Shimon Peres Center for Peace World ConferenceOpening Session – ‘New World, New Peace’October 28, 2009 - King David Hall, ...
I shall use my time at the podium to talk about poverty, which I believe is a huge obstacle topeace. Nearly half of the wo...
We all know that it is youth who suffer the most faced with poverty and violent conflict. Not only dothey bear the immedia...
Ten-year old Aminata Bangura is a student at the FAWE Goderich School in Freetown.Aminata, who lost her family during the ...
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Speech at Peres Center for Peace Israel

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Speech at Peres Center for Peace Israel

  1. 1. Shimon Peres Center for Peace World ConferenceOpening Session – ‘New World, New Peace’October 28, 2009 - King David Hall, Tel Aviv, IsraelKeynote Speaker: H.E. President Shimon Peres, President of IsraelGuest Speakers (in order of appearance)H.E. Mr. Andre Azoulay, Counselor to H.E. the King of MoroccoSarah Ferguson, Duchess of YorkH.E. Mr. Aleksander Kwasniewski, Former President of PolandH.E. Dr. Per Stig Moller, Foreign Minister of DenmarkH.E Ivo Sanader, Prime Minister of CroatiaProf. Han Sung-Joo, Former Korean Minister of Foreign Affairsand Former President, Korea UniversityH.E. Dr. Alejandro Toledo, Former President of PeruH.E. George Vassiliou, Former President of Cyprus* REMARKS BY SARAH FERGUSON, DUCHESS OF YORK *President Peres, I am deeply honored to be here today in the presence of such distinguishedleaders, guests and advocates for peace..My first order of business is to congratulate you on the 10th anniversary of the Shimon PeresCenter for Peace. What you have achieved this past decade is truly extraordinary and I wishyou and your esteemed colleagues much continued success.I look forward to celebrating the opening the Center’s new home in Jaffa tomorrow.I salute you and your organization for hosting this conference and for assembling such diverseand influential group from around the Middle East and around the world.True to your mission you have united us in the mission for peace.It was MOTHER TERESA who said, “Peace begins with a smile”I quite agree. After all, what more universal symbol for peace is there than a smile? A smilehas the power to disarm; it can ease fear, invite collaboration, and it can instill trust. Surelythe world needs more smiles. Perhaps in simplest terms the process of peacemaking is one ofspreading smiles.Mr. President; Your Excellencies; Ladies and gentlemen: Our shared commitment to peacebrings us to Tel Aviv this week. Each of us comes with views shaped by personal backgroundand life experience. This stage is our forum for exchanging ideas and engaging in respectfuldebate – all for the greater good. 1
  2. 2. I shall use my time at the podium to talk about poverty, which I believe is a huge obstacle topeace. Nearly half of the world’s population lives in poverty; persistent poverty breeds rageand with it social instability and violence.And so it is my belief that the mission of peace and the war on poverty march together.The United Nations created a brilliant model for this with the Millennium Development Goals- an unprecedented initiative that has mobilized government, NGOs, the private sector andindividuals, to address eight critical areas for improving social and economic conditions in theworlds poorest countries.Progress on some of the MDGs is slow, but real nonetheless, and the massive global effort toachieve all eight goals by 2015 remains strong. Indeed this work takes time, money, patience… and many, many hands.It is significant that just week the Islamic Development Bank launched an ambitious $10billion anti-poverty program to address poverty, illiteracy and unemployment – which areseen as the root of terrorism.As someone who has spent the last two decades traveling on humanitarian missions I havethe human devastation caused by extreme conflict and despair. I have also seen communitiesrise out of poverty and unrest with help from the international community.Peace is negotiated at the highest levels, but real peace takes hold when it is in the hearts andminds of people. We all owe the tens of thousands of NGOs working all over the world a greatdebt; these organizations perform miracles delivering relief, restoring hope and changinglives.There are many NGOs doing extraordinary work here in the Middle East.The Community Advocate Mentor Program - Middle East is an extraordinary five-year projectof the International Women’s Democracy Center that facilitates dialogue and diplomacybetween Israeli and Palestinian women leaders in the community and in government.The McGill Middle East Program, founded at Canada’s McGill University, has helped establisha network of store-front, locally run, rights-based community centers offering social servicesin the poorest, most underprivileged communities in Jordan, Israel and Palestine.The Peres Center is widely respected for its projects fostering socio-economic cooperation,shared development, and dignified people-to-people interaction. I admire its projects bringyoung people together from the region. 2
  3. 3. We all know that it is youth who suffer the most faced with poverty and violent conflict. Not only dothey bear the immediate trauma, they often inherit its serious long-term consequences as well.Recently the World Bank issued a report calling on developing countries to invest in better education,healthcare, and job training for its young people ages 12 – 24, to drive economic growth and drive downpoverty.Recently the World Bank issued a report calling on developing countries to invest in better education,healthcare, and job training for its young people ages 12 – 24, to drive economic growth and drive downpoverty.I believe an investment in children is an investment in the future. This is the guiding principle at my UKcharity Children in Crisis, which aims to give children in some of the world’s poorest countries theeducation they need to help transform their lives.Worldwide, one in six children is denied an education. At the heart of our work is the belief thateducation is the best possible route out of poverty, bringing hope for a better future for families,communities and over time, whole societies.In all our overseas programs Children in Crisis works in partnership with local organizations. Eachpartner contributes skills, knowledge and experience in developing projects which involve localcommunities and are appropriate to the local environment. We work closely with partners to helpdevelop their technical skills in training and education as well as assisting them in organizational andresource development, so that they can manage and support programs more effectively in the longerterm thus ensuring local ownership and sustainability of the projects.I personally visit many of the projects we support. We may be a small player in the charity world, but Ican attest that much can be achieved placing even limited funds in the hands of skilled aidorganizations.At the moment we have 10 projects in six countries, and I’d like to tell you about what we are doing inSierra Leone and Liberia, which children are truly suffering in the wake of brutal civil wars.In Sierra Leone 1,270 primary schools were destroyed during the war years and as a result two-thirds ofthat period’s school-age children were denied an education.Liberia lost 80% of its schools during two civil wars; the country now has a 28% literacy rate. Right nowonly half of the country’s 1.5 million children are attending primary or secondary school. The ragingHIV/AIDS epidemic is a major threat to Liberia’s adolescent and young adult population.This situation is grim, but efforts are underway to rebuild the education system in Liberia and SierraLeone. In 2005 Children in Crisis partnered with the local organization Forum for African WomenEducationalists (FAWE). We have been reconstructing schools and training new teachers ever since.In Sierra Leone we’ve helped set up 10 primary schools serving about 2000 children and we’ve trained520 primary school teachers in a curriculum that includes instruction on HIV/AIDS prevention. 3
  4. 4. Ten-year old Aminata Bangura is a student at the FAWE Goderich School in Freetown.Aminata, who lost her family during the war, had never been to a school until last year. Nowshe is reading, doing arithmetic and learning English.In Liberia, we have trained 200 teachers and established the Vocational Training Centre,where girls and young women attend literacy classes and learn a marketable trade.Florence, age 16, never attended school. Now she is at VTC where she is learning to read andwrite while training to be a tailor. Florence and her boyfriend hope to marry and havechildren. Given basic education and a marketable trade Florence will be able to supportherself and her future family.In Liberia, we have trained 200 teachers and established the Vocational Training Centre,where girls and young women attend literacy classes and learn a marketable trade.Florence, age 16, never attended school. Now she is at VTC where she is learning to read andwrite while training to be a tailor. Florence and her boyfriend hope to marry and havechildren. Given basic education and a marketable trade Florence will be able to supportherself and her future family.Florence and Aminata, and the other FAWE boys and girls, represent extraordinary successand real hope for the future.I would like to close by drawing attention to gender inequality as a contributing factor inpersistent poverty. In many parts of the world women and girls still do not share equallyaccess to schooling, healthcare, employment, and decision-making.Denying half the population full participation in society is a violation of basic human rights. It’salso a practice that squanders valuable human resources and severely constrains economicdevelopment,Thank you so much. I wish you all a pleasant and productive conference. # 4

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