A Culture of Peace can be described, in a very simplistic way, as a culture where all individuals enjoy their rights and respect and promote those of others, where there is an equal distribution of resources, the needs of the current and future generations are met, societies are democratic and individuals are a part of the decision-making process, disagreements or disputes are settled in peaceful ways (rather than resorting to violence and war) and governments, along with civil society, play an active role in promoting all the above (U.N. General Assembly, 53/243, 1999).

Education plays a vital role in promoting a Culture of Peace. Different fields within education work towards achieving a Culture of Peace. Those fields are: gender studies, human rights, children’s rights, environmental education, conflict resolution studies, human security, development studies, intercultural education, citizenship and democratic education, and migrant education. These are all inter-related issues that have the goal of enabling individuals to act upon their environment and transform their societies into more peaceful ones. Education for a Culture of Peace can be considered the methodology that one can use to develop a Culture of Peace. International law and human rights conventions are the foundations that support the field and make it stronger and more stable to the wind. The schematic representation below enables the reader to understand this concept better.

According to UNESCO, Education for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence is a “process forwarding knowledge, skills, attitudes and values ​​needed to achieve behavioral changes that will enable children, youth and/or adults to prevent conflict and violence, both direct and structural, to resolve conflicts peacefully and to create the conditions that will contribute to peace on an individual, interpersonal and national level, but also between groups and nations”.

It is a holistic framework aiming at social change through education, explained in UNESCO’s Constitution, “since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed”. Education for a Culture of Peace does not refer to the absence of war and physical violence, since even in cases where there is no war between states, some people do not have access to social and economic goods; in other words there is structural violence. Thus, the Culture of Peace which we refer to includes education for sustainable economic and social development, education for sustainable management of natural resources, respect for human rights, gender equality, participation of citizens in decision-making, respect and tolerance of other cultures and diversity, social justice, freedom of information movement, demilitarization and inner peace.

Education is the platform from where one can depart to bring about structural changes within society. Education for a Culture of Peace can provide the means through which such a transformation of the educational system and society can be achieved. “It aims at developing awareness of social and political responsibilities, guiding and challenging learners to develop their own points of view on the problems of peace and justice. It encourages them to explore possibilities for their own contribution to resolving the problems and achieving a Culture of Peace” (Reardon et al., 2002, p. 20).