Amid a global climate of fear caused by terrorism, amplified by a mass media focused on violence, the United Nations cultural agency in a new report calls for stepped-up efforts to promote a culture of peace.
"Terror rests always and everywhere upon prejudices, intolerance, exclusion, and above all on the rejection of all dialogue," the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) said in its five-year status report on building a global culture of peace.
But UNESCO adds that educational programmes, post-conflict mediation, and increased inter-cultural communication can surmount these obstacles.
Even though "since 2001, security issues have replaced peace building issues as the top priority on the international political agenda," the agency said that its work in promoting cultural pluralism indirectly serves the cause of peace by encouraging understanding among people motivated by hate and ignorance.
The report credits many of UNESCO's peace building programs with reducing violence. For example, in post-conflict areas, there was a "marked decrease in violence and former combatants were better integrated into society," said the report. "There also appeared to be a decrease in street children's involvement in violent conflict and a decrease in their use of drugs when they were made beneficiaries of non-governmental organization (NGO) projects promoting a culture of peace," it added.
In order to maintain visibility and momentum, the agency called for a "global framework" for peace building that would include better training programmes in conflict resolution, as well as improved broadcast media coverage of the issue.
But the agency also acknowledged that political instability, human rights abuses, the lack of support from governments and the mass media, and the complexity of violence are still "major obstacles" to achieving a culture of peace.