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03 October, 2005 - Published 17:35 GMT

President: Development key for peace

Sri Lanka President Chandrika Kumaratunga says UNESCO could play a vital role in creating conditions for peace in the world.

Addressing the 33 session of UNICEF in Paris, the president said: “Peace can only be acquired through economic development to eliminate poverty and despair and through dialogue and understanding.”

She recalled that Sri Lanka became a member of UNESCO in 1949, even before the country took membership in the UN.

Commenting on the long running ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka, President Kumaratunga said the country "has suffered from the lack of peace".

“An ethnic conflict leading to terrorism has had terrible consequences on our human and limited natural resources. Worse – it has afflicted the very soul of our nation, increasing violence, criminality, alcoholism and suicide.”

Human diversity

President Kumaratunga urged the United Nations to protect human diversity.

“We can never permit one vision, one set of ideas, one project to englobe the whole world.

How horribly poor, how dangerously oppressive it would be!"

The president expressed gratitude for the work carried out by UNICEF after December 26 tsunami disaster.

“UNESCO quickly established a special office to assess the damage and destruction and to assist in the field of education and culture. We are also appreciative of the leading role played by UNESCO in the establishment of a Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System for the Indian Ocean.”