About the Debate

The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) will organize its High-level Segment in Geneva in July 2011. The theme of the ECOSOC’s Annual Ministerial Review (AMR) will focus on “Implementing the internationally agreed goals and commitments in regard to education”. In that context and, as part of the communication activities, the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the Department of Public Information (DPI), will organize the webcast debate, “Face to Face”, on “Education, human rights, and conflict”, to be held on 4 July 2011. The debate coincides with the with the issuance of the 2011 Education for All Global Monitoring Report of UNESCO on “The hidden crisis: Armed conflict and education”.

Despite recent progress towards the Millennium Development Goal 2 (MDG 2), “Achieving universal primary education”, significant strides still must be made. Education is the single most important investment one can make in a child’s life. In high-risk environments, access to this human right must be fundamental and incorporated into humanitarian assistance and international aid. Not only is education a crucial step in bettering an individual’s life, but it is also an indicator of equality and justice within a population. Developing education rights for all advances the progress of a society and enhances the national economy.

Access to quality education is not a privilege – it is a basic human right. Education is key in all efforts to counteract intolerance and violence and to foster a culture of peace. Through peace-minded quality education, children and young people are empowered to participate in bringing about constructive change. From peace-minded quality education come learners, who have acquired literacy and important life skills, such as critical thinking, decision-making, communication, negotiation, conflict resolution, coping and self-management, which can be applied to specific contexts, including peace building and violence prevention. Education encourages children to inculcate respect for human rights of others. It also helps them learn to live peacefully and protect the environment. Given the perpetual presence of violence and conflict throughout the world, often sparked by intolerance and lack of intercultural dialogue, which prevents millions from practicing their human rights, a discussion on the relationship between these themes is imperative.


The webcast debate will:

  • inform the public of the challenges surrounding access to education, particularly in high-risk environments;
  • educate the public on the necessity of ensuring the right to education for all people throughout the world, as a contribution to fostering a culture of peace;
  • explain the challenges of education in conflict settings and how to incorporate it into humanitarian assistance and reintegration for afflicted members of society; and
  • introduce new ideas about how to improve the educational system and achieve human rights and educational access, as a contribution to MDG 2.

Key elements for debate

  • the responsibility of the State in providing quality education for all in conflict settings;
  • the role of the humanitarian community in these endeavours and its interaction with Governments, including as it refers to child soldiers;
  • the content of education programmes, under the angle of their contribution to a culture of peace, human rights, and gender equity.