DIRECTOR-GENERAL SAYS THE PURSUIT OF PEACE IN THE MIDDLE EAST
IS AN IMPERATIVE NOT AN OPTION
December 14 - The Director-General of UNESCO, Ko´chiro Matsuura,
expressed his concern at the worsening of the situation in the
Middle East at last night's ceremony to award the UNESCO Prize
for Peace Education 2001 to the two winners, Bishop Nelson Onono-Onweng
(Uganda) and the Jewish-Arab Center for Peace at Givat Haviva
the ceremony, which took place at UNESCO Headquarters, Mr Matsuura
said he was worried about the escalating situation in Israel,
the West Bank and the Gaza Strip: "Today's prize-giving is occurring
at a time of growing difficulties and tensions in the Middle East.
This cycle of mounting violence has already claimed the lives
of many civilians, Palestinians as well as Israelis. As a result,
the foundations of mutual trust and understanding are crumbling
before our eyes, reducing the efforts of peace-makers to nothing."
Director-General said: "In these circumstances, the pursuit of
peace is an imperative, not merely an option. I call upon all
the parties involved to step back from the brink and to control
the impulses towards violence, revenge and retribution. More than
ever, dialogue is necessary. Our collective hopes for peace point
in a clear direction: towards a situation where Israel and Palestine,
as two sovereign states, can live alongside each other in dignity
Matsuura added: "I would like to take this opportunity to repeat
my utter condemnation of all acts of terrorism, such as those
we have witnessed in Israel as recently as yesterday. Attacks
on innocent civilians have no justification; indeed, they bring
only the deepest dishonour to those who plan and perpetrate these
crimes. Of one thing we can be sure: the path of terrorism is
not the path towards peace. The aim of terrorism is to foster
divisions and conflicts between peoples, cultures, religions and
civilisations worldwide. For the sake of peace, we cannot allow
terrorism to succeed. Reason and dialogue must prevail."
awarded 20 years ago, the UNESCO Prize for Peace Education aims
to promote actions that focus public awareness and mobilise consciences
in favour of peace. The Jewish-Arab Center for Peace at Givat
Haviva was established in 1963 and is the oldest peace education
institution in Israel. Its main aims are to foster closer relations
between Jews and Arabs and to promote partnership and permanent
dialogue between the two communities.
Nelson Onono-Onweng, born in 1945, is the originator of numerous
initiatives for peace and for fighting poverty. Among other achievements,
in 1997 he started the "Acholi Religious Leaders' Peace Initiatives"
(ARLPI), an inter-faith forum for peace.