Last updated 16 November 2010
Flanked by UN Messengers of Peace and Goodwill Ambassadors Midori Goto, Yuna Kim, Anggun, Catarina Furtado, Goedele Liekens and Elie Wiesel, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon inaugurated the annual International Day of Peace on 17 September 2010.
This year’s International Day of Peace theme is ‘Youth, Peace and Development,’ which combines the issues of peace, the Millennium Development Goals and the General Assembly’s proclamation of the International Year of Youth.
Midori Goto and Elie Wiesel are both UN Messengers of Peace. Goedele Liekens is Goodwill Ambassador for the UN Population Fund (UNFPA). Catarina Furtado is Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). Anggun is Goodwill Ambassador for the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Yuna Kim is Goodwill Ambassador for the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
Normally marked on 21 September, this year’s ceremony at UN Headquarters was brought forward so as not to clash with next week’s Millennium Development Goals Summit to take place 20-22 September. Other ceremonies around the world will continue up until 21 September.
‘Young people today are at home with global diversity; they are comfortable in an interconnected world. Yet they are also vulnerable to the forces of extremism,’ the Secretary General said before observing a minute of silence for peace and then driving the ringing beam three times into the bell.
A gift from Japan that hangs from a wooden beam in a garden in front of UN Headquarters, the bell has tolled every year in a solemn call for peace since 1981.
In remarks at Peace Bell Ceremony, Mr Ban invited ‘all governments and our partners: let us do more to give them (youth) a world of tolerance and opportunity. And I say to all young people: join us.’
Referring to the forthcoming MDGs Summit, Mr. Ban acknowledged that young people are ‘impatient, frustrated by poverty, injustice and environmental degradation,’ saying: ‘You are concerned that we, your elders, have not made greater headway against these threats.’
‘There have been remarkable gains, but we need faster progress – much, much faster. Young people can play a central role,’ added Ban.
At a later tea gathering for peace with UN Association of Japan president, Genshitsu Sen, Mr. Ban recalled his recent visit to Hiroshima to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the atomic bombings on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, saying he will never forget the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony.
‘I will never forget meeting the survivors – the hibakusha – or their painful and moving testimony. I was very impressed and moved this morning when young students sang a song of peace with the piano which survived the atomic attack 65 years ago. The piano was transported for that ceremony today’.
UN General Assembly President Joseph Deiss said the Peace Bell was an important symbol of the ultimate goal at the United Nations: that the message of peace will resound around the world.
‘Yet, many conflicts still ravage our world and cause distress and suffering to hundreds of thousands of men, women and children. For peace to resound around the world, we have to work hard,’ he declared.
‘Peace can only be achieved through tolerance, dialogue, friendship and respect among peoples, liberty and democracy, justice and prosperity.’