UN celebrates jazz as force for global peace, cooperation

Posted: May 18, 2013 in arts/culture

unescoIt was befitting honour to a music genre hugely underappreciated as the United Nations (UN) penultimate Wednesday kicked off celebrations for the second International Jazz Day, with a concert in Istanbul, along with other performances and educational programs across the world highlighting the musical genre’s role as a powerful tool for peace, dialogue and cooperation.

“No musical art form is more powerful as a diplomatic tool than jazz,” said the Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Irina Bokova in her message for the International Day, observed each year on 30 April.

“For over a century jazz – the universal language of passion and benevolence – has united people of disparate cultures, religions, and nationalities, fostered and strengthened communication and partnerships among heterogeneous groups,” she said, adding that jazz has also enhanced the peace-making process and demonstrated just how much all people have in common.

Born in the city of the United States city of New Orleans at the beginning of the 20th century, jazz is rooted in African traditions, draws from European musical forms, and has evolved into various styles across the globe.

International Jazz Day events, which are organized by UNESCO and the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, seek to spotlight the historic influence the genre has had in connecting people and igniting social change.

“Jazz stands for freedom, symbolizes democracy, and has soothed and uplifted the spirits and souls of millions of people residing in all corners of the globe, particularly the disenfranchised citizens who otherwise would have great difficulty expressing and channelling their feelings, emotions and opinions,” Ms. Bokova said.

Concerts, conferences and discussions about jazz and its principles will be ongoing throughout the day, not just in Istanbul, but across all seven continents, as well as community events in schools, clubs, town squares and village centres, UNESCO said in a news release.

Turkey has an age-old tradition of jazz. In the 1930s, the country’s first ambassador to Washington, Munir Ertegun, opened his embassy’s parlours to African-American jazz musicians, who gathered there to play freely in a socio-historical context which was deeply divided by racial segregation at the time.

Inspired by this legacy, the ambassador’s sons, Ahmet and Nesuhi, went on to establish the United States’ first jazz and gospel label in 1947 – Atlantic Records – which was helped spread jazz music around the world.

This year also marks the beginning of the International Decade for People of African Descent, and UNESCO noted that the African continent would be doubly honoured, as jazz draws its origins from that region of the world full and rigorous implementation of the peace agreement, which she has dubbed “a framework of hope.”

She said she was encouraged by her discussions thus far and would also be “straight and direct” if she felt the process was not moving forward adequately.

Last November the M23 rebel group – made up of former members of the DRC national army (FARDC) who mutinied in April 2012 – occupied Goma. Clashes between the Government and rebels displaced more than 130,000 people in and around the city, and sent another 47,000 fleeing to neighbouring South Kivu province. Amidst widespread condemnation and calls for their withdrawal, the M23 fighters pulled out after 11 days.

In the wake of those events, the Security Council in March authorized the deployment of an intervention brigade within MONUSCO to carry out targeted offensive operations, with or without the Congolese national army, against armed groups that threaten peace in eastern DRC.

Asked about the coming establishment of the intervention brigade, Robinson stressed that it could play an important role, particularly if it is able to act preventively as a deterrent, with limited strategic military operations. It would be vital that it operated in full compliance with international human rights and humanitarian law, she added.

Robinson has arrived in Rwanda for the next leg of her regional tour, which will also take her to Uganda, Burundi, South Africa and Ethiopia.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s