Covid-19 expanding risks to peace everywhere: Guterres
United Nations: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has warned that the global coronavirus pandemic is expanding risks to peace everywhere.
“It poses an enormous threat to people caught up in conflict, which is why I made an immediate appeal for a global ceasefire,” the UN chief said at the UN peace bell ceremony on Thursday on the sidelines of the 39th anniversary of the International Day of Peace, which is observed around the world each year on September 21.
“I will repeat the call during the General Debate next week. We need to silence the guns and focus on our common enemy: the virus,” he said.
The annual meeting of world leaders at the UN is going virtual this year for the first time in its 75-year history because of the pandemic.
The first day of the General Debate is on September 22.
Noting that peace is never a given, the UN chief said that “it is an aspiration that is only as strong as our conviction, and only as durable as our hope”.
“It can take decades, even centuries, to build peaceful, stable societies. But peace can be squandered in an instant by reckless, divisive policies and approaches,” the UN chief noted.
“Beyond war zones, the pandemic is highlighting and exploiting inequalities of all kinds, setting communities and countries against each other.”
Guterres called for efforts to “push for peace wherever conflict is raging and wherever there are diplomatic opportunities to silence the guns”.
The peace bell ceremony was beamed globally via live feed, with Guterres and the new UN General Assembly President, Volkan Bozkir, standing at appropriately distanced podiums, in line with Covid-19 measures.
Bozkir said the pandemic has threatened health, security and the way of life of people everywhere.
“Today we stand separated and masked. The pandemic has brought unexpected levels of misery and hardship to many. But it is the most vulnerable who suffer most, and are still suffering, both in conflict, and at the hands of this disease,” he said.
Under normal conditions, UN messengers of peace would travel to New York to take part in the peace bell ceremony.