Message from Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, on the Occasion of International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People
29 November 2016
International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People gives us the opportunity to restate our unswerving commitment to building peace on the basis of human dignity and mutual respect between peoples and cultures.
Palestine has been a member of UNESCO since 2011, and our Organization has been working for several decades to strengthen Palestine’s institutional capacities so as to speed up the State-building process. UNESCO runs the Department of Education in the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), and since 2010 has conducted curricula reform to ensure access to quality, inclusive and equitable education for all Palestinian refugees, which transmits the values of respect, trust and development. Along with all United Nations partners, UNESCO is also working to improve the safety and security of schools and higher education establishments, and support the preservation of cultural sites, some of the most symbolic of which have been included in the World Heritage List – the Birthplace of Jesus: Church of the Nativity and the Pilgrimage Route, Bethlehem, and the Cultural Landscape of Southern Jerusalem, Battir.
Building peace requires absolute respect for the fundamental rights of the Palestinian people to acknowledgement of their history and culture and their right to forge their future for themselves. Building peace also requires full recognition of the rights, cultures and histories of all the peoples of the region. This spirit of cooperation and reciprocity is the source of the values of tolerance and trust that are so necessary today. UNESCO is mobilizing with its partners to transpose these principles into daily life, in school textbooks, the media and joint scientific and cultural initiatives, to help make solidarity with the Palestinian people the foundation for lasting peace.