The United Nations speech Peace Day concert

21 Sep 2012

 Excellency Minister of Culture Mr. Sa’adoon Al-Dulaimi

Distinguished Members of Parliament

Members of the International Community

Distinguished Colleagues

Friends of Iraq

Ladies & Gentlemen

Good Evening – Salam Alikum

On behalf of the United Nations I am pleased to welcome you to this evening’s concert to celebrate International Peace Day in Iraq. On this day - International Peace Day - I join my voice with that of the UN Secretary General to call for a complete cessation of hostilities around the world.

In 2001 the United Nations General Assembly declared the 21st of September as the United Nations International Day of Peace. Since then all UN member states and 28 international organizations have marked the day, carrying out activities in 31 countries worldwide.

This year, the United Nations in Iraq and the Iraqi Ministry of Culture have decided to collaborate together and observe the day by hosting a music concert here in Baghdad.

We, at the United Nations, are very proud to be a partner in this historic event.

Over the past three decades hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have been killed or injured as a result of war, dictatorship, sanctions, occupation and civil strife. And the violence continues.

Today’s concert therefore, provides all of us a great opportunity to reflect on the many years of violence and the heavy price that the Iraqi people have paid, while sending out a resolute message, to stop, once and for all, violence in Iraq.

This year’s International Peace Day theme is “Sustainable Peace for a Sustainable Future”. This theme is very appropriate for Iraq, because it is only through peace and an end to violence that the country will be able to move forward towards a better future for all its people.

We are delighted that the 14 heads of all political blocs in Iraq have endorsed a statement committing themselves to working for peace in Iraq. We hope that their commitment to peace can be translated into an end to violence in Iraq. For as Einstein reminds us “Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding.”

Staging this concert in Baghdad is a very positive sign that Baghdad is regaining its rightful place as a centre for cultural activities in the Arab World and beyond.

Within the regional context, this concert is also timely given the events that are sweeping throughout the Arab and Muslim World especially in the past weeks. And in this context the many calls for peace, non-violence, tolerance and restraint are essential.

Our event today here in Baghdad – joins us to millions of people around the world who are also celebrating International Day of Peace. This Day has historically provided an opportunity to put down arms in conflict zones and reach temporary humanitarian truces where assistance can be delivered to those who need it most.

As we look forward to the future, let me reassure you that the United Nations in Iraq is fully committed to ensure that peace is achieved in Iraq through engagement and cooperation with all actors.

Finally, I would like to thank our partners who have worked tirelessly to turn this concert from an idea, a thought and a dream into a reality. Our special thanks to the Government of Iraq namely the Ministry of Culture, the National Theatre, the renowned Iraqi musician Mr. Nasseer Shamma, Iraqi civil society youth organizations especially the Iraqi Youth Parliament and the Youth Development Organisation, the Peace One Day organisation, my colleagues at the United Nations and the wonderful team of volunteers and workers.

So, congratulations, mabruk to you all, enjoy the concert, and remember as Ghandi said ’Peace is its own reward’

Thank you, shukran