UN Messengers of Peace challenge world leaders to turn words into deeds

Peace is not just a word, “it is a state of mind,” said Italian author and journalist Anna Cataldi, one of four Messengers who had gathered at UN Headquarters in New York to mark the International Day of Peace. The words uttered at the Summit “need time to be absorbed before they can become a reality,” she added.Oscar-winning actor and director Michael Douglas said he thought it was “appropriate that Peace Day should come after the tumult of last week,” and that to have some 190 countries come here and agree on one document was in itself “quite an extraordinary effort, and something that should be looked upon in a very positive, very constructive way instead in the rather diluted way in which it seems to have been presented.” Mr. Douglas, a citizen of the United States, said that in comparison “my own country doesn’t seem to be able to agree on a lot with a two-party system.”Primatologist and conservationist Jane Goodall said that it was good to see the UN and other countries acknowledging global warming as “an incredibly serious issue,” especially since in the past when commitments were made to the environment, there was no follow through. “It is up to us, to those of us that care, to every single person, to make sure that whatever heads of state say, we are going to work on the environment for our children,” she added.Holocaust survivor and author Elie Wiesel said that no one could imagine the world today without the UN. For all the criticisms you hear about the UN, “somehow the centre is here.”Referring to the Summit, Dr. Wiesel said containing terrorism and protecting the weak, particularly children, were the most important issues. With regard to the nuclear talks, he said that biological and chemical terrorism, and not nuclear arms, should be the focus of talks because they can “cause more damage, kill more people,” and are harder to contain.Alluding to the more than 15 years that he has spent thinking about the needs of children, Dr. Wiesel said “Every minute a child is dying somewhere, of disease, of hunger or of violence. While we were here for 30 minutes, 30 children have died.”