10 December 2018, GENEVA – Peace education is a vector for the promotion of unity and contributes to the enhancement of human rights, said the Chairman of the Geneva Centre for Human Rights Advancement and Global Dialogue, HE Dr. Hanif Hassan Ali Al Qassim, in his statement commemorating the 2018 International Human Rights Day observed annually on 10 December.
“Education constitutes an important building block to enhance inter-faith dialogue, break down social barriers and to overcome the fear of the Other. It lays the foundation of a society where diversity becomes the cement of cohesion, equal citizenship rights and respect for human rights,” Dr. Al Qassim said.
On the occasion of the 2018 International Human Rights Day, the Geneva Centre and the World Council of Churches organized a panel debate on the theme of “Education for Peace in a Multi-Religious Context” at the United Nations Office at Geneva.
The aim of this conference was to explore how the concept of Education for Peace can engage different stakeholders to counter both violent extremist narratives on the one hand and populist xenophobia on the other. Its goal is indeed to build peaceful and inclusive societies as well as to promote universally shared values upheld in diverse faiths and creeds.
In this connection, Dr. Al Qassim said that “education can help lift the veil of ignorance that has befallen many societies and address the rise of violence that breeds on social fragmentation and disrupts the harmony of societies.”
Education could therefore serve – the Geneva Centre’s Chairman observed - as a vector to counter disquieting phenomena such as radicalization and extremism that prevail respectively in advanced societies in the West and in Arab countries respectively.
“Education plays a critical role in addressing an environment conducive to the spread of extremist and violent ideologies and to the recruitment of supporters as it inculcates in students and youth values that are incompatible with faiths and international human rights instruments,” Dr. Al Qassim said.
He concluded his statement highlighting that the “strong impact of citizenship and human rights values in national curricula, as well as in other areas of education, is crucial to promoting over the longer term, equal citizenship rights, social cohesion, citizenship responsibility and respect for diversity.”
In light of this observation, the Geneva Centre’s Chairman therefore appealed to religious and secular leaders to identify joint endeavours and channel their collective energy to explore models of education anchored in universally shared human rights values and inclusive societies.