What is CoPN?
The first war in history is believed to have taken place in Egypt as early as 3,150 BCE when the Pharaoh Menes of the south conquered northern Egypt . Since then, humanity has continuously turned to arms to resolve their disputes with one another. According to the Global Conflict Tracker, there are approximately 25 ongoing crises and armed conflicts from Mexico to Myanmar to Yemen . These issues range from criminal violence to refugee crises to outright wars . With this context in mind, one could say that we live in a culture of war, violence, and alienation. In other words, we have been conditioned to wage war instead of engage in dialogue.
Following World War II (1939–1945), the most deadly war in history, the US, China, and many other countries ratified the United Nations Charter with the primary goal of stopping violence where it existed . With this aim, the UN intervened in the Korean War in the early 1950s, then the Tripartite Aggression in 1956, and later the June War in 1967 . While the UN ended the violence in these areas, their success was temporary; North Korea laid the foundation for its nuclear program in the 1950s, and violence sprang up again in Egypt and the Middle East in 1973. Violence reoccurred because, among other things, the UN did not resolve the root causes of the conflict, and turning to arms over negotiation remained an instinct for the belligerents.
To combat this reappearing violence, the UN devised a concept called the “Cultura de Paz,” or “Culture of Peace,” in 1986. After several forums, congresses, and statements by the UN and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in the late 1980s and 1990s, the UN General Assembly passed Resolution 53/243 in September of 1999 . The resolution introduces the Culture of Peace and Nonviolence Program (CPNP) to the UN and instructs governmental officials, members of civil society, and individuals to work together to create a sustainable and global peace . Charged with the implementation of the Programme of Action for a Culture of Peace and Nonviolence, UNESCO, with the help of the UN, created a two-pronged approach: (1) training people on how to solve conflict via nonviolent means and (2) effectively encouraging the values and behaviors that will lead to long-lasting peace .
The resolution specifically calls on eight parts of society that must work in tandem to attain a culture of peace: education, business, civil society, government, cultural and religious institutions, science and technology, and peace and security . After UNESCO began executing the Programme in conflict and post-conflict areas, the organization found that education, youth, media, and supporting peaceful traditional cultures are the most important aspects of society for achieving its goals.
Since its inception in 1999, the Programme and UN peacekeeping missions have been met with varied success. The UN made significant positive changes by overseeing political transitions, supporting new institutions, and paving a path for peaceful relations between the previous belligerents in several countries, including Sierra Leone, Côte d’Ivoire, and Kosovo, . For example, in Côte d’Ivoire, the UN established 1,000 Quick Impact Projects from 2004 to 2017, which are small-scale efforts meant to foster social cohesion as well as confidence in the mission and the peace process . As a result, inter-communal and intergroup conflicts decreased by approximately 80% . While some operations have been successful, others have failed, such as those in Syria, Yemen, and Somalia; all three of these countries are marked with ongoing armed conflicts .
Today, there are 14 peacekeeping missions in places such as Haiti, the Middle East, and Kosovo, all of which are meant to first stop existing violence and then to rebuild a peaceful society. While the Programme and the UN missions have varied in scale, location, and success throughout the years, the men and women in light blue have remained true to their overarching mission: “Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed” .
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 “Global Conflict Tracker.” Council on Foreign Relations, Council on Foreign Relations, www.cfr.org/interactives/global-conflict-tracker#!/global-conflict-tracker.
 “Radio 4 — News — United Nations or Not.” BBC, BBC, 9 Sept. 2003, www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/news/un/timeline.shtml.
 United Nations General Assembly. “A/RES/53/243 — Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace.” UN Documents, United Nations, www.un-documents.net/a53r243.html.
 “Our Successes Peacekeeping.” United Nations, United Nations, peacekeeping.un.org/en/our-successes.
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 “UNESCO Constitution.” UNESCO Constitution, UNESCO, portal.unesco.org/en/ev.php-URL_ID=15244&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html.