5, October, 2020
As the United Nations marks the International Day of Non-Violence on Friday, the UN chief is reiterating his call for a global ceasefire and a focus on humanityâ€™s common enemy, Covid-19.
The International Day of Non-Violence is observed on 2 October, the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, leader of Indiaâ€™s independence movement and pioneer of the philosophy and strategy of non-violence.
The UN General Assembly on 15 June 2007 established the International Day as an occasion "to disseminate the message of non-violence, including through education and public awareness".
Gandhiâ€™s non-violence, peace:
â€śIn marking the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, this International Day highlights the remarkable power of non-violence and peaceful protest,â€ť notes UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. He says, â€śIt also a timely reminder to strive to uphold values that Gandhi lived by: the promotion of dignity, equal protection for all, and communities living together in peace.â€ť
Ceasefire to fight Covid-19:
In a message for this yearâ€™s International Day of Non-violence, Guterres says, â€śWe have a special duty: stop the fighting to focus on our common enemy: Covid-19.â€ť â€śThere is only one winner of conflict during a pandemic: the virus itself,â€ť he says, adding, â€śAs the pandemic took hold, I called for a global ceasefire.â€ť
He says that the international community needs to make a new push to make this a reality by the end of this year. â€śCeasefires,â€ť he stresses, â€śwould ease immense suffering, help to lower the risk of famine, and create space for negotiations towards peace.â€ť
However, he notes that â€śdeep mistrust stands in the way.â€ť Yet he sees â€śreasons for hopeâ€ť noting â€śin some places, we see a standstill in the violence.â€ť He hopes that a great many Member States, religious leaders, civil society networks and others would back his call.
Guterres and global ceasefire:
Guterres first appealed for a global ceasefire in the context of the pandemic on 23 March. â€śThe fury of the virus illustrates the folly of war,â€ť he said. â€śThat is why today, I am calling for an immediate global ceasefire in all corners of the world. It is time to put armed conflict on lockdown and focus together on the true fight of our lives.â€ť
The UN chief called on warring parties to pull back from hostilities, put aside mistrust and animosity, and â€śsilence the guns; stop the artillery; end the airstrikesâ€ť.
This is crucial, he said, â€śto help create corridors for life-saving aid. To open precious windows for diplomacy.â€Ż To bring hope to places among the most vulnerable to Covid-19.â€ť
Pope Francis on ceasefire:
Pope Francis has espoused the UN chiefâ€™s call for â€śa total ceasefireâ€ť. â€śI join those who have welcomed this appeal and I invite everyone to follow it by ceasing all forms of hostility, promoting the creation of humanitarian aid routes, openness to diplomacy, and attentiveness to those who are in situations of great vulnerability,â€ť he said during his midday Angelus prayer on 29 March.
The Holy Father hoped that humanityâ€™s â€śjoint fight against the pandemic bring everyone to recognize the great need to reinforce brotherly and sisterly bonds as members of a single human familyâ€ť. He also wished the battle against the virus â€śinspire a renewed commitment to overcome rivalries among the leaders of nations and the parties involvedâ€ť. â€śConflicts cannot be resolved through war!â€ť he stressed, adding, â€śAntagonism and differences must be overcome through dialogue and a constructive search for peace.â€ť