Her Excellency President Dalia Grybauskaitė, addressed this morning the Leaders’ Forum which brings together Heads of State and Government, ministers, ambassadors as well as high level participants from around the world in the context of the 38th session of the General Conference of UNESCO.
The Leaders' Forum was organised in the framework of the 70th anniversary of UNESCO, and was dedicated to the victims of the terrorist attacks in Paris on 13 November 2015.
"Notwithstanding the tragic events of last Friday, we are gathered here today, as nations under the banner of UNESCO, on our 70th anniversary, to proclaim to the world that the human spirit shall never be suppressed. That humanity's yearning for peace, tolerance and mutual coexistence must be resurrected," said Stanley Mutumba Simataa, President of the 38th Session of the General Conference in his opening remarks to the Member States.
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.”
Referring to the spread of terrorism and instability, President Grybauskaitė stressed that “radicalism and hate flourish where education fails”, and called for increased international efforts to promote peace, human rights and democracy. “Lasting peace, sustainable development and eradicating poverty all depend on access to education,” she added.
The President further expressed her appreciation for the work of UNESCO, and referred to the Organization’s key role in promoting peace by ensuring access to education, defending freedom of the media and protecting heritage.