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Children are key to world peace, Nobel Prize winners told

© UNICEF Spain 2004
UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Karin Sham Poo (second from left) joins Nobel Prize laureates at the Barcelona Forum

BARCELONA, 14 May 2004—UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Karin Sham Poo told Nobel Prize laureates today that children are the key to a more peaceful world.

“As a former banker I can say with absolute confidence that there is no better return on investment for any country, in the medium and long run, than investing in children,” she said at the Universal Forum of Cultures in Barcelona.

Ms Sham Poo was representing UNICEF at a meeting of Nobel Prize laureates to discuss the concept of shared memory as a guarantee for world peace. UNICEF was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1965.

“Looking back on an organizational life now nearly sixty years in the making, it remains clear to us that it was not the deeds of UNICEF that the Nobel Committee was recognizing in 1965, but the idea of UNICEF.  It was not UNICEF’s aspirations as an institution, but the global aspiration for our children and for our future that was being honoured,” she said. 

“It was our collective human memory of childhood, and the dreams born of those memories, that were being acknowledged.”  
The Universal Forum of Cultures believes that “memory is fundamental in the lives of peoples and their cultures, strengthening their sense of belonging, their social and spiritual values and their identities. It is an active part of the collective construction of the critical consciousness of social movements, in the development of their own lives and their own histories.”

Ms Sham Poo made the opening remarks at a plenary session on Challenges of Peace and Democracy in the Face of Terrorism and Militarization, moderated by Sonia Mora Escalante, Dean of the National University of Costa Rica.  The panel included speakers from the International Committee of the Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders and the International Peace Bureau.

“Our dreams for our children are remarkably universal,” Ms Sham Poo said.  “And it is in these universal dreams that UNICEF believes our pathway to a more just and peaceful world resides.  It requires us to invest in the simple dreams we hold in common—but to do so visibly, powerfully, inclusively, and in tempo with local needs.

“The world has set goals in recognition of the importance of investing in children.  It did so in 1990, and again in 2002.  In between, every nation on earth agreed the Millennium Development Goals, six of which are related to investment in children.  All of these documents tell us one thing, something we all understand: there is no better way to change the world than with children.”



Video interview

UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Karin Sham Poo explains shared memory and how children are the key to a more peaceful world.

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