Shared “Grief and Anxiety” has been Key Unifying Factors in the Fight against COVID

The United Nations General Assembly conducted a High-Level Forum on the Culture of Peace on Tuesday, with the goal of increasing resilience and ensuring a fair recovery from COVID-19’s devastation.

The President of the United Nations General Assembly, Volkan Bozkir, opened the meeting by saying that the global pandemic has possibly brought humanity closer together.

Mr. Bozkir said the problems are “many,” citing his recent trip to Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazaar, where he interacted with Rohingya refugees, and he emphasized the predicament of many Afghans today, who are “scrambling to find safety and security amidst so much uncertainty”.

He believes “Peace is much, much more than the absence of conflict”.

He said that every one of us must make a conscious effort to speak, listen, and engage in each moment. It takes a long time to comprehend and overcome differences.

Mr. Bozkir explained what it meant to develop a culture of peace, saying that rejecting violence is one thing, but making the purposeful effort to modify our attitudes and behaviors to avoid bloodshed in the first place is quite another.

Mr. Bozkir believes that the UN already has the tools necessary to assist the Member States in these efforts, such as early warning systems to prevent conflict escalation, fact-finding missions, early deployment of peacekeepers, and rapid humanitarian aid distribution.

All of them, he believes, is critical to sustaining and promoting a peaceful culture, especially when combined with development measures that empower people and reduce tensions.

Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, the UN Secretary-Chef General’s de Cabinet, spoke at the event, as did Miguel Angel Moratinos, the UNAOC’s High Representative, Jayathma Wickramanayake, the UN Secretary-Envoy General’s on Youth, and Liu Zhenmin, the UN Secretary-Under-Secretary-General General’s for Economic and Social Affairs.

Beatrice Fihn, 2017 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and Executive Director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN); Kazumi Matsui, Mayor of Hiroshima and President of “Mayors for Peace”; and Federico Mayor Zaragoza, President of the Foundation for a Culture of Peace and former Director-General of UNESCO, were among the prominent civil society participants.

He also emphasized the importance of communication and debate, negotiation and nuance, and empathy and understanding as values and principles of such a culture.

The Assembly president then turned his attention to the Afghan problem, saying that the international community must use its  “shared sense of humanity, of empathy, of compassion, to go the extra mile and provide necessary humanitarian support”.