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Geneva Peace Talks - “Peace Without Borders”

21 September 2018
Geneva Peace Talks - “Peace Without Borders”

Remarks by Mr. Michael Møller
United Nations Under-Secretary-General
Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva

Geneva Peace Talks - “Peace Without Borders”

Friday, 21 September 2018, 16.00 - 18.30
Room XVIII, Palais des Nations

Dear colleagues and friends,
Ladies and gentlemen:

A warm welcome to the Palais des Nations.

I am happy to see so many of you here today, coming together on the International Day of Peace. In Geneva, the city of peace.

Let me first of all thank Interpeace, the Geneva Peacebuilding Platform, the Swiss Confederation and our many other partners for making this a truly collaborative initiative.

Over the next couple of hours, we will hear powerful, personal stories - stories that teach us how peace is about much more than grand negotiations between great powers or about the end of military conflict and the signing of treaties.

Peace is just as much about the actions of individuals at the grassroots level. Peace cannot just be wished; it involves hard work, courage and persistence.

As we will learn today, it’s also about responsible, accurate journalism in conflicts. It’s about empowering women in their own communities. It’s about harnessing insights from psychology, the humanities and the arts.

It’s about more than politics. It’s about attitudes; about a sense of empathy; about breaking down the divisions that we create for ourselves in our own minds. Borders that don’t exist in any objective reality, but that we carry with us generation after generation.

We will hear inspiring stories; I am sure of it. But the absence of one voice will be painfully felt. For it was exactly on this day one year ago that he last spoke in the Palais. Right here, at the Geneva Peace Talks.

Our former Secretary-General Kofi Annan - a close friend and trusted mentor to many, and a role model to us all.

He was a peacemaker like no other.

Upon accepting the Nobel Peace Prize almost twenty years ago, he said that “we must start from the understanding that peace belongs not only to states or to peoples, but to each and every member of those communities.” Peace, he continued, “must be sought because it is the very condition for every member of the human family to live a life of dignity and security.”

Words he lived by. Throughout his career at the UN and beyond, he worked tirelessly for the empowerment of all members of society, in every part of the world. He worked courageously to elevate the voice of those at the bottom, forcing those at the top to listen.

There was one group in particular that was a source of immense hope to him and whom he placed enormous trust in: the young.

He saw them not as “leaders of tomorrow”, but as the “change makers of today”; not as passive bystanders, but active agents for peace.

This was the message he shared with us last year. A message that is just as relevant today as it was then, if not indeed more so. Which is why I am grateful that we are able to hear it once again.

Thank you and please play the tape.