on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, in particular for Targets 4.7 (Education for Sustainable development and Global Citizenship), 12.8 (promoting universal understanding of sustainable lifestyles) and 13.3 (Improving education, awareness-raising and human and institutional capacity on climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction and early warning).

The global context has however deeply changed since its adoption and affected its influence. Over the last 50 years, new technologies have emerged, scientific and technological developments have reshaped education systems, and media and information literacy have been put at the center of modern education systems. In addition to these advances, unprecedented threats and challenges have emerged, including new forms of violence, hateful ideologies and climate change.

With the recent decision to revise the Recommendation, the instrument is expected to play an even greater role to help countries face contemporary challenges and future shocks.

In view of ensuring it does, the revision process will involve a series of technical and formal consultations with Member States, non-governmental organizations, professional networks, civil society, and individual experts, in view of preparing a revised document. The revision process constitutes a unique opportunity to revive and update the global consensus around the role of education in preparing learners of all ages and throughout life, as well as future generations, to face future shocks and shape more just, sustainable and peaceful futures.

The revision process will begin in January 2022.

 

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