© UNESCO/P. Chiang-Joo - The 9th President of Israel, Shimon Peres, during his visit to UNESCO in March 2016
"Shimon Peres leaves an indelible mark on the history of the Middle East and, today, his message is more relevant than ever, to clear the path to peace and mutual respect across the region. A founder of the State of Israel, he remained until his very last days a man of ideas and values, a man of innovation and creative thinking, always searching to mobilize new hope and energy, always seeking new ways to promote dialogue and cooperation, especially through science, for which he was passionate. In March 2016, he addressed UNESCO with a lesson of life, saying: 'Look back on what you have accomplished and the dreams you have had. Continue to dream and you will remain young. Have the courage to dream big.' He will remain an endless source of inspiration, and it is with great sadness that I extend my heartfelt condolences to his family and friends, to the people of Israel."
In 1993, Shimon Peres received the UNESCO Félix Houphouët-Boigny Peace Prize, together with Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat, for his contribution to peace in the Middle East, one year before receiving the Nobel Peace Prize. In 1996, he inaugurated the Square of Tolerance at UNESCO Headquarters in memory of assassinated Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. A great friend of UNESCO, always guided by a profound belief in the power of multilateralism, Shimon Peres led the signing of recent agreements in March 2016 between UNESCO and the Peres Center for Peace.