Thank you Mr President.
Distinguished guests, dear colleagues, dear friends, Ladies and Gentlemen
Thank you for your invitation .
For 71 years the United Nations system composed of the UN Charter and the16 Specialized Agencies has been working for Peace. Peace the most beautiful and valuable right ever, the prerequisite to enjoy all human rights and above all the right to life. Peace that we enjoy in every minute in our lives, with the contribution of UN system, sometimes without knowing it. Is there a right to peace? The answer is negative! None of the 300 and more UN conventions, and treaties , refers to such a right per se. Efforts to establish a right peace, we find only in the San Diago Declaration of 2010 and recently at the draft UN Declaration prepared by the working group of the Advisory Committee of the HRC ,with many difficulties for adoption. So, what can we do in order to establish peace,to endorse such a human right in a treaty? Firstly, to make peace a wishful thinking of every human being? The preamble of UNESCO’s Constitution shows the way I quote: “Since the wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed.”How we can reach the mind of men? Again the answer is given by UNESCO. Through Education. “Education the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world” according to Nelson Mandela. So, if we want to change the world into a peaceful planet without wars and conflicts, we have to educate everyone.All people must have access to education,all people should be educated on human rights living in justice and compassion, to show respect to others, how to live in harmony with the earth,how to cultivate inner peace.
Kant, the philosopher, said that Peace is not so much of a philanthropic principle, but rather a matter of rights. For these rights, we have to work hard through education to built a culture of Peace and youth empowerment,which is also a global initiative of UNESCO.We need this culture of peace, a profound social transformation, in particular a global transformation with an overwhelming need for education on peace and human rights, education which will empower young people to contribute to their societies and move forward.
This education for peace shall include non violent responses to conflict, social and economic justice, gender equality, environmental sustainability, encourage reflection, critical thinking, cooperation and responsible action, values of dignity, equality and respect. To learn how to live in harmony with themselves and with the other. How to participate in discussions, debates, case studies and workshops, listen to the opinion of others, express your arguments in a gentle way.
In my entire academic career, I was teaching, among others, the course of international organizations, for 40 years, but only since 1986, 30 years ago, I discovered the United Nation Models which were taking place all over the world and I started preparing my students to participate with great enthusiasm. This is the educational method that I have chosen to empower their knowledge about the world peace since the first year of their studies, increase their abilities and critical thought on the major international issues discussed at all institutions of, almost, all universal and regional organizations.
For 30 years now, thousands of university students were aware of the importance of peace, promotion and protection of human rights on the respect of others, the value of human dignity, how to build up friendly relations with other students from other universities representing their own countries, learned about diplomatic courtesy and the notions of cooperation, conciliation and consensus.
Since 2001, the Greek MUN (ThessisMUN) was created at my University, the University of Macedonia and a few years later, it was followed by three more Greek models on Regional Organizations, on EU, on the Arab League, while we’ve been very supportive to help them organized. SofiMUN, BISMUN and recently FREDMUN in Nicosia. And all these with the support of the Regional Center of UN in Brussels.Creating thus, a fruitful network of cooperation of young people of our region, being aware of all agenda to peace contribution, and above all ready to work for peace. At the same time, the creation of UNESCO chair on intercultural policy was approved by UNESCO, providing to students a variety of information about the work of UNESCO in education. This fundamental right, the basis for progress in every society. As Aristotle has taught us, the goal of education, is identical to the goal of men.
Our latest effort, towards education for peace is the Model of Human Rights, which we organize with the participation of almost 400 high school students this December(2016), in Thessaloniki, providing a lot of information on human rights, respect of others, sustainable development and educating for peace/ or the human right of peace at the agenda of the Model Human Rights Council.
Thirty years later, I feel happy and fulfilled that this «game», if I can call it such, of the participation in UN Models strengthen their minds, opened their horizons, ameliorated their lives, and gave those advantages and opportunities for their future.
I am more than proud to meet them working in international organizations. Five of my ex students are now my colleagues in Geneva, and also one of them, the President of HAPSc, Mr Symeon Sidiropoulos, are offering their knowledge and experience to world peace. I have more students working in EU, many being professors, diplomats, international lawyers, useful members of the world society, of academia, NGO’s, helping vulnerable group, helping those who are in need providing their minds and capabilities to World Peace. Inspired by Albert Einstein who said that “Peace cannot be kept by force, it can be only achieved by understanding”.So this small educational contribution, that I offered to my students, can become enormous. Creating a network of UN and other Regional Organizations in every country, offering knowledge to our students about the unique work of the UN to ameliorate our lives.
Finally, I would like everybody to imagine what our lives could be without the United Nations! Thank you for your attention.