(Solomon Dibaba : ENA )
The International Day of Peace is observed around the world on 21 September. The UN General Assembly has declared September 21 as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples. The theme for 2017 is “Together for Peace: Respect, Safety and Dignity for All.”
The theme honors the spirit of “together, a global initiative that promotes respect, safety and dignity for everyone forced to flee their homes in search of a better life.” It unites UN agencies, member countries, the private sector, civil society and academic institutions in a global partnership in support of diversity, non-discrimination and acceptance of refugees and migrants. It was initiated during the United Nations Summit for Refugees and Migrants on 19 September 2016.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres said, “In times of insecurity, communities that look different become convenient scapegoats,” “We must resist cynical efforts to divide communities and portray neighbors as ‘the other’. Discrimination diminishes us all. It prevents people and societies from achieving their full potential.” He added, “Together, let us stand up against bigotry and for human rights. Together, let us build bridges. Together, let us transform fear into hope.”
This year, the International Day of Peace will focus on engaging and mobilizing people throughout the world to show support for refugees and migrants. Its messages will be shared with communities hosting refugees and migrants as well as people concerned that refugees and migrants may bring physical and economic insecurity to their lives.
The Day will highlight solidarity with refugees and migrants and showcase the shared benefits of migration to economies and nations, while also acknowledging legitimate concerns of host communities. Ultimately, it will be about bringing people together and reminding them of their common humanity.
Young people will have a vital role to play. For example, they can volunteer to welcome and help refugees and migrants in their communities. They can also extend the hand of friendship to young refugees and migrants who they might meet in their classrooms and neighborhoods.
As the world is celebrating International Day of Peace, in the major hotspots of conflicts in the world including the Middle East, South Sudan, Somalia, Darfur, South Sudan, Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Libya, children and their mothers as well as the youth are subjected to the most inhuman and atrocious treatments under gun tottering armed groups and terrorist organizations.
The Korean Peninsula is almost at the brink of a total regional war. Despite a series of six resolutions on sanction against Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), the tension in the peninsula is increasing by days and the worst kind of war probably nuclear war could flare up in the area threatening the livelihood of millions of people.
Military experts and institutions of strategic studies based in the US estimate that 10 million people in Seoul, 38 million people in the Tokyo vicinity and tens of thousands of US military personnel in northeast Asia are vulnerable to missile attacks with either conventional or nuclear warheads.
The war between the Houthis and Saudi led allied forces in Yemen has led to the death of thousands including children in 2016 and the situation is no better this year. In short the world is in urgent need for sustained peace.
A number of factors are already becoming a threat to international peace and development. The mushrooming of global terrorist networks as represented by ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Boko Haram and a myriad of other fundamentalist groups are becoming major threats not only to human civilization but also to the survival of mankind.
Conflict induced migration, human and arms trafficking, contraband and other forms of illicit trade are also obstacles to country level, regional and global peace.
Besides climate change induced drought, other manmade and natural disasters have continued to affect peaceful development of countries. All the more religious conflicts and ethnic strife over scares resources, pandemics diseases, migration of refugees, and arms race of all types are few of the major threats to global peace.
As the current president of the UNSC and a major contributor to UN contingents of peace keeping forces, Ethiopia has delivered a reform program to the UN on strengthening the role of UN peace keeping forces in terms of logistics, budget and other amenities required for peace keeping forces as they are deployed to major conflict areas.
In cooperation with AU and member countries, Ethiopia is also working towards enhancing the role of African countries in the UN systems and UNSC in particular. According to Melese Alem, Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, over 60 percent of issues and agenda raised at the UNSC is directly or indirectly related to issues that affect African countries and therefore African countries need to have an enhanced participation at the UNSC.
Apart from deploying more than 8000 peacekeeping forces in Somalia, Darfur and Abyie, Ethiopia is participating and building the capacity of the African Standby Force (ASF) a continental and multidisciplinary peacekeeping force with military, police and civilian contingents that acts under the direction of the AU. The ASF is to be deployed in times of crisis in Africa.
For Ethiopia peace is not limited to the absence of war. Sustained peace in the country, the neighboring countries and larger Africa could be achieved when the battle against poverty is conducted through mutual cooperation, resource sharing and working towards mutual socio-economic development between countries.
The country is turning challenges into opportunities for peaceful cooperation and development with the neighboring countries through infrastructural networks including trans-boundary railway network, roads development and connecting Africa through its national flagship carrier, the Ethiopian Airlines.
Ethiopia’s Foreign Relations and National Security Policy and Strategy provides for peaceful socio-economic development of the country with a particular reference to mutual peaceful coexistence and joint cooperation with the neighboring countries and countries in the Middle East, Europe, Asia, Latin America as well as the US.
As Ethiopia celebrates the International Day of Peace, the country is evermore committed to the prevalence of lasting peace and tranquility in Africa and the rest of the world.