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University for Peace

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By Petra van der Ham,

Managing Director UPEACE The Hague, Peace Palace.

The University for Peace (UPEACE) has been founded in 1980 by the General Assembly of the United Nations in order to give substance to its peace and security objectives. UPEACE fosters strong ties with various components of the UN-system, among which the UN Secretariat. The mission of UPEACE is to become an international institute for higher education for the entire humanity.

The headquarters of UPEACE are situated in Costa Rica, with its own campus and various facilities for students, employees and visitors. At this international academic institution for peace and peace related issues, research and education go hand in hand. At UPEACE, experts are brought together with students from all over the world, in order to educate a new generation of peace negotiators. They are being trained to bring peace to a global level, to manage conflicts and to uphold human rights. Mobilizing worldwide support, awareness and education of the (world) population plays an important role.

Throughout its over thirty years of existence, UPEACE has developed a range of master- and capacity building programmes in the field of peacebuilding and conflict resolution. Its core staff, together with visiting professors: mainly UN personnel, (former) diplomats, academics and experts from all over the world, provide courses and trainings for students as well as for professionals from different backgrounds.

image001Currently UPEACE offers 11 master programmes for approx. 200 master students from 100 different countries. Besides, approx. 150 students study at the affiliated centres. About half of these students are from developing countries; they can often apply for scholarships with the UPEACE Scholarship programme. In recent years UPEACE has also substantially invested in the development of online programmes and “distance learning”.

After their stay in Costa Rica, UPEACE alumni frequently return to their home countries to work at (inter)national government institutions, NGOs, universities or in the private sector. In many countries they are actively involved in the process of peacebuilding and -keeping.

Meanwhile there are centres in Addis Ababa, Belgrade, Manila, Montevideo, Seoul and, from 2012 on, The Hague, resulting in UPEACE increasingly becoming a global network organization. In addition, numerous cooperation agreements have been established with universities and peace organizations worldwide. The new Centre in The Hague, as the representative of UPEACE in the European Union, will constitute an important part of this international network. As of January 2012, this centre, in short UPEACE The Hague, is located in the AcademyBuilding of the PeacePalace.

UPEACE The Hague focuses on education and research in the field of peace issues, in close cooperation with renowned academic and policy-oriented institutes in The Hague region. This focus on cooperation is an important principle of the new Centre: UPEACE The Hague aims to be complementary to existing organizations by specifically focusing on peace education, an area that is still relatively underdeveloped.

UPEACE The Hague is an autonomous institute with sufficient academic freedom to develop its own programmes. Its mission and objectives fall within the framework of the Charter of the University for Peace, the Charter of the United Nations, and the Earth Charter. In this way, UPEACE The Hague supports and strengthens the international academic expertise of UPEACE, in cooperation with its affiliated centres and offices worldwide.

For the time being UPEACE The Hague focuses on three areas where it can be innovative and complementary: Peace and Conflict Studies, Water and Peace, and Urban Peace and Security. An important characteristic is the emphasis on interaction between theory and practice, with a strong policy-oriented character. This combination makes its programmes attractive to students, academics and professionals alike.

In the academic year 2012-2013 it has contributed to the educational curricula of Leiden University College The Hague and The Hague University of Applied Sciences, by offering courses on Peace and Conflict Studies to their bachelor students. Further cooperation is foreseen for the coming years, resulting in, for instance, a joint master program in Peace and Conflict Studies.

Furthermore UPEACE The Hague has entered into partnerships with International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University Rotterdam (2010) and with UNESCO-IHE Delft (2011). The purpose of these partnerships is to develop joint research and educational programmes and to promote exchange of lecturers and students.

In this way, UPEACE The Hague aims to grow into a European UPEACE expertise and knowledge Centre. The Hague, International City of Peace and Justice, with its growing constellation of international institutes in these areas, is considered a perfect city for such ambitious outreach.

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