NEW YORK, USA, 17 September 2010 – UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and international figure skating star Yuna Kim brought a message of hope and commitment to the United Nations in New York today, joining in celebrations of the International Day of Peace and appearing in a new video spot on meeting the needs of the world’s most vulnerable children.
|VIDEO: 17 September 2010 - UNICEF correspondent Chris Niles reports on International Day of Peace activities at the United Nations in New York.|
Today’s events took place in advance of next week’s UN High-level Plenary Meeting on the Millennium Development Goals. At the MDG summit, the UN General Assembly will review successes, challenges and action plans related to achieving the goals by their 2015 target date.
“Peace is what enables development and is critical in providing opportunities to young people,” said Ms. Kim. “Efforts to preserve peace are absolutely vital in bringing prosperity and hope for the future.”
‘A better life for every child’
In her new public service announcement, Ms. Kim emphasizes that children are at the heart of the MDGs – including fighting hunger and extreme poverty, reducing child and maternal mortality and eradicating gender inequality, as well as securing primary education for all, stopping the spread of HIV and AIDS, malaria and other diseases, and protecting the environment.
|VIDEO: Watch a new public service announcement with UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Yuna Kim urging support for achieving the Millennium Development Goals.|
“Building a better life for every child is a lot harder than becoming a world champion,” Ms. Kim says in the PSA. “Both goals take dedication and commitment.”
She goes on to point out that world leaders set forth the eight MDGs in 2000 “so that children and their families in all countries could enjoy the same rights.”
Ms. Kim and others emphasized today that children and adolescents themselves can play a critically important part in the collective push to meet the MDGs by 2015. In fact, the theme of this year’s International Day of Peace – an annual call for a worldwide ceasefire and non-violence – specifically urges global youth to take a stand for peace and development.
|UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (foreground, left) rings the Peace Bell in observance of the International Day of Peace, at UN headquarters in New York.|
During a ceremony marking the day, Ms. Kim joined Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake, UN Messengers of Peace Midori Goto and Elie Wiesel and other dignitaries in the ringing of the symbolic Peace Bell – cast from the coins of more than 60 different countries – outside UN headquarters.
“To many, peace is what enables development and is critical in providing opportunities to young people,” said Ms. Kim at the ceremony. “To some – especially those from regions involved in conflict – peacekeeping and efforts to preserve peace are absolutely vital in bringing prosperity and hope for the future.”
Ms. Kim noted that her own experience as a world-class athlete has helped to open her eyes to many cultures around the world. “Where there is peace, there is sports; where there is sports, there is peace," she said. “Peace is what allows us, especially young people, to dream, go after one’s goals and prepare you for the next challenge in life.”
The role of youth
In his International Day of Peace message Mr. Ban called upon young people to join the struggle for peace and development in the run-up to the MDG deadline. “Help us to work for peace,” he told them. “You are impatient. You see what we, your elders, allow to persist, year after year: poverty and hunger; injustice and impunity; environmental degradation ... Help us fight for peace and prosperity for all.”
|President of the 65th Session of the UN General Assembly Joseph Deiss of Switzerland speaks at the Peace Bell Ceremony in observance of the International Day of Peace. Behind him at right are: (front row, from left) UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Yuna Kim; Madame Yoo Soon-taek, wife of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon; Secretary-General Ban; UN Messenger of Peace Elie Wiesel; and UN Population Fund Goodwill Ambassador Goedele Liekens.|
Noting that the International Year of Youth began last month, Mr. Ban also called on governments and partners around the world to do more for young people. “Let us give them a world of peace and tolerance,” he said.
After the ceremony, Ms. Kim attended a ‘Youth for Peace and Development’ conference at the UN. She spoke with students from New York and around the globe about the role they can play in educating children, keeping them healthy, offering them protection and working to guarantee their rights.
Ms. Kim joined UNICEF as a Goodwill Ambassador in July. Born in the Republic of Korea in 1990, she began skating at the age of five. She won a gold medal in women’s single skating at the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver and is ranked number one in the world by the International Skating Union.