Speech of Mr. Dhirendra Bhatnagar, President, World Federation of UNESCO Clubs, Centres and Associations (WFUCA), at the opening ceremony of 6th Peacemakers Cultural Celebrations, Hong Kong Science Park, 10-11 February 2018
Dear Friends & Colleagues,
How delighted I am to be present here again amidst peace lovers and supporters in Hong Kong! Fond memories of my participation in the last year’s Peacemakers Cultural celebrations are as fresh as yesterday. This cultural ev ent is indeed a very inspiring and cherished one. Conceived in 2012 by the peace loving members of UNESCO Hong Kong Association, it received support from the local government and sponsors. Hundreds of peace loving people in Hong Kong welcomed the initiative and contributed ideas to make it an innovative peace action programme. Heartiest congratulations to the organizers, supporters and participants of this action oriented Peace festival!
As in previous years, series of Peace promoting programmes have been included to showcase enthusiasm of people, young and old, of diverse cultures and social backgrounds to manifest support for peace and harmony. The galvanizing peace parade has setup the tone for the annual peace bonanza. Community representatives, religious leaders, members of the diplomatic corps, statesmen, people from all walks of life and all age groups have expressed their solidarity and unwavering support for the cause of peace. This moment fills everybody’s heart with joy and happiness, wishing peaceful coexistences for all people in this world.
I wonder, can we extend this peace celebration throughout the year in every part of the world? Can we show people the way of peaceful coexistences, respecting each other’s way of life? All of us present here must be wondering, why people do not shun violence and conflict to develop a culture of peace and share the moments of joy, as we are doing here in Hong Kong?
Terrible stories of wars and violence, hatred and discrimination are as old as human history itself. People always have reasons and justifications for their acts of aggression and violence. Humanity has always progressed and prospered from the acts of peace and justice, values, faith and tolerance.
Can we just aspire for peace, ignoring the causes for unrest and a troubled society? Besides religious fundamentalism and territorial disputes, violation of human rights, economic disparities, denying democratic freedom, gender discrimination and social injustices are among the leading factors for the acts of violence and aggression. Whatever may be the cause, it is the mental attitude of the aggressor and war mongers and that is where the defenses of peace need to be built. Promoting Sustainable Economic and Social Development are the key factors for lasting peace. We need to promote qualitative values, attitudes and behaviors to build a culture of peace.
UNESCO, as we know, was created to build defenses of peace in the minds of men and women. Its noble aims and objectives inspired people across the globe. Many peace loving people grouped themselves to create UNESCO Clubs and Associations. Such people assumed responsibilities to be the peace messengers, advocating the culture of peace, to substitute words in place of weapons.
World leaders have identified 17 Development Goals to be achieved by 2030. It is the earnest duty of all political and community leaders, teachers, social activists, including UNESCO Clubs and Associations to reach out to all sections of society, to inform and implement SDGs.
No act of peace is trivial and insignificant. It is always a bold and positive step. We should all stand together to endorse peace initiatives and be a part and parcel of this noble mission. This Peacemakers’ cultural celebration in Hong Kong could be an example for other National and Regional Federations of UNESCO Clubs and Associations to follow and adopt.
I, from the core of my heart, wish that this event be celebrated each year and grow in all dimensions.