Headquartered in Costa Rica, the United Nations-mandated University for Peace was established in December 1980 as a Treaty Organization by the UN General Assembly. As determined in the Charter of the University, the mission of the University for Peace is: “to provide humanity with an international institution of higher education for peace with the aim of promoting among all human beings the spirit of understanding, tolerance and peaceful coexistence, to stimulate cooperation among peoples and to help lessen obstacles and threats to world peace and progress, in keeping with the noble aspirations proclaimed in the Charter of the United Nations.”
To ensure academic freedom, the University was established under its own Charter, approved by the General Assembly. UPEACE is not subject to UN regulations and is directed by its own Council of renowned personalities with expertise in peace and security matters. This has allowed the University to move rapidly and to innovate, focusing its new, rigorous academic programme on the fundamental causes of conflict through a multidisciplinary, multicultural-oriented approach.
The wider mission of the University should be seen in the context of the worldwide peace and security objectives of the United Nations. The central importance of education, training and research in all their aspects to build the foundations of peace and progress and to reduce the prejudice and hatred on which violence, conflict and terrorism are based is increasingly recognized. The Charter of the University calls for UPEACE “to contribute to the great universal task of educating for peace by engaging in teaching, research, post-graduate training and dissemination of knowledge fundamental to the full development of the human person and societies through the interdisciplinary study of all matters related to peace”.
Funding of UPEACE programmes comes from the support of a number of donor governments, foundations and institutions who believe in the mission of the University. Fundraising for an endowment fund is in progress.
The vision of UPEACE is to become a network of collaborating UPEACE centres and activities in different regions, guided from its headquarters in Costa Rica and cooperating with a large number of universities, NGOs and other partners on education and research for peace.
Then Charter of the University sets out in its appendix the following general principles:
- The persistence of war in the history of mankind and the growing threats against peace in recent decades jeopardize the very existence of the human race and make it imperative that peace should no longer be viewed as a negative concept, as the end of conflict or as a simple diplomatic compromise, but rather that it should be achieved and ensured through the most valuable and most effective resource that man possesses: education.
- Peace is the primary and irrevocable obligation of a nation and the fundamental objective of the United Nations; it is the reason for its existence. However, the best tool for achieving this supreme good for humankind, namely education, has not been used.
- Many nations and international organizations have attempted to attain peace through disarmament. This effort must be continued; yet facts show that man should not be too optimistic as long as the human mind has not been imbued with the notion of peace from an early age. It is necessary to break the vicious circle of struggling for peace without an educational foundation.
- This is the challenge that now faces all nations and all men as the twenty-first century approaches. The decision must be made to save the human race, which is threatened by war, through education for peace. If education has been the instrument of science and technology, there is all the more reason to use it to achieve this primary right of the human being.
This school offers programs in: