Put peace first, UN chief says, kicking off 100-day countdown to International Day of Peace

Cheerful young students in their traditional dress proudly waive their national flags during the Peace Bell ceremony of the observance of the International Day of Peace at UN Headquarters in New York. UN Photo/Paulo Filgueiras (file photo)

14 June 2017 – True peace requires building bridges, combating discrimination and standing up for the human rights of the world's people United Nations Secretary-General said, kicking off the 100-day countdown to the International Day of Peace, with a strong appeal to citizens, governments and leaders everywhere to “put peace first.”

Recalling that his very first act as he took up his duties as Secretary-General in January was to issue an appeal for peace, Mr. Guterres said the International Day, marked annually on 21 September, “embodies our shared aspiration to end the needless suffering caused by armed conflict.”

Moreover, the Day offers a moment for the peoples of the world to acknowledge the ties that bind them together, irrespective of their countries of origin, the Secretary-General said, adding: “It is a day on which the United Nations calls for a 24-hour global ceasefire, with the hope that one day of peace can lead to another, and another, and ultimately to a stilling of the guns.”

The UN chief explained that there is more to achieving peace than laying down weapons, “True peace requires building bridges, combating discrimination and standing up for the human rights of all the world's people.”

As such, the theme for this year's International Day of Peace is, 'Together for Peace: Respect, Safety and Dignity for All' – with a particular focus on the plight of refugees and migrants throughout the world.

“Our obligation as an international community is to ensure that everyone forced to flee their homes receives the protection to which they are entitled under international law. Our duty as a human family is to replace fear with kindness,” he continued.

Mr. Guterres urged everyone – over the next 100 days – to remember that millions of vulnerable members of our society, many of whom have lost everything, need our understanding and assistance.

He encouraged people to strategize together about what “we can do to help them.”

“Let us recognize the many ways in which they contribute to and strengthen their host countries and communities. And let us redouble our efforts to address the root causes of conflict, advance our work for the Sustainable Development Goals, and heighten our emphasis on preventing violence in the first place,” stressed Mr. Guterres.

“By opening our hearts, joining hands and reaching out to refugees and migrants, we can move closer to attaining peace, prosperity and protection for all,” concluded the Secretary-General.

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