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In 1992, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) launched the programme UNITWIN (University Twinning and Networking Scheme/Système de jumelage et de mise en réseaux des universitès), in conformity with a specific resolution adopted by the General Conference during its 26th session (1991).
This program of UNESCO is one of the instruments intended to reinforce the capacity for the sharing and the transferring of knowledge in a spirit of solidarity. It promotes the North-South and South-North cooperation as a strategy of enrichment for all of the institutions involved.
The participants are principally universities and research institutes that act in partnership with numerous NGOs, foundations and organizations of the public and private sectors, involved in the field of upper level education.
The program that is chaired by UNITWIN/UNESCO includes training and research activities, university exchanges, and works as a framework for information sharing in all of UNESCO's great fields of competence.
On the whole, there are 550 UNESCO Chairs in more than 600 higher education institutions in 114 countries.
In the specific sector of “Human Rights, Democracy, Peace, and Tolerance”, which is included in the field of human and social sciences, 64 UNESCO Chairs have been instituted worldwide.
Similarly, the UNESCO chair “Human Rights, Democracy, and Peace” was instituted at the University of Padua in 1999 with proper Convention signed by the General Director of UNESCO and by the Rector of the University of Padua. It is the only chair in Italy on this specific theme.
The UNESCO chair of Padua carries out the training and research activities of the chair in organic connection with the Interdepartmental Centre of Research and Services on Human Rights and the Rights of Peoples of the University of Padua.
The Chair-holder is Professor Antonio Papisca, Professor of International Relations and International Protection of Human Rights .
As distinctive sign of its identity, the UNESCO chair of Padua is involved in the elucidation and support for the formal, explicit recognition – within International human rights legal instruments – of “Peace as a human right”, a fundamental right of the person and of the peoples; this has already happened in Italy with Regional Laws (paradigmatic is Article 1 Regional Law 18/1988 of the Region of Veneto) and with thousands of Municipal and Provincial Statues since 1991.
In this specific context, the collaboration of the Chair is active among non-governmental organizations and associations that participate in the Italian Tavola della Pace and with the coordination of the local authorities for peace and human rights, in particular, for the preparation of the biennial sessions of the Peoples' UN Assembly (Assemblea dell'ONU dei popoli), organised by the Piattaforma per la Pace on the eve of the historic “Perugia-Assisi” Peace march.
The Chair contributes in giving consistency and international visibility to the activities of training and research of the Centre. The UNESCO Chair and the Centre have been focal points of the 2000 Program-International Year for the Culture of Peace.
The UNESCO Chair “Human Rights, Democracy and Peace” of the University of Padua participates actively in the initiatives promoted in the framework of exchanges and coordination with the other UNESCO Chairs established on the same field. In particular, it has participated in the periodic international encounters organised in Stadschlaining, Austria by the European University Centre for Peace Studies, EPU, and in the publication of the “UNESCO Chairs in Human Rights, Democracy, Peace and Tolerance Bulletin” (Edited by EPU: 7 editions up to now).
In this framework of exchanges, the UNESCO Chair holder “Human Rights, Democracy, and Peace” of the University of Padova has contributed four essays recorded in the Bulletin 6/7, in addition to that of the annual relationships of the activities of the Chair. A collection of 100 study papers and essays 2001-2005 – compiled by the European University Centre for Peace Studies: