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Source: United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
5 February 1998

UNESCO DIRECTOR-GENERAL APPEALS FOR RESUMPTION OF
MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS, WARNS AGAINST VIOLENCE


Paris, February 5 {No.98-25} - UNESCO Director-General Federico Mayor today issued an appeal for
partners in the Middle East peace process to overcome suspicion and distrust and resume peace building.
“Time is running out, the momentum of the Oslo peace agreement has been all but lost; growing despair is
giving rise to growing suspicion, tension and unbearable hardship which fuels extremism on all sides and lays
the ground for future violence and bloodshed,” Mr Mayor said.


Here is the full text of Mr Mayor’s appeal:

“The Arab-Israeli peace process which raised so many hopes as the late Israeli prime minister, Yitzhak
Rabin, and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat shook hands on the Lawn of the White House, has been all but
abandoned. Time is running out, the momentum of the Oslo peace agreement has been all but lost; growing
despair is giving rise to growing suspicion, tension and unbearable hardship which fuels extremism on all
sides and lays the ground for future violence and bloodshed. The promises must be kept, the commitments
honoured. Otherwise, the people - particularly the young - of the region and all those following the present
fluctuating behaviour of actors involved, will become disillusioned, or - worse still - indifferent.


“Trust and flexibility are the indispensable conditions for dialogue and peace building. Unreasonable
expectations and the quest for lasting conditions of non-conflict are not, and can never be, the basis for the
‘peace of the brave’ so ardently wished by all unless the agreements are observed.


“The present situation is alarming, the seeds of peace are being allowed to rot in the ground and all of us
must face our responsibility to put the Middle East peace process back on track. Time is working against us.
If we do not act now, the Middle East time bomb may explode. It is therefore our duty to observe the
workings of time, to revive the eroded remains of the Oslo Peace Agreement. It is our duty to ensure that
peace, the pre-condition for the exercise of all human rights, be established, to turn destruction into
construction while this remains possible, before a flare up. Such is our duty: to respect the ethics of time.


“Let us not forget that during the last session of UNESCO’s General Conference (November 1997) the
international community adopted the Declaration on the Responsibility of Present Generations Towards
Future Generations. UNESCO’s 186 Member States also committed themselves to study the draft
declaration on the human right to peace which sets out our obligation to ensure that peace prevails, to render
possible the exercise of all those human rights which we, the international community, enshrined in the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights 50 years ago.


“In keeping with its principles, I call on the international community, and particularly on the European Union
and States of the Arab region, to help the Palestinians open their trade routes and regain their dignity by
assisting them in their capacity-building efforts to achieve sustainable development; build schools and
universities; repair and develop their eroding infrastructure and educational system.


“UNESCO was among the first to demonstrate its commitment to the Middle East peace process. We
sought to contribute to the Oslo Peace Agreement by organising a meeting between Israeli and Palestinian
intellectuals, Granada I (in December 1993). In the coming months a second such meeting, Granada II, will
be held.


“But our efforts will amount to nought, unless the international community actively support and encourage the
parties involved in the Middle East conflict to hear the voice of reason and return to the negotiating table in a
constructive spirit for their own sakes, and for the sake of a better common future.”


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