New York, 6 May 2015 - Secretary-General's remarks at the Peace Bell Ceremony
I am honoured to join with all of you to celebrate the return of the Peace Bell.
As we do, we thank the people and Government of Japan for their support of the goals and ideals of the United Nations.
The Peace Bell is one of the oldest outdoor gifts to the United Nations, and a particularly meaningful one. I always take great inspiration whenever I pass by, and of course when we ring it each September to mark the International Day of Peace.
As I remember, there was only one year we were not able to hit this Peace Bell – that was 2001 on September 11th. We were ready to have this Peace Bell ceremony on the day of the opening of the General Assembly. On that day the September 11th terrorist attacks happened, so we had to evacuate this building.
I was serving as Chef de Cabinet to the President of the General Assembly. The [President of the] General Assembly, Secretary-General Kofi Annan and myself and all other staff had to either evacuate to the basement or outside of this building. I remember that was the only exception when we were not able to observe this Peace Bell ceremony.
I am very happy, very moved that we were able to do this despite this weather. I thank you very much for your commitment.
Unlike many other gifts donated by Member States, the Peace Bell came to us courtesy of a non-governmental organization, the United Nations Association of Japan, even before Japan became a United Nations Member State.
The idea for a “bell of peace,” as it was originally known, was proposed by Mr. Chiyoji Nakagawa, a representative of the UN Association of Japan who attended the General Assembly’s Sixth Session, in 1951.
As Ambassador [Motohide] Yoshikawa has already explained, once again, we are pleased to be joined today by his family – his son and daughter. The ambassador addressed them as children. Of course, they are children, but big children now.
After surviving the cruelties and deprivations of the Second World War, Mr. Nakagawa wanted to create a symbol for humanity’s hopes for global peace.
At the time, he said, “I wish all the peoples of the world [to] hear the bell, if possible, from the Centre of Peace, the United Nations Headquarters in New York, in order that the peoples of the United Nations renew their will to cooperate and will to peace.”
Over the last five years, as we renovated our headquarters, the Peace Bell found a temporary home in the Rose Garden.
Now it is back where it belongs – in this beautiful space at the intersection of the General Assembly, Secretariat, and Conference Buildings.
The landscaping around the Peace Bell is also an important feature and is maintained with funding provided in part by Japan.
We are grateful that the occasion of the reinstallation provided the opportunity for the landscaping work to be updated as well.
Over the last five years that the Peace Bell was away, too many innocent people around the world have heard only the sounds of guns and bombs.
Now that it is restored back to its home, let us also intensify our work to restore the bells of peace in villages and cities and countries around the world.
Sixty-one years after the donation of the Peace Bell, this bell still represents the collective desire for the world to live in peace.
As we celebrate today, let us take inspiration from the words of its creator – and let us renew our will to cooperate for peace.
Thank you very much.
Statements on 6 May 2015