Message from Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO on the occasion of the International Day of Peace, 21 September 2011 “Peace and Democracy: Make Your Voice Heard” 21 September 2011

The statement from Rwanda National Commission for UNESCO reveals that peace is more than the absence of war. It lies in the dignity of every woman and man. It is the tie that binds societies together in harmony with our environment. It is the foundation of legitimate states and the basis for stable international relations. This vision created the United Nations. It is the goal that leads all of UNESCO’s activities.

The 2011 International Peace Day is a chance to consider the stakes of peace in a world moving more quickly every day. People are more connected today than ever before. Information and communication technologies are opening new worlds for expression and action. Social media are creating new platforms for participation and democracy. At the same time, women and men across the world struggle still against the terrors of violence and conflict.

To the Director General of UNESCO, Mrs Irina BOKOVA a global economic crisis is hitting hard, leaving millions to suffer the deprivations of poverty and marginalization. In turbulent times, we must remain true to the core values of peace. Peace starts with justice and dignity for every woman and man. It begins with the ability of each of us, across the world, to imagine a better world and work to create it. It is embodied in the humanist ambitions of the Millennium Development Goals. UNESCO’s 1945 Constitution states “if wars start in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed.” Young minds are some of the most powerful defenses of peace.

We must engage with the ideas of young women and men and ensure their rightful place in all societies. Their voices must be heard and, more importantly, listened to. UNESCO works every day to support young people in bolstering democratic values and institutions, based on justice, equality, and respect for human rights. We act to strengthen a culture of peace and non-violence through intercultural and interfaith dialogue, and by fostering mutual understanding and promoting reconciliation. We seek to empower young people with new skills to speak out and opportunities to act for peaceful change. These are the goals of the Youth Forum that UNESCO will hold in Paris on 17-20 October on the theme of “How Youth Drive Change.”

Before closing her message, Director General of UNESCO, Mrs Irina BOKOVIA concluded that we must support their aspirations, we must listen to their views and we must act on their dreams. This is our message for the 2011 International Peace Day.

Statement signed by MUSANGABATWARE Clement, Head of Communication, Information and Documentation Unit at Rwanda National Commission for UNESCO – RNCU.

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