7th International Conference and 8th Session of the General Assembly of PEACE (Palestinian European Academic Cooperation in Education)
The PEACE Programme is pleased to announce its 7th International Conference to be held on 22 and 23 November 2010 at the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC), Barcelona. The 8th Session of the General Assembly will also be held on 23 November in the afternoon, at the end of the International Conference.
Devoted to International Academic Cooperation and the Palestinian Universities, the conference will focus on the priority needs of Palestinian universities that could be met through international academic cooperation. It will present succesful past experiences and projects carried out with the support of the PEACE member universities, to focus then on prospects and ideas for the future action of the PEACE Programme.
What is the PEACE Programme
The initiative to launch a programme of academic cooperation with the Palestinian universities was taken at an international solidarity conference convened by several European universities - members of the Coimbra Group - at the University of Sienna in August 1991 when most Palestinian universities were closed. Soon afterwards, at a ceremony held in Jerusalem, on 1 November 1991, the rectors and presidents of twelve European universities (Barcelona, Coimbra, Granada, Krakow, Leiden, Leuven, Louvain, Namur, Pisa, Salamanca, Siena, and Viterbo) and their colleagues from six Palestinian universities (Al-Quds, An Najah National, Birzeit, Bethlehem, Gaza Islamic, and Hebron
), signed an agreement to officially launch the Programme for Palestinian European Academic Cooperation in Education
PEACE is based on the principles of the right to education and the right to culture, as proclaimed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (1966), the UNESCO Convention against Discrimination in Education (1960), and on the right to academic freedom, as defined in the Lima Declaration on Academic Freedom and Autonomy of Institutions of Higher Education (1988) and the Magna Charta of European Universities (1988).
The initial financial support received from the European Commission to fund study abroad for Palestinian students as well as the constant support of UNESCO were instrumental in setting up the PEACE Network and developing its activities. An office of the Programme was established at UNESCO, in Paris, in 1995. Other international organizations and foundations have extended support to PEACE activities, especially to its Scholarship Scheme. But the major support comes from its member universities. In addition to paying a membership fee and providing grants for the Palestinian students, they seek financial support from their national authorities, from foundations, and from the private sector to fund PEACE activities. The decision making bodies of the PEACE Network are the General Assembly and the Steering Committee. The Steering Committee meets regularly (at least once a year) while the General Assembly meets every other year - alternatively at a Palestinian and at a European university – to examine the report of activities and to plan future action. An office of the Programme was established at UNESCO, in Paris, in 1995.
Several international conferences devoted to specific topics of higher education development in Palestine were organized jointly with the General Assembly meetings: Academic Cooperation in Support of the Palestinian Higher Education Institutions (Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium, 18-19 November 1994); The Role of Higher Education in the Context of an Independent Palestinian State (Nablus, 7-9 November 1996); Five years of Autonomous Rule in Palestine. The Role of International Cooperation in Higher Education (Ghent, Belgium, 23-24 April 1999); University Cooperation for the Progress of Civil Society in Palestine (Bethlehem, 25-27 February 2005); Research Development at Palestinian Universities (UNESCO Paris, 4-5 November 2007). They were very well attended and have given fresh impetus to the PEACE Programme by extending its membership and the range of its activities.
The Network counts at present (March 2010) 64 members: 52 European and 12 Palestinian universities. It cooperates closely with the major NGOs of higher education: the International Association of Universities (IAU) the International Association of University Presidents (IAUP), tne European Association of Universitie4s (EAU), the Association of Arab Universitites ( AAr U), the Community of Mediterranean Universities (CUM), etc.).
Objectives of the PEACE Programme
As an interuniversity network which seeks to promote international academic cooperation with the Palestinian universities, PEACE focuses its action on those areas in which international cooperation has made full proof of its efficiency, notably by contributing to raising the quality, efficiency and relevance of teaching and research at Palestinian universities and enhancing their institutional and staff development. This it does mainly through facilitating study abroad for Palestinian graduate students and for young academics, to upgrade their training and return to teach at their universities of origin. It also facilitates staff exchanges helps set up academic programmes at Palestinian universities. In keeping with the spirit which lead to its foundation, PEACE seeks to play also a much wider role as a means of international opening, of overcoming difficulties and isolation, and of removing entrenched tensions and animosities that have accumulated during long years of turmoil. The PEACE Programme pursues these goals in a spirit of genuine academic solidarity, with the aspiration to make a contribution - as suggested by its acronym - to the peace process in the Middle East.