The Challenge of Human Rights
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The Challenge of Human Rights

Past, Present and Future

Edited by David Keane and Yvonne McDermott

The Challenge of Human Rights takes a detailed and exploratory approach to topics across the field of human rights, and seeks to map a path for future research and policy development.
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Chapter 4: UNESCO and the Right to Peace

David Keane


David Keane The right to peace as a human right has been incidentally mentioned in various documents. As early as 1969, the Istanbul Declaration, adopted during the 21st International Conference of the Red Cross, proclaimed the right to lasting peace as a human right. In January 1997, the DirectorGeneral of UNESCO prepared the Oslo Draft Declaration on the Human Right to Peace, which proclaimed that ‘every human being has the right to peace, which is inherent in the dignity of the human person’. The 1997 Oslo Draft Declaration proved to be the apex of UNESCO’s ‘right to peace’ initiative, which quickly met with determined state opposition. The organization turned instead to the concept of a ‘culture of peace’, which had been developing in tandem with the right to peace movement. The ‘culture of peace’ subsumed elements of the right to peace initiative, without the legal character that the Oslo Draft Declaration had been attempting. However the original ‘culture of peace’ idea had an interesting origin, including a UNESCO document called the Seville Statement on Violence 1986. The Seville Statement represented an exploration of the link between aggressive behaviour and genetics, and sought to challenge a number of alleged biological findings that have been used to justify violence and war. This aspect of the ‘culture of peace’ has been marginalized, as the concept has instead been used to promote the more mainstream ideas inherent in the notion of the right to peace. The paper will explore the right to peace from...

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