The Annual Meeting of UNESCO Goodwill Ambassadors was held at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris on 20 April 2017, with all eyes on the transitional phase people across the globe are currently going through. Distinguished figures from around the world attended the meeting, including the Greek Goodwill Ambassador, Ms Marianna V. Vardinoyannis.
The Director-General of UNESCO, Ms Irina Bokova, started the proceedings with a short speech, thanking the Ambassadors for their passion and enthusiasm when serving UNESCO’s values and programmes, spreading its messages to the four corners of the world. She added that she was touched, as this was her last Meeting with the UNESCO Goodwill Ambassadors, since her term in office expires at the end of 2017.
Ms Bokova then went on to introduce UNESCO’s programmes and objectives for 2017 to the Ambassadors, focusing on the World Humanities Conference, to be held in Lieges in August. Many scientists, philosophers, historians, authors, politicians, sociologists and communications specialists from around the world will gather to discuss the following 7 major themes:
- Humans and the environment
- Cultural identities
- Cultural diversity and intercultural relations
- Cultural heritage
- Boundaries and migration
- History, memory and politics
- The humanities in a world in transition
The international organisation’s programmes for supporting and reinforcing young people all over the globe were also presented during the Meeting of UNESCO Goodwill Ambassadors. Ms Bokova urged the Ambassadors to support as many programmes as possible, as these programmes are of vital importance for the future of humanity.
During their interventions throughout the Meeting, the Ambassadors referred to the war in Syria, the refugee crisis and the major problems humanity has been facing, stressing that it is more important than ever for UNESCO and other international organisations to take specific action.
Taking the floor, Ms Marianna V. Vardinoyannis congratulated the Director-General of UNESCO on her great efforts during her first and second terms in office – especially at a time of such major challenges – as well as on her humanitarian approach to the Organisation’s problems. She further pledged to convey the conclusions and messages of the World Humanities Conference in Lieges to Greece, and especially to youth networks.
Referring to her Foundation’s activities during the past year, she talked about the “Welcoming Cities for Refugees” Athens Conference, jointly hosted with UNESCO, and the “European Coalition of Cities against Racism”. She also thanked Ms Bokova for assisting with and attending the Athens Conference, as well as for the first joint publishing venture between UNESCO and the Marianna V. Vardinoyannis Foundation, entitled “Cities Welcoming Refugees and Migrants”. She also referred to the Speak Truth to Power education programme on human rights, of the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Centre. The programme was introduced to Greek schools by the Foundation and was introduced into classrooms at the beginning of 2017, under the auspices of the President of the Hellenic Republic.
Concluding, Ms Vardinoyannis expressed her hope that“2018, which will be the International Year of Culture, will be a year of positive changes, a year without wars, without violence and terrorism, without the loss of innocent people; men, women or children.” She also added, “Let’s unite our voices to pray for the bloodshed of humanity to stop and to demand respect for the value of human life and the greatest pledge of nations for peace and justice.”
On the sidelines of the Annual Meeting of UNESCO Goodwill Ambassadors, Ms Vardinoyannis privately with Ms Irina Bokova, the Director-General of UNESCO, to discuss their next steps for the “Welcoming Cities for Refugees” Programme, as well as their future plans.
After their meeting, Ms Bokova stated, I congratulate and thank Ms Vardinoyannis and her Foundation for her invaluable support on the refugee issue. The Conference she organised in Athens for the “Welcoming Cities for Refugees”, under the auspices of the President of the Hellenic Republic, was attended by a number of mayors who moved us and enlightened us on this issue with their speeches. I am aware of how hospitable Greece is, of how the Greek people show empathy and solidarity with the refugees. I am aware that it is not easy; it is hard. However, despite all the difficulties, the Greek people welcome the refugees. It is wonderful, amazing. Moreover, Ms Vardinoyannis, who is a very close friend of mine and has been supporting us with great enthusiasm, demonstrated the strength of human solidarity and compassion, and fervently conveyed the messages of UNESCO through this action.”
During the Meeting, the UNESCO Goodwill Ambassadors launched an appeal to end armed conflict, and specifically the war in Syria.
This year’s Annual Meeting of UNESCO Goodwill Ambassadors was attended by:
- Mr Seidnaly Sidahmed Alphadi, UNESCO Artist for Peace, Niger
- Mr Amri Aminov, UNESCO Artist for Peace, Tajikistan
- Mr Metin Arditi, UNESCO Special Envoyfor intercultural Dialogue, Switzerland
- Ms Elisso Bolkvadzé, UNESCO Artist for Peace, Georgia
- Ms Maha El-Khalil Chalabi, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, Lebanon
- Mr Kudsi Erguner, UNESCO Artist for Peace, Turkey
- Mr Miguel Angel Estrella, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, Argentina
- Mr Hughes Garros and Ms Anne Leclerc, Le Chœur et l’Orchestre philharmonique international, UNESCO Artists for Peace, France
- Ms Cecile Guidote-Alvarez, The Earthsavers DREAMS Ensemble, UNESCO Artists for Peace, Philippines
- Mr Alain Husson-Dumoutier, UNESCO Artist for Peace, France
- Mr Jean-Michel Jarre, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, France
- Mr Cyprien Katsaris, UNESCO Artist for Peace, France
- Mr Charles Kaye, World Orchestra for Peace, UNESCO Artists for Peace, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
- Ms Guila Clara Kessous, UNESCO Artist for Peace, France
- Ms Beate Klarsfeld, Honorary Ambassador and UNESCO Special Envoy for Education of History of Holocaust and genocide prevention, France
- Mr Serge Klarsfeld, Honorary Ambassador and UNESCO Special Envoy for Education of History of Holocaust and genocide prevention, France
- Countess Setsuko Klossowska de Rola, UNESCO Artist for Peace, Japan
- Mr Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, France
- Mr Herman Makarenko, UNESCO Artist for Peace, Ukraine
- Mr Jean Malaurie, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, France
- Mr Serguei Markarov, UNESCO Artist for Peace, Russian Federation
- Ms Zarifa Mgoyan, UNESCO Artist for Peace, Russian Federation
- Mrs Vera Michalski-Hoffmann, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, Switzerland
- Mr Ino Mirkovic, UNESCO Artist for Peace, Croatia
- Ms Ahlem Mosteghanemi, UNESCO Artist for Peace, Algeria
- Mr Kitín Muñoz Valcarlez, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, Spain
- Ms Mariana Nicolesco, UNESCO Artist for Peace, Romania
- Mr Eijin Nimura, UNESCO Artist for Peace, Japan
- Mr Ali Mahdi Nouri, UNESCO Artist for Peace, Sudan
- Ms Alexandra Ochirova, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, Russian Federation
- Ms Ute-Henriette Ohoven, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, Germany
- Lady Cristina Owen-Jones, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, Italy
- Ms Susana Rinaldi, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, Argentina
- Ms Marta Sebestyen, UNESCO Artist for Peace, Hungary
- Ms Hedva Ser, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador and Special Envoy for Cultural Diplomacy, France
- Dr Hayat Sindi, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, Saudi Arabia
- Mr Zurab Tsereteli, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, Russian Federation
- Ms Marianna Vardinoyannis, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, Greece