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January 5, 2004

A Couple of Specific Policy Proposals to Inculcate a Culture of Non-Violence among War-Affected Children

Takashi INOGUCHI (Professor of Political Science, University of Tokyo / Former Assistant Secretary of General, United Nations)

The UNESCO Charter famously enshrines its culture of non-violence, stating:

"War comes out of the mind of men."

What we should endeavor is to think about how to reshape the mind of men when men are so severely negatively affected by war and violence. Those whose loved ones, neighbors and friends were killed in war and violence need to be rescued because many of them are haunted by the trauma and some of them develop the deep distrust of men and the strong inclination to use force in the settlement of disputes.

I propose that we focus on children in our endeavor to help reshape this mindset by reducing their trauma: firstly because they are most vulnerable to war and violence along with to famine, infection and divorce of parents; secondly because they are more malleable, i.e., more capable of learning. In other words, children have huge potentials and high risks. In this brief presentation, I propose two specific action schemes of education and culture of non-violence among war-affected children.

---Create a scheme of international NGOs to bring war-affected children to families with children and have them spend time together in family, school and a summer camp for a week or two. An example exists. A Japanese NGO has brought Palestinian and Israeli war-affected children around 10 years old to a Japanese family with children and had them spend a week or two in all family, school and volunteer activities together with Japanese children of a host family. The beauty of the proposed scheme is: (1) Palestinian and Israeli children spend time with a third party family in a totally peaceful setting; (2) the scheme is conducted on a small scale. Small is beautiful after all since that makes the scheme more feasible; (3) The scheme enables one to monitor the development of children about their aspiration, apprehension, family, school, career, marriage, children and happiness.

---Create a scheme of international NGOs and member state governments to send teachers who accord professional skills to war-affected children whether it is English, judo, computer science, accounting, and health science. A number of examples do exist in a variety of schemes conducted by NGOs and various governments, for instance, in Afghanistan. The beauty of the proposed scheme is; (1) to induce war-affected children to less-war-related life and career. Many children-soldiers are continuously born and killed because that is virtually the only life and career they have seen and experienced. They are destined to live a life evolving around war. They cannot get out of its vicious circle. We must help them stop its vicious circle; (2) the scheme is useful in building an economic basis of a society which has less to do with war, crime, and drugs. War-devastated societies often times do not have a strong economic basis on which war-affected population can survive without being engaged with all sorts of crimes including illicit drug production and trade and forced prostitution.

With such schemes will the UNESCO's International Decade of a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World (2001-2010) be further enhanced toward its achievement.

Thank you.

(Presented at the Inter-Ministerial Conference on the Dialogue among Civilizations, co-organized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization and the Government of India, New Delhi, July 9-10, 2003.)

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