Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks at the Peace Bell Ceremony to commemorate the International Day of Peace, in New York today:
Good morning and thank you for joining us for this Peace Bell Ceremony today. This morning, in these calm surroundings, listening to this beautiful music, war seems very distant. But I myself grew up in war, as did many of you. We are all closer to conflict than we may like to think.
On the International Day of Peace, we call on combatants around the world to lay down their weapons and observe a day of global ceasefire and non-violence. This simple and symbolic act takes us back to the origins of the United Nations: the search for lasting and sustaining peace.
Around the world, conflict is forcing families from their homes, depriving children of an education, and subjecting people to abuse and exploitation. Today we re-commit ourselves to doing everything in our power to give them hope of a better future.
In this spirit, I look forward to visiting Cartagena, Colombia, on 26 September for the signing of the historic peace agreement between the Government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army.
I pledge the full support of the United Nations for this hard-won agreement, which I hope will inspire others around the world to end conflicts through diplomacy and negotiation rather than violence and needless bloodshed.
Peace may be elusive, but it is not a mystery. We understand the roots of peace, and we know the route to peace. Ceasefires — like the cessation of hostilities in Syria — are vital. But peace is about far more than putting weapons aside.
It involves the hard work of mediation, conflict resolution through diplomacy, reconciliation, peacebuilding and sustaining peace. It comes from the vision of a world in which people share the benefits of peace and prosperity on a healthy planet.
Global leaders demonstrated this vision last year, when they agreed on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals are a road map to peace and prosperity for all nations. They are our tools to fight poverty and hunger, inequality and the competition for resources that leads to tension and conflict.
We all have a part to play in making sure Governments are held accountable for implementing the 2030 Agenda. Let us all pledge our commitment on the International Day of Peace to becoming champions of the Sustainable Development Goals.
I thank our distinguished United Nations Messengers of Peace for their tireless efforts on behalf of our fellow citizens and our planet. Michael Douglas; Jane Goodall; Midori; Stevie Wonder; and Leonardo DiCaprio. Sadly, we have lost two of our Messengers of Peace this year, Mohammed Ali and Elie Wiesel. Today we honour their memory.
I also thank United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Goodwill Ambassador Sunny Varkey and the winner of the 2015 Global Teacher Prize, Hanan Al Hroub, from Palestine.
And we have also three Nobel Peace Prize Laureates here this morning: Leymah Gbowee, Tawakkol Karman and Shirin Ebadi, who all have first-hand experience on the frontlines of the struggle for peace.
You know best of all that peace is not an accident. Peace is not a gift. Peace is something we must all work for, every day, in every country. Before I ring the Peace Bell, and sound a call for peace and a day of non-violence, please join me in a moment of silence.