Secretary-General's remarks at Peace Bell Ceremony
New York, 15 September 2011Excellencies,
Distinguished Messengers of Peace and Goodwill Ambassadors and dear young students for holding the flags of the United Nations,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good morning and welcome to you all, to this very meaningful ceremony observing the International Day of Peace.
Our wonderful Messengers of Peace and Goodwill Ambassadors are here in force.
They are a diverse group. The issues they care so deeply about also range widely, from disarmament to disability, from the environment to human rights, from children to youth.
But they are united in using their remarkable talents and global fame to advance the common good. The United Nations is grateful for their support and I know I speak for everyone here in saying that we are glad that you are here today for this special occasion, and I thank you.
Every year on the International Day of Peace, people around the world reaffirm their commitment to non-violence and to harmony among peoples and nations.
The theme of this year's observance is “peace and democracy: make your voice heard”.
The scheduling of today's ceremony gives us a happy coincidence: today is also the International Day of Democracy.
This has been a remarkable year for people seeking a say in shaping their societies and futures.
Men and women across the Middle East, North Africa and elsewhere have sought their democratic rights with remarkable fervour and creativity -- and with remarkable success.
Young people in particular were in the vanguard - on the frontlines - finding their voice as never before and inspiring us all with their commitment to peaceful protest and solidarity. They showed that democracy is a universal model yearned for by all peoples and alien to no culture. Their challenge now is to turn the democratic ideal into a working reality.
The United Nations will continue to work in common cause to consolidate those gains, to strengthen institutions and good governance and to fight repression wherever it holds sway.
Democracy is among the foundations of peace. When people take part in the democratic process, when they become engaged, they build peace, day by day, year by year.
Like peace, democracy does not just happen; it has to be nurtured and defended.
On this day, I urge all champions of democracy and peace throughout the world to make your voices heard. The United Nations stands with you.
Now let us ring the bell. Let us ring it loud, so that its message of hope will be heard far and wide.
I thank you. Now, ladies and gentlemen, before I ring the bell, may I invite all of you to observe a moment of silence.
Statements on 15 September 2011
- Geneva, Switzerland, 15 September 2011 - Secretary-General's message on the International Day of Democracy and the Opening of The Doers of Democracy: a photo exhibition featuring projects of the United Nations Democracy Fund [delivered by Mr. Kassym-Jomart Tokayev Director-General, United Nations Office at Geneva]
- New York, 15 September 2011 - Statement attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General on Floods in Pakistan
- New York, 15 September 2011 - Secretary-General's remarks to the Women's International Forum "Priorities for a Changing World : A Vision for the UN in the Second Decade of the Twenty-First Century [as prepared for delivery]
- Abuja, Nigeria, 15 September 2011 - Secretary-General's message to Memorial Ceremony for Bombing of UN House [Delivered by Mr. Daouda Toure, Resident Coordinator of the UN System in Nigeria]