After the International Year for the Culture of Peace in 2000, UNESCO launched the International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-violence for the Children of the World.
A year earlier, the World Parliament of Children met for the first time in Paris. The event united 350 youths from175 countries.
The young people ended their meeting by adopting the Youth Manifesto for the 21st Century. The manifesto defined youth’s expectations on a number of issues, including world peace. The manifesto was presented to UNESCO in 1999 and to the Canadian Parliament in 2000.
Now, more than half way through the UN’s International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-violence for the Children of the World, it seems worth pausing to reflect on our grandchildren’s plea for peace.
The following is an excerpt from the manifesto, regarding peace and non-violence:
We, the young people of the 21st century, want that century to be one of peace among nations.
It is imperative that the world strives to attain peace, by diplomacy, dialogue, community campaigns and other viable means. Peace is not only a dream but a goal. Provided the international community is sincere in its desire to create and maintain peace, peace is a reality that can be attained. This is the world’s only hope for survival.
War is a disease caused by world leaders, blind and unmindful of the fact that with their actions they are destroying our future and burying deep under ruins our right to live and thrive. Underlying causes include unequal distribution of wealth; prejudice based on race, creed, sex or nationality; and undemocratic authoritarian systems of governance.
In view of this situation, we propose the following:A culture of peace and a philosophy of non-violence should be disseminated in mutual respect for all types of diversity through formal, informal and non-formal education. For example, teacher exchanges should be supported in addition to student exchanges as well as more public messages through the media and through community announcements to promote peace and teach conflict resolution.Excessive military spending should be redirected towards programmes promoting peace and non-violence.There should be formation of international sporting events in which each team would be composed of young people from different countries.
Our names, surnames, nationalities, languages, religions and colours may be different, but in essence, all of us are the same, all of us are human.