Message from Ms Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, on the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, 29 November 2012
The International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People is a solemn occasion to reflect on the situation of the Palestinian people and to support them in the quest for a peaceful and prosperous future for all peoples in the region.
For UNESCO, lasting peace must be built on the basis of dialogue, through respect, mutual understanding and reconciliation. This guides all our activities in Palestine, where we seek to promote bridges of dialogue and exchange, to strengthen both human and institutional capacities and to bolster the state-building process.
Education is our starting point. Education is a source of individual dignity – it is also the strongest foundation for peace and development. UNESCO is training Palestinian teachers and working to build a quality education system. We provide scholarships and learning opportunities for vulnerable and marginalized communities, offering catch-up courses and free-of-charge tutoring for thousands of students every year. We seek also to meet the psychosocial needs of students, to strengthen their resilience and provide them with the tools for personal fulfilment.
A dynamic culture is equally important, as a source of identity and strength and as a vector for social and economic development. UNESCO is helping with the safeguarding and promotion of a number of major sites and monuments. We also support the cultural expressions of the Palestinian people and the development of cultural industries in the region.
UNESCO is committed also to promoting freedom of expression as the basis for the exercise of effective democracy and for the development of free and open societies. Supporting independent and pluralistic media and access to information are the focus of our work. To these ends, UNESCO has created networks for media professionals and is offering training and career development opportunities for women journalists.
These actions reflect UNESCO’s efforts to build peace from the ground up, on the basis of human rights and shared values. Education, culture, communication and freedom of expression are forces for solidarity – they are also the foundations for lasting peace.
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