Secretary-General's remarks to Student Conference on the International Day of Peace [as prepared for delivery]
New York, 21 September 2012
Welcome to the United Nations. Thank you for being here to mark the International Day of Peace.
I would like to extend a special welcome to our virtual guests -- the students joining us from two peacekeeping missions.
Good afternoon to our friends in Monrovia and Juba.
And, of course, I want to express my deepest gratitude to those who need no introduction:
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan … Monique Coleman … Michael Douglas … Dr. Jane Goodall … Forest Whitaker … Professor Elie Wiesel.
Thank you for lending your voice and your prominence to the cause of peace.
Starting next week, world leaders will come to the United Nations to advance our common goals of peace, development and human rights.
Over the course of a few days, I will meet more than 145 world leaders in bilateral meetings – one … after another … after another.
It has been called the diplomatic equivalent of speed dating!
All together, I will participate in perhaps 200 meetings, side events and mini-summits.
For all of that, I need energy.
That is why I am so glad to be here with you.
I draw energy from your energy. I am inspired by you and your commitment to use your voices and your ideas for peace.
Young people have been at the frontlines of the change we are seeing around the world.
Standing up for human rights and human dignity. Speaking out against discrimination. And working each and every day for peace.
I want to thank you.
I believe we must do more to empower young people. This is one of my top priorities for the coming five years.
It is essential. We may be getting older, but our world is getting younger.
Half the world is under 25 years of age.
One out of five people are between the ages of 15 and 24.
I believe the best way to start empowering young people is to simply listen.
Young people around the world have told me they need decent jobs. But they want much more.
You are here because you want a world of peace, justice and harmony. You want policies that respect people and our planet.
That is the essence of this year's International Day of Peace: “Sustainable Peace for a Sustainable Future”.
As we all know, natural resources are increasingly becoming scarce and this scarcity is frequently the cause of conflicts.
We must do more to advance sustainable development.
At the UN Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development this year, leaders made 700 commitments toward reducing poverty, advancing social equity and ensuring environmental protection.
A sustainable future rests on sustainable peace.
Today, we use 50 per cent more resources than our planet can provide.
By the time you are in the middle of your careers and raising families, we will need two planet earths.
This is unsustainable.
As they say on Facebook, we must “de-friend” this approach.
For the sake of peace, we need more balance in all of our policies.
The world devotes more than $1.6 trillion for weapons of war and other military spending.
To put that in perspective, that means:
Sixty years of United Nations peacekeeping has cost less than six weeks of current global military spending.
You may no longer be in math class, but those numbers tell me that the world is failing the test of getting its priorities straight.
As we gather today to celebrate peace, the world is facing global protests and violence in response to another ugly attempt to sow bigotry and bloodshed.
I speak of the offensive film that was released – and the unacceptable violence that has followed.
Now is the time for calm and restraint …for dialogue, mutual understanding and mutual respect.
In today’s world the loudest voices tend to get the microphone. The television cameras focus on the fringe. The extremists gain easy publicity with their bonfires of bigotry.
I ask you today to help change the conversation.
We have an initiative at the United Nations to build bridges between cultures around the world. We call it the Alliance of Civilizations.
This week, the Alliance started a campaign to help make sure the voices of moderation are not drowned out by the vocal and violent minority.
We call it “Represent Yourself” – and I urge you to use the hashtag “Represent Yourself” to tweet a message of peace and global understanding.
In large ways and small, please keep making your voices heard.
Just before Rio+20, I spoke to students here in New York. At the time I felt that the Rio negotiations were not moving fast enough, so I asked them to “make some noise.”
They did – lighting up social media and urging politicians, business leaders and community groups to take positive action for change.
Today, I ask you to sound the call. Make some noise for peace. Make some noise for justice. Make some noise for a better world.
Continue to be a global citizen and show the world that we can make a difference.
I wish you all a very successful conference – and International Day of Peace.
Statements on 21 September 2012
- New York, 21 September 2012 - Statement attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General on Sudan and South Sudan
- New York, 21 September 2012 - Secretary-General's remarks to the High Level Debate on the Culture of Peace and Non-Violence
- New York, 21 September 2012 - Secretary-General's message on the International Day of Peace
- New York, 21 September 2012 - Secretary-General's remarks at Peace Bell Ceremony on the International Day of Peace