Paul Biya, President of the Republic of Cameroon, today called on every nation to contribute to the fight on terror in his address to the Leaders’ Forum, which brings together heads of state and high-level government representatives on 16 and 17 November within the context of the 38th session of the General Conference of UNESCO.
The Leaders' Forum was organized in the framework of the 70th anniversary of UNESCO and was dedicated to the victims of the terrorist attacks that took place in Paris on 13 November.
“These horrible events show clearly just how far away we are, as a civilization, from the ideal of perpetual peace, of a world in which harmony and dialogue prevail. They also show, very clearly, what UNESCO still needs to do, and how relevant its mandate remains,” declared the President of the General Conference, Stanley Mutumba Simataa, after voicing shock and deep sadness in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks which struck the city of Paris.
Opening the Forum, Director-General Irina Bokova referred to the tragic and horrific events, which shook Paris and the entire world. “This is an attack against the humanity we share. We can never accept it. We can never give in. We must stand together, with France, with all women and men, with all societies."
Recalling UNESCO’s Constitution, adopted seven decades ago, which states that “since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men and women that the defences of peace must be constructed,” the Director-General declared that “this has never been so urgent, so relevant.”
“My own country, a haven of stability, is realizing this painful experience. Over recent years, it has suffered the terrorist attacks of Boko Haram,” declared President Biya. “I take this opportunity to recall that no country is safe from terrorist attacks. What has just happened in Paris in the evening of 13 November is very revealing. The war against terrorism concerns every nation that ranks respect for the human person and life among its core values. It is incumbent on every nation to make its contribution.”
“As a peaceful and tolerant country inhabited by peoples of diverse origins, religions and cultural traditions, Cameroon shares UNESCO’s humanistic ideal the ultimate goal of which is to promote human development and harmony between peoples,” the President added. “Like UNESCO, Cameroon thinks that our differences, far from being a handicap, are a source of enrichment.”
President Biya welcomed UNESCO’s work in Cameroon under the authority of Director-General, Irina Bokova. He also welcomed the decision to establish a UNESCO Regional Office for Central Africa in the country, which will strengthen the Organization’s action in the sub-region.
Following his address to the Leaders’ Forum, the President held talks with the Director-General of UNESCO.
President Biya was accompanied by Chantal Biya, First Lady of Cameroon and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Education and Social Inclusion, Lejeune Mbella Mbella, Minister of Foreign Affairs and former Permanent Delegate of Cameroon to UNESCO, Hadidja Alim Youssouf, Minister of Basic Education, and Narcisse Mouelle Kombi, Minister of Arts and Culture.