Building peace in the minds of men and women

Education: a vaccine for HIV/AIDS

The statistics on HIV/AIDS are heartbreaking, the human distress each case represents even more so. Two decades after the start of the pandemic, the new Courier takes stock and devotes its “Focus” dossier to shedding new light on this devastating topic.

We know more and more about the progression of the pandemic. Decision-makers’ lack of determination to see and tackle the problem is compounded with all the factors of precariousness: poverty, social isolation, low level of education, difficulty in accessing medical care, etc. The results are tragic: the huge vulnerability of so many young African women or other high-risk groups, such as drug addicts in certain countries. In the face of such destruction, as deadly as the worst of wars, the international community has progressively organized to fight on all fronts, under the banner of UNAIDS, which UNESCO cosponsors. Here and there, we can see sparks of hope.

Improving medical treatment is crucial to limit damages, but the principal keys to checking the spread of the disease remain preventive action and education, relayed by mobilization at all levels. The numbers and the stories reported from Thailand, Brazil, South Africa or Uganda are eloquent. The results – victories large and small – depend mainly on partners joining forces. Brazilian authorities, for instance, were able to put together the NGOs’ capacities to contact marginalized populations, rely on the competence of UNESCO’s office in Brasilia, and involve the media, including directors and producers of extremely popular television series.

The articles in this issue of the new Courier testify, each from a different angle, to UNESCO in action, illustrating its multitude of links to organizations of all kinds, corporations or individuals who want to act with it. We go to Kazakhstan, where innovative solutions using distance education are needed to alleviate the side-effects of nuclear testing. Then to Barcelona, where the first Universal Forum of Cultures mixed and mingled multiple forms of cultural expression for four months. Then to the 34 new sites just inscribed on the World Heritage List. We will meet Navarre Scott Momaday, Manu Dibango and Miyako Yoshida, recently appointed “Artists for Peace”. Everywhere, UNESCO pursues its ideals, seeking to build step by step the defenses of peace in people’s minds.

Vincent Defourny, Director of publications

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October 2004