28 February 2013
Press Conference

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Press Conference on Theme of International School Award Competition 2013

Inspired by the annual World Day of Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development — on 21 May — a Madrid-based non-governmental organization announced today that its international school award competition for 2013 would aim to teach children about the importance of artistic expression in building a harmonious world.

Through artistic expression, young people could understand values and traditions of cultures other than their own, said Joaquín Antuña, President and founder of Peace and Cooperation, at a Headquarters press conference, where he announced the theme for the 2013 School Award:  “Art as a universal language — Creativity for peace”.  The competition — conducted in all six official United Nations languages — sought to transmit the Organization’s values in the spirit of General Assembly resolution 57/249 (2003), which established the World Day.

The theme of the Award changed every year, he said, noting that in 2011, it had focused on “peace and reconciliation”, and in 2012, on “sport for peace”.  All themes were directly associated with General Assembly resolutions.  This year, students and teachers were invited to submit entries for a chance to win prizes in various artistic categories.  He hoped many schools would take part in the activities.  “The world has many, many problems,” Mr. Antuña said.  “Our contribution is to bring these ideas to schools and to let children debate them.”

Anuska Gil, who joined Mr. Antuña at the press conference, discussed a peace and cooperation initiative called “Skating the Way”, a 622-mile skate-a-thon from France to Santiago de Compostela, Spain, which traces the “Way of Saint James”, a Christian pilgrimage route.  While in the past, such journeys would typically attract Christians, today, people from all faiths participated; 40,000 had participated in the event last August.  The next skating event would take place along the 600-mile El Camino Real, in California, which connects several missions built along the coastal State by Spanish missionaries.  “We can change the world,” she said.

Taking that point further as he responded to questions, Mr. Antuña underlined the importance of creating positive change in the world.  Everyone had had a choice about whether to focus on the positive or the negative.  “We are not naïve,” he said, noting that Peace and Cooperation focused on common values and General Assembly resolutions that had been approved by all countries.  Faith also played a role, but, “unfortunately, many people don’t believe in anything,” he said, adding that his group planned to collaborate with United States non-governmental organizations to garner momentum for the California event.

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For information media • not an official record