International Peace Forum in Nanjing

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great privilege to address you today at this Nanjing Peace Forum, at the very same moment when we celebrate the United Nations 75th Anniversary with so many institutions and distinguish participants around this platform.


On behalf of the Director General of UNESCO, I’d like to extend my sincere thanks to the organizers of this Forum, in particular, the Municipality of Nanjing with its long track record to support pacific solutions.  Thank you Mr. Han Limming and thank you to our cluster office and to our Regional office in Beijing. Thank you Marielza Oliveirs. Thanks to the republic of China for its support to UNESCO beyond this wonderful occasion.

Dear friends, you all know that building peace in the minds of men and women is the main goal of UNESCO. We do it through a shared understanding of what makes us all humans, through education; through culture and through science.

In the Social and Human Sciences sector that I have the privilege to lead, UNESCO pursues peacebuilding measures through social and human sciences; through Intercultural Dialogue, through our fight against racism and discrimination, through gender equality and ethics in science and through the promotion of sports as a vehicle for social cohesion and inclusiveness.

Our Management of Social Transformations (MOST), Youth, General and Regional Histories, Routes of Dialogue, and its Inclusion and Rights Programmes also contribute to these goals.

For instance, through the General and Regional Histories, UNESCO fills in missing details within the history of humankind, and challenges prevailing historical narratives. These histories contribute to the emergence of a global consciousness, promoting mutual understanding and reciprocal knowledge of cultural, ethnic, linguistic and religious diversity. The often referred as “soft” disciplines of the humanities can transform the conditions of social change.

In addition, within the Routes of Dialogue programmes, and in particular the Silk Roads programme, UNESCO seeks to underscore the shared heritage that flourished along these historic trade and communication routes and has furthered work on the mutual influences of cultures.

With our work on the ethics of science, and  more recently, the ethics of artificial intelligence, we aim to ensure that the amazing progress and service that the new digital technologies bring to  our societies are always achieved through the reaffirmation of human rights and human dignity, including gender equality.

Our quest for a peaceful world is all the more relevant as we try to navigate one of the most difficult moments in our lifetime, with the unprecedented health, economic and social crisis brought by the COVID pandemic.

The pandemic is unfortunately accompanied by many countries going inward and trying to find individualistic solutions to a global crisis.  Multilateral solutions are not the preferred way for many, and mounting populism and nationalisms is being felt. Current misunderstandings, mistrust, and potential for conflict, risk worsening.

Thus, we need to upscale our efforts, and strengthen our toolkit to address the crisis in ways that we strengthen resilience, solidarity, and lay the foundations for a culture of sustainable peace and mutual respect. We should join forces to be together, as the Major shared also with us.

Building sustainable peace also requires a fairer world. The pandemic has dramatically magnified the unacceptable trends of increasing inequalities of income, wealth. outcomes and opportunities in many countries in the world for many decades. Those that were already vulnerable; without access to quality education or health care; those in precarious jobs or informality; those on the move, migrating or moving away from violence, and women in particular, have been badly hit by the pandemic.

Building back better will call on us to ensure that everyone can live a fulfilling life, and that no one is left behind. It will also require that the needed ecological transition would consider the needs  of the most vulnerable.  We need a new growth model that considers equity and environment at the same level than efficiency in markets.

The peaceful world we all aspire is nothing more than the one defined by the Sustainable Development Goals, and the UN Sustaining Peace Agenda, as a critical pre-requisite for the other development priorities.

As we heard at the beginning. It is time to take a stand. In a globalized world, we must ensure that we globalize compassion, solidarity and peace. count on UNESCO, and have a fruitful Forum.

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