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          This year, 2019, marks the 20th anniversary of  the UN Declaration and Programme of  Action on Culture of  Peace. The Culture of  Peace and Non-violence as advanced by UNESCO includes a commitment to promote conflict prevention; peace education and education for non-violence; tolerance, acceptance, and mutual respect; and intercultural and interfaith dialogue and reconciliation, among other principles.

          Education and the protection of  cultural heritage are critical to the promotion of  the Culture of  Peace. Properly structured, peace education can influence behaviors and attitudes from the earliest stages of  human development, promoting a culture of  inclusivity as the basis for interactions. Geographic sites and objects of  cultural heritage, such as ancient landmarks, art, or other antiquities, are symbols of  unity over time. Their protection represents a recognition of  cultural diversity and a commitment to strive for peaceful coexistence.

          Including peace education as a core principle of  national curricula centered on teaching practical skills related to nonviolence, conflict resolution, human rights, and civic participation can form a critical part of  building a sustainable peace.

          The year 2019 is a critical year for conflict settings in many parts of  the world. Will Iraq at last turn the page on a generation of  conflict to make significant progress on the difficult task of  post-conflict reconstruction and recovery? Will the parties to the conflict in Yemen implement the Stockholm Agreement and work further to produce an enduring peace? Will the February peace agreement signed in the Central African Republican be successfully brought to the whole people throughout the country? And how can the international community contribute to the establishment of  a sustainable peace in Iraq, Yemen, CAR, and beyond?

          In societies such as the Central African Republic, Iraq, or Yemen that have been struck by deep divisions, a critical part of  post-conflict recovery will entail training in how to manage internal conflict without resorting to violence. How can international actors best support this effort at the national and local levels?

          Every society is defined in large measure by its collective heritage – the culture, traditions, and artifacts passed on from previous generations. We define ourselves by our history and the stories we tell ourselves about that history, which is often represented in cultural and physical artifacts, like art and architecture.

          The long-term recovery of  Iraq, Yemen, and the Central African Republic will require a commitment to safeguard cultural heritage. It will require physical protection and investment in post-conflict reconstruction and recovery where possible. And it will require educating the young on the value of  their cultural heritage and the benefits of  preservation as part of  a curriculum of  peace education. 

          The World Forum for the Culture of  Peace, organized by the Albabtain Cultural Foundation, did bring together high-level officials from government and international organizations, academics, and members of  civil society to discuss the Culture of  Peace, Education, and the Protection of  Cultural Heritage.

          What is the role of  the international community in protecting cultural heritage? What concrete projects can be established to move forward with building a sustainable peace in the Middle East and Central African regions?

          How can peace education best be incorporated into the post-conflict plans for sustaining peace? How can investment in post-conflict reconstruction and recovery best assist the Iraqi, Yemeni, and Central African people with the long-term protection of  their cultural heritage? And how will this help build an inclusive, sustainable peace?

          Participants discussed these issues and more. Discussions provided analysis on how to make the culture of  peace a practical and tangible reality, suggested concrete projects, and identified real solutions to current challenges.


Session One

          Post-conflict reconstruction and recovery requires the protection of  cultural heritage and peace education as a part of  the process of  national reconciliation. Broad international support is required for success. How can the international community best provide that support? Session I of  the World Forum for the Culture of  Peace featured High-level interventions from national and international representatives.


Session Two

          Historians have long known Iraq as a “cradle of  civilization,” and Yemen is home to a unique architectural beauty and historical significance. Iraq is home to more than 10,000 cultural heritage sites, ranging from the 5,500-year-old cities of  Sumer to archaeological remains of  the Akkadian, Babylonian, Assyrian, and Parthian cultures.

          People have inhabited the area of  Yemen’s capital, Sana’a, for over 2,500 years. By one count, there are 103 mosques and over 6,000 houses in Sana’a built before the 11th century. War and violent extremism have put this all at risk. Six of  the fifty-four World Heritage sites listed by UNESCO as “endangered” are in Iraq and Yemen. Catastrophic losses have already been sustained. How can these sites be best protected and where necessary rebuilt? How will the protection of  cultural heritage factor into plans to be build a sustainable peace in Iraq and Yemen? How can international actors best support this nationally-led process?

Session Three

          Educational institutions hold a fundamental role in building a culture of  peace. “Through education,” said Ban Ki Moon, “we teach children not to hate.  Through education, we raise leaders who act with wisdom and compassion.  Through education, we establish a true, lasting culture of  peace.” This session addressed the challenge of  promoting the culture of  peace through education with a special focus on the Central African Republic.


Closing Ceremony

          The closing ceremony identified concrete projects for promoting the Culture of  Peace through education and the Protection of  Cultural Heritage. At the beginning of  this ceremony Mr. Abdulaziz Saud Albabtain presented a series of  education manuals to teach the Culture of  Peace for the Security of  Future Generations as part of  a broad curricula on peace for diverse education levels.

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