"Building peace is not a conclusion, it's a process", said Kuany Kiir Kuany, Project Officer in the Section of Global Citizenship and Peace Education at UNESCO. With two other experts, they explained to 6 high schools how they work for peace, and how can youth get engaged in peacebuilding. Léonie Evers, Project Officer in the Emergencies Entity of UNESCO’s Culture Sector, and Saurea Didry Stancioff, West Africa Program Manager of Promediation, a non-governmental, apolitical organization that facilitates mediation and resolution of armed conflicts, talked with six classes from all over the world. Students from The Senior High School of Moudros at Moudrow, Lemnos Island in Greece, The Wesley High School Oukpo at Benue in Nigeria, The Alpha School at Hanoi in Vietnam, The Kohinoor International School at Hoshiarpur in India, The Oporto Internacional School, in Porto, Portugal and from the Arsakeio Junior High School of Psychiko at Athens, Greece, gathered to discuss about peace.
Saurea Didry Stancioff is in charge of planning and leading activities in Niger, Ghana, Benin, and Ivory Coast and monitoring and coordinating all West Africa programs for the NGO. She explained the role of mediation in a conflict, starting strong by underlying that any conflict, either at school between pupils, in a family, or an armed one, starts the same way: "Sometimes the different parties understand each other but still disagree. When the disagreement lasts and one shuts down the communication, the problem starts. It can get to massive scale attacks, and the communication won't appear again." To have a mediation, both parties need to feel safe and trust the process. The role of the mediator is to reformulate everyone's needs in the conflict, so it's easier for the other party to understand the need. In the end, the agreement needs to be neutral and acceptable for both, but the process can last.
Kuany Kiir Kuany is a Project Officer in the Section of Global Citizenship and Peace Education at UNESCO. Before coming to the UNESCO Headquarters, he was a Program Manager of Education for Peace at UNESCO Iraq Office, where he had joined after a long stint at UNESCO MGIEP in India. He has designed and implemented more than 10 projects at the intersection of education and peace that have benefited more than 10,000 youth leaders and education actors around the world. Kuany Kiir Kuany started his presentation by underlying the interconnection between institutions, justice, the economy, and schools, to build peace. The role of education is major in building peace, it should not contribute to making things worse. Schools should engage to think critically, favorise inclusion, and guaranty a good literacy level.
Léonie Evers, is Project Officer in the Emergencies Entity of UNESCO’s Culture Sector. She is responsible for contributing to the overall coordination of emergency preparedness and response activities. This includes the mainstreaming of culture in policies and operations of the humanitarian, security, and peacebuilding sectors, as well as the technical backstopping of emergency operations. She joined the EPR Unit, after spending three years in Burkina Faso, Niger, and Mali with the United Nations Mine Action Service. She had previously been with EPR for more than five years as the focal point for emergencies related to armed conflict.
She reinsured the link between culture and peace: "Behind any pile of stone, they are people targeted by a conflict". Because culture is part of our identity, traditions, and soul, when we reconstruct after a conflict, it gives
strength to the victim, it helps to overcome trauma and it brings back people around a shared heritage. At school, and elsewhere, we need to remain open and avoid any kind of stereotypes.
All of us, at many levels, can act for peace.
The 148 students were curious and involved in the discussion which they will continue with their teachers thank to a package of useful ressources provided by the UNESCO Campus team.
This event has been possible thanks to the collaboration of 6C Conseil and the support of TECH4ALL.