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Federico Mayor once again at UNESCO
an article by Manuel Dios Diz, President, Seminario Galego de Educación para a Paz (abridged)

. . . [At the celebration of his 80th birthday], Federico Mayor Zaragoza, former Director General of UNESCO from 1987 to 1999 , moved like a fish in water . Back to where he had managed to pass resolutions and declarations of great significance, particularly, the Culture of Peace and its Plan of Action, then taken over by the UN General Assembly in 1999. He was accompanied by Georges Kutukdjian, who organized the tribute for his 80th anniversary, along with other personalities from a broad and plural Committee involving Françoise Riviere, Breda Pavlic, Doudou Diene and Pio Rodriguez, a member of the Executive Board and the only representative of Spain who spoke at the tribute. The Spanish Ambassador to UNESCO, D. Juan Manuel Barandica Luxán did not speak.


Federico Mayor with Edgar Morin (center)

click on photo to enlarge

Everyone presented awards accolades, sketches and emotional memories of the extraordinary distinguished thinking and actions carried out at UNESCO when he was the Director General for 12 years. The footprint left at that institution by Professor Mayor Zaragoza, from the humblest officer to executive directors, has been enormous. All the interventions reflected love and longing, from the current director, Irina Bokova, his predecessor, Amadou Mahtar M'Bow, his successor, Koichiro Matsuura, to the current President of the Executive Board, Mohamed Sameh Amr .

If I had to highlight some of the speeches that impressed me the most, I certainly should cite Mihail Gorbachev, Mary Robinson, Kofi Annan and Mario Soares .

Especially emotional words were delivered by Boutros Boutros Ghali, former Secretary General of the United Nations, Robert Badinter, former French Justice Minister under Mitterrand, Henri Lopes, Aminata Tahoré and Edgar Morin. All of them highlighted his role and his ability to make the impossible possible, his commitment to Africa and to education for all. There was even time for a group of officials and UNESCO officials to sing happy birthday.

Federico Mayor Zaragoza, replied and thanked everyone; those he did not thank by name were quoted in writing and entered on the record of the celebration. He spoke of his passage through the international institution that represents the intellectual role of the United Nations. UNESCO, he said, must regain its leadership to build peace in the minds of men, with independence and rigor, with civic courage. We must live up to the challenge put forth in the UNESCO Charter and in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We, the people, must save our children from the horror of war, all equal in dignity, oriented to civic and democratic values, to justice, solidarity , equality, fraternity, rising above market values, promoting the culture of peace, education for peace, human rights and democracy, urgently needing a Universal Declaration on Democracy, rededicating ourselves to intercultural dialogue and the alliance of civilizations, to overcoming poverty and exclusion, to peacebuilding, to the peaceful resolution of conflict . .

(Click here for a Spanish version of this article)

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Once again, as they have done now each year since 2009, the Nobel Women's Initiative provides biographies of 16 women leaders involved in local action for peace and justice around the world, and in particular to stop violence against women.  Last year's biographies were listed in the CPNN discussionboard.


This report was posted on February 13, 2014.