Vienna: Empowering Educators, Policymakers and Youth to Promote Peace and the Rule of Law


Vienna/October 21, 2019: At the first-ever High Level UN Conference on "Educating for the Rule of Law" convened in Vienna recently, UNODC South Asia joined over 350 government officials, policymakers, academics and young champions in highlighting the need to engage and empower young people and educators to promote peace and the rule of law.

Held under the aegis of UNODC'S Education for Justice Initiative, the Conference was aimed at using education to promote and strengthen a culture of lawfulness and the Sustainable Development Goals. The Education for Justice (E4J) Initiative is designed to support the implementation of the 2015 Doha Declaration, and reaches out to youth around the world through a wide range of interactive activities, educational modules, games and other knowledge tools. 

In a special address, UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov said, "Last month, the UN General Assembly kickstarted a decade of action to achieve the SDGs. Stepping up efforts to promote a culture of lawfulness, in line with the Doha Declaration, is key to delivering by 2030. The fourteenth UN Crime Congress in Kyoto in April next year will also address education and the empowerment of youth in the context of crime prevention. It is an opportunity to take the achievements of the Doha Programme and the Education for Justice initiative further, and to jointly draw a roadmap from 2020 to 2025 and beyond."

The Conference featured focused sessions and breakout discussions on the available E4J resources at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels; multimedia tools (Zorbs and Chuka) designed to help teach values, build resilience and resolve ethical problems; special modules and publications addressing UNODC mandate areas such as corruption, human trafficking and terrorism; MUN Resource Guide, and ways in which educators can use these resources in their academic programs.

While the first day's sessions joined all participants for wide-ranging panels on SDG linkages and various aspects of strengthening rule of law through education, the second day was dedicated to numerous breakout sessions, allowing for more in-depth discussions with smaller groups on issues relating to the primary, secondary and tertiary levels. Participants were brought back together on the third and final day for interesting and vigorous interactive discussions, and a very convivial concluding session which looked forward to E4J's next steps.

At the Conference, delegates from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal highlighted UNODC South Asia's engagement with young people and educators in the region--and the successful implementation of the E4J Initiative in India since 2018.

In India, significant headway has been made in schools through extensive interactive dialogues with educators and students, and providing knowledge support to school initiatives. Student-led efforts aimed at countering corruption, promoting inter-faith harmony and the use of arts in promoting peace in South Asia were effectively showcased to the participating delegates.

Under this initiative, UNODC engages with educators and students at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels on issues related to peace and the rule of law, and co-create solutions with their participation for a better future. Overall, the objective is to empower youth to become socially responsible global citizens with a sound moral and ethical compass who are prepared to tackle the world's challenges related to peace and the rule of law.

At the primary level (6-12 years old) and the secondary level (13-18 years old), resources have been developed for teachers to promote values such as acceptance, integrity, respect and fairness, and build resilience among children with skills such as conflict resolution, critical thinking, teamwork and empathy. These values and skills are regarded as crucial in creating non-tolerance of crime and violence and helping children to solve ethical dilemmas. These resources also demystify issues and themes surrounding crime, justice and the rule of law in our societies. They cater for different learning needs and contexts, and include in-classroom tools for teachers, the Model UN Resource Guide, videos, activity-based learning tools, games (electronic and non-electronic), among others.

For the  tertiary level , the shared expertise of more than 600 academics and countless UNODC experts in crime prevention and criminal justice has resulted in an extensive and impressive portfolio of E4J educational material. With more than 4,000 pages which lecturers around the world can consult online, print and easily integrate into their courses (in their entirety or selectively), the tertiary level's series of ninety modules covers the top ten most pressing global issues and remains a unique and progressive resource.

South Asia is home to the world's largest youth population, with thriving opportunities in the space of education to promote youth action on the SDGs and peace.