UNESCO - United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

04/14/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 04/14/2021 05:28

Celebration of International Jazz Day

Context and Justification

The international community celebrates the 10th edition of International Jazz Day on 30 April. Established by UNESCO's General Conference in 2011 at the initiative of UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Herbie Hancock and recognized by the United Nations General Assembly, International Jazz Day brings together countries and communities around the world each year to celebrate jazz and the role it plays in promoting dialogue, fighting discrimination and advancing human dignity.

As UNESCO has reminded us throughout the celebrations, jazz is much more than music - it is a universal message of peace, a harmonious combination of rhythm and meaning, which carries values that are dear to us all and offers valuable insights into mutual understanding, through listening, playing and improvisation. Also, as the great Manu Dibango said in an interview with the UNESCO Courier in 1991, music is «the most spontaneous, natural form of contact between one person and another .» Thus, jazz is also a symbol of unity, diversity and intercultural exchange, which aims to bring Africa and its diaspora together.

To begin, the history of jazz is rooted in the meeting of the peoples, cultures and musical traditions of Africa, Europe and the Caribbean. At a time when we are celebrating jazz, Central Africa is vibrating to the rhythm of the communion of peoples and sounds, around the joint application submitted by the Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo, with a view to the inscription of Congolese rumba on the representative list of the intangible cultural heritage of humanity. Oscillating between philosophy, rhythms and sounds, jazz and rumba offer in this particular circumstance, the opportunity to reflect on their shared roots and their musical influence and universal messages. Music is the language of emotions which, beyond cultural and linguistic barriers, remains a vehicle of mutual knowledge and understanding, and contributes to UNESCO's ideal of «constructing the defenses of peace in the minds of men».

Secondly, jazz carries educational values and wants to raise awareness of the international community on the virtues of jazz as an educational tool, and as a force for peace, unity, dialogue and enhanced cooperation between peoples. International Jazz Day is also an opportunity to recall the link between education and culture, school and artistic training, which enable young people to become aware of the diversity of cultures by offering them an open vision of the world and enabling them to acquire the foundations of tolerance, which are necessary today more than ever before.

Finally, jazz, beyond being a philosophy, remains an artistic expression, which results from the creativity of individuals. International Jazz Day is therefore an opportunity to strengthen the resilience of artists who have been particularly affected since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, to keep hope alive while paying tribute to the illustrious jazz, afro-jazz and Congolese rumba artists who have passed away.

The Central African sub-region will join the concert of celebrations with artistic, intellectual and educational activities, which will bring together numerous African and international artists, as well as music experts and UNESCO officials representatives around the issues related to this day. Moreover, the celebration of this day will have a particular connotation, as it is in line with the theme of the African Union's 2021 year: «Arts, culture and heritage: a lever for building the Africa we want».
In this regard, this celebration will serve as prelude to the upcoming Biennale of Luanda: Pan-African Forum for the Culture of Peace» which will take place in October 2021. The overall objective is to strengthen the Pan-African Movement for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence through the establishment of a global multi-stakeholder partnership between governments; civil society; the artistic and scientific community; the private sector and international organizations.


This day is intended to raise global awareness on the virtues of jazz as an educational tool, as a force for peace, unity, dialogue and enhanced cooperation between peoples.

Expected Results

  1. To raise awareness on the role of jazz as a vehicle for the values of tolerance, living together and the culture of peace;
  2. To promote the diversity of Afro-jazz musical expressions, Rumba in particular;
  3. To contribute to and strengthen the resilience of artists;
  4. To announce the second edition of the Biennale of Luanda 2021.

Participating countries

  • Angola
  • Cameroon
  • Chad
  • Congo
  • Gabon
  • Democratic Republic of Congo


  • Representatives of the Angolan Government
  • UNESCO representatives
  • Representatives of international organizations
  • International musicologists and experts
  • International musicians
  • General public, youth