Authored by: Ms. Una McCauley – UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative.
Each year on September 21 we observe the International Day of Peace. The United Nations General Assembly has declared this as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, within and among all nations and peoples.
Today, we are called to remember our obligations as an international community. We are called to remember the impact of violent conflict and discrimination upon the most vulnerable.
We are called to do this together.
The theme this year is “Together for Peace: Respect, Safety and Dignity for All,” with a particular focus on the plight of refugees and migrants throughout the world. Their suffering highlights the urgency with which we must find lasting solutions and work towards protecting the human rights of all. However, addressing the root causes of conflict and preventing violence requires our commitment and our unity.
In Sri Lanka, the war is over. Yet many still face discrimination and hate. We still have the opportunity to work together for lasting peace. So much needs to be done to ensure that everyone can participate equally in shaping the way forward for the country, particularly in the areas of peacebuilding and reconciliation. It also means that we must respect each other’s religion, race, culture, values and political beliefs. We need to accept and work with each other’s differences if we are to make any meaningful progress. As long as discrimination, intolerance and inequality are encouraged or ignored, then our efforts are in vain.
Standing against injustice also calls us to be compassionate through our words and actions, especially towards those most vulnerable, not just within our own communities but also beyond. We can bring hope to those who seek our protection and understanding.
Only then can we say we are working together to ensure respect, safety and dignity for all.
This International Day of Peace, let us think about all refugees and migrants living in fragile contexts, who are suffering the consequences of injustice and discrimination. Let us also do our utmost to ensure an environment where hate and intolerance are not accepted, as we work towards sustaining peace in Sri Lanka.