Each year, on 21 September, the United Nations calls on everyone, everywhere, to observe 24 hours of non-violence and ceasefire. Today, 100 days before the International Day of Peace, it is essential to remember that our common enemy is a virus that causes widespread suffering and risks reversing decades of human progress.
That is why, as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold, I called on all warring parties to lay down their weapons. These are not normal times, and our responses cannot be routine. The pandemic is not just a health issue. It is having direct and troubling effects on development, peace and security.
Our global ceasefire appeal is resonating in many places and with many different groups. While distrust can make implementation difficult, I have been heartened by the strong support the appeal has received from civil society, which can influence and mobilize people at the grassroots.
This year’s theme for the Day, “Shaping Peace Together,” reflects the reason the United Nations was founded. Throughout this year, to mark our 75th anniversary, the United Nations is asking people to engage in a global conversation about how to tackle the greatest global challenges together, from climate change and poverty to racism and gender inequality.
Let us use these dialogues, as well as the International Day of Peace, to exchange ideas on how to achieve a global ceasefire, heal our planet and turn the COVID-19 crisis into an opportunity for peace. Let us build back better for more inclusive and peaceful societies.
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