New York

18 September 2013

Secretary-General's remarks at Peace Bell Ceremony for the International Day of Peace

Good morning and thank you all for joining us for this Peace Bell Ceremony.

The International Day of Peace is a time for reflection – a day when we reiterate our belief in non-violence and call for a global ceasefire. 

We ask people everywhere to observe a minute of silence at noon local time.

We honour those killed in conflict and the survivors who live with daily trauma and pain.

And we call for combatants to lay down their arms and end hostilities.

Perhaps nowhere in the world is this more desperately needed than in Syria.

The death and suffering has gone on too long.

I repeat my call to all parties and their supporters to work for a peaceful resolution to the conflict through negotiation.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the theme of this year’s observance is “Education for Peace”.

When Malala Yousafzai came to the United Nations in July, she said: “One teacher, one book, one pen, can change the world.”

These are our most powerful weapons.

That is why I launched the Global Education First Initiative last year.

Every girl and every boy deserves to receive a quality education and learn the values that will help them to grow up to be global citizens in tolerant communities that respect diversity.

Governments and development partners are working hard to meet this goal. 

But we must do more – much more. 

We need to accelerate momentum in countries with the greatest needs, such as those affected by conflict.

I have travelled to many war zones.  I have visited families in refugee camps.  The plea is often the same: “Education first”.

The UN family-- including UNICEF, UNESCO and the World Food Programme – is working in conflict and post-conflict environments.

We are building schools, developing curricula, training teachers and providing nourishing breakfasts and school lunches.

These initiatives can transform the lives of children and help address the root causes of conflict.

On this International Day of Peace, let us pledge to teach our children the value of tolerance and mutual respect.

When we put education first, we can reduce poverty and end hunger, end wasted potential, and build stronger and better societies for all.

After a moment of silence I will ring the Peace Bell.

Let us pledge to amplify the message it carries, so it can echo in the sound of school bells around the world.

Let us commit to peace everywhere.

Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you.

May I invite all of you to observe a minute of silence.