Concerning her mission as a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, in her article included in the book* entitled “60 women contributing to the 60 years of UNESCO”, Mrs. Vardinoyannis writes inter alia:
“Participating in UNESCO s activities is a source of profound satisfaction and an experience of special essence for me. The elements of UNESCO s objectives that strike me as especially admirable and of fundamental value are its breadth of vision, foresight, immediacy and innovative approach. Through the enormous volume of data the Organisation processes and filters, it brings to light matters that will either have grave repercussions for humanity in the future or identifies essential sectors requiring support and protection. Issues pertaining to “Education for All”, the conservation of the intangible cultural heritage, the preservation of the world s cultural and natural heritage, the environment and the climate demonstrate that UNESCO is fostering the future of our planet, whilst respecting the past. The main reason for my enthusiasm is the sense of contributing to a mission of new ideas and causes, correct direction and innovative plans that know no borders.
UNESCO s programmes are praiseworthy, pioneering and promote the values of peace, civilisation and human rights. They have continuity and consequence, bearing fruits all over the world. Projects in which I have taken part have convinced me of the great efficacy exercised and warm response received by UNESCO s endeavours, not only in the sensibilisation and mobilisation of public opinion, but also in the promotion of the Organisation’s aims.
The Preamble of UNESCO s Constitution. Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that defences of peace must be constructed’, is the premise of my personal philosophy. Peace cannot be imposed nor can it be a decision taken at top level. Rather, peace is born from the roots, from the soul of each of us. The contrary method, which has more frequently been applied, may have been necessary, but has not sufficed. Legislation, regulations and decisions regarding peace and eradication of violence have proved sterile, for the very reason that attitudes have not changed. In order to achieve peace, we have to build a culture of peace; and this can be attained only if we begin at the base, with the individual. In the end, shaping mentalities is more powerful than laws. It is my opinion that the fundament on which we should act is primarily the family.
Induction to a humane attitude of consideration and respect for the other comes through the family and this is where the notions of democracy, tolerance and solidarity are born.
The protection of human rights, and particularly the rights of children, is an issue I wish UNESCO would continue to pursue as priorities. This issue is multifaceted and interconnected with the gravest problems international society faces.
The right to life itself and equal rights to education continue to be a utopia for millions of children in the world, because of poverty or of outdated traditions.
Human trafficking, with millions of victims annually, particularly women and children, has taken on a vast dimension, placing it among the three largest industries of illegal profit in the world. Furthermore, pedophilia and sexual exploitation of children through the Internet threaten to become a scourge, since Internet knows no borders and international legislation is yet deficient. UNESCO has the experience, the technological means and the human factor at its disposal to play an even more decisive role in setting the proper bases for the confrontation and solution to these problems by giving even greater weight to its efforts in upholding human rights”.
* The book “60 women contributing to the 60 years of UNESCO- Constructing the Foundations of Peace” contains the profiles of 60 women personalities who act within UNESCO for the building of a new society of peace and dialogue among civilizations. Among the UNESCO Goodwill Ambassadors presented in the publication are: Vigdis Finnbogadottir – former President of Iceland, H.R.H. Grand Duchess of Luxembourg Maria – Teresa, H.R.H. Princess Fyrial of Jordan, the Nobel Peace Price laureate. Rigoberta Menchu Tum and others.