|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
press conference by United Nations messengers of peace
United Nations Messengers of Peace kicked off the annual International Day of Peace today with fervent appeals for nuclear disarmament, poverty eradication and sustainable development in order to make the world safe and secure for future generations.
Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, First Lady of Dubai, actor Michael Douglas, wildlife conservationist Jane Goodall and Nobel Peace Laureate Elie Wiesel held a press conference at Headquarters this afternoon to raise awareness of the need to end violence around the world. Earlier in the day, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed Princess Haya, as well as Argentine-Israeli conductor Daniel Barenboim, Brazilian author Paulo Coelho and Japanese-American violinist Midori Goto as new Messengers of Peace during the annual Ringing of the Peace Bell. (See Note No. 6106.)
During the press conference, Ms. Goodall made a call to action to end bloodshed and violence, saying: “The fact of war itself is not only horrifying in its human suffering; it’s very destructive of the environment. If we fight for oil today, what’s going to happen when these wars are over water?”
Young people around the world were depressed, apathetic and angry over their compromised future, she said. Increased population growth, crippling poverty and the unsustainable lifestyles of the elite in industrialized countries were ravaging the natural environment and threatening the world’s fresh water supply. The harmful effects of modern warfare would be evident for more than 1,000 years and generations to come. Global Roots & Shoots, a programme of the Jane Goodall Institute, aimed to give children hope for the future through youth-led projects in more than 100 countries that helped people, animals and the environment.
Echoing Ms. Goodall, Mr. Wiesel said: “If we sacrifice children, then we betray anything noble that can be in humanity. We have no right to do that. Children simply want our ears to hear them and our hearts to respond to them.” The Holocaust survivor -– who visited Balkan refugees at camps in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Albania in 1999 -– called attention to the need to “do something with these tears so that my past will not become anyone else’s future”.
Princess Haya, who recently stepped down as Goodwill Ambassador of the World Food Programme (WFP) to become a Messenger of Peace, highlighted the Millennium Development Goals of eradicating hunger and fostering education as the only way truly to end warfare in the Gulf region. “Unless we really tackle the root causes of poverty, then we remain far from peace.”
Mr. Douglas continued his public campaign for disarmament in the United States and elsewhere, saying countries had sophisticated registries and regulations governing the possession and use of automobiles but not weapons. “I’m always appalled and shocked at what a small budgetary item this issue is and how much damage a few automatic weapons and bullets can cause, how much chaos and conflict they can create and how this defeats a lot of humanitarian support and aid.” He called on United States citizens to pressure their state and national leaders to speak out against armament. “The United States has not stood up for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty or the non-proliferation treaties. If we are able to move our attitudes domestically, I think you’ll see a resounding effect internationally and through the United Nations.”
* *** *For information media • not an official record