For information only - not an official document

27 May 2019

The Secretary-General

Remarks at visit to Day of Action with the United Nations Messenger of Peace, Mr. Yo-Yo Ma

27 May 2019

VIENNA, 27 May (UN Information Service) - Let me first of all express how grateful I am to Yo-Yo Ma. He is a fantastic Messenger of Peace. 

Indeed, if one looks at music, music represents two things that are absolutely crucial for what the UN does. 

First, music is a universal language. Music brings us together. Music is a symbol of peace.

But at the same time music represents diversity. In each country, in each region of each country, in the talent of different people, you have all kinds of different expressions of music. And that diversity is an enormous richness, not a threat, and it is exactly what we need in today's world.

A universal perspective for peace, for human dignity, for human rights, for the values is which we believe, namely the values of the Charter, but at the same time based on diversity, considering that diversity to be a richness for us all, at global level and also at country level.

And this is particularly important in the present debate in Europe. Societies today are multi-ethnic, multi-religious, multi-cultural. And that is a richness, not a threat.

But, as in an orchestra where you have musicians from all parts of the world, if you have them immediately playing it would probably be rather cacophonic. They have to rehearse. It is the same with society.

Diversity requires investment. Social, cultural, political, religious, sometimes investment in social cohesion, to make sure that in a diverse society every community feels that their identity is respected -- like the identity of the violinist needs to be respected, he cannot be playing flute. But they all belong to society as a whole, like the violinist or the cellist belong to the orchestra.

Music for us is a fundamental tool to promote our values, and that is why meetings like the one you have, discussions like the one you have, are so fundamental for the future of the UN, especially when we are also discussing the dramatic situation of human mobility.

We believe migration is a positive thing, but again, we need to invest. Instead of letting drug smugglers and traffickers control migration flows and make people suffer, and create problems in the social cohesion of countries, we need to invest in international cooperation, we need to invest in adequate forms of integration.

Refugees - and I have been working for more than ten years as United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees - refugees deserve and need our support. And we must make sure - and I am always very impressed by the extreme generosity of African countries for instance, that open their borders, open their doors, open their hearts, to people fleeing; sometimes in the rich countries of the world we don't see the same openness -- We must absolutely re-establish the integrity of the refugee protection regime and we must make sure that international law is respected for the protection of refugees.

Events like this one are something so important. You can be absolutely sure that what you are doing is of extreme importance for us all.

Thank you very much.


Brief press encounter following the event:

Q [inaudible]:

A: This is a wonderful event. To have one of the best musicians of our time, YoYo Ma, donating his time, as a Messenger of Peace, bringing together people from all over the world to play together in fantastic harmony. This is the world we want. A world in which contributions from everybody, everywhere matters but in which it is possible to do through dialogue, through understanding, instead of these horrible conflicts that we are witnessing today.

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