Peace and Disarmament

Back to listApr 11, 2005

"Building a Culture of Peace for the Children of the World" at the United Nations European Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland through April 15, 2005

UNIDR Director Patricia Lewis (3rd from right) at opening of "Building a Culture of Peace for the Children of the World" exhibition at the UN European Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland

"Building a Culture of Peace for the Children of the World" exhibition opened at the United Nations European Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, on April 4, during discussions on children's issues at the 2005 Commission on Human Rights. Representatives of the UN and NGOs, as well as ambassadors of various embassies, attended. SGI-USA Vice General Director Ian McIlraith opened the event with a brief explanation of the exhibit and its history. In a closing speech, United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDR) Director Patricia Lewis referred to the exploitation of many of the world's children in the midst of armed conflict and said the exhibit highlights many ways in which a culture of peace is especially pertinent to those children.

Some comments from guests follow.

"I believe this exhibit and its message is so important and needs to be seen in countries around the world regardless of culture, language, religion or politics. Indeed, the needs of children transcend all of these--they are the future in all countries."

--Aftab A. Khokher, First Secretary of the Permanent Mission of Pakistan

"I am impressed by and agree with the initiative taken by the SGI for peace and education. This is a wonderful exhibit. I know that the SGI has been active in human rights education. I would like to work with you in the important arena."

--Ingeborg Breines, Director of the UNESCO Liaison Office in Geneva

"I think this is a very good idea to have such an interactive exhibition, with so many inspiring quotations. The location is excellent. I hope it will have a great impact during this commission on Human Rights that is taking place at the UN. Congratulations on holding this significant exhibit."

--Mr. Raffaele De Benedictis, Italian Mission for Disarmament

The SGI and UNIDR are cosponsoring this exhibition, which brings together the ideas of hundreds of people and organizations dedicated to finding a path to lasting peace, and supports the International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World (2001-2010). SGI-USA created the exhibition with advice from UN Under-Secretary-General Anwarul Karim Chowdhury, who is also High Representative for the UN Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (OHRLLS). Beginning with panels introducing the "Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace" adopted by the UN General Assembly in September 1999, the exhibition promulgates the establishment of a culture of peace for the global community. To date, it has been shown at Columbia University, Harvard University, the UN Headquarters in New York, Spain and Jordan, and received some 10,000 visitors. The exhibit will be displayed at the UN Headquarters in Geneva through April 15.

On March 31, SGI collaborated with other NGOs for a conference on the right to education and human rights education at the UN European Headquarters. The Special Committee of NGOs on Human Rights and the Human Rights Education Caucus cosponsored the event, attended by more than 50 NGO participants. Vernor Muñoz Villalobos, the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education, and Ingeborg Breines, director of the UNESCO Liaison Office in Geneva, presented their views on how the international community can help strengthen interaction between human rights and education. Mr. Villalobos emphasized that the quality of general education and human rights education should be aimed at developing cognitive skills and values grounded in human rights learning, and that human development entails teaching about the dignity of each life. He pointed to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child as legal instruments that promote the right to education and human rights education. Ms. Breines talked about the World Programme for Human Rights Education and its present efforts to ensure that human rights education is part of the primary and secondary school curriculum, which is also one of the UNESCO's mandates.