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The 40th anniversary of the first International Children's Assembly "Banner of Peace" was celebrated in 2019.

On this occasion, an exhibition of photographs and children's drawings from the Banner of Peace Fund was opened at the Seasons Gallery on November 12. The event was attended by ambassadors, politicians, public figures and citizens.

Welcome speeches were delivered by the Vice President of the Republic of Bulgaria - Mrs. Iliana Yotova, patron of the initiative, and the President of the Liudmila Zhivkova - Banner of Peace Foundation - Mrs. Evgeniya Zhivkova. The prominent Bulgarian artist Ivaylo Mirchev and other cultural figures shared their memories of the Assembly. The guests viewed with interest posters with photographs reminiscent of the history of the First Assembly, as well as drawings of children from all over the world, made during their stay in Bulgaria, revealing their dreams and aspirations for a better world.

The first International Children's Assembly "Banner of Peace" was opened in Sofia on August 16, 1979, at the idea of ​​the then Minister of Culture, Mrs. Ludmila Zhivkova. It gathered in Bulgaria 2,500 children from 77 countries, who, united by the motto "Unity, Creativity, Beauty", show their talents and make friends. The Assembly brings together the care of child development and upbringing, the discovery of children's abilities and the promotion of children's creative growth. Supported by the UN, UNESCO, UNICEF and other international organizations, it has been accepted as a new form of diplomacy and cooperation for peace in the world.

Historical reference about the International Children’s Assembly "Banner of Peace"

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. Liudmila 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 offers an opportunity to many children, who have been  brought up with various cultures, to understand that despite the differences there exists an universal language of  brotherhood and solidarity, which is 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. Liudmila 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 they 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, will promote the enrichment of every society and every nation."

The Monument "Banner of Peace"

was opened during the First Children’s Assembly. On it were mounted bells, presented by the children of the numerous participating countries. As well as 61 of them presented plants for the Children’s International Park in 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, in Sofia the headquarters of "Banner of Peace" was established. International centers were formed in many countries like Poland, France, Portugal, Belgium, Netherlands, Austria, Brazil, Mexico, Japan, Indi and were unifying "Banner of Peace" followers.

In 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 generally acknowledged 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 taken at:

       - The Second UNESCO World Conference – 1982;

       - The XX, XXI, XXII, XXIII Sessions of UNESCO’s General Conference;

       - The XXIV Session of UNESCO’s General Conference – Paris, 1987;

       - The XXV Congress of InSEA – 1984.

The above mentioned 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 "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 is associated with the UN Department of Public Information (DPI) in Geneva and is a member of the Bulgarian National Committee for UNICEF. Its programme is included in the international programme of the World Decade for Cultural Development till the year 2000.

In 1990 the complex political and economic processes that came into being during the following years cancelled the further conduct of the Assembly and the "Banner of Peace" head office was closed.

1999 marked the

establishment of the "Liudmila 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 Liudmial Zhivkova’s idea for "Unity, Creativity, Beauty", a motto with highest humane essence: attention to children’s development and their spiritual and educational behavior, children’s abilities revelation and stimulation their creative interests. General Foundation Fundament: Everyone can be creator in the Assembly of Peace.  

Since then the "Liudmila Zhivkova – Banner of Peace" Foundation has organized ten Children’s Assemblies, in which children from all parts of Bulgaria show 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 conducted 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 world-wide nations. 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 "Liudmila Zhivkova – Banner of Peace" Foundation, a bell from Indonesia, a bell from Lions Club in Italy, a bell form Armenia and a bell form the Football Club "Basel 1893" - Switzerland.

For the last years the "Liudmila 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 Bulgaria’s Future"

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 are being engraved. The names of the gymnastic Simona Peyceva, the pianist Ivaylo Milushev, the ballet dancer Vihra Madjarova, Petya Nedelcheva – European junior badminton double 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 Physic Science, the violinist Mariana Dimitrova, Kiril Stoyanov – percussion musician, the World champions in Chess – Antoaneta Stefanova and Veselin Topalov, the sumotist 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 have 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 unveiled by the President of the 39th National Assembly Prof. Ognyan Gerdjikov.

In June 2009 on the occasion of the celebration of the 40th jubilee of the First International Children’s Assembly "Banner of Peace" awarded with the title "The Future of Bulgaria" were the gymnasts of the National team of rhythmic gymnastics – holders of bronze medals from the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 – Christiana Todorova, Reneta Camberova, Katrin Velkova, Elena Todorova, Tzvetelina Naidenova, Tzvetelina Stoyanova, Michaela Maevska, Lyubomira Kazanova, the gymnasts from the current team of rhythmic gymnastics Elena Bineva, Simona Dyankova, Laura Traets, Teodora Alexandrova, Madlen Radukanova, Stefani Kiryakova, Erica Zafirova, the individual gymnasts Boryana Kaleyn, Katrin Tasseva and Nevyana Vladinova, the tennis player Grigor Dimitrov – for his high achievements in tennis, as well as the singers Krisia Todorova - for her excellent performance at the Children’s Evrovision 2014 and Kristian Kostov – for his excellent performance at       Evrovision 2017.

The photos and the Historical reference about the International Children’s Assembly "Banner of Peace" are provided by the Liudmila Zhivkova Foundation - Banner of Peace.

Above: The exhibition was opened by the Vice President of the Republic of Bulgaria - Mrs. Iliana Yotova and by the President of the Ludmila Zhivkova - Banner of Peace Foundation - Mrs. Evgeniya Zhivkova.

First row: moments from the event

Second row: Drawings of children who has attended the first International Children's Assembly "Banner of Peace":

- "Dinosaurs", author: Graham George, age: 7 years, country: Australia;

- "Landscape", author: Madeleine Franco, age: 12 years, country: Cuba;

- "Dance", author: Evgeniy Stoycheva, age: 11 years, country: Bulgaria;

- "Venice", author: Muradian Samvel, age: 8 years, country: Armenia