Ahead of International Day of Peace, over 170 peace-building organizations from across the globe have issued a statement urging governments to recommit to peace in a world torn apart by war and in the midst of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.
The public health emergency and corresponding economic crisis have underscored the magnitude of inequality and hardship in the world today, yet “some action by governments and others are making things worse,” the authors outlined in a joint statement.
Put armed conflict on lockdown
At the outset of the coronavirus pandemic, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres sought to turn the coronavirus outbreak into an opportunity to create a more peaceful planet.
In March, he called “an immediate global ceasefire in all corners of the world,” saying that “it is time to put armed conflict on lockdown and focus together on the true fight of our lives—the Covid-19 pandemic.”
Five months on, Guterres lamented to the UN Security Council that not all parties had heeded his earlier plea to “end the sickness of war and fight the disease that is ravaging the world.”
He warned last month that the pandemic “risks exacerbating conflicts or fomenting new ones.”
While the global catastrophe demonstrates why “a commitment to sustaining peace is more urgent than ever,” Guterres added that “hard-won development and peace-building gains” were being threatened by diminishing public trust in governments and civic institutions, worsening “socio-economic vulnerabilities,” and a “weakening of the social fabric.”
Sekunjalo (Now is the time)
The most recent call to action—supported by dozens of faith-based groups, international development agencies, policy organizations, and others—takes the baton from Guterres to advance identical objectives.
“Responses to crises that increase violence, injustice, and exclusion” the statement said, “will exacerbate… human suffering, leaving many behind.” What is needed instead, the authors continued, is a “focus on peace, justice, and inclusion, both during crises and longer-term.”
The statement urged countries to use the response to Covid-19 as a chance to:
- Mainstream peace by prioritising conflict-sensitive and risk-informed approaches in the planning and monitoring of the distribution of resources related to overcoming the pandemic and its economic aftermath
- Prioritise inclusion in analysis and action by eradicating gendered and racialized patterns of violence and by protecting access to civic participation;
- Make space for building peace by avoiding all forms of violent coercion… as a shortcut to achieving political and economic ends; and
- Reaffirm multilateralism and international norms as a safeguard for the most vulnerable by reducing arms flows and promoting constructive forms of investment, taxation, and trade that bolster adherence to international human rights and humanitarian law.
Slash military spending, stop the war machine
While the signatories to the statement support the UN chief’s call for a global ceasefire, they said that “governments and other international actors can do more to step aside from the machinery of war.”
Eliminating nuclear weapons and cutting military spending would, they argue, “free up critical resources to save lives and support the most vulnerable.”
The statement backed by over 170 pro-peace organizations stressed that the use of “state violence as a response to large-scale unemployment and displacement” must be rejected.
Noting the contemporary world order and looking ahead to the near-future, the signatories added:
“Our hearts go out to those suffering today, in the sober knowledge that this may turn out to be but a foretaste of the disruptions that may arise in the years to come, including from climate change and environmental degradation, and growing inequalities and exclusion.”
“If we are to meet the challenges of tomorrow,” the call to action added, “we must recommit to peace today.”
An array of events and activities are being planned across the globe to mark International Peace Day. From education to the arts, social justice to sports, health to the environment, and neighbourhood action in service to others, there are many ways to participate in Peace Day.
Whatever you choose to do, do not forget to pause at 12 Noon local time and join people all across the globe in a Minute of Silence/Moment of Peace.
Read the original article on The South African