While thanking those in attendance for “joining us to sound the call for peace”, Secretary-General António Guterres recalled that “peace is under attack today”.
“The poison of war is infecting our world”, endangering millions of lives, “turning people against each other, turning nation against nation, eroding security and well-being, [and] reverse development”.
“It also pushes our shared goals for the future further and further away”.
Instead of fighting, “humanity should unite” to address common challenges, the UN chief stressed.
These include poverty, hunger and inequality; climate change and loss of biodiversity; the COVID-19 pandemic – which continues to “devastate lives and economies” – and racism, “the focus of this year’s International Day”.
While promoting peace is the primary mission of the UN, he recalled that “the task of building peace belongs to every human being”.
“Let’s make peace together,” Mr. Guterres urged.
“Peace for our planet… for developing countries who are victims of a highly unfair global financial system…[and] in the name of equality for all – by ending all forms of discrimination, racism and hate speech”.
He continued to advocate for peace for the youth “who will inherit the consequences of the decisions we make – or those we don’t make”.
“And most importantly, peace to those millions of people who are going through the horrors of war today.”
Global solidarity ‘starts now’
The Secretary-General stressed the need for global solidarity, collective action, commitment and mutual trust, “now more than ever”.
“It starts here — and it starts now,” he said. “Let’s make the call for a world of peace for all people.”
Before ringing the peace bell, he invited those present to observe a moment of silence “to reflect on the meaning and necessity of peace”.
The Speaker of the General Assembly, Csaba Kőrösi, recalled that the peace bell was made with coins donated from 60 countries in 1954.
“We need the same sense of solidarity today to ensure that our work here is relevant and impactful,” he said.
The new Assembly President explained how: world peace is in “great danger” with more refugees and displaced persons fleeing violence than ever before in UN history.
He noted that the effects of the war in Ukraine are being felt “far beyond the region” and described it as “a stark reminder that peace can always be threatened and no country can take it for granted”.
This year’s theme is “End Racism. Build Peace”, forces everyone to remember that “racism is still deeply ingrained in our world,” Mr Kőrösi said.
Racism threatens world peace, weakens social ties and makes countries more vulnerable to climate change, conflict and other crises.
“Education and science are key to breaking the blinding stereotypes behind racism”, he argued, adding that “diverse ideas inspire creativity and drive innovation” – the source of our strength.
He urged everyone to “end racism and discrimination in all its forms, once and for all”.
Let equality ring out
Mr Kőrösi drew attention to the high-level meeting of the Assembly on 21 September on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities, describing it as an opportunity to “renew the practice of tolerance, inclusion and respect for diversity”.
He also paid tribute to the authors of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
“May the ringing of this bell stand for the freedom and equality of everyone, everywhere,” concluded the Assembly Speaker.
Every year, the International Day of Peace, celebrated on September 21, is dedicated to strengthening the ideals of peace – both within and among all nations and peoples.