Irina Bokova: “Africa must rise to the challenge of peace to win the challenge of development”

Luanda - 26 March, the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, took part in the opening ceremony of the Pan-African Forum: sources and resources for a culture of peace", alongside Mr. Eduardo Dos Santos, President of the Republic of Angola and Mr. Erastus Mwencha, Vice-President of the African Union Commission, representing Ms Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, President of the Commission. The African Development Bank was also present, as well as Mr. Federico Mayor, former Director-General of UNESCO.

The Director-General recalled that culture of peace stands at the heart of UNESCO’s action for inclusive education, the reconstruction of educational systems after wars and crises, the introduction of modules to teach peace education and tolerance in school programmes.

“To win the challenge of sustainable development, and confirm the current dynamic of a ‘Rising Africa’, Africa must rise to the challenge of peace,” said the Director-General, underlining that the continent has vast assets to achieve this -- including young people, the engagement of women, mothers and girls in peace and democracy, the values ​​of dialogue rooted in its cultural heritage, traditional means of prevention and conflict resolution.

"War is a calamity," said President José Eduardo dos Santos in his speech, adding that Africa has as much need for peace as bread to feed the continent. “Peace requires the mobilization of the entire society,” he added.

Mr Erastus Mwencha, Vice-President of the African Union Commission, said that the "commitment to peace should be seen as a cultural imperative”. UNESCO’s action in favor of the culture of peace, as enshrined in its mission and mandate, as well as the specific activities it has undertaken over many years, were highlighted as exemplary.

The Forum, attended by members of the Angolan government and parliamentarians, brought together over 300 participants, including ministers from a number of African countries, representatives of specialized agencies, experts, representatives of civil society and young people.

Mr. Joaquim Alberto Chissano, former President of the Republic of Mozambique and Bineta Diop, President of "Femmes Afrique et Solidarite" and representing women and African civil society were also present at the opening ceremony.