The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, took part in the 16th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates, held in Bogotá on 2 and 3 February 2017, and underscored the importance of education in building lasting peace and as an instrument for resolving conflicts.
In her statement during the round table entitled “Peace and Education: the Virtuous Circle” that took place on 3 February, Irina Bokova emphasized the importance of education as a public good and commended the Government of Colombia for having made it a priority in its political agenda. She also mentioned the strong points needed to achieve quality education, in particular teacher training, the use of new technologies and gender equality. “We must support girls with scientific and technical training, starting with underprivileged girls, accompanying them at all levels of education”, said the Director-General.
“It is important for young people to take a critical attitude towards society so as to generate a culture of tolerance based on dialogue and social inclusion”, she added.
The following Nobel Peace Laureates were panel members alongside Irina Bokova and the Minister of Education of Colombia, Ms Yaneth Giha Tovar: Kailash Satyarthi (2014); Anthony Lake, representing UNICEF (organization awarded the Prize in 1965); Marcelo Kohen, Secretary-General of the Institute of International Law (Prize-winner in 1904); Ahmed Üzümcü, representing the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (entity awarded the Prize in 2013); and Ouided Bouchamaoui, member of the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet (Prize-winner in 2015).
President Juan Manuel Santos, Nobel Peace Laureate in 2016, opened the Summit on 2 February, paying tribute to the victims of conflict and to future generations. “We must work with a focus on education, on training for our children and young people, teaching a culture of tolerance, respect for others and their differences, and the appreciation and protection of diversity”, said the head of State.
The Director-General, who attended the Summit at the invitation of the Permanent Secretariat of the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates and the Bogotá Chamber of Commerce, also delivered one of the keynote speeches at the plenary meeting of 2 February entitled “Preventing conflicts, maintaining the peace”. “It is necessary to be brave, but it is also necessary to forge a new vision, a vison of new coexistence, a new vision of hope in the future, a new vision of dignity and rights for every Colombian”, said the Director-General in reference to the Colombian conflict.
Every year, the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates brings together Nobel Peace Prize-winners, high-profile leaders, organizations, students and university lecturers, in different cities across the world. Bogotá, selected for its capacity to evolve and rise to the challenge of peace, is the first city in Latin America to have hosted the meeting.