IG’s Peace Blog

Peace and its many aspects

The University for Peace

Readers of this blog know I have mentioned several university programs for studying peace.  However, informed readers might feel I have overlooked a “big” one:  The University for Peace (Universidad para la Paz) in Costa Rica.  So, this is me trying to make up for that omission.

Upeace, as it is known, is distinguished by being a “UN-mandated Graduate School of Peace and Conflict Studies”:

“Costa Rica abolished the death penalty in 1882, and its army in 1948. Since 1865, Costa Rica has offered asylum to those facing persecution for political reasons. From 1907 to 1918, Costa Rica hosted the Central American Court of Justice, which was the first permanent international tribunal that allowed individuals to take legal action against states on international law and human rights issues. In that tradition, efforts to establish the University for Peace began at the United Nations under the leadership of the President of Costa Rica, Rodrigo Carazo. On 5 December 1980, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted resolution 35/55 which sets out in its annex the International Agreement for the Establishment of the University for Peace. The Charter of the University forms part of that agreement.”

Its mission is:

“to provide humanity with an international institution of higher education for peace and with the aim of promoting among all human beings the spirit of understanding, tolerance and peaceful coexistence, to stimulate cooperation among peoples and to help lessen obstacles and threats to world peace and progress, in keeping with the noble aspirations proclaimed in the Charter of the United Nations”.

..and …

:The Charter of the University sets out in its appendix the following general principles:

1. The persistence of war in the history of mankind and the growing threats against peace in recent decades jeopardize the very existence of the human race and make it imperative that peace should no longer be viewed as a negative concept, as the end of conflict or as a simple diplomatic compromise, but rather that it should be achieved and ensured through the most valuable and most effective resource that man possesses: education.
2. Peace is the primary and irrevocable obligation of a nation and the fundamental objective of the United Nations; it is the reason for its existence. However, the best tool for achieving this supreme good for humankind, namely education, has not been used.
3. Many nations and international organizations have attempted to attain peace through disarmament. This effort must be continued; yet facts show that man should not be too optimistic as long as the human mind has not been imbued with the notion of peace from an early age. It is necessary to break the vicious circle of struggling for peace without an educational foundation.
4. This is the challenge that now faces all nations and all men as the twenty-first century approaches. The decision must be made to save the human race, which is threatened by war, through education for peace. If education has been the instrument of science and technology, there is all the more reason to use it to achieve this primary right of the human being.”

They have a very well thought out and innovative curriculum (consider the scope and variety of Master’s degrees available), and their campus outside San Jose looks (at least from the pictures I’ve seen) like a beautiful and, well, peaceful place.  However, I have heard from someone who has worked with the institution that there have been financial challenges from time to time (again too much spent on war, and not enough on peace, right?) which have sometimes hampered the program’s development.  Still, there are now regional programs, including one in Africa, and a Centre for Executive Education (note the British spelling :-)).

As far as I can tell, there are significant efforts being made to assist Upeace to fulfill its historic and world embracing mission, and that has to be all to the good.  The site is chock full of information and…

IGBarb says:  check it out!

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May 18, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , ,

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