Theme for 2013: "Education for Peace"


"On this International Day of Peace, let us pledge to teach our children the value of tolerance and mutual respect.  Let us invest in the schools and teachers that will build a fair and inclusive world that embraces diversity.  Let us fight for peace and defend it with all our might." (UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon) 


by Trilight Entertainment


Conversations with Rigoberta Menchú,

Peace Nobel Price winner in 1992


On the occasion of the UN International Day of Peace, UPF-Austria in cooperation with the Academic Council of the United Nations System (ACUNS), Art of Reconciliation and with Media Partner The Best of the World Network organized a conference with Nobel Price Laureate Mrs. Rigoberta Menchu at the UN Vienna Headquarters on Friday, September 20th 2013. The event was supported by UNIS Vienna and the Embassy of Guatemala.



The Chairperson of the conference, which was held in the UNIS Multimedia room was Dr. Leo Gabriel, a Social anthropologist, journalist and film maker, who has lived and worked in Central and South America for several decades and initiated many social projects. Welcome messages were given by Mr. Janos Tisovsky, Director of UNIS, as well as Mr. Desmond Doyle, founder of Art of Reconciliation. The third welcome message was given by H.E. Antonio Roberto Castellanos Lopez, Ambassador of the Republic of Guatemala.

Mrs. Rigoberta Menchú gave the keynote address with translation from Spanish to English. She is an indigenous Guatemalan woman, of the K'iche' ethnic group. Menchú has dedicated her life to publicizing the plight of Guatemala's indigenous peoples during and after the Guatemalan Civil War (1960–1996), and to promoting indigenous rights in the country. She received the 1992 Nobel Peace Prize and Prince of Asturias Award in 1998. Menchú is a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador. She has also become a figure in indigenous political parties and ran for President of Guatemala in 2007 and 2011.




In her speech at the conference she emphazised the importance of education for everybody. "We need to know who we are and where we go." She continued: "In order to attain peace we need dialogue and negotiations. This needs people in the background who work hard and don’t give up. We want all the organizations in the world to become active in helping those who suffer the most, like mothers helping their children. I spent 14 years of my life walking down the corridors of the UN in Geneva and New York. I think my work opened the doors for millions of people to enter the UN."

To the Refugee Protest Camp spokesman of Vienna she gave the advice: "I understand the life of refugees. You must always keep your goal in mind to go back to your country eventually and change things there. I fought hard to be able to return to my country. Finally I became a candidate for the elections. We need to be an example when it comes to be leaders. We cannot remain victims forever. We must have self-esteem." "Have we achieved changes in Guatemala? Yes, we have made changes possible. How can we live in peace? If I am spiritually and socially well I can help other people."



After the meeting in the UNIS Multimedia Room there was a Ceremony at the Peace Bell at Vienna United Nations Plaza. Then the Peace Day message of the UN Secretary General was delivered by H.H. Dennis Thatchaichawalit, Director, Division for Management, UNOV, followed by Mrs. Rigoberta Menchú's Peace Day address, in which she summarized the principles of peace as she learned them from her ancestors, which turned out to have universal character:

1.      Respect: If all people respect each other we can build a better world together

2.      Be greatful! We need to be thankful over and over again if we want to live in peace

3.      Reciprocivity: others give to me, but I have to give as well (give & take), under equal conditions

4.      Unconditional love: if we do our work with unconditional love, we can create a different world!




After her speech a special recognition from the UNWG - United Nations Women's Guild Vienna given by Dalila León–Kostal to Mrs. Rigoberta Menchú. Finally, the Peace Bell was rung, which set an end to the official program. Unfortunatelly and to the regret of many who wanted to talk to her personally Mrs. Rigoberta Menchú had to leave quickly for other mettings in Vienna. The event ended with two beautiful dances performanced by the Ensemble Jeroky Paraguay.





Organizers: Universal Peace Federation (UPF), Academic Council of the United Nations System (ACUNS), Art of Reconciliation, Media Partner: The Best of the World Network

Supported by UNIS Vienna and the Embassy of Guatemala

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