Education for Peace: Preventing Genocide at Its Roots

Interactive educational exhibition, organized in the framework of UNITAR “Capital of Peace” initiative, in partnership with Aegis Trust

#peacewithin

24-28 September

Palais des Nations – Passerelle

1-12 October

International School of Geneva (Ecolint) – Campus des Nations

15-26 October

University of Geneva – Uni Dufour Campus, ground floor

29 October – 2 November

Palais des Nations – Salle des Pas Perdus

 

Background: Remembering and Learning to Live Together

Can we imagine peace and reconciliation without remembering? Acknowledging the presence of some truly dark pages in the history of our global humanity, especially in its most recent period, constitutes an important element of ensuring that grave violations of basic human rights and freedoms are avoided in the future. Having the promotion of peace at the core of its mandate, the United Nations consistently commemorates the victims of the most appalling cases of crimes against humanity, such as Holocaust, massacres in Kosovo or the grievously famous 1994 Genocide in Rwanda. This is a way not only to pay the tribute to the memory of thousands of innocent lives, but also to showcase that there is no such a level of development or technological progress that could make us completely immune to some ominous aberrations in human behaviour towards each other.

However, recognizing past crimes is only the first in the long sequence of steps needed to be taken in order to build a peaceful and collaborative future. Conflicts form an inherent part of our everyday experience, and therefore being able to tackle them constructively is an essential life skill that should be acquired from the early stages of child development, not least of all with the help of adults. In this sense, eliminating the mere opportunity of a resort to violence as a way of conflict resolution through innovative, participative and critical educational programmes is the surest mechanism of early conflict prevention at every level: from the interpersonal to the community and the international one. This widely adopted vision is driving experts and think-tanks to design and educational institutions – to increasingly integrate into their curriculums the elements of peace education. The latter enjoys various forms of delivery: from traditional courses to informal activities, like those involving artistic or game components, among else. Training adults – parents, teachers, activists and policymakers – who could maintain and lead cutting-edge educational projects as peace educators is not a minor issue either.

The opening ceremony on the 24th of September, 2018. Ms Esther Mujawayo, a Rwandan writer, sociologist and psychotherapist, who survived the genocide against the Tutsi in 1994. 

Objectives

These considerations have inspired UNITAR and Aegis Trust to join forces to together design a distinctive exhibition package, composed of mobile elements, enabling its smooth installation at various venues. The exhibition will start its journey around Geneva from the Palais des Nations in September 2018, and will proceed to other venues within educational institutions (prospectively: the University of Geneva, the Graduate Institute, and the International School of Geneva) later during the fall. The exhibition will as well coincide with the programme of activities organized by the same partners within the framework of Geneva Peace Week 2018, and, in particular, will constitute a part of peace education trainings for all interested organizations.

The exhibition is designed with a European audience in mind. It raises numerous questions about “Never Again”, especially relevant in the context of rising extremism, hate speech and hate crime in Europe.

The exhibition has three objectives:

  • Raising awareness that genocide is predictable and preventable, that choices are possible allowing the path to mass atrocities to be reversed.
  • Engaging the audience in critical thinking, empathy and taking moral courage and responsibility to prevent and protect.
  • Sharing positive role models/stories (gendered).

Audiences

  • Leaders: government representatives, diplomats, UN officials, civil society leaders.
  • Young people: secondary school children, university students.

Themes

  • Genocide is predictable and preventable: The path to genocide
  • Rwanda and other genocides
  • Critical thinking, empathy, moral courage, personal responsibility
  • Responsibility to protect, respect for human rights

The exhibition is divided into 6 parts, 4 of which also contain a video in addition to visual materials.

HE Ms Beatriz Londoño Soto, Former Permanent Representative of Colombia, Co-Chair of Friends of UNITAR.

Content of 6 Panels

1 – Introduction - HOW PEACE CAN WIN? In this part, survivors share how peace education, developed in Rwanda since the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi, is now saving lives in other countries too.

2 – Part 1 - THE PREVENTABLE PATH TO GENOCIDE (+video). Survivors of the Holocaust, and Bosnian and Rwandan genocides discuss how, through prejudice, scapegoating and dehumanization, seemingly stable societies can slide into mass atrocities.

3 – Part 2 - PEACE… AFTER GENOCIDE? (+video) Genocide survivors explain how they developed peace education in Rwanda. We hear how it has changed hearts and minds, saving lives.

4 – Part 3 - ACHIEVABLE ANYWHERE (+video). Community leaders in conflict zones explain how the model for peacebuilding established in Rwanda is reducing violence internationally.

5 – Part 4 - WHOSE RESPONSIBILITY? (+video) With mass atrocities continuing and extremism rising globally, genocide survivors reflect on the responsibility to protect.

6 – Engage - THE FUTURE IS IN OUR HANDS. Just as we know that we all share responsibility for the environment, crimes against humanity concern us all, they attack our own humanity. You can make positive choices to be informed, to think critically, to trust, to empathise, to take morally courageous steps. So why not start the change today?

  • CONNECT – Have a look around: who is here by your side right now? A friend or maybe just another inquisitive and concerned person? There are no strangers here! Take 2 minutes to maintain a silent eye contact with your immediate neighbour to feel our joint humanity.
  • SUPPORT – Tree of Peace. Make your peace actions grow like tree leaves in spring. How do you support Peace in your daily life? Write it down on a piece of paper and hang it up on the tree.
  • ACT – Take one step for peace that’s personal to you: it could be local or global, something that you did or aspire to do in the future. If you wish, write it down, photograph yourself with it as a public commitment, and share on your social media to inspire others. Start change (within) yourself! #peacewithin