UNESCO at the Paris Peace Forum 2020

16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Since 2018, the Paris Peace Forum is the place where heads of state and international organizations work hand in hand with civil society and the private sector to build new forms of collective action. The Forum addresses peace through global coordination and cooperation: Lasting peace will only be achieved through adapted and effective global coordination to address current issues. Each year in Paris, from 11 to 13 November, the Forum gathers collective action stakeholders, both states and non-state actors, around global governance solutions.


This year, UNESCO organizes several initiatives at the Forum:

UNESCO joins development banks in Sport for Development Coalition

11 November

UNESCO has joined, as a Founding member, the Sport for Development Coalition, an initiative spearheaded by the Agence Française de Développent (AFD) and several other development banks as well as organizations of the sport ecosystem. The goal of the Coalition will be to mobilize resources for sport’s projects, leveraging its impact and capacity to foster development and inclusion. UNESCO’s joining reflects its leading role in the UN system in the sports field, with their hosting of the World Conference of Ministers of Sport; the Kazan Action Plan, and the Antidoping Convention. UNESCO will provide advice and expertise on sport for development standards, policies and tools, and will also develop concrete programs. Coordinated by the AFD, the members of the Coalition will establish a task force to determine a common vision, objectives and an action plan.


    Panel on  “Learning from the pandemic: Rethinking education in a post-Covid-19 era” 

    The panel took place 12 November and included UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Education Stefania Giannini, H.E. Kersti Kaljulaid, President of the Republic of Estonia; Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, European Commission; and Asif Saleh, Executive Director, BRAC Bangladesh. UNESCO’s central role in the response to the crisis was highlighted, being at the forefront of tracking the global educational disruption caused by Covid-19 and of innovative efforts to respond to it, in particular through the Global Education Coalition.

    We have learnt that education systems are not prepared for such shocks and need to build in more resilience, but at the same time, that they are capable of rapid innovation and flexibility. Schools provide a space of apprenticeship to take responsibility for our common humanity and our shared planet; to think critically, accept diversity, gain wisdom, and act with care and compassion.

    Stefania Giannini, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Education

    Watch the panel discussion on Learning on the Pandemic for Education (80mn)

    Panel on “Racial and economic justice in COVID recovery: building on the Black Lives Matter Movement”

    12 November, 17:30-18:30

    In the panel “Racial and economic justice in COVID recovery: Building on the Black Lives Matter Movement”, the speakers delved on the disproportionate impacts of the COVID-19 crisis to black communities and ethnic minorities, and urged the international community to ensure that racial and economic justice prevails even after the pandemic.

    Gabriela Ramos, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences, underlined that the Black Lives Matter movement is creating an impact to address inequalities.

    She highlighted the anti-racism roadmap that UNESCO is currently developing in collaboration with various stakeholders, which includes a scanning project to strengthen institutional and legal frameworks for anti-racism, affirmative actions in public and private sectors and anti-biases training including UNESCO’s Master Class Series against Racism and Discriminations.

    Tendayi Achiume, UN Special rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, echoed this optimism by saying "We saw the biggest transnational racial justice mobilisation of our time take place in 2020 in such a challenging year and I think it is a sign of hope and shows that people are willing to fight."

    The long-standing legacy of racism and prejudice inherited from slavery has prevailed and continues to expose the wounds in our societies. The Black Lives Matter movement has simply revived these scars.

    Gabriela Ramos, the UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences

    Panel on “The values of Artificial Intelligence technology: Bringing ethics to the table”

    13 November, 9:15-10:15

    The discussion during the panel “The values of Artificial Intelligence technology: Bringing the ethics to the table” revolved around yet unsolved issues on how to approach AI to maximize the benefits and control the downside risks. When describing the Recommendation on the Ethics of AI that is being prepared by UNESCO, Gabriela Ramos, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences, underlined that “technologies are great – they are really showing how much benefit they can bring to human kind. But they need to be developed in a way that will enhance human rights and human dignity. This is the framing we are putting in the Recommendation.” The fact that UNESCO goes beyond principles to real concrete policy proposals, in particular the Ethical Impact Assessment, has been praised by another panelist Stuart Russel, renowned specialist in AI, professor at the University of California, Berkeley. "

    The time is ripe for the ethical framing of these technologies.

    Gabriela Ramos, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences

    Innovative Projects

    As a platform, the Paris Peace Forum pushes forward innovative solutions to tackle today's global challenges related to the 6 themes comprising the focus of the annual event: Peace & Security, Development, Environment, New technologies, Inclusive economy, Culture & Education.

    In 2020, given the extraordinary context of the Coronavirus pandemic, the Forum supported projects and initiatives from around the world seeking to respond to the COVID-19 crisis, improve our collective resilience and build a more robust and sustainable world.

    Two projects, to be implemented by UNESCO globally and in Zambia respectively, were showcased at the Forum, highlighting UNESCO’s contribution to bringing best practices. These projects are part of the 100 essential solutions for global development chosen by the 2020 Paris Peace Forum.

    The project aims to strengthen resilience to misinformation in countries vulnerable to conflict, protecting the health of members of fragile societies and avoiding the destabilization of peace processes. It is a short-term project linked to the temporality of COVID-19 crisis and deployed in Africa, Asia-Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean. The initiative is funded by the European Commission's Service for Foreign Policy Instruments and coordinated by UNESCO in collaboration with national partners such as journalists' associations, trade unions, local and public service media, media self-regulatory bodies. Activities support professional and diverse media’s capacity to report on the pandemic; strengthens local fact-checking organizations to debunk misinformation; and empowers youth and other citizens to critically process what they read and hear linked to COVID-19 through media and information literacy. 

     UNESCO Qualifications Passport for refugees and vulnerable migrants (UQP) will emphasize the significance of education in building peace, restoring dignity and recovering livelihoods for refugees as well as the need to implement a comprehensive refugee response, strengthening global governance of migration.

    Further to the second phase of the UQP pilot in Zambia, the first UQP volunteer ambassadors are ready to assist UNESCO and the refugee officers in the Meheba settlement to roll out the UQP project to many more potential beneficiaries.