INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PEACE MESSAGE:
I must agree with United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, when he said:
“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.”
I have been preaching this all my life. When I was Minister of Education in a previous Government, those were the words I preached. We must teach our children the value of tolerance and mutual respect.
Look around and you will see what is happening today. Too many reports are coming out of our school system of students fighting, students showing little or no respect for their colleagues and teachers. Students are not listening to their parents at home. There are too many single parents who are unable to cope with their children. There are a lot of absentee fathers. Students are caught with illegal weapons and drugs. This is frightening.
You just have to take a look at the newspapers and watch the news on television. Most of the persons killed violently, are young persons. Gang leaders have taken control of some of our young people. Our youths are no longer being patient and tolerant. They want things quickly. They want to live in the fast lane. They are dying fast, and if we don’t do something quickly, we may lose a generation to the gang culture.
We must invest in our young children, so as to save them from going down the wrong path. That is why in the 2013-2014 Budget presentation of the Minister of Finance, Larry Howai, more than $9 billion was given to Education. We must invest in the teachers and schools. We must show the children love, we must show them respect, and that respect must be reciprocated. As the saying goes, “to whom much is given, much is expected.”
As I head to New York next week for the United Nations General Assembly, I am certain that one of the burning issues will be World Peace. We live in interesting times. While we in the Caribbean continue to live in peace and harmony, others are not as fortunate. The Middle East is a hot bed for war. We as leaders must take stock as to what is happening in Syria.
In 1981, the United Nations General Assembly, by unanimous vote, established the International Day of Peace (IDP) which stated in part, “to devote a specific time to concentrate the efforts of the United Nations and its Member States, as well as the whole of mankind, to promoting the ideals of peace and to giving positive evidence of their commitment to peace in all viable ways.” The first Peace Day was celebrated in September 1982 on the opening day of the General Assembly.
In 2002 the UN General Assembly officially declared September 21 as the permanent annual date for the International Day of Peace.By creating the International Day of Peace, the UN devoted a specific day and collaborative focus on worldwide peace and encouraged all of humanity to work in cooperation for this goal. During the discussion of the U.N. Resolution that established the International Day of Peace, it was suggested that:
“Peace Day should be devoted to commemorating and strengthening the ideals of peace both within and among all nations and peoples. This day will serve as a reminder to all peoples that our organization, with all its limitations, is a living instrument in the service of peace and should serve all of us here within the organization as a constantly pealing bell reminding us that our permanent commitment, above all interests or differences of any kind, is to peace.”
I will continue to impress upon my Ministers that they do whatever is necessary to save our youth from destruction. I will not give up, and I ask parents, teachers, and religious leaders to join with me and my Government to guide our children along the right path.
Kamla Persad-Bissessar, SC, MP
Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago
September 21, 2013