Mr. President, Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates:
It is my great honor and privilege to address the High Level Segment of the Economic and Social Council of 2002 on behalf of Women's Federation for World Peace International as an international NGO accredited to ECOSOC with General Consultative Status.
The human family has traveled a long way to arrive where we are today, and it seems that there are tremendous opportunities for us to learn from these manifold experiences. While the 20th Century has been categorized as a century of wars and a century of refugees, at the same time, it was a century displaying the most rapid development of science and technology. As an international women's NGO that has developed and promoted grassroots service projects such as school projects, vocational centers, foster parents projects, scholar-ship funds, micro credit programs, and more, in over 100 countries in the past 10 years, we have witnessed the solemn fact that human beings who face no discrimination have the greatest potential for human resources development. Yet on the other hand, we have witnessed that it is also human beings who cause the greatest destruction of this potential.
While this modern age is characterized by globalization, the existing gap between the global north and south is sadly growing. I propose that even more dismaying than the growing technological and economic gap is the gap which remains between the mind and heart of the human being. We as individuals, families and communities have not yet "globalized" our minds, our hearts. If globalization of mind and heart of human beings does not occur, there will be the greatest potential for the destruction rather than the development of human resources.
The recent September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in USA underscored a major flaw in humanity and actually helped highlight an essential focus for us if we are to secure global peace. This event was caused by individuals whose anger and desire for justice misused religious images and terminology in a most extreme way to justify their actions, which were far from being true to the spirit of the religion they professed to represent.
Unfortunately, the universal principles and values now enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations and reaffirmed in the Millennium Declaration were severely trampled upon that day. These principles and values were distilled from the best of our cultures and civilizations earlier in the 20th Century, cultures and civilizations that had emerged over time and have been shaped by the sacred wisdom of the world's religions. Clearly, dangers arise when believers lose sight of the common values implicit in all religions and when their beliefs and practices consider only their own parochial interests and salvation.
There are a number of examples in human history when cruel massacres and holocausts were initiated. There is always a danger when not only religious fanatics but also ideological dogmatists have the power over every level of human family (in homes, communities, and nations.)
The first most important point for all of us as one human family is the need to understand, recognize and promote the value of each human life, free from any form of discrimination. This fundamental basis for peace is wholly upheld by the United Nations. To establish this most essential common understanding of the value of each person universally, there needs to be "Education of character and values" right along side today's secular education.
These values need to be integrated and consistently applied at all levels of society, from the individual level including parents and children, at the community level including politicians, school teachers, service organizations and so on as well as at national and international levels.
This education of character and values, as its first priority, should recognize our common origin, or the Supreme Being that is the foundation for universal principle and values. And universal principle and values should be able to transcend all the differences within the human family and connect us as one harmonious global family. It must certainly include the teachings of respect and honor toward life itself as well as respect and honor of the diversities of religion, culture, gender and races.
"Education of Character and Values" is the key to preventing the destruction of human resource development. If we do not solidly prevent the destruction of human resources development, we, the human family can never achieve and maintain permanent world peace, which has been a long-cherished wish of the entire human family. As we implement education policies and practices that clearly enhance human development of body, mind and soul...through educating for academic excellence, skills excellence, and excellence of character, then the human family has a chance of achieving a world of peace.
To this end, the United Nations, especially UNESCO and NGOs with a special focus on education, have a great responsibility and need to work together hand in hand.