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Resilience and Inclusion: the Culture of Peace in Post-Covid Recovery

On 7th September 2021, the General Assembly held a High-level Forum on the Culture of Peace under the theme “Transformative Role of The Culture of Peace: Promoting Resilience and Inclusion in Post-Covid Recovery”. Since 1997, the Culture of Peace remains one of the crucial items for the General Assembly and it became more relevant than ever with its scope expanded over the years. Taking place at the time when humankind faces enormous challenges intensified by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Forum strived to address the widening inequality and the rising violence, highlighting the imperative to implant the values of the Culture of Peace with particular attention to the younger generation. The annual high-level forum on the Culture of Peace also provided the opportunity to the Member States and observers to the General Assembly to renew their commitments to effectively implement the UN Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace, to build resilience and promote a fair recovery against the continued ravages of COVID-19.
 
In his opening remarks, H.E Mr. Volkan Bozkir, President of the 75th Session of the UN General Assembly, pointed out how humanity was brought together by the pandemic. He stressed the need to “build on this shared sense of grief and anxiety, and work together to not only tackle COVID-19 but all other challenges that stand in our path.” - When brought up the crisis in Afghanistan, Mr. Bozkir said that the international community will have to draw on its “shared sense of humanity, of empathy, of compassion, to go the extra mile and provide necessary humanitarian support.”  
 
“Peace is much, much more than the absence of conflict. Peace is a conscious effort by each of us, each moment, to talk, to listen, and to engage. It is a sustained effort to understand and overcome differences”, he added.
The opening segment also featured the remarks delivered by Ms. Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, Chef de Cabinet of the UN Secretary-General, who highlighted the foundational role of Culture of Peace for “building a better, fairer, more sustainable future for all—the future in which human rights are realized for every person.” She called attention not only to the devastating consequences of climate change and the threatening effects of the pandemic on health and economics but also to the rising conflicts and gender-based violence. She also stressed the need for universal access to quality education and skills, so that “every child can look to the future with hope, not fear.”
 
Mr. Eliot Minchenberg, Director a.i. of the UNESCO Liaison Office in New York, underlined that the very notion of Culture of Peace was born in UNESCO in 1992 and reaffirmed that the Organization, together with its partners, stands ready to build peace and overcome the challenges of today. In addition to touching on the increases in hate crimes triggered by intolerance and misinformation, and the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on economics, he mentioned the impact of the climate change as both a cause and effect of conflict. Mr. Minchenberg also pointed out that education has been gravely affected, particularly among girls and young women, and stressed that “economic and political arrangements are not enough to build peace and prosperity and that it must therefore be constructed upon the solidarity of humankind, nurture by behaviors, encouraged by education rooted in cultures.”
“Culture of peace is no longer limited to peace among people and nations, but it includes also living in peace with nature, making peace with the planet and all the living beings. We must work together United to create fairer, more inclusive and more sustainable societies. We must harness the power of diversity as a source of creativity and innovation and equip individuals and communities with the skills they need to understand and cooperate with each other”, he concluded.
Also participating in the opening session was, H.E. DR AK Abdul Momen, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh, who, among others, suggested that the principles of Culture of Peace “be mainstreamed in all pandemic recovery efforts”; and its concept is kept at the core to ensure timely implementation of Agenda 2030. H.E. Mr. Miguel Ángel Moratinos, High Representative of the United Nations Alliance of Civilization, stressed the importance of considering peace as a continued process and not a one-time, feel-good action and highlighted that Goal 16 “Promote peaceful and inclusive societies” is “more imperative now than ever before”.
 
Click here to watch the recordings of the event.