ABOUT THE “BANNER OF PEACE” INTERNATIONAL CHILDREN’S ASSEMBLY
On 21st December 1976, on the occasion of the 20th Anniversary of the adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of the Child, the UN General Assembly proclaimed 1979 as the International Year of the Child (IYC). Bulgaria supported that decision and through the proposal of Mrs. Lyudmila Zhivkova, the then Minister of Culture, the preparation for the first International Children’s Assembly “Banner of Peace” got started.
Patron of the First Assembly was Amadou-Mahtar M’Bow, Director-General of UNESCO.
In November 1978, at the 20th Session of UNESCO’s General Conference M’Bow assessed the International Children’s Assembly as one of the greatest initiatives, related to the International Year of the Child, and underlined that the “idea for its organization offered an opportunity to many children, who had been brought up with various cultures, to understand that despite the differences there existed an universal language of brotherhood and solidarity, which was a guarantee of and a hope for the future”.
The leadership of the Assembly was realized by an International Initiative Committee and an Organizing Committee, both headed by Mrs. Lyudmila Zhivkova. Many renowned Bulgarian and foreign cultural, political and art figures took part in them and contributed to the high intellectual and esthetic level of the Assembly. The preparatory and organizational work done by them created prerequisites for the high international prestige of the First International Children’s Assembly “Banner of Peace”. It brought together 2500 children from 77 countries to the meeting in Bulgaria.
The First World Children’s Parliament was held at the National Assembly in Sofia, where a “Letter-Appeal” was adopted by the children participating in the International Children’s Assembly “Banner of Peace”, who addressed the children of the world.
At the 34th Session of the UN General Assembly the “Letter-Appeal” was distributed as an official document among the member countries.
The Secretary-General of the United Nations Kurt Waldheim also gave his appraisal of the International Children’s Assembly, its goals and significance. He underlined that “the entire and effective realization of the children’s rights, as well as the stimulation of their artistic gifts, to which the International Children’s Assembly “Banner of Peace” allotted special attention, would promote the enrichment of every society and every nation.”
The Monument “Banner of Peace” was opened during the First Children’s Assembly. Bells were mounted on it, presented by the children of the numerous participating countries. Sixty one of them presented plants for the Children’s International Park round the monument “Banner of Peace”.
The great success of the Assembly and the interest it roused worldwide, as well as the wish of the World Children’s Parliament, justified the decision for it being held every third year in Bulgaria as its host.
In September 1980, on the occasion of the first anniversary of the First Children’s Assembly, a meeting was organized in Sofia of 214 young creators from 89 countries.
The celebration of the anniversary was marked in over 60 countries throughout the world with concerts, exhibitions and child creativity competitions.
In 1982 the headquaters of the "Banner of Peace" were established in Sofia. International centers were formed in many countries like Poland, France, Portugal, Belgium, The Netherlands, Austria, Brazil, Mexico, Japan, India which unified the followers of the “Banner of Peace”.
In the years 1982, 1985 and 1988 three more International Children’s Assemblies were carried out in Sofia, along with four meetings of children from all over the world. All in all, more than 1800 kids from 138 countries took part in them.
The motto of the International Movement “Banner of Peace” was “Unity, Creativity, Beauty”.
The Movement had universally recognized humane character and lacked any political orientation. It was accepted as a new form of diplomacy and cooperation in the name of peace.
Apart from the United Nations and UNESCO, “The Banner of Peace” Movement was also supported by UNICEF, InSEA (International Society for Education through Art) and other international organizations.
Major documents in this respect were adopted at:
The above mentioned fora adopted resolutions for support and cooperation with the “Banner of Peace” Movement and recommended that all member states of those organizations also declare their backing for the “Banner of Peace”.
The UN distributed as an official document the “Letter-Appeal”, adopted by the children at the World Children’s Parliament in 1979 in Sofia.
Leaders of the United Nations, UNESCO, UNICEF and other organizations, such as Kurt Waldheim, Xavier Perez de Cuellar, Amadou-Mahtar M’Bow, Federico Mayor Zaragoza, James Grant, as well as Ronald Reagan, Mikhail Gorbachov, Pope John-Paul II, and many other high-ranking officials, have sent salutatory messages to the Sofia Assemblies, expressing their support for the idea of children creating in peace for peace.
In 1987 the United Nations conferred on the “Banner of Peace” the title “Harbinger of Peace”.
The “Banner of Peace” Assembly was associated with the UN Department of Public Information (DPI) in Geneva and was a member of the Bulgarian National Committee for UNICEF. Its programme was included in the international programme of the World Decade for Cultural Development till the year 2000.
In 1990 the complicated political and economic processes that came into being in the following years cancelled the further organization of the Assemblies and the “Banner of Peace” head office was closed.
1999 marked the establishment of the “Lyudmila Zhivkova – Banner of Peace” Foundation on the occasion of the 20th Anniversary of the First International Children’s Assembly performance. It is a non-governmental organization, registered in the name of public benefit, and is a continuer of the ideas of “Banner of Peace”.
The Foundation is a continuer of the Lyudmila Zhivkova’s idea for “Unity, Creativity, Beauty”, a motto with high humane essence: care for the child’s development and upbringing discovering of abilities and encouriging of their creative growth. Basic principal of the Foundation: Everyone can be creator in the Assembly of Peace.
Since the establishment of the “Lyudmila Zhivkova – Banner of Peace” Foundation, it has organized ten Children’s Assemblies, in which children from all parts of Bulgaria have shown their talent through songs, dances and drawings. In each of these events approximately four thousand children from Bulgarian and international schools have participated, accompanied by parents and teachers.
The Assemblies have been carried out under the patronage of the President of the Republic of Bulgaria Mr. Georgi Parvanov, the President of the 39th National Assembly Mr. Ognyan Gerdjikov, the Prime-Minister Mr. Sergei Stanishev, the First Lady Mrs. Zorka Parvanova and the wife of the US Ambassador to Bulgaria Mrs. Kathy Pardew.
Today there are over 107 bells at the “Banner of Peace" Monument, presented by nations from all over the world. The latest bells bestowed on the Foundation are from: Pope John-Paul II who presented it during his visit to Bulgaria in 2002; the bell presented by the first woman cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova; a bell from NATO; a bell from the first and second Bulgarian cosmonauts Georgi Ivanov and Alexander Alexandrov, as well as from their European colleagues; a bell from “Lyudmila Zhivkova – Banner of Peace” Foundation, a bell from Indonesia, a bell from the "Lions Club" in Italy, a bell from Armenia and a bell from the Football Club “Basel 1893” - Switzerland.
For the last several years the “Lyudmila Zhivkova – Banner of Peace” Foundation has organized many initiatives connected with the support and development of children’s creativity.
In this respect, under the patronage of the President of Bulgaria Georgi Parvanov the initiative “Academy The Futute of Bulgaria” was realized in 2002 and a wall was built upon which the names of young Bulgarians who have received international awards in the sphere of the arts, science and sports were engraved. The names of the gymnast Simona Peycheva, the pianist Ivaylo Milushev, the ballet dancer Vihra Madjarova, Petya Nedelcheva – European junior badminton two-gold champion, the mathematicians Kaloyan Slavov and Dobromir Rahnev, Albena Denkova and Maxim Staviski – World and European champions in Figure skating, Ivet Lalova – National and European champion in Athletics, Ivaylo Riskov – high achievements in Maths and Informatics, Stanimir Rachev – high achievements in Physics, the violinist Mariana Dimitrova, Kiril Stoyanov – percussionist, the World champions in chess – Antoaneta Stefanova and Veselin Topalov, the sumowrestler Kaloyan Mahlyanov – Kotooshu, the tennis player Tsvetana Pironkova, Radko Kotev – mathematician and Alexandra Jekova - World and European champion in snowboard - have already been written on that wall.
An artistic panel with the letters of the Bulgarian Alphabet has also been put up there.
In June 2004 a memorial in honour of the children who had become victims of terrorism was erected at the “Banner of Peace” Monument as a present from the Bulgarian Children. It was created by the sculptor Krum Damyanov and was unveiled by the President of the 39th National Assembly Prof.Ognyan Gerdjikov.