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Saturday, 29 September 2012

International Day of Non-Violence 2012 - UN Secretary-General Message

Non-Violence : Secretary-General's Message for 2012

Earlier this year, I had the privilege of paying my respects at the Raj Ghat memorial to Mahatma Gandhi in New Delhi. Gandhi’s vision and example showed how one person can change the world. In tribute to his enduring legacy, we mark this International Day of Non-Violence each year on the anniversary of his birth.
In these times of global turmoil and transition, it is fitting that we take a moment to reflect on Gandhi’s message of understanding and peace.
As we look around the world, tolerance is being tested. Fighting is taking a heavy toll from Afghanistan to Syria to the Sahel. The economic crisis is fuelling xenophobia and other forms of dangerous – and deadly – discrimination. Terrorism, human trafficking, rights abuses and violence against women threaten millions of people.
We must work even harder for understanding among and within religions and communities and between and within countries.
I have made prevention a key priority in the five-year action agenda of the United Nations. But prevention means more than separating warring parties and cooling tensions. Fundamentally tackling the roots of conflict and intolerance will take a culture of non-violence and peace.
Governments must lead. But ultimately, the foundation for non-violence will be built by people: teachers and faith leaders, parents and community voices, business people and grass-roots groups. Perhaps it may be easier to pick up a weapon than to lay down a grudge. It may be simpler to find fault than to find forgiveness. But I have been deeply moved by communities and people in every corner of the world who have been inspired by Gandhi’s example and made a real difference.
Let us take strength from all of these efforts and work together to build a world of nonviolence and lasting peace.
Ban Ki-moon

International Day of Older Persons : Commemorations 2012

International Day of Older Persons
Commemorations 2012

Events Organized on 1-3 October 2012 in Geneva


- Events organized on 10 October 2012 in New York

Events Organized on 10 October 2012 in New York

International Day of Older Persons 1 October - UN Secretary-General Message for 2012

Secretary-General's Message for 2012

Rapid population ageing and a steady increase in human longevity worldwide represent one of the greatest social, economic and political transformations of our time.  These demographic changes will affect every community, family and person.  They demand that we rethink how individuals live, work, plan and learn throughout their lifetimes, and that we re-invent how societies manage themselves.

As we embark on shaping the post-2015 United Nations development agenda, we must envision a new paradigm that aligns demographic ageing with economic and social growth and protects the human rights of older persons.  We are all — individually and collectively — responsible for the inclusion of older persons in society, whether through developing accessible transportation and communities, ensuring the availability of age-appropriate health care and social services, or providing an adequate social protection floor.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing.  As the proportion of older persons in society grows, the bold vision it put forward — of building a society for all ages — is more relevant than ever.

Longevity is a public health achievement, not a social or economic liability.  On this International Day of Older Persons, let us pledge to ensure the well-being of older persons and to enlist their meaningful participation in society so we can all benefit from their knowledge and ability.
Ban Ki-moon

Friday, 28 September 2012

Video Message from Ms Irina Bokova on the occasion of World Teachers' Day

UNESCO's Director General's message on the occasion of WTD 2012 - Irina Bokova







World Teachers' Day 2012: Take a stand for teachers!

“Take a stand for teachers!” is the slogan of World Teachers’ Day 2012 (5 October) which UNESCO is celebrating along with its partners, the International Labour Organization, UNDP, UNICEF and Education International (EI).  
Taking a stand for the teaching profession means providing adequate training, ongoing professional development, and protection for teachers’ rights.
All over the world, a quality education offers hope and the promise of a better standard of living. However, there can be no quality education without competent and motivated teachers.

On this day, we call for teachers to receive supportive environments, adequate quality training as well as ‘safeguards’ for teachers’ rights and responsibilities...We expect a lot from teachers – they, in turn, are right to expect as much from us. This World Teachers’ Day is an opportunity for all to take 
stand
   
       Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director-General

Teachers are among the many factors that keep children in school and influ
ence learning. They help students think critically, process information from several sources, work cooperatively, tackle problems and make informed choices.
Why take a stand for teachers? Because the profession is losing status in many parts of the world.. World Teachers’ Day calls attention the need to raise the status of the profession - not only for the benefit of teachers and students, but for society as a whole, to acknowledge the crucial role teachers play in building the future.
At UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, the focus of the 2012 World Teachers’ Day celebration will be on how to attract top graduates to teaching and how to raise the status of teachers.
Partners are also urged to organize events around the world in order to make the day a truly international celebration.

Challenges

An estimated 5.4 million more teachers are required to reach Universal Primary Education by 2015. While recruiting new teachers, the quality of teaching and learning must also be improved and schools should be supported in their efforts to attract qualified teachers. The challenge of quantity must be met head-on, while ensuring quality and equity.

World Teachers’ Day is an opportunity to examine issues facing teachers on the national and regional levels from an international perspective and to measure the progress made by national teachers in a global context. A truly international perspective necessitates that all countries accept and celebrate World Teachers’ Day on 5 October.

United Nations (UN) member states

There are United Nations (UN) member states, and each of them is a member of the United Nations General Assembly.
The criteria for admission of new members are set out in the United Nations Charter, Chapter II, Article 4, as follows:
  1. Membership in the United Nations is open to all other peace-loving states which accept the obligations contained in the present Charter and, in the judgment of the Organization, are able and willing to carry out these obligations.
  2. The admission of any such state to membership in the United Nations will be effected by a decision of the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council.
A recommendation for admission from the Security Council requires affirmative votes from at least nine of the council's fifteen members, with none of the five permanent members voting against. The Security Council's recommendation must then be subsequently approved in the General Assembly by a two-thirds majority vote.In principle, only sovereign states can become UN members, and currently all UN members are sovereign states (although a few members were not sovereign when they joined the UN). Vatican City is the only sovereign state with general international recognition that is not a UN member (the Holy See, which holds sovereignty over the state of Vatican City and maintains diplomatic relations with other states, is a UN permanent observer). Because a state can only be admitted to the UN by the approval of the Security Council and the General Assembly, a number of states that may be considered sovereign states according to the Montevideo Convention criteria are not members because the UN does not consider them to possess sovereignty, mainly due to the lack of international recognition or opposition from certain members.

World Habitat Day 2012 - Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon

Ban Ki-moon United Nations Secretary General on World Habitat Day 2012

Theme for 2012: Changing Cities, Building Opportunities

In Resolution 40/202 of 17 December 1985, the UN General Assembly designated the first Monday of October of every year as World Habitat Day. In 2012, World Habitat Day is commemorated on 1 October. World Habitat Day 2012 - Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon

" Building Cities, Building Opportunities " World Habitat Day 2012

World Habitat Day celebrations 



  CHANGING CITIES...

 WHD Messages

The Secretary-General message on World Habitat Day, 1 October 2012 Half the world's people now live in towns and cities. In little more than a generation, two-thirds of the global population will be urban. As the proportion of humanity living in the urban environment grows, so too does the need to strengthen the urban focus of our efforts to reduce global poverty and promote sustainable development. Read more English|Arabic|Chinese|French|Russian|Spanish  


Statement by Dr. Joan Clos, Executive Director of UN-Habitat on the occasion of World Habitat Day, 1 October 2012 We selected the theme, Changing cities, building opportunities, for World Habitat Day this year because our quest to improve cities and provide better services and opportunities for the world's growing urban populations is more urgent than ever. Read more

World Rabies Day - September 28

Stamp : U.S. Postage Rabies Surveillance Guidelines for Oral Vaccination of Dogs Against Rabies

Saturday, 22 September 2012

United Nations Secretary General Message on World Tourism Day 2012


 The Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development emphasized that well-designed and well-managed tourism can make a significant contribution to the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development. One of the world’s largest economic sectors, tourism is especially well-placed to promote environmental sustainability, green growth and our struggle against climate change through its relationship with energy.

 “Tourism and Sustainable Energy: Powering Sustainable Development” is the theme of this year’s World Tourism Day, selected to advance the goals of the 2012 International Year of Sustainable Energy for All. Hundreds of millions of people around the world depend for income on this energy-intensive sector. Sustainable energy will allow tourism to continue to expand while mitigating its impact on the environment.

 Many in the tourism industry have already shown leadership in developing and deploying clean energy solutions, cutting energy consumption and carbon emissions in some regions by up to 40 per cent through initiatives such as the Hotel Energy Solutions toolkit developed by the United Nations World Tourism Organization and the United Nations Environment Programme. Other concrete advances include the growing use of energy-efficient fuels in air travel, sustainable procurement strategies and increasingly popular carbon offsetting schemes.

 Everyone has a role in sustainable tourism. I commend the tourism community for its growing commitment to sustainable energy. I also thank the tourists who play their part by offsetting their own carbon emissions, choosing ecologically friendly destinations and providers, or simply by postponing having their towels laundered. Every action counts. This year, one billion international tourists will travel to foreign destinations. Imagine what one act multiplied by one billion can do.

 On this World Tourism Day, I appeal to all who work in and enjoy the benefits of this global sector to join in building a more sustainable future for all.

World Tourism Day (WTD) 2012

Theme for 2012: Tourism & Sustainable Energy: Powering Sustainable Development

 

 

World Tourism Day (WTD) 2012 is being held under the theme Tourism & Sustainable Energy: Powering Sustainable Development. Official celebrations will take place in Maspalomas, Spain (September 27).

This year’s theme aims to highlight tourism’s role in a brighter energy future; a future in which the world’s entire population has access to modern, efficient and affordable energy services.
Tourism today is at the forefront of some of the world’s most ambitious and innovative clean energy solutions: the aviation industry is implementing cutting-edge technologies to make aircraft lighter than ever before; commercial flights are beginning to use biofuels in their fuel mix; key card systems and energy saving light bulbs are increasingly being implemented in hotel rooms worldwide; and tour operators are asking for energy efficiency throughout their supply chains.




World Tourism Day 2012 (English) from UNWTO on Vimeo.
The theme is also an opportunity to ensure international tourism continues to play a role in tackling the major energy challenges of our time, being addressed by the 2012 United Nations International Year of Sustainable Energy for All.

Message from IMO Secretary-General to mark the 35th celebration of World Maritime Day.

  
World Maritime Day 2012: IMO: One hundred years after the Titanic.



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World Maritime Day (27 September)

On 14 April 1912, the White Star liner ‘Titanic’ was transformed in a few short hours from the world’s most celebrated ship into a name forever associated with disaster. Many ships have sunk – too many – but few have had the lasting impact of the seemingly invulnerable Titanic.

 The Titanic tragedy prompted the major shipping nations of the world, at that time, to take decisive action to address maritime safety. This led to the adoption, two years later, of the first-ever International Convention on Safety of Life at Sea and, ultimately, to the establishment of IMO itself.

Today, much updated and revised, SOLAS is still the most important international treaty addressing maritime safety. And, as 2012 marks the 100th year since that ill-fated ship foundered, the IMO Council decided that the World Maritime Day theme for this year should be “IMO: One hundred years after the Titanic”. Since its formation, IMO’s main task has been to develop and maintain a comprehensive regulatory framework for international shipping. Its mandate was originally limited to safety-related issues, but subsequently this remit has been expanded to embrace environmental protection, legal matters, technical co-operation, issues that affect the overall efficiency of shipping and maritime security, including piracy and armed robbery against ships.

The direct output of IMO’s regulatory work is a comprehensive body of international conventions, supported by literally hundreds of guidelines and recommendations that, between them, govern just about every facet of the shipping industry – from the drawing board to the scrapyard. The most important result of all this is that shipping today is safer, cleaner, more efficient and more secure than at any time in the past. But each new generation of vessels brings fresh challenges and, regrettably, accidents still occur, reinforcing the need for continual improvement.

Our efforts to promote maritime safety, not least of passenger ships, will never stop. We should respond quickly to accidents and we must be proactive. To this end, we are planning to hold a two-day symposium at IMO Headquarters, in London, in conjunction with IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee next June, on the "Future of Ship Safety”. The idea is to go beyond the current safety issues under the Committee and rigorously consider the future of maritime safety. The objective is for the discussions to contribute to the future advancement of the Organization’s maritime safety policy.

What separates the passenger and cruise ship industry from the rest of shipping is the unique nature of its cargo – hundreds and thousands of people. The lives of thousands of people are in the hands of the ship's management, the captain and crew and the operating staff. I therefore hope that this sector, in particular, will take the opportunity to lead the way, because "safety" is its main product – not comfort, entertainment or leisure.

Without safety, the industry will not survive, let alone sustain its growth; and real safety does not result simply as a consequence of regulation-compliance. Some 20 years ago, the International Safety Management Code, adopted by IMO, represented a step-change in the establishment of a safety culture in shipping. The time has now come to generate another step-change. This will not be achieved through legislative measures alone. We must generate a new impetus in shipping to go beyond compliance with regulations and explore industry-wide mechanisms to ensure the safety culture is embedded throughout the entire industry.

 So this year, as we look back on that pivotal disaster 100 years ago, I urge IMO Member Governments and the shipping industry as a whole to refresh their determination to improve and enhance the safety of passenger shipping today, and into the future.

UN Secretary General Message for World Maritime Day 2012

Secretary-General's Message for 2012 ---

 When the passenger liner Titanic departed from Southampton on 10 April 1912 on her first transatlantic voyage, no one could imagine the drama that would unfold over the next four days. After the ship hit an iceberg and sank, with the loss of more than 1,500 lives, the story of that ill-fated ship became etched forever in the public consciousness.

 Undoubtedly the most important legacy of the Titanic disaster was an urgent acceleration in the process of setting and implementing international standards and procedures for maritime activity. The first international conference on the safety of life at sea was held in London in January 1914. Its outcome – the Convention on Safety of Life at Sea – remains the leading international treaty on maritime safety. The task of keeping it updated, and maintaining its development in light of technological advances, falls to a United Nations agency, the International Maritime Organization.

 Each successive generation brings new challenges. In recent years, the passenger shipping sector has seen phenomenal growth on all fronts – numbers of passengers, numbers of ships, new destinations and, perhaps most significant of all, in ship sizes. And despite advances in technology, accidents continue to occur, as demonstrated when the Costa Concordia ran aground in Italy earlier this year.

Nevertheless, thanks largely to the IMO regulatory regime, shipping today is safer and more environmentally friendly than it has ever been. New regulations for passenger ships were adopted by the IMO in 2006 and entered into force in 2010. They ensure that all new passenger vessels are constructed to the highest possible standards. A century after the Titanic was lost in the icy waters of the North Atlantic, the IMO is striving to ensure continual improvement in safety at sea. Its work is as important now as ever.

Ban Ki-moon

World Maritime Day 2012: IMO: One hundred years after the Titanic



One of the consequences of the sinking, in 1912, of the Titanic, in which more than 1,500 people lost their lives, was the adoption, two years later, of the first International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (the SOLAS Convention). The 1914 version of the Convention was gradually superseded, respectively, by SOLAS 1929, SOLAS 1948, SOLAS 1960 (the first adopted under the auspices of IMO, then known as IMCO) and SOLAS 1974. SOLAS 1974 is still in force today, amended and updated many times. This year's World Maritime Day theme will provide an opportunity to take stock of the developments in maritime safety since that disaster and to examine which areas of ship safety should be given priority in the years to come.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Ban Ki-moon message for the International Day of Peace, 21 September 2012

International Day of Peace 2012




 

 On the International Day of Peace, the United Nations calls for a complete cessation of hostilities around the world. We also ask people everywhere to observe a minute of silence, at noon local time, to honour the victims – those who have lost their lives, and those who survived but must now cope with trauma and pain. The theme of this year's observance is "Sustainable Peace for a Sustainable Future". Armed conflicts attack the very pillars of sustainable development. Natural resources must be used for the benefit of society, not to finance wars. Children should be in school, not recruited into armies. National budgets should focus on building human capacity, not deadly weapons. On the International Day of Peace, I call on combatants around the world to find peaceful solutions to their conflicts. Let us all work together for a safe, just and prosperous future for all. Ban Ki-moon, 21 September 2012

International Day of Democracy 2012 : Secretary-General's Message for 2012

Secretary-General's Message for 2012

Today we look back on yet another year of remarkable events in the story of democracy -- a story that continues to be written by people who yearn for dignity and human rights, for an end to corruption, for a say in their future, for jobs, justice and a fair share of political power.
Their story is just beginning. Democracies are not born overnight, nor built in a year, or by holding one or two elections. They require sustained and painstaking work. Yet, once begun, there can be no going back.
Reform must be real. People do not seek authoritarianism with a human face. They want a virtuous circle of rights and opportunity under the rule of law, a vibrant civil society and an enterprising private sector, backed by efficient and accountable state institutions.
Inclusive dialogue is crucial. Diversity is a strength. We must work to promote pluralism and protect the rights of minorities and the vulnerable. And women must be at the centre of efforts to build democratic futures. They have been at the forefront of movements for change. They have a right to a real say in governance and decision-making.
The voices of the young must also be heard and heeded. Profound demographic pressures around the world make this an imperative. Faced with bleak prospects and unresponsive governments, young people will act on their own to reclaim their future.
Underpinning these prerequisites -- and essential for long term success -- is democracy education, the theme of this year’s observance. It is needed so that all citizens in all nations, in democracies young and old, established or fragile, fully understand their rights and responsibilities. And it is especially needed in countries that have made recent democratic gains so that progress made does not unravel.
The United Nations is strongly committed to working with partners to develop global and local initiatives that elevate democracy education as an integral part of all education initiatives and as a component of long-term governance strategies. Let us build partnerships between international education experts and Governments to develop and disseminate best practices. Let us develop a culture of civic participation to explore opportunities made possible by new media, and support countries in devising curricula and training methods.
In marking this year’s International Day of Democracy, let us use all our creativity to advance this mission. Let us work to bring democracy education to all, and in particular, to those societies in transition that need it most.
Ban Ki-moon

15 September - The International Day of Democracy.

 Theme 2012 "Democracy Education"
Democracy is a universal value based on the freely expressed will of people to determine their own political, economic, social and cultural systems and their full participation in all aspects of their lives. While democracies share common features, there is no single model of democracy. Activities carried out by the United Nations in support of efforts of Governments to promote and consolidate democracy are undertaken in accordance with the UN Charter, and only at the specific request of the Member States concerned.

The UN General Assembly, in resolution A/62/7 (2007) encouraged Governments to strengthen national programmes devoted to the promotion and consolidation of democracy, and also decided that 15 September of each year should be observed as the International Day of Democracy. The subject of this year's theme -- democracy education -- is essential for the long-term success of democracy. All citizens in all nations need to fully understand their rights and responsibilities, especially in countries that have recently transitioned to more democratic societies.

Questions such as, “Why should I vote?”, “How can I influence my leaders?” “What can I reasonably expect from my elected officials?” or “What are my constitutional rights?” need to be addressed through civic institutions, in the free press and in classrooms. It is only with educated citizens that a sustainable culture of democracy can emerge.

International Day for the Preservation of The Ozone Layer 2012

Short documentary: Alternatives to HCFCs: Taking on the challenge

This short documentary video (15mins) seeks out answers from the technical experts closest to the issue and showcases some inspiring conversion projects. Indeed, with financial assistance and technology transfer facilitated by the Protocol's Multilateral Fund, developing countries are already taking on the challenge, thus paving the way for the adoption of ozone and climate friendly alternatives to HCFCs.




Montreal Protocol @25 Video

This video will be produced to capture worldwide celebrations on the successes of the Montreal Protocol and the future challenges to come.
For further information on the guidelines for this video please click here.


25th Anniversary Information Kit

 This kit produced by the Ozone Secretariat contains the following useful information:

 Brief premier on the Montreal Protocol
 Continuing and future challenges facing the ozone layer protection effort 
Key achievements of the Montreal Protocol to date
 Map of the Regional Networks 
 Paperless Conferencing System 
 Some ideas for stories on Montreal Protocol related matters
 The MP on Substances that deplete the Ozone Layer - 2012: A success in the making 
 Twenty questions and answers about the ozone layer: 2010 update 
The MP on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer - Achievements in Stratospheric Ozone Protection


Protecting our Atmosphere for Generations to Come

Letter from the Executive Secretary, Ozone Secretariat on preparations to mark the 25th Anniversary of the Montreal Protocol and the 2012 International Day for the preservation of the Ozone Layer " Protecting our Atmosphere for Generations to Come "Ozone Day 2012


Montreal Protocol e-Learning Module 

This interactive online training module, developed by UNEP and the World Customs Organization is based on UNEP's Training Manual for Customs Officers and presents the latest information on the international policy governing the control and monitoring of Ozone Depleting Substances, particularly HCFCs, as well as an overview of the technical issues including new information on chemicals and products traded and how these may be smuggled. The module is periodically updated to take into account the developments in international trade and provides new material to reflect the changes in the Montreal Protocol, the Harmonised Systems codes, licensing systems and other relevant information. To register, Ozone officers should contact the Regional OzonAction CAP team. Customs officers should contact WCO’s national coordinator: http://e-learning.wcoomd.org/hosting/Learning/Coordinators.pdf

The Montreal Protocol

The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer (a protocol to the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer) is an international treaty designed to protect the ozone layer by phasing out the production of numerous substances believed to be responsible for ozone depletion. The treaty was opened for signature on September 16, 1987, and entered into force on January 1, 1989, followed by a first meeting in Helsinki, May 1989. Since then, it has undergone seven revisions, in 1990 (London), 1991 (Nairobi), 1992 (Copenhagen), 1993 (Bangkok), 1995 (Vienna), 1997 (Montreal), and 1999 (Beijing). It is believed that if the international agreement is adhered to, the ozone layer is expected to recover by 2050. Due to its widespread adoption and implementation it has been hailed as an example of exceptional international co-operation, with Kofi Annan quoted as saying that "perhaps the single most successful international agreement to date has been the Montreal Protocol". The two ozone treaties have been ratified by 197 states and the European Union making them the most widely ratified treaties in United Nations history. Terms and purposes The treaty is structured around several groups of halogenated hydrocarbons that have been shown to play a role in ozone depletion. All of these ozone depleting substances contain either chlorine or bromine (substances containing only fluorine do not harm the ozone layer).  The Montreal Protocol on Substaces That Deplete the Ozone Layer

Twenty Questions and Answers About the Ozone Layer

 

2010 Ozone Assessment 
Twenty Questions and Answers About the Ozone Layer cover
Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion: 2010---World Meteorological Organization 

 Global Ozone Research and Monitoring Project - Report No. 52

- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
- National Aeronautics and Space Administration
- United Nations Environment Programme
- World Meteorological Organization
- European Commission


 Twenty Questions and Answers About the Ozone Layer - 2010 Update
Twenty Questions Poster - The Science of Ozone Depletion

Sunday, 9 September 2012

The importance of literacy in accelerating peace and development

On International Literacy Day, UN flags key role of reading and writing in global peace

 

 


Photo: UNESCO


7 September 2012 – United Nations officials have stressed the importance of literacy in accelerating peace and development, calling for greater efforts to enable children, youth and adults to read, write and transform their lives.

This year's International Literacy Day, observed annually on 8 September, has a special focus on the fundamental relationship between literacy and peace.
“We must not allow conflict to deprive children and adults of the crucial opportunity of literacy. Literacy is a fundamental human right, and the foundation of all education and lifelong learning,” the Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Irina Bokova, said in her message for the Day, which the agency has been marking for more than four decades.

She added that literacy transforms the lives of people, allowing them to make informed choices and empowering them individuals to become agents of change.

“Lasting peace depends on the development of literate citizenship and access to education for all. Amidst political upheaval and escalating violence in many parts of the world, literacy must be a priority in the peace-building agenda of all nations,” she stated.

Peace and sustainable development are interdependent, and it is crucial for the two to develop and strengthen simultaneously, Ms. Bokova continued.

“Literacy is also a development accelerator, enabling societies to grow more inclusively and sustainably,” she noted. “Literacy programmes can become a key component of future development strategies, opening new opportunities and skills for all.”

This year marks the end of the UN Literacy Decade, proclaimed in 2002 to galvanize government action worldwide against illiteracy. Over the decade, and despite considerable effort and some major achievements, 775 million people are still considered non-literate, of whom 85 per cent live in 41 countries.
As part of the celebrations for the Day, UNESCO has brought together representatives from these 41 countries to examine the lessons learned over the decade and identify ways of accelerating progress to meet the Education for All (EFA) goals established by the world's governments in 2000 for a 50 per cent improvement in literacy levels worldwide by 2015.

The EFA goals are made up expanding early childhood care and education, providing free and compulsory primary education for all, promoting learning and life skills for young people and adults, increasing adult literacy, achieving gender parity and improving the quality of education.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in his message for the Day, said the global movement for education needs a big push, and that is why he will be launching a new Education First initiative later this month.
The initiative focuses on three priorities: putting every child in school, improving the quality of learning and fostering global citizenship.

“I call on world leaders and all involved with education to join this initiative. The cost of leaving millions of children and young people on the margins of society is far greater than the funds required to reach the international goals for education,” he stated.

“Ask any parent what they want for their children, even in war zones and disaster areas where food, medicine and shelter might be considered the highest priorities, and the answer is the same: education for children. Ask any child what he or she wishes to be when they grow up, and the answer is rooted in education. Education is the gateway to fulfilling those aspirations.

“A literate world is a more peaceful world, and a more harmonious and healthy world,” Mr. Ban added. “On this observance of International Literacy Day, let us pledge to join together to move the literacy agenda forward.”

Other events taking place at UNESCO's Paris headquarters include the award ceremony for the 2012 UNESCO literacy prizes, and the nomination of singer and songwriter A'salfo as a Goodwill Ambassador to contribute to the agency's efforts to fight against exclusion, discrimination and injustice.


"Education First" - UN Secretary-General's video message

World Literacy Day 2012 - Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon,

Illiteracy, Says Secretary-General in Message, Hobbles Efforts to Achieve Millennium Development Goals, Build Inclusive Knowledge Societies ---


Following is UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message for International Literacy Day, observed on 8 September: ---

 Literacy provides tools for men and women to better understand the world and shape it to meet their aspirations. It is a source of individual dignity and a motor for the healthy development of society. International Literacy Day is an opportunity to celebrate this transformative force and mobilize to make the most of it.

--- Great strides have been made during the United Nations Literacy Decade that closes this year. Across the world, individuals, communities and countries have reached out to children, youth and adults to enable them to read, write and transform their lives. As a result, some 90 million young men and women and adults have become literate. We must now go much further. An estimated 775 million young people and adults around the world still cannot read or write; 122 million children of primary and lower secondary school age remain out of school; and millions still graduate with inadequate literacy skills. Women account for two-thirds of the world’s illiterate population. The persistence of such numbers hobbles our efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and to build the inclusive knowledge societies we need for the twenty-first century.

---- We must move faster to reach the most marginalized and uphold this basic human right. The global movement for education needs a big push. That is why, later this month, I will be launching a new Education First initiative.

--- The initiative focuses on three priorities: putting every child in school; improving the quality of learning; and fostering global citizenship. I call on world leaders and all involved with education to join this initiative. The cost of leaving millions of children and young people on the margins of society is far greater than the funds required to reach the international goals for education.

--- Ask any parent what they want for their children, even in war zones and disaster areas where food, medicine and shelter might be considered the highest priorities, and the answer is the same: education for children. Ask any child what he or she wishes to be when they grow up, and the answer is rooted in education. Education is the gateway to fulfilling those aspirations.

--- A literate world is a more peaceful world, and a more harmonious and healthy world. On this observance of International Literacy Day, let us pledge to join together to move the literacy agenda forward.

---

Message from the Director-General on the occasion of the International Literacy Day


This year, International Literacy Day has a special focus on the fundamental relationship between Literacy and Peace.

This has tremendous relevance in our current turbulent times. Countries with patterns of violence have some of the lowest literacy rates in the world. Conflict remains one of the major barriers to the attainment of the Education for All (EFA) and Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Conflict-affected countries are home to over 40% of the world’s out-of-school population of primary school age. 

We must not allow conflict to deprive children and adults of the crucial opportunity of literacy. Literacy is a fundamental human right, and the foundation of all education and lifelong learning. Literacy transforms the lives of people, allowing them to make informed choices and empowering individuals to become agents of change. Lasting peace depends on the development of literate citizenship and access to education for all. Amidst political upheaval and escalating violence in many parts of the world, literacy must be a priority in the peace-building agenda of all nations. 

Peace and sustainable development are interdependent, and it is crucial for the two to develop and strengthen simultaneously. Literacy is also a development accelerator, enabling societies to grow more inclusively and sustainably. Literacy programmes can become a key component of future development strategies, opening new opportunities and skills for all. All of this is vital to achieving Education for All and the Millennium Development Goals.
Progress has been made toward reaching the 2015 targets for literacy, but formidable challenges remain ahead. These challenges need to be met with stronger international resolve, if we are to deliver on the promises made in Dakar in 2000. UNESCO estimates that the global adult illiterate population stands at 775 million, while there are still 122 million illiterate youth worldwide. Women and girls make up nearly two thirds of the illiterate adult and youth population. Great potential is being lost. 

We can end this cycle of exclusion. We all have a shared interest in ensuring that the world becomes a more literate place. As we approach the Education for All deadline in 2015, we have gained new momentum. UNESCO has worked tirelessly to place education and literacy at the top of the global development agenda. The United Nations Secretary-General’s “Education First” initiative, to be officially launched later this month, shall be a strong advocacy platform at the highest level. 

The winners of this year’s UNESCO International Literacy Prizes demonstrate how successful literacy programmes can achieve outstanding results. They are living examples of the central role of literacy in promoting human rights, gender equality, conflict resolution and cultural diversity.
Today, I call upon stakeholders at all levels to strengthen partnerships that will accelerate quality literacy provision. It is essential that literacy programmes incorporate the values of peace, human rights and civic values, if literacy is to become a true means of empowerment. It can be the harbinger of peace and development. Let us make this happen, together and faster.
Irina Bokova

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Literacy is a human right

Why is Literacy important?

Literacy is a human right, a tool of personal empowerment and a means for social and human development. Educational opportunities depend on literacy. 

Literacy is at the heart of basic education for all, and essential for eradicating poverty, reducing child mortality, curbing population growth, achieving gender equality and ensuring sustainable development, peace and democracy. There are good reasons why literacy is at the core of Education for All (EFA). 

A good quality basic education equips pupils with literacy skills for life and further learning; literate parents are more likely to send their children to school; literate people are better able to access continuing educational opportunities; and literate societies are better geared to meet pressing development.
Cultivating Peace - September 8, 2012