The objective pursued in the course “Conflict resolution, peace, gender and development”, celebrated from the 11th to the 13th of July at the Royal Monastery of Yuste, is to tackle strategies -from a global approach and with local practices- in order to make progress in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goal 16, which seeks to promote just, peaceful and inclusive societies.

This course is organised by the Extremaduran Agency for International Development Cooperation (AEXCID) and the European and Ibero-American Academy of Yuste Foundation, in collaboration with the UN University for Peace, the Regional Government of Extremadura and the University of Extremadura.

The Director General of External Action of the Regional Government of Extremadura and President of the European and Ibero-American Academy of Yuste Foundation’s Executive Committee, Rosa Balas, pointed out during the opening session that this course on conflict resolution is analysed from the European and Ibero-American point of view, “because in the end, we have the same problems, suffer the same challenges and the origin of the problems and conflicts is usually the same”.

This course counts with the cooperation of the University for Peace; a dependent institution of the UN, located in Costa Rica. Balas claimed that this collaboration is the result of a commercial and institutional mission carried out by the Regional Government of Extremadura and the University of Extremadura in Costa Rica “one of the preferential countries of Extremaduran external action”. This priority implies, Rosa Balas stated, an economic, institutional and academic collaboration.

The European and Ibero-American Academy of Yuste Foundation and the University for Peace have elements in common, especially because they are spaces to be trained, reflect, think and get to know the reason why conflicts occur in the world and how we may tackle them.

The head of External Action claimed that much will be said about the United Nations during the following three days, especially about two resolutions. One is Resolution 3555, by which the University for Peace was created 38 years ago during the peace process in Central America. In this sense, Balas anticipated that the peace process will be introduced during the course with the presentation of the book La paz en Centroamérica. El Pan Arias desde adentro, carried out by one its authors: Cristina Eguizábal, the current Ambassador of Costa Rica in Italy.

The other UN Resolution referred to by Balas, which will be mentioned in the course, is Resolution 1325, about the implementation of gender in all security and defence actions, in conflict resolution as well as in the role that women play in the maintenance of peace and diplomacy.

Finally, the Director General of External Action encouraged students to take advantage of this space to academically train themselves, but also to “establish bonds as stated by the Sustainable Development Goal 17, to establish alliances among students and interact with the speakers in order to discover which are the origins of the conflicts in order to tackle them”.

The Rector of the University for Peace and Director of the course, Francisco Rojas, highlighted that being able to reflect upon security issues at present is “an essential subject at this given time where governability in Latin America is, once again, a fundamental issue –in relation to this is the subject of people’s lives- where, in spite of being a region where there is interstate peace, there are more deaths than in a traditional war”.

The Director of the University of Extremadura’s Cultural Activities’ Secretariat, José María Conejero, stressed that even though it is evident that much progress has been made in the achievement of the Sustainable development Goals, there are yet “many challenges to face and much work to do”. That is why he highlighted the organisation of this course “in the spirit to foster comprehension, tolerance and stimulate cooperation in order to face these challenges”, from different perspectives, as the strategies to face global security threats may be; the consolidation of peace in post conflict sceneries; democratic strengthening and human rights to foster peace; the focus on gender in global security and conflict resolution and the negotiation and mediation for conflict management.

Conejero specified that part of the definition of the Sustainable Development Goal 16 deals with the promotion of the construction of responsible and efficient institutions at all levels. In this sense, “everyone, society in general and institutions particularly, should be critical and assume responsibilities in order to face these challenges”. In the case of universities “we have to assume the responsibility as far as the training of those that will have to face these challenges some day is concerned; responsibility not only of the technical and specific competences in the performance of its exercise, but also concerning interdisciplinary cross-sectional competences to face these challenges, such as social responsibility, education in gender equality or the capacity to make just and efficient decisions”, he pointed out.

Among the speakers are: the President of the Culture of Peace Foundation and member of the Academy of Yuste, Federico Mayor Zaragoza; the Director of the Education and Research Centre for Peace (Centro de Educación e Investigación para la Paz) and co-Director of the Institute of Human Rights, Democracy and Culture of Peace and Non-Violence (DEMOSPAZ), Manuela Mesa; the Ambassador of the EU and member of the European Union’s External Action service, Nicolás Berlanga Martínez; the head of International Action in the Movement for Peace (MPDL), Marta Iglesias López; the Chancellor of University for Peace and former President of the European Parliament, Enrique Barón Crespo; the General Secretary of FLACSO, Josette Altmann; the Ambassador of Costa Rica in Italy, Cristina Eguizábal and the Advisor to the Presidency of the Spanish Government and former Director of the Office of the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) in Madrid, Francisco de Borja Lasheras.

40 grant holders from the University of Extremadura; the Autonomous University of Madrid; the University of Barcelona; the University of Seville; the Rey Juan Carlos University; the Pontifical University of Salamanca; the University of  Comillas; the University of Cantabria; the Complutense University of Madrid; the University of Jaén; the University Carlos III; the University of Granada; the University of Lleida; the University of Alcalá de Henares; the University of Miguel Hernández de Valladolid and from the Universidade Europeia de Lisboa will attend the course as well as 12 professionals from third sector entities of Extremaduran cooperation; NGOs, associations and foundations. The grant holders come from Spain, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Guatemala, Belgium and Haiti.