The Annual Meeting of Goodwill Ambassadors of UNESCO was held on June 30th 2014 in Paris with the participation of personalities from around the world.
Important issues of education, culture, peace and protection of the environment were presented by the Director General of the Organization, Mrs. Irina Bokova, who described programs that will receive special attention in the coming months.
Specifically, Mrs. Bokova’s speech focused on the initiatives of UNESCO for the protection of cultural heritage in conflict areas of the world, for the education of Sustainable Development and strengthening of small island countries. During the meeting the activities undertaken by UNESCO to celebrate its 70th Anniversary were announced to be held in November 2015. Mrs. Bokova reffered to the loss of the Goodwill Ambassador of UNESCO and former President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, and the establishment of a special day dedicated to him, the “Nelson Mandela Day”.
The Ambassadors made suggestions on the implementation of the Organization’ s programs and the ways in which they can work together.
Mrs. Vardinoyannis made recommendations for education and the protection of the cultural heritage of the Mediterranean region and stressed the need of public awareness on issues related to the post 2015 Millennium Development Goals. She also highlighted the need to strengthen the voice of civil society, so that it can be heard by those who are in decision making centers.
At the end of the meeting the Ambassadors signed an appeal to the Member- States of UNESCO to protect the culture which they consider as a source of growth and dialogue. They invited Member-States to redouble their efforts to protect culture in times of peace and in times of war. They also asked the post 2015 international development agenda to include clearly the role of culture and cultural diversity, recognizing culture as a common source of creativity, innovation and renewal, through which humanity constantly reinvents, develops and builds a better future. The protection of culture, as indicated by the Goodwill Ambassadors, and thus the protection of the identity of the people, is the heart of any sustainable effort to build peace. (see the entire text of the appeal)
During the Annual Meeting Mrs. Vardinoyannis had a private meeting with the Director General of UNESCO, Mrs Irina Bokova, during which she discussed about the return of the Parthenon Sculptures to Greece and informed her on the conclusions of the International Conference organized by “Marianna V. Vardinoyannis Foundation”, as part of its new campaign “Return-Restore-Restart”.
Among others the Annual Meeting was attended by: Ivon A-Baki (Ecuador), Ara Abramian (Russia), Metin Arditi (Switzerland), Marisa Berenson (USA), Pierre Berge (France), Chico Bouchikhi (France), Sergey Bubka (Ukraine), Claudia Cardinale (France), Miguel Angel Estrella (Argentina), Vigdis Finnbogadottir (Iceland), Nasser D. Khalili (UK ), Bahia Hariri (Lebanon), Alain Husson Dumoutier (France), Jean Michel Jarre (France), Alexandra Ochirova (Russia), Ute-Henriette Ohoven (Germany), Kim Phuc Phan Thi (Canada), Suzana Rinaldi (Argentina) Hedva Ser (France), Hayat Sindi (Saudi Arabia), Zurab Tsereteli (Russia) and Marianna V. Vardinoyannis (Greece).
Culture is our future: we must protect it!
Appeal of UNESCO Honorary and Goodwill Ambassadors
Honorary and Goodwill Ambassadors of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, whilst gathered in Paris on 30 June and 1 July 2014 on the occasion of their annual meeting, have launched an appeal to protect culture considered as a driver of development and as a source of dialogue.
Concerned by the growing number of deliberate attacks against cultural heritage, and facing the instrumentalization of culture, oftentimes taken hostage and used as a pretext for division and conflict;
Noting recently inflicted irreparable damage to cultural heritage in Syria, Iraq, Mali, and in other places, as well as actions aiming to prevent the transmission and perpetuation by the communities of the intangible cultural heritage;
Convinced that damage to cultural property belonging to any people whatsoever constitutes damage to the cultural heritage of humanity, since each people makes its contribution to world culture, as mentioned in the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, of which we celebrate the 60th anniversary this year;
Recalling that cultural heritage in all its forms is a fundamental component of the cultural identity of communities, groups and individuals;
Considering that culture as such plays a fundamental role in the development of all societies, both from an economic point of view, because culture is a source of employment, income and a way to fight against poverty but also from a social point of view, because culture is a vector of cohesion, dignity and confidence in the future;
Welcoming the efforts of UNESCO to safeguard and rehabilitate destroyed and threatened cultural heritage worldwide, as well as initiatives of the Director-General to mobilize the world public opinion and policy makers around the culture;
Encouraging the Organization to continue its efforts to ensure that the importance of culture in policies of development and peace be better known, especially in the context of the elaboration of the United Nations post-2015 development agenda;
Adopt and proclaim this Appeal:
Culture is the essence of humanity, it carries the values ??and identities of peoples;
We refuse that it is ignored or neglected, as is still too often the case in public policies for development in times of peace and during emergency actions in times of conflicts, where it is considered sometimes as a luxury;
Faced with the violence of current conflicts, we refuse the false rhetoric according to which in an emergency one must choose between the protection of human life and the protection of heritage, because the two are inseparable and protection of heritage in the same way as the protection of schools and hospitals, is a part of the categorical imperatives of international solidarity;
We affirm that the current forms of conflict show that culture is at the heart of reconciliation, dialogue and rapprochement. The protection of culture, and therefore the protection of peoples identity, is at the heart of any sustainable effort to build peace;
We affirm a fundamental link between culture, protection of cultural heritage in all its forms – tangible and intangible as well as education for citizenship in a globalized world, in multicultural societies where the understanding of the diversity of cultures is more than ever an essential condition of the social cohesion; where the transmission and understanding of cultural heritage are essential elements for citizens in the 21st century;
We appeal to the Member States of UNESCO to redouble their efforts and make all necessary arrangement so culture is protected during times of peace and in times of conflict, and to see in it a privileged mean to understand the current issues of sustainable development, dialogue among cultures and religions as well as peace-building;
We appeal that the Post-2015 international development agenda clearly incorporates the role of culture and of cultural diversity as accelerators and facilitators of sustainable development, fully recognizing culture as our common source of creativity, innovation and renewal, whereby humanity is constantly reinventing, develop and build a better future.