The Constitution of UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), signed on November 16, 1945, declares, “That since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed.” This sentiment is especially relevant considering the strife evident throughout the Middle East this past week.
It seems appropriate that on September 14th this past week, a United Nations High Level Forum on The Culture of Peace took place in the UN General Assembly Hall. This day-long, first-ever General Assembly High Level Forum was intended to be “an open public opportunity for the UN member states, UN system entities, civil society including NGOs, media, private sector and all others interested in discussing on the ways and means to promote the Culture of Peace.”
During the opening session, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, “To fundamentally tackle the roots of conflict, we need to promote an understanding of our common humanity. We need a culture that upholds human dignity and human life.”
Hopefully these words will be a cause for change in the world. The death of U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and three other Americans, who were killed during the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, demonstrates just how fragile human life can be. As President Obama said in his remarks concerning the tragedy, “With their memory to guide us, we will carry forward the work of making our country stronger, our citizens safer, and the world a better and more hopeful place.”