The UN General-Assembly, in its resolution 72/130, declared 16 May the International Day of Living Together in Peace.
On this day we join the global community in commemorating the International Day of Living Together in Peace. Living together in peace is all about accepting differences, embracing diversity, and having the ability to listen to, respect and understand each other. Since 2017 we have been marking this International Day on May 16th and using the opportunity to promote a culture of tolerance, inclusion, and reconciliation. It is upon these foundational values that we can build a sustainable world of peace, solidarity, and harmony.
The need to ‘Live Together in Peace’ is a notion at the very core of the United Nations. In fact, it is present in the very first line of the UN Charter. Written in 1945 amid the ashes of World War II, the Charter begins: “We the peoples of the United Nations determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind…” Thus, the United Nations is the embodiment of the collective desire of the international community to ‘live together in peace’.
Today, this idea is embedded in the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals. The global pandemic and its economic aftershocks have only reinforced how interconnected we all are, living together in a global village. Peace, prosperity and planet are three links in the same chain.
I encourage each and every one of us in Nigeria to be an agent, ambassador and advocate for peace. As Martin Luther King Jr. once said: “If we are to have peace on earth...our loyalties must transcend our race, our tribe, our class, and our nation; and this means we must develop a world perspective.” These are words to live by.
This International Day provides a moment to reflect on specific actions that we can take to reach across lines to promote harmony, rapprochement and inclusion. Peace is not just the absence of conflict, but a culture of compassion and a disposition to dialogue. Who is that one person in your life that you can extend an olive branch to? A simple gesture can spark a process of reconciliation. We can seek, and find, unity in our diversity and differences.
I wish to reiterate the UN’s System’s key responsibility which is to support the Government of Nigeria to implement the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals. There is no peace without development, and there is no development without peace. We must act – urgently and collectively – to build a future for all of us where we can live together in harmony. Let’s invest in peace today and reap the dividends tomorrow.
Take one final moment to consider the Preamble to the Constitution of UNESCO which declares that “since wars begin in the minds of men (and women), it is in the minds of men (and women) that the defences of peace must be constructed.” I call on all Nigerians to devote their minds and thoughts; their talents, time and treasures; to conceiving and nurturing peace in the country.