The 9th President of Israel; Shimon Peres, today delivered a rousing plea for peace during a visit to UNESCO, where he addressed Permanent Delegate and Ambassadors of the Organization’s Member States.
“The majority of people everywhere seek peace and happiness for their children and for the rest of the world,” said President Peres, invoking the importance of dreams to imagine and build a better future. “Count how many achievements you have accomplished in your past, and how many dreams you have in your mind. If you have more dreams, you are young. You must have the courage to dream big.” he said.
In her address, the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, welcomed the 9th President of Israel as “a great statesman, a great humanist, and a great friend of UNESCO.” Recalling Mr Peres’ visit 20 years ago for the inauguration of the Square of Tolerance, dedicated to the memory of the late Prime Minister of Israel Yitzhak Rabin, she said: “Your commitment for science, innovation and dialogue resonates at the heart of UNESCO’s mandate to build peace, to foster human talent, innovation, and intelligence.”
She also highlighted Mr Peres’ longstanding work to reinforce cooperation with all countries, through education, culture and research.
President Peres spoke forcefully in favor of gender equality and of girls’ and women’s education to build inclusive society. “You do not conclude peace with half a nation,” he said, “You need a full nation to make peace.”
During the visit, the Director-General of UNESCO signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Peres Center for Peace, in the presence of the former President of Israel and of Efrat Duvdevani, Director General of the Center. “We will be loyal members of the UNESCO team, because we believe in the same ideas, we want peace, and we both believe it is possible”. declared Mr Peres.
The MoU sets the ground for cooperation between UNESCO and the Peres Center for Peace in promoting dialogue, mutual understanding, and peace between peoples in the Middle East. It foresees both sharing of information and cooperation, notably in the training of trainers to drive work on education and peace education, multiculturalism and intercultural understanding, sustainable development, as well as regional and international cooperation.
His Excellency Mr Carmel Shama Hacohen, Ambassador and Permanent Delegate of Israel to UNESCO, welcomed the agreement saying: “I believe that the partnership between UNESCO and the Peres Peace Center will be a model of cooperation and an inspiration for all.”
During a bilateral meeting with Mr Shimon Peres, the Director-General presented the former President with a sculpture of the Tree of Peace by UNESCO artist for Peace Hedva Ser, as well as the latest UNESCO World Science Report, commending the role of Israel as a global leader of scientific research, technology and innovation.
Mr Peres was awarded the UNESCO Félix-Houphouët Boigny Peace Prize in 1993 for his contribution to peace in the Middle East and the Nobel Peace Prize the following year.