Call to deepen universities’ role in peace and security

The importance of strengthening the role of universities in fostering peace and security through engagement with governments was highlighted at a global meeting of more than 75 university leaders in Tokyo last week, convened by Keio University.

The message will be conveyed to political leaders at the upcoming Group of Seven (G7) Summit of the world’s major economies, which will be hosted by Japan in Hiroshima in May.

The push for an active peace role for higher education by the U7+ Alliance of university heads from five continents – which was set up to outline collective action on global challenges in coordination with G7 and other government leaders – takes on a special significance as global powers struggle to contain the ongoing war in Ukraine and amid rising diplomatic tensions between the West and China. Other ongoing conflicts such as the Syrian war also need urgent resolution.

More than 75 university leaders from 16 countries met at Keio University on 16-17 March calling on G7 leaders to invest in peace and security education at all levels. Universities should support research on peace and security issues, the universities’ statement known as the ‘Tokyo Statement’ on ‘universities as engines of innovation for peace and security’ said.

The statement adopted by the university presidents was delivered to Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on 15 March in his capacity as G7 host.

“Universities are the venues where high-level information development is taking place. As a result, universities have the necessary skills to contribute to long-term peace. Our mission is to encourage action,” Kohei Itoh, president of Keio University, told the academic conference.

“It is the aim of universities to avoid wars and to work to create a peaceful and progressive society through diplomacy that is driven by learning and human interactions,” Itoh added.

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