22 September 2006

On International Day of Peace, Secretary-General Rings Peace Bell, Urges All to Pledge to Do more to Bring about Lasting Peace

NEW YORK, 21 September (UN Headquarters) -- Following are the remarks made today by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan at the Peace Bell Ceremony on the International Day of Peace:

It is a pleasure to welcome so many of you here for this annual ceremony.  Let me offer a special welcome to the messengers of peace and the many children who are joining us today.

For the fortunate among us, peace is a day-to-day reality.  Our streets are safe; our children go to school.  Where the fabric of society is strong, the precious gifts of peace can almost go unremarked and being taken for granted.

But, for far too many people in the world today, those gifts are only an elusive dream.  They live in chains:  a climate of fear and insecurity.  It is mainly for them that this day exists.

Twenty-five years ago, the General Assembly proclaimed the International Day of Peace as a day of global ceasefire and non-violence.  The United Nations has observed it ever since.  It is meant to get people, not just thinking of peace, but doing something about it.

Yet, on this day, as on the other 364, violence continues to claim innocent lives.  And, these last few weeks have seen tragic new escalations of conflict in several parts of the world.

The United Nations works for peace in many ways.  We are doing our utmost to prevent further bloodshed.  And, we have had some successes.

States are paying more attention to preventive diplomacy.  Peacekeeping missions -- and our efforts to support democracy and promote human rights -- are making a difference.  And individual citizens everywhere, men and women in every society, are working to relieve suffering, and to build bridges between people of different faiths or cultures.

In fact, there are fewer wars today than in previous decades.  But still far too many.

Every casualty of conflict is a failure, which reminds us how much more there is to do.

On this International Day of Peace, let each of us pledge to do more, wherever we can make a difference, to bring about lasting peace.  And, let us now observe one minute of silence in the name of peace, and in memory of the victims of war.

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