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Petitioning Dr. Francisco Rojas Aravena The Rector of the University for Peace

We assert the right to be included in all decisions that compromise the recognition of MAs previously awarded. We ask the Council to open its draft of Academic Programmes for comment and review.

A final draft of a proposal to completely rework the UPEACE academic programme is currently being circulated across the UPEACE Community. Entitled the ‘UPEACE Academic Programme’, the document has brought to light several critical issues that IMPACT THE WHOLE UPEACE ALUMNI COMMUNITY. Given that, as alumni, we have a right to be heard, we are using this narrative to communicate our voices.

First, as proposed UPEACE would offer only 1 Master’s Programme in Conflict and Peace Studies (MCPS), with several specializations in Conflict Prevention, Conflict Resolution and Peacemaking; Security and Peacekeeping; International Law and Human Rights; Gender Rights and Economic Empowerment; Economics of War and Peace; Environment, Natural Resources and Sustainable Development.

The proposed restructuring completely does away with or fundamentally changes the nature of several crucial programmes that have been at the core of UPEACE’s teaching. Namely: Peace Education; Media, Peace and Conflict Studies; Gender and Peacebuilding; and Urban Governance and Peace.

Furthermore, UPEACE alums were under the belief that the University’s administration was pursing in good faith the task of accreditation for all MA programmes. That our degrees would become accredited was more than an apparition. In fact, in 2012 the UN Secretary General in his report, UNSG A/67/272 Section II, A.9. declared, “the University expects to complete accreditation of its master’s programmes by the end of 2013.”

Will the proposed academic programme impede the accreditation of MA degrees already awarded by the University? As graduates of the University who were promised that our MA diplomas would be accredited we assert the right to be included in any and all decisions by the Council and/or Rector that might compromise such recognition. 

Second, according to the Final Draft being circulated, the Council and the Rector appear poised to implement new programmes of study that more closely align with mainstream discourses and objectives as practiced by the UN. Since its inception, one of the qualities that have drawn students to UPEACE is that it is an educational institution where critical thinking and alternative ideas and perspectives have flourished. The proposed focus on economics, development, politics, and security as practiced and understood by the UN is a matter that should be open for debate. This point is all the more important in light of Article 15 of the UPEACE Charter titled University Programmes and Degrees, which succinctly states: "Irenology, which shall comprise the study of peace, education for peace and human rights, shall be the main concern of the University. The studies carried out at the University shall focus on the topic of international peace. Completion of a programme of studies, including irenology as a compulsory subject, shall be required for obtaining any degree granted by the University."  Since Article 15 deals primarily with the programmes and degrees of the University as envisioned by the UNGA, the proposed draft is a clear departure away from the primary intent of the University as an institution for transformative, inclusive and emancipatory peaces that could transcended the limits of the UN system in favor of an alignment with the normative functions of the UN primarily, but not entirely, because the proposed academic programme undermines the University's original objective to realize peace through education.

It is alleged that the document will be discussed (and it is safe to assume, approved) during the summer break, without the participation of current students, alumni, faculty, and staff. This is a highly sensitive and important matter that has the potential to harm the spirit and promise of the University we all belong to. The lack of transparency, that we have so far perceived, on the part of the UPEACE Council is not acceptable. UPEACE is a sui generis institution and should remain as such, where all types of thinking -particularly critical/alternative ideas- should be welcomed and not silenced.

As we learned at UPEACE, we strongly encourage the Council and Rector to open its Final Draft of Academic Programmes for a broad and participatory comment period to be followed by a full and transparent review process by all members of the UPEACE community (current students, alumni, faculty, and staff) in keeping with the Mission and Charter of the University for Peace.

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  • Dr. Francisco Rojas Aravena
    The Rector of the University for Peace

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