On 5 January, the UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova gave the keynote speech at the Inaugural Session of the 7th Annual Conference of Ambassadors of the Republic of Turkey, in Ankara. The speech was presented as part of the 70th Anniversary of UNESCO, celebrated in 2015 during her first Official Visit of this year.
The Director-General said, “A culture of peace cannot be ‘decreed’ …. It must be founded on solidarity, on the basis of human rights, on the principles that have guided UNESCO since 1945” and mentioned that the 70th Anniversary of UNESCO is an opportunity to place UNESCO’s message at the heart of the future agenda.
The UNESCO Constitution opens with the following words: Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed.
She explained that "We must embrace the integrated essential elements of Dignity, People, Prosperity, Planet, Justice and Partnership" and that this is UNESCO’s message, crafted 70 years ago, and that she believes it has never been so important or relevant as today.
She further added that "Hard power is not enough – we need soft power to build a culture of peace today, through education, culture, the sciences, communication and information”. This is the power to broker new ideas, to mobilise collective action for essential global goods.
Irina Bokova mentioned that she is determined to bring all of UNESCO’s experience over 70 years, to deepen mutual understanding and build new bridges of dialogue, and that she believes that we all recognise the growing interdependence of the world – and thus our task is to make this a source of strength rather than conflict. These are the principles that guide UNESCO’s action across the world, and this it is the Organization’s contribution to shaping the new global agenda to follow 2015.
The Director General re-stated that 70 years after its creation, the mandate of UNESCO has never been so essential and that in this troubled world, we must craft new forms of ‘soft power’ to build peace -- to counter the forces of fragmentation, to bolster social resilience, to safeguard humanity’s heritage of diversity and tolerance on the basis of human rights. 2015 is a turning point and it is appropriate that the Organization’s 70th Anniversary provides the chance to set a new vision for sustainable human development, in harmony with the planet. This is the message that she will continue to deliver as part of her official visits and other events throughout the year.