Rafik Hariri philanthropic and developmental contributions are countless. The most remarkable being the multifaceted support to educate more than 36,000 Lebanese university students within Lebanon, and beyond.
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Speech of Mrs. Salwa Siniora Baassiri
اللجنة الوطنية اللبنانية لليونسكو
السيدة سلوى السنيورة بعاصيري
الأمينة العامة للجنة الوطنية اللبنانية لليونسكو
إطلاق جائزة رفيق الحريري للأمم المتحدة
معهد العالم العربي - باريس، 15 شباط 2010
It is a great honor to address you at this highly distinguished occasion which is dedicated to commemorate prime minister Rafic Hariri, who, I dare say, is vividly present amongst us today, transcending space and time to stand a sublime symbol of Lebanon’s strenuous journey towards good governance, human development, urban reconstruction and multifaceted construction.
It is equally a privilege to assist to this very special occasion that is intended to launch Rafic Hariri UN-Habitat Memorial Award. An award which, in recognizing excellence and acknowledging distinction, may sound similar to those of equal standing and prestige at the international level, but it is sure to have an edge. An edge in addressing priority areas, manners and modes that mirror Rafic Hariri life achievements, massive efforts and relentless endeavors for a brighter home country and which, as priority areas, represent vital and determining factors for attaining stability, harmony and sustainability in today’s world.
It is meant to be a Memorial Award with three priority areas to encompass the broad lines of action which Rafic Hariri has impacted on the community at large with great passion and determination.
A passion that has dwelled the mind and heart of Rafic Hariri and has commissioned him for the enhancement of quality life at all levels, mainly through fostering the right of the individual to human dignity, equal opportunities, free access to knowledge, in as much as the right of the individual to be empowered to enjoy economic self sufficiency.
Passion as well as determination have urged Rafic Hariri to attend to, and try to overcome crises and challenges of all sorts and on many fronts whether economic, financial, social, political or humanitarian. It is that forceful determination which has made him advocate and work for good governance, enlightened citizenship, social integration, national unity, creative diversity and human solidarity, side by side with reconstruction and regeneration of interconnected urban spaces with highly esthetic standards.
However, in mirroring Rafic Hariri life achievements, the three priority areas of the Memorial Award equally stand as key factors for a long awaited change which, if and when to happen, would surely make the contemporary world more humane and sustainable. A contemporary world which suffers at present from structural imbalances that dehumanize the galloping globalization, widen and deepen the ever-growing gaps between the well-resourced minorities and the underprivileged majorities, lead to and disseminate extreme poverty and lots of deprivation and injustice, also shake and weaken emerging attempts towards sustainable development, social security and enriching diversity.
So, in addressing its priority areas, the Rafic Hariri UN-Habitat Memorial Award looks for and seeks creative ideas, innovative approaches and perspectives as well as outstanding contributions that would serve in moving forward towards a better world. An embracing and welcoming world that Rafic Hariri has always dreamt of.
It is quite evident that Rafic Hariri UN-Habitat Memorial Award, in its three areas of priority, has indicated particular lines of action organized along well-defined subjects and pronounced themes. Nevertheless, there are good reasons to assume that it overarches institutional boundaries and mandates, with the objective of paving the way for, and getting convincing responses and outcomes that propagate well-grounded sustainable development, genuine democracy, engaged citizenship and inherent morals and values. Kind of values and principles that cannot be confined to or encapsulated in one particular realm or sectoral field. Instead, they are those values and principles that live on the free cross-fertilization of ideas, nurture through the most suitable instruments and tools and flourish in the best conducive environment.
Kind of values and principles that need to be fueled with renewed energy to prosper, that necessitate a universal language to span different cultures and that require to be viewed with multiperspectivity to furnish quality commonalities and constructive impulse to the humanity at large.
Ladies and Gentlemen
Being a Joint Action by both the Rafic Hariri Foundation and the UN-Habitat, the Memorial Award would naturally place exceptionally talented people at the center of its concern, simply because it is that caliber of people who can come up with insightful perspectives and visions for a better world. And it is that category of people who can reinvent the present and reshape the social, cultural, economic and political habitat and surroundings.
Also being a joint initiative by Rafic Hariri Foundation and UN-Habitat, and being dedicated to commemorate a personality of Rafic Hariri standing, it is natural for the Memorial Award to place moral values and ethical principles at the center of concern. For Rafic Hariri has been driven by noble pursuits, to mention a few, philanthropy, hospitality, equity, respect for diversity, modesty, flexibility, courage, openness, self esteem, determination and integrity, both in the corporate world as well as in daily life instances.
Furtherstill, being a reward for excellence, the Memorial Award is intended to pay tribute to and honor distinguished intellectual contributions, excellent talents, innovations and actions that advocate civic responsibility and social stability, modernize social structures and civic organizations, cultivate individuals to become compassionate leaders, enhance good governance and foster urban construction and reconstruction. In brief, an award that is there to advance sustainable human development in the wider sense of development.
However if yet to underscore the real objective of the Rafic Hariri UN-Habitat Memorial Award, one would say that it is to instill hope for a brighter and prosperous tomorrow. To inspire the new generation by role models who deserve to be honored for creating an upward spiral growth, based on interdependence, cooperation, communication, combining talents and abilities for innovating with good faith, good will and hard work, human actions that are bigger and greater, nationally and worldwide. Role models who, like Rafic Hariri did, dismantle the barriers between noble dreams and constructive reality, to emerge as deserving and outstanding statesmen.