Newsroom > Address by Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO on the occasion of the official launch of the Global Hope Coalition

Address by Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO on the occasion of the official launch of the Global Hope Coalition

New York, 18 September 2017

Excellencies Presidents and Prime Ministers,

Excellencies Ministers and Ambassadors,

Dear Heroes,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am so proud to be here and participate in the official launch of the Global Hope Coalition, alongside 10 Heroes, women and men from across the world, who are each champions of human rights, women’s empowerment, dialogue and peace in their communities….champions for hope…

If there is one lesson we have learned in the struggle for human rights, it is, indeed, the importance of hope.
It was hope that inspired the great American poet, Langston Hughes, to write these soaring lines:

Hold fast to dreams,

For if dreams die

Life is a broken-winged bird,

That cannot fly.

We cannot let this happen. Today, more than ever, we need new heroes to inspire hope … to stand up for the dreams we all share … to defend the values that make us who we are…

We meet in this special place of knowledge to stand united and raise the banner for human dignity… against barbarism and extremism.

… and not just against… because hope is always for something… we stand for respect, for dignity, for tolerance … we stand for preservation of cultural heritage, for building bridges across all divides.

No one is born a violent extremist — violent extremists are made and fueled.

I see disarming this process is a new global struggle for hearts and minds, and this is the message of the Global Hope Coalition: a thousand points of light are beckoning from across the world; our mission, our duty is to support and empower these heroes with educational, training and networking opportunities, we have to give them the means to win hearts and minds in their communities.

This is the message of the UNESCO Constitution.

Since wars start in the minds of men and women, it is in the minds of men and women the defenses of peace must be built.

Violent extremists spread exclusion and hatred.

We must teach human rights and tolerance.

Extremists promote fear and division.

We must respond with education, skills, opportunities for civic engagement, new intercultural dialogue and new grassroots initiatives.

Extremists destroy humanity’s cultural heritage — we must defend and preserve treasures from posterity for future generations.
This is what the HEROES we celebrate today stand for.

… leading the fight for a better world, for girls and women who are not just victims but also, unfortunately, perpetrators, for the rights and dignity of refugees, to defend humanity’s cultural heritage, to advance compassion against hatred….

The Global Hope Coalition is not a single project, it is about spotlighting a range of grassroots actions, and empowering them through training and networking, it’s about joining forces.

The stakes are high.

Mosul. Mumbai. Boston. Paris. San Bernardino. Brussels. Barcelona. Beirut.

Every time a city is attacked, we all are attacked…we must respond together.

This is our credo, it is a credo for hope, compassion, tolerance, and action.

In this spirit, I appeal to you all, here and across the world, to join this new global coalition … for our children and grandchildren, for peace, human rights and dignity.

Thank you.

This entry was posted in Remarks.