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 14 September 1999
“Peace Is in Our Hands” Says Secretary-General
At Headquarters Peace Bell Ceremony


NEW YORK, 13 September (UN Headquarters) -- Following are the remarks of Secretary-General Kofi Annan upon ringing the Peace Bell at a Headquarters ceremony on 14 September:

 The Peace Bell, a gift to the United Nations from the United Nations Association of Japan, is an important fixture at United Nations Headquarters.  Cast from coins donated by people in more than 60 countries, it symbolizes the shared hopes of all people, in all countries, for peace in the fullest sense of the word.

 Each year, as we ring the Peace Bell, we reflect on the meaning of peace and reaffirm our commitment to work in partnership with others in pursuit of this universal objective.

 Today, the ringing of the Peace Bell coincides with the launch, by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), of the International Year for the Culture of Peace.  Why a Culture of Peace?  Because war, violence, poverty and prejudice are the daily experience of millions upon millions of people throughout our world n as they were when the United Nations was founded, and as they were when our bloody century began.

 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 armed conflicts have taken place.  It is not enough to conduct preventive diplomacy.  All of this is essential work, but we must also act at a deeper level.  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 it may be fragile and imperfect when it is achieved.  But peace is in our hands.  We can do it.

 In that spirit, it gives me great pleasure to officially launch the International Year for the Culture of Peace on behalf of the United Nations, UNESCO and the entire United Nations system.  Let us all join in working for a culture of peace and in implementing the programme of action adopted yesterday by the General Assembly.  And let the message of this Peace Bell be heard far and wide today and throughout the year.

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