27.11.2011 - ODG

Peace depends on each one of us, Director-General tells students on sidelines of World Humanities Forum

© UNESCO/Cynthia Guttman - Director-General with students from the Associated Schools Network in Busan, 26 November 2011

Closing the first World Humanities Forum in Busan (Republic of Korea) on 26 November, UNESCO’s Director-General Irina Bokova stated that "the humanities have a vital role to play in shaping the century ahead – by facilitating global reflection on the challenges we face and by designing answers that draw on the values of humanism.’’

The Busan Declaration adopted at the end of the two-day meeting that gathered some 500 participants around the theme of ‘’Universalism in a Multicultural World,’’ calls upon UNESCO "to support international cooperation in and reflection on the humanities and to facilitate their contribution to addressing contemporary challenges through public (…) debate and policy-relevant activities."

Korea’s Minister of Education, Mr Lee Ju-ho, noted that "the humanities have played a significant role in Korea’s development. As the world faces divisive globalization, environmental crises and rapid developments in technology and science, the humanities are needed more than ever as a source of self-reflection and social development."

On the sidelines of the Forum, students from some 100 schools belonging to UNESCO’s Associated Schools Network had the opportunity to present to the Director-General the Rainbow Youth Global Citizen Project and to exchange views with her and Nobel literature laureate Jean Marie Gustave Le Clézio.

Launched in 2010, the Rainbow project encourages students to learn about global problems and to act locally with local communities. "Peace, human rights and multiculturalism sound like grand themes," explained one student, "but when I realized I could relate them to my surroundings, my world view changed."

Asked to share "her story", the Director-General said she would "share the story of UNESCO: it is a story of great humanism, achievement and solidarity," she said, explaining the role of education and culture in empowering people. "Global citizenship starts with respect for our own culture and identity, and continues with having this respect for others. You ask how we can change the world ? The world is changed by every day deeds that are done by millions of people. Small things matter : how we relate to others, protect the environment, and show solidarity. The world will change if we change our own ways. Peace depends on each one of us ," she said, congratulating the students for their presence and initiatives.

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