International Institute For Peace At Rutgers University, Newark, Is Now Affiliated With UNESCO

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Actor /humanist Forest Whitaker and Rutgers  Professor Aldo Civico have announced that the International Institute for Peace (IIP) at Rutgers-Newark is now operating under the auspices of UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.  Whitaker and Civico are co-founders of the institute; Whitaker is chairman while Civico, who teaches in the Rutgers-Newark department of sociology and anthropology, is director of IIP.  The actor also is the UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Peace and Reconciliation.

”The General Conference of UNESCO meeting in Paris approved our International Institute for Peace (IIP) at Rutgers University in Newark as a Category 2 Center,” Whitaker and Civico said in a joint statement.

The institute “will be complementary to the UNESCO’s platform of the promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, ‘particularly in the areas of youth, education, culture, science, communication, and gender equality,’” said Civico.  

Whitaker notes, “With UNESCO we share the same mission: to build peace in the minds of women and men. We are committed to foster a global culture and practice of peace by strengthening the human potential for peace through dialogue and negotiation.” In addition, by “pioneering innovative research and educating the next generation of peace-building leaders, IIP works to reorient societies marked by destructive conflicts towards sustainable peace rooted in human rights, the appreciation of cultural diversity, and the alleviation of poverty.”

The International Institute for Peace at Rutgers was launched last May during the international Newark Peace Education Summit, and is currently developing programs and strategic partnerships to work on cutting-edge issues, including increasing citizen security through strategic community building; the role of women, as well as the roles of spiritual and religious leaders, in peace-building; the impact of climate change; and the reduction of poverty.  

“We are organizing our presence and work in Newark, in Monterrey, Mexico, in Medellin, Colombia, and in Northern Uganda and South Sudan. In Paris, recently, we had very productive meetings with the ambassadors of El Salvador and Honduras for a program in Central America,” explains Civico.  “At Rutgers, in collaboration with Princeton University, we are organizing a 2012 public policy seminar on citizen security, which will offer an in-depth study of the administration of Mayor Leoluca Orlando in Palermo, Italy.”

During UNESCO’s Youth Forum in Paris last month, the IIP helped to train more than 250 youth delegates in conflict resolution and peace-building.  Whitaker also delivered a keynote address to the plenary session of the Youth Forum. Whitaker delivered the keynote address to the plenary session and joined the parallel debates for violence prevention at the forum. While aiding the IIP workshops, Whitaker, together with Civico,  met with ambassadors from several countries to establish relationships with the Institute.

 Academy Award-winning actor Whitaker was inspired to work to curb youth violence by his experience of growing up South Central Los Angeles.  He was named a UNESCO goodwill ambassador in June 2011. After delivering a speech at the UN High Panel for Peace in New York, Whitaker forged his message for peace. Soon after, he found synergy with Civico’s plans of launching a peace institute; the two decided to collaborate and to co-found the International Institute for Peace.

Civico, a cultural anthropologist specializing in urban political violence, came to Rutgers in 2010, following careers in journalism and conflict resolution that brought him to hot spots such as Colombia. 

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