Astana, 20th September: On the International Day of Peace on Friday, September 21st, the United Nations Educational, Scientific & Cultural Organization (UNESCO), in cooperation with the Government of Kazakhstan, is organizing a high-level debate on the culture of peace and non-violence at the UN HQ in New York.
Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, Darkhan Mynbay, Minister of Culture & Information of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, Vuk Jeremic, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Serbia (and President of the 67th session of the UN General Assembly) and Leonel Fernández Reyna, former President of the Dominican Republic are the principle speakers at the debate.
Additional presentations will be made by Sheikha Mozah, UNESCO Special Envoy for Basic & Higher Education and Chairperson of the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science & Development, Elie Wiesel, writer and President of the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity, Wole Soyinka, Nobel Laureate for Literature (1986) and member of the UNESCO High Panel on Peace & Dialogue among Cultures, and the actor Forest Whitaker – who is also a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Peace & Reconciliation.
The UNESCO/Kazakh-driven debate – like International Day of Peace - offers a chance to reflect on the contemporary challenges and possible approaches to building a lasting culture of peace, mutual understanding and reconciliation, as well as countering all forms of violence worldwide.
Ongoing conflicts between the representatives of various ethnic and religious groups lead to serious confrontation both on domestic and international levels. Such events demonstrate that there is an urgent need to strengthen mutual understanding.
Intercultural enrichment and interexchange has been consistently and systematically promoted by Kazakhstan since 2007 with the adoption of the resolution on proclamation of the ‘International Year for the Rapprochement of Cultures’ (2010) first by the UNESCO General Conference, and later in December 2008 by the UN General Assembly. As a result of positive international feedback to the initiative, the UN General Assembly requested UNESCO to play a leading role in a worldwide celebration of the International Year for the Rapprochement of Cultures (2010) involving the world’s most influential governmental and nongovernmental organizations.
Friday’s high level debate will result in a resolution initiated by Kazakhstan called ‘Proclamation of an International decade for the rapprochement of cultures (2013-2022)’ which has already been adopted at the 36th UNESCO General Conference in November 2011, but which will be presented during this week’s 67th session of the UN General Assembly.
Geographically, Kazakhstan represents the crossroads of civilizations, cultures and religions. Interethnic and interreligious, understanding is the principle focus of Kazakhstan’s domestic and foreign policy. Since independence in 1991, the Republic has adhered to the idea of cultural rapprochement and peace as a norm which helps drive the present and future of the country. The promotion of such norms for the rest of the world has become a priority for Kazakhstan.