Where are their hopes today? In too many countries, and among too many communities, bigotry still triumphs over tolerance, contempt over respect, extremism over moderation. The shadows of fear pervade too much of our world.
Since the Berlin Wall fell, evil minds have engineered genocide in Rwanda, and massacres in Darfur and the Balkans. Terrorist atrocities have claimed the lives of thousands more. Behind the grim death toll lie the stories of individual men, women and children, each one denied their fundamental rights to life and freedom from fear by another’s hateful ideology.
The perpetrators of these heinous acts were not faceless bureaucracies but individual men and women. And ultimately, it is men and women who will provide a solution. United Nations humanitarian workers and peace-keepers, Nobel Peace laureates and selfless individuals all around the world can and do make a difference for good.
People such as Mikhail Gorbachev, Betty Williams and Máiread Corrigan-Maguire, Nelson Mandela and F.W. de Klerk shine a light of hope. So too does Zdravko Marjanovic, recently honoured in this city for working for reconciliation among Croats, Bosnians and Serbs. They are working to break down walls and build bridges. They are helping to fulfill the solemn pledge of the United Nations Charter for a world where we practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbors.
On this anniversary I urge men and women everywhere to emulate their example. Let us reject the poison of hatred that persists in our world.
*The United Nations Secretary General*