Helen Clark: Speech at opening of Philip Grossman photography exhibition: Chernobyl: Tragedy, Lessons, Hope

Apr 20, 2016

I am delighted to open this exhibition together with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belarus, Mr. Vladimir Makei. Let me extend my appreciation to the organizers of this event, as well as to holding a a series of commemorative events this year which mark the thirtieth anniversary of the Chernobyl accident. I am looking forward to my visit to Belarus on Sunday and Monday next week to participate in the high level international conference on Chernobyl.

As we all know, the Chernobyl accident was one of the most severe nuclear accidents in history. It caused widespread radioactive contamination in the Republic of Belarus, the Russian Federation, and Ukraine, and led to numerous problems which linger even today.

In this exhibition, Philip Grossman has documented the effects of the accident during his visits to the Chernobyl Zone of Exclusion. His photos remind us of the devastation and human suffering wrought by the tragedy, and of the heroism of the emergency workers who risked their lives responding to the accident. There is a strong expression of solidarity in his photos.

Much has been done to help communities recover from the accident over the past thirty years. This work has been done under the leadership of the governments of the affected countries and in partnership with the international community and civil society organizations.

UNDP has contributed to the promotion of developmental approaches to Chernobyl-related work since 2004 when it was designated as the key agency for co-ordination of all UN activities on Chernobyl.

A number of important lessons from Chernobyl, including those of of the need for transparent, timely, and credible information.The many lessons learned should be shared and fully utilized worldwide in order to prevent such disasters in the future – and respond in the event that future such accidents occur.

Tonight we see in these photos the power of the visual arts to communicate powerful messages to all humanity. It is therefore with great pleasure that I join you all at this opening ceremony, and express my hope that many will come to see this fine exhibition of Philip Grossman’s work on the Chernobyl tragedy, lessons, and hope which are of global significance.

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