On Friday, 21 September, the United Nations Department of Public Information will organize the fifteenth student observance of the International Day of Peace under the theme “Sustainable Peace for a Sustainable Future”, which focuses on the use of natural resources to finance armed conflict, or how struggles over control of those resources can fuel conflict.
Hundreds of students from Canada, Mexico, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Washington, D.C., will gather at United Nations Headquarters for the event. They will be addressed by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Peter Launsky-Tieffenthal, Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information. Madam Ban Soon-taek will preside over the closing ceremony.
In his message for the International Day of Peace, Secretary-General Ban said: “Armed conflicts attack the very pillars of sustainable development. Natural resources must be used for the benefit of society, not to finance wars. Children should be in school, not recruited into armies.”
During the student observance, participants will engage in a question-and-answer session with Messengers of Peace Michael Douglas and Jane Goodall, as well as Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel, UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) Goodwill Ambassador Forest Whitaker, United Nations Foundation Girl Up Champion Monique Coleman and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, celebrity advocate, model and actress from India. Messenger of Peace Princess Haya al Hussein will also participate via video message. Two students, Pippa Biddle, a former Youth Leadership Fellow from Roots & Shoots, and Faraz Kayani, a United Nations youth representative from non-governmental organization Pathways to Peace, will moderate the event.
Young people gathered at the United Nations peacekeeping missions in Liberia (UNMIL) and South Sudan (UNMISS) will also join the observance via videoconference. Liberian students will present a drama skit “Our Resources, Our Future”, and students from South Sudan will present a poem “From War to Peace - From Peace to Prosperity in South Sudan”. Students at United Nations Headquarters will present posters showcasing peace projects. In addition, the event will be linked with a ceremony organized by the Mayor of Montreal to observe a minute of silence as part of a “wave of celebrations” that will take place in more than 5,000 cities around the world to mark the Day.
The event’s theme aims to highlight the environmental causes of many conflicts. With more than half the peacekeeping budget being spent in response to conflicts financed or fuelled by valuable natural resources — such as diamonds, gold, oil, timber or water — addressing their ownership, control and management is crucial to maintaining security and restoring the economies of post-conflict countries. Good natural-resource management can play a central role in building sustainable peace in post-conflict societies.
The event is organized in collaboration with a group of non-governmental organizations, including the Jane Goodall Institute, Pathways to Peace, United Religions Initiative and the World Peace Prayer Society. Student videoconferences are organized at Headquarters by the Education Outreach Cluster of the Department of Public Information, to reach out to students around the world and facilitate an exchange of views on priority United Nations issues.
Just prior to the student observance, a Peace Bell ceremony will be held in the Rose Garden outside the United Nations Secretariat Building. Before ringing the Japanese Peace Bell, the Secretary-General will deliver his message to mark the International Day of Peace. He will be accompanied by his wife, Madam Ban Soon-taek, the President of the General Assembly and the Permanent Representative of Japan, as well as Mr. Douglas, Ms. Goodall, Mr. Wiesel, Mr. Whitaker, Ms. Coleman and Mrs. Rai Bachchan. They will be joined by 194 students holding the flags of the United Nations and each Member State.
Both events will be available live on the United Nations webcast at http://www.un.org/webcast
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, Education Outreach, Department of Public Information.