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    13 September 1999
    Secretary-General Stresses Need for Culture of Peace


    NEW YORK, 10 September (UN Headquarters) --   Following is the message of Secretary-General Kofi Annan for the occasion of the International Day of Peace, 14 September:

     The principal mandate of the United Nations – “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war” – remains as valid today as when those words were written into the Charter more than half a century ago.  For millions upon millions of people throughout our world, the march of human progress continues to be plagued by conflict, violence, hatred and greed.

     Over the years we have come to realize that it is not enough to send peacekeeping forces to separate warring parties.  It is not enough to engage in peace-building efforts after societies have been ravaged by conflict.  It is not enough to conduct preventive diplomacy.  All of this is essential work, but we must also act at a deeper level if we want enduring results.  We need, in short, a culture of peace.

     It may seem sometimes as if a culture of peace does not stand a chance against the culture of war, the culture of violence and the cultures of impunity and intolerance.  Peace may indeed be a complex challenge, dependent on action in many fields and even a bit of luck from time to time.  It may be a painfully slow process, and fragile and imperfect when it is achieved.  But peace is in our hands.  We can do it.

     This year, the International Day of Peace coincides with the launch, at the initiative of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), of the International Year for the Culture of Peace.  “Since wars begin in the minds of men”, says UNESCO’s Constitution, “it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed”.  All of us must do our part in this project.  The culture of peace is an idea whose time has come.

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