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Director-General's remarks on the occasion of the International Day of Vesak

Tatiana Valovaya

International Day of Vesak

Friday, 24 May 2024 at 2.00 p.m.

Room XVII, Palais des Nations


Ambassador Arunatilaka,

Ambassador Berananda,


Ladies and Gentlemen, 

Let me start by extending my warmest wishes to all those celebrating the Day of Vesak.

It is my great pleasure to join you today on this festive occasion. 

The celebration of the Day of Vesak here, at the Palais des Nations, has become an important tradition, demonstrating the United Nations’ unique convening power to bring people together. I wish to extend my thanks to the Permanent Missions of Sri Lanka and Thailand, as well as to the International Buddhist Foundation, for their efforts to annually mark the Day of Vesak in Geneva. 

This year marks the 25th anniversary since the adoption of the resolution 54/115 by the UN General Assembly, which recognized internationally the Day of Vesak and acknowledged the profound impact of Buddhism on human spirituality. The vitality, scope, and reach of modern-day Buddhist communities is testimony to how Buddha’s teachings continue to provide meaning to people’s lives throughout the world.

Gautama Buddha serves as an inspirational model for millions of individuals around the world, irrespective of their religious affiliation. This Day, Vesak, which commemorates the birth, enlightenment, and parinirvana (passing) of the Buddha, carries a profound symbol of tolerance, understanding and mutual respect, encompassing all people and cultures across the universe.

This important day also offers a good opportunity to advance interfaith dialogue amid numerous global challenges and major geopolitical tensions we are facing today.The UN Charter was founded on principles such as human dignity, peaceful coexistence and tolerance, and for this reason the International Day of Vesak marks such an important date in the UN calendar. 

The Day of Vesak preserves associated rituals, customs and arts, which are all part of intangible cultural heritage, and fosters multilateral collaboration for safeguarding and reinforcing connections between culture, spirituality and identity. 

Buddhist philosophy accords closely with the concept of sustainable development in promoting equality and social justice, as well as in protecting our planet. Buddhism itself is essentially about bringing all these elements of life into balance, whether on a personal level, community or global level. What this means fundamentally is that we cannot build happiness or prosperity upon the destruction or disregard of others, including the natural environment.

The message of living in harmony with nature and with other human beings has an important place on both the international stage and in our daily lives. By encouraging compassion and solidarity, we strengthen our commitment to humanitarian aid; by practicing generosity, we learn to share limited resources and help each other; and by promoting cooperation, we activate international dialogue and inclusive multilateralism.

 On this International Day of Vesak, let us renew our commitment to stand together as One Humanity, and act in this spirit of solidarity to address the challenges facing people and the planet. 

Thank you.


This speech is part of a curated selection from various official events and is posted as prepared.