United Nations High-Level Forum on Culture for Peace

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10-Sep-2020 03:32:11
A virtual High-Level Forum on the Culture of Peace convened by the President of the 74th Session of the General Assembly.

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As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to upend economies and societies, while also threatening to erode trust in public institutions and democracy, it is critical that people everywhere continue to pursue peace.

That was the core message UN Secretary-General António Guterres delivered to Ambassadors meeting on Thursday for a virtual High-Level Forum on the Culture of Peace.

“Not since the United Nations was founded have we faced such a complex and multidimensional threat to global peace and security”, the UN chief said. “In the face of this grave danger, it is more important than ever to work for a culture of peace, as the essential foundation for global cooperation and action.”

The concept of a culture of peace has its genesis in an initiative put forward more than 20 years ago by Anwarul K. Chowdhury, a Bangladeshi diplomat and former senior UN official.

Ambassadors have met annually since 2012 to uphold their commitment to the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace, which the UN General Assembly adopted by consensus and without reservation on 13 September 1999.

Speaking at this year’s event, Mr. Chowdhury explained that a culture of peace simply means that everyone must consciously make peace and non-violence a part of their daily existence.

“We should not isolate peace as something separate or distant”, he advised. “We should know how to relate to one another without being aggressive, without being violent, without being disrespectful, without neglect, and without prejudice.”

With countries still battling COVID-19, the need for a culture of peace has never been greater, according to the current General Assembly President.

Tijjani Muhammad-Bande listed some of the fallout from the pandemic, such as the disruption to education worldwide, rising domestic violence and hate speech, and an anticipated increase in extreme poverty and hunger.

“A culture of peace is more than just the absence of conflict as it embraces the inter-relationships between peace and development”, he said.

Gabriela Ramos, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for the Social and Human Sciences, underscored the important role that intercultural dialogue must play in forging the trust and cooperation to tackle major risks – from structural inequalities to systemic discrimination – that both represent our greatest shared challenges, and have played a major role in worsening the effects of the pandemic.

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