UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Forest Whitaker launches a peace-building program for youth in Mexico
On 7 January 2014, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Forest Whitaker announced the launch by the Whitaker Peace and Development Initiative (WPDI) of a peace-building program for youth entitled the Harmonizer Program in Mexico. The launch event took place in Tijuana, Mexico on 7 December 2014. This Program has been realized with support of UNESCO and in close cooperation with the Swedish Postcode Lottery, Ericsson, Telmex, and the Universidad Autonoma de Baja California (UABC).
The main objective of the Harmonizer Program in Mexico is to harness the power and the potential of youth to instill and disseminate values, attitudes and behaviors of peace in conflict-affected areas. It also encourages social change and transformation in urban areas affected by violence.
In the framework of this Programme, the Whitaker Peace and Development Initiative will train, in close cooperation with the local partners, vulnerable youth experiencing the aftermath of violence and conflicts in Mexico. Among other skills, this Program will also include the training on conflict resolution, community building, life coaching, information and communication technologies (ICTs), as well as support, for three years, of the development and deployment of positive leadership and constructive change in their own communities.
« Peace and prosperity can only be attained by communities and nations heeding the voices of our diverse and vibrant youth. That’s why it is so important to work in partnership with youth. Youth are not only the builders of our future, they are amongst the architects of change today. They are positioned, in our fast and connected world, to promote the significance of education, personal empowerment and leadership and to build peaceful and resilient communities » stated Forest Whitaker during the launch ceremony.
Forest Whitaker was designated as a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Peace and Reconciliation on 21st June 2011 in recognition of his efforts to highlight education as a power to promote peace and reconciliation between and within communities, his humanitarian and artistic commitments to action aiming to foster reconciliation and non-violence with a view to building peace”.
The Whitaker Peace and Development Initiative (WPDI) was founded by Forest Whitaker in 2012 aiming to engage, empower and inspire youth, women, and global citizens to promote peace worldwide.
The Harmonizer Program in Mexico is part of the Youth Peacemaker Network (YPN), a program that has already been established by WPDI in South Sudan and Uganda. The YPN is a global initiative that seeks to nurture a new generation of leaders committed to reconciliation and conflict prevention.
A brief video of the launch ceremony is available on the following web site: http://uk.reuters.com/video/2014/01/14/forest-whitaker-from-actor-to-ambassador?videoId=276421720&videoChannel=81
The 2nd International Jazz Day to take place in Istanbul, Turkey on 30 April 2013
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Director-General Irina Bokova, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Intercultural Dialogue Herbie Hancock, Turkey’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ahmet Davutoglu and its Minister of Culture and Tourism, Ӧmer Ҫelik, are pleased to announce that the main event for the second annual International Jazz Day will be hosted by Turkey in the city of Istanbul.
Held every year on 30thApril, International Jazz Day brings together communities, schools and groups from across the world to celebrate jazz, learn about its roots and highlight its important role as a form of communication that transcends differences. This year, the main concert for International Jazz Day will be held in Istanbul, Turkey. UNESCO’s Director-General, Irina Bokova, stated, “I am delighted to announce that Istanbul will serve as the Host City for the 2013 International Jazz Day celebration on 30thApril. A meeting place of global cultures, Istanbul is an ideal location to highlight the extensive influence of jazz. Official celebrations, concerts and educational programs will take place in Istanbul and around the globe, expanding on the tremendous success of last year’s inaugural International Jazz Day.”
“International Jazz Day is a means to highlight, support, and leverage the unifying attributes of music through worldwide celebratory events and activities on 30thApril each year,” said Herbie Hancock. “On International Jazz Day, jazz is celebrated, studied, and performed around the world for 24 hours straight. Collaborations abound among jazz icons, scholars, composers, musicians, dancers, writers, and thinkers who embrace the beauty, spirit, and principles of jazz, freely sharing experiences and performances in our big cities and in our small towns, all across our seven continents.”
Celebrations in Istanbul will kick off with a special early morning performance for high school students conducted by Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter and others. The evening concert at Istanbul’s famed Hagia Irene will feature performances by stellar musicians from around the world, including pianists John Beasley, George Duke, Robert Glasper, Herbie Hancock, Abdullah Ibrahim, Keiko Matsui and Eddie Palmieri; vocalists Al Jarreau, Milton Nascimento and Dianne Reeves; trumpeters Hugh Masekela, Imer Demirer and Christian Scott; bassists James Genus, Marcus Miller, and Ben Williams; drummers Terri Lyne Carrington and Vinnie Colaiuta; guitarists Bilal Karaman, John McLaughlin, Lee Ritenour and Joe Louis Walker; saxophonists Dale Barlow, Igor Butman, Jimmy Heath, Wayne Shorter and Liu Yuan; clarinetists Anat Cohen and Husnu Senlendirici; violinist Jean-Luc Ponty; Pedro Martinez on percussion and other special guests to be announced in the weeks ahead. John Beasley will be the event’s musical director.
To date, nearly 80 events have been organized in more than 30 countries, including Argentina, Australia, the Republic of Korea, France, Gabon, Malaysia and Trinidad and Tobago. In Armenia, the Municipality of Yerevan is organizing an open-air concert and will introduce jazz history and jazz performance in several schools around Yerevan. In Mexico, more than ten jazz concerts are scheduled throughout the country. Denmark will host “Jazz as a Verb” in Copenhagen, a day seminar and evening concert for both Danish and international musicians. In India, Jazz Goa in will celebrate the Day with a mega event featuring jazz artists from all over the world. In Swaziland, a special program “Jazz across Borders and Cultures” will include workshops, jam sessions, and concerts over three days.
Forest Whitaker promotes peace in South Sudan with UNESCO
With 72 percent of its population under the age of 30, a peaceful future for South Sudan, the world’s youngest country, is in the hands of the young. To nurture a new generation of leaders committed to reconciliation and conflict prevention, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Peace and Reconciliation Forest Whitaker announced today that his PeaceEarth Foundation is launching the Youth Peacemaker Network in South Sudan. The Network will be developed in strong cooperation with UNESCO’s Juba office, the South Sudan Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport, and corporate partners such as Zain and Ericsson.
Participating youth from South Sudan’s 10 States will be trained by local and international experts in conflict resolution, leadership, peace and community building as well as mediation skills. These youth will forge peaceful, non-violent relationships with their peers as they work together with their communities, engage with youth nation-wide, receive mentoring and training in business skills to promote attractive learning and skills-based opportunities.
“Reconciliation is a slow process, and it often takes as much time to get out of a conflict as it took to get in one,” said Forest Whitaker. “That’s why it is so important to work with youth to promote the significance of education, personal empowerment and leadership to build peaceful conflict resolution skills and techniques.”
PeaceEarth and UNESCO Juba are working together with South Sudan’s Ministry of Youth, Culture and Sport as well as State-level ministries and Youth Unions to establish computer centers in the State Capitals. These centres will help participants from the Youth Peacemaker Network to share their experiences and access additional trainings through the online platform www.peaceearth.org. Mr. Cirino Hiteng Ofuho, the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport, said about the project, “The fact that young people will have a place to learn and practice computer skills and communicate with youth from different States and counties, will provide them with future opportunities while also building their relationships and breaking down some of the misunderstandings which lead to conflict in the first place.”
“Peace is an enabling factor for the development and prosperity of South Sudan and to the building of a national identity”, said Mr. Salah Khaled, UNESCO Juba’s Head of Office. “It is essential to empower young people and train them with the skills they need to be tomorrow’s leaders.”
The program uses the field expertise of its key partners. UNESCO facilitates the secure access of youth living in remote areas, and Ericsson provides internet access via mobile broadband, computers, and mobile phones alongside basic ICT and social media training and tools for connecting teachers and students through the global education initiative Connect To Learn. Ericsson also provides on-site project management resources, Wi-Fi coverage, and the Ericsson cloud computing solution to support the program. In support of its belief that mobile connectivity is a tool of empowerment to build peace, Zain is providing 35 mobile broadband dongles with capacity of 1GB per month per dongle. Additionally, Sony Mobile will provide SIM cards for program participants.
The Youth Peacemaker Network begun its initial roll-out by holding its first training for young women and men from Jonglei. The training takes place from 12-15 December 2012 at UNESCO Juba, and covers conflict resolution, leadership, peace and community building, and mediation skills.
Over the next two years, the program will expand to include South Sudan’s other nine States and will continue to support the long-term capacity development of the youth as well as providing mentoring and business skills to promote attractive alternative learning and skills-based opportunities for youth.
The Program in South Sudan is a continuation of Forest Whitaker’s work in North Uganda, where he just finished launching the Youth Peacemaker Network jointly with Hope North, a rehabilitation campus in Masinde, where refugees, orphans and former child soldiers rebuild their lives through education and vocational training. This three year program started with a three-day peace-building workshop at Hope North gathering 30 youth between 15 and 25 years old selected from different districts of northern Uganda (Gulu, Kiryandongo, Pader, Oyam, Abim, Kitgum, Amuru, Agago, Bulisa and Wakiso) who took part in conflict resolution, reconciliation and ICT workshops led by Forest Whitaker, other conflicet resolution experts from PeaceEarth and the Ericsson team.
For more information on the projects and Forest Whitaker click here.
Zhang Jun performs at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York
UNESCO Artist for Peace Zhang Jun starred in the New York premiere of the 16th Century Kunqu Chinese Opera The Peony Pavilion staged at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Astor Court.
The performance, which also featured the Shanghai Zhang Jun Kunqu Art Center, was part of a major program devoted to Chinese Garden Culture, from 29 November to 2 December. Composer Tan Dun’s updated version of the masterpiece Chinese Opera was co-produced by the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the US China Cultural Institute (USCCI) and was a centrepiece for the MET’s eight-gallery exhibition “Chinese Gardens: Pavilions, Studios, Retreat” currently on view.
On 29 November a VIP performance of the Opera was hosted by Shirley Young, USCCI Chair, Hans D’Orville, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Strategic Planning, and Ambassador Li Baodong, Permanent Representative of the People’s Republic of China to the United Nations. The evening also included a conversation with Tan Dun and Maxwell K.Hearn, Douglas Dillon Curator in Charge of the Department of Asian Art. Four public performances scheduled 30 November to 2 December were sold out.
Zhang Jun was designated UNESCO Artist for Peace in May 2011 for his “long-term commitment to promoting intangible cultural heritage, especially Kunqu Opera”. He started learning Kunqu in China at the age of 12 and has been awarded with the "Meihua (Plum Flower) Award," China's top performing award, as well as many acting prizes and honorable titles such as "China National Young Cultural Elites" in 2006. He now spends a lot of his time promoting Kunqu around the world, partly through his organization Shanghai Zhang Jun Kunqu Art Center and in 2010, he was invited to Harvard Business School to introduce Kun Opera to the MBA students.
The Peony Pavilion is one of the most celebrated and best-loved Kunqu Opera written in 1598 by Tang Xianzu and was described by Tan Dun as a Chinese “Romeo and Juliet”. It is a love story between 16-years-old Du Liniang and young scholar Liu Mengmei, interpreted by Zhang Jun, that “transcends time and space” (as described by Maxwell K. Hearn, Curator of Asian Art at the MET), and it contains both dreams and supernatural elements. The original opera is in 55 acts and usually lasts more than 20 hours but the performance that took place in New York was an hour-long condensed version that Tan Dun distilled to its essence. Dun has written both new music and adapted the original score adding some recorded sounds of water and birds, and displayed the whole in the MET’s Astor Court, modelled as a Chinese garden, as it was originally staged in China in the 16th Century.
Watch the webcast of Zhang Jun's performance.