Press Releases

      14 September 2004

In Message for Day of Peace, Secretary-General Stresses Need for Greater Tolerance, Promotion of “Unity Based on Our Shared Humanity”

NEW YORK, 13 September (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the message by Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the International Day of Peace, 21 September:

The International Day of Peace is always a special occasion, but this one is even more so -- for this year marks the 50th anniversary of the Peace Bell, which we ring every year on this day. 

It was in 1954 that this bell, cast from coins collected by children from 60 countries, was presented to the United Nations by the UN Association of Japan. For half a century since then, the bell has sent a powerful message around the world about humankind’s aspiration for peace. Throughout that time -- from the height of the Cold War to the rise of intrastate conflicts, from the spread of the AIDS crisis to the escalation of terrorism -- the call of the bell has remained constant, clear and true.

Today, we listen to the ringing of the bell as solace while we contemplate the tribulations of the past year, and as a source of strength as we prepare to take on the trials ahead. As the world’s countries gather this week for the 59th General Assembly, we know there will be many challenges before us.  To meet them effectively, I believe a number of fundamental priorities merit a special claim on our attention.

We need to keep working to strengthen the system of collective security, and make sure it is up to the task of meeting the threats of the 21st century. The High-Level Panel I appointed late last year is working hard to give us the ideas to do just that.

We need to build greater international solidarity in tackling grave humanitarian emergencies, such as the one in Darfur.

We need to do better in forging a true global partnership for development, to fight hunger, ignorance, poverty and disease and meet the Millennium Development Goals -- agreed by all Member States as a blueprint for building a better world in the 21st century.

And we need to promote greater tolerance and understanding among the peoples of the world.  Nothing can be more dangerous to our efforts to build peace and development than a world divided along religious, ethnic or cultural lines. In each nation, and among all nations, we must work to promote unity based on our shared humanity.

Today, let the sound of this bell inspire us in our work towards those goals.  Let the call of the bell ring loud, clear and true around the world.

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