Upholding the Principle of the Rule of Law through Education


PARIS - Behavior change through education is possible, according to experts from all regions of the world gathered at UNESCO to attend a two-day consultation meeting on the role of education in the promotion of the rule of law and culture of lawfulness on 15 and 16 March 2018 at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, according to the UNESCO.

Promoting ethical and responsible behavior, in particular, is possible, if learners are equipped with the right skills and values, are motivated to take action, and given the opportunity to do so. The challenge, however, is to identify which skills and values are specifically needed to achieve this goal and figure out how best to teach them.

This was the purpose of the meeting that brought together teachers, educators, teacher trainers, curriculum developers, youth activists, researchers, and policy-makers in the field of education and crime prevention.

Soo-Hyang Choi, Director of the UNESCO Division of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development, opened the meeting by underlining the powerful, yet discreet, role of education in addressing today’s most pressing global challenges: While certain threats to global stability and peace, such as corruption and organized crime, can be very visible, the positive effects of education are not always observable immediately, she noted. Through this project, she indicated that UNESCO hopes to help countries enable learners to acquire the skills they need to build more inclusive, just and peaceful societies.

Her words were followed by remarks of H.E. Ambassador Sheikh Ali bin Jassim Al-Thani, Permanent Representative of the State of Qatar to the United Nations and International Organizations in Vienna. He underlined that “in order for this initiative to reach its noble goals, it needs to be universal in nature and applicable to all societies”, yet respectful of regional and cultural diversity.

Since schools are a microcosm of society, modeling lawful behavior in schools is essential. This implies allowing learners to “learn by doing”, by providing students with concrete exercises - such as role-playing, dialogues and community service activities – that foster a culture of lawfulness. 

Education is one of the most effective means of developing the skills within learners to make informed and responsible decisions, eventually equipping them to address and transform conflict on their own, notably as concerns the prevention of crime.

Throughout the two day meeting, participants identified policies that enable education systems to ensure that learners acquire the skills they need to act and engage ethically in society. They also elaborated concrete recommendations for the development of guidance materials for teachers and policy-makers. The discussions were informed by lessons learned from existing initiatives at both governmental and non-governmental levels.

The meeting was organized in the context of a newly established UNESCO/UNODC partnership that aims to strengthen the capacities of education systems – and in particular of policy-makers, educators and teachers - to plan and undertake education activities that promote the rule of law.

The UNESCO/UNODC partnership builds on UNESCO’s efforts to promote Global Citizenship Education – this educational approach seeks to empower learners to become proactive contributors to a more peaceful, tolerant, inclusive and secure world. The partnership also contributes to UNODC’s Education for Justice (E4J) initiative, which is a key component of the Global Programme for the Implementation of the Doha Declaration that was launched in 2016, following the endorsement of the Doha Declaration by the General Assembly in its resolution 70/174.