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17 August 1999
In Message to Opening of World Youth Orchestra Concert, Secretary-General Says 
 Young People's Voices Will Be Heard at United Nations


NEW YORK, 16 August (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of a message of Secretary-General Kofi Annan to celebrate the first International Youth Day, which was delivered on 13 August on his behalf by Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Alvaro de Soto at Alice Tully Hall in New York:

 Allow me to extend a warm welcome to all who have gathered for this first celebration of International Youth Day. I am pleased that so many representatives of United Nations Member States are also joining in this tribute to succeeding generations. 

 Special thanks are due to the United Nations special partners for youth -- the Jeunesses Musicales World Orchestra and Plural Arts International -- and to the many others who helped make this event possible. To have 100 young musicians from nearly 40 United Nations Member States join forces and instruments tonight is in itself a rousing declaration of support for the United Nations World Programme of Action for Youth.

 Let me also extend special greetings to Dr. Leonor Calderon, the Minister of Youth, Women, Children and Family of the Republic of Panama. Dr. Calderon, you worked hard to make International Youth Day a reality and we owe you a debt of gratitude. Bienvenida, y muchas gracias. 

 This concert is the best possible way to celebrate our new day and to inaugurate our new partnership. Music has long been a channel for young people to communicate with each other; for human beings to achieve greater understanding of each other; indeed, for people to promote the ideals of the United Nations.

 The global outlook that gatherings such as this can inspire is indispensable in today's world. The issues that confront us on the eve of the twenty-first century -- be it the environment, drugs, pandemics or sustainable development -- are issues that cut across all frontiers. This is the message the United Nations is trying to send to the world. Yet too many people are still thinking in local terms, constrained by national boundaries.  

 By being here, all of you have shown that you can transcend such narrow confines and think in much broader terms. For that, I wish to offer you my sincere congratulations.

 No one is born a good citizen; no nation is born a democracy. Rather, both are processes that continue to evolve over a lifetime. Young people must be included from birth. Because a society that cuts itself off from its youth severs its lifeline.

 In the United Nations, as the World Programme of Action for Youth tells us, young people's voices will be heard. I promise you that. For it is young people's hope and energy, their enthusiasm and willingness to experiment, that makes society move forward; young people coming together to work out their own agenda, without waiting for governments to tell them what to do; succeeding generations making sure they do indeed succeed in more senses than one.

 And so, on behalf of the United Nations, I extend my warmest encouragement tonight to all those who will take over the conductor's baton in the twenty-first century. I hope that you will wield it wisely. I know that you will prepare for it well. If music be the food of peace, play on.

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