UN Headquarters

17 September 2010

Remarks at International Day of Peace Student Observance

Ban Ki-moon

Good morning. Welcome to the United Nations. Thank you for coming to help us celebrate the annual International Day of Peace

This day of ceasefire and non-violence is one of the most important observances on the United Nations calendar.

Peace is the primary UN mission. I mean peace in all its aspects: from basic safety and security to the bedrock of peace: tolerance, justice and human rights, disarmament, development and democracy.

This morning, I am very moved by the singers who sang a song of peace with the piano which survived the atomic bomb 65 years ago in Hiroshima. As you know, I was in Hiroshima on August 6th, and I also visited Nagasaki. I saw for myself the indescribable impact of nuclear weapons. I am very happy to see many people here, and I am seeing the 1,000 cranes. I am keeping this 1,000 crane gift in my residence, not because I want to live 1,000 years, but because I believe in peace and I would like to see everybody enjoy peace all around the world.

This year, Peace Day falls just a month after the launch of the International Year of Youth.

The theme of the Year is timely. We need dialogue and mutual understanding to counter extremism and build lasting peace.

And we need peace for sustainable development.

Next Monday, we will meet to push for faster progress towards the Millennium Development Goals.

We are behind schedule. But much has been accomplished.

We know what works, and what has not worked. We have the tools and the resources to catch up.

All of us, young and old, have a part to play.

There are some scepticisms whether we will be able to achieve these Millennium Development Goals during the coming five years. What have we done during the last ten years? What have we not done during the last ten years? Can we do it within five years? The scepticism looks like legitimate concerns, but my role as Secretary-General is to spread the message of hope, fundamental hope, that this is doable. This can be achievable if there is a right mix of leadership, good policies, and adequate resources. Together, I think we can achieve it.

That is my message to you, and I am grateful for such strong support of our Messengers of Peace, Goodwill Ambassadors, and MDG Champions who are working for peace and development and human rights and lasting peace and harmonious growth.

They are committed and talented individuals who have devoted themselves to a noble cause.

I hope you can learn from them. And I hope they can learn from you.

Today, and throughout the International Year of Youth, I want you to share your plans and ideas.

We need your creativity – and your passion.

Sitting in this conference hall, walking these corridors, you may not see much passion.

But don’t let appearances deceive you. We are in the middle of a major renovations of the United Nations. You will be able to see, in four or five years, a landmark United Nations building. It is very inconvenient. It is noisy. It is not in order. But don’t let appearances deceive you. The very fact that we are sitting together in this room, with so many leaders, so many Goodwill Ambassadors and Messengers of Peace and young students, we are united. We have such a global solidarity.

This house, this organization, is alive with values.

Peace. Freedom. Dignity. A fair chance for all people.

These values animate our work.

I hope you will be passionate about them, too, every day, in your schools, in your communities, in your workplaces, and throughout your lives.

We are on the eve of big events here at the United Nations.

We have to make this MDG Summit a great success. For the future of humanity, for the future of our succeeding generations.

The MDGs are difficult, maybe ambitious, but they can be achieved.

So, I say to you today: raise your voices.

Hold your leaders to account.

Fight for your future.

Fight for peace and prosperity for all.

Thank you very much.