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UN chief urges commitment to global peace

UN, UNITED NATIONS

UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, urges member states to be committed and pray for global peace, noting that “peace is needed today more than ever before”.

Guterres made the call at a religious event at the UN Headquarters in New York on Friday to observe a moment of prayer for peace.

The gathering took place at a unique moment on the last Friday of Ramadan, as Christians celebrate Easter, Jews mark the end of Passover, and Sikhs enjoy the Festival of Vaisakhi.

The ceremony was held at the Visitors Plaza, UN Secretariat, in front of the iconic Knotted Gun sculpture, a symbol of the organisation’s commitment to global peace.

“Even the calendar is sending a message of unity.

“Today, at this blessed moment of renewal across faiths, let us lift our hearts and voices for peace – our guiding star and our most precious goal,” Guterres said.

According to the UN chief, peace is needed today more than ever before, as war and conflict unleash devastating poverty and hunger, forcing tens of millions from their homes.

“The entire planet is battling climate chaos, and even peaceful countries are facing “gaping inequalities and political polarisation.

“Let us hold firm to the common faith that unites the human family. Let us come together as communities and countries. Let us pray for peace,” he said.

In her remarks, Rev. Dr Chloe Breyer, an Episcopal Priest in New York City, who represented Christianity said she was honoured to be praying for peace alongside counterparts from different faiths.

“It is an opportunity to express the long-time resources for peace that world religious traditions have to offer and in so doing, very much are in keeping with the goals of the United Nations,” she said.

Rev. Doyeon Park, a Won Buddhist, said the event prompted her to reflect on her role in peace globally.

“When I think of the United Nations and women faith leaders, I think of [Security Council] resolution 1325 and the need for women around – and more women around – the peace tables, be they religious women or not,” she said.

“It’s certainly something that our world needs right now. And you think of Afghanistan, Iran, and changes that are happening in our own country, and how critical it is to have women’s voices of faith, and no faith, at the table.”

The fact that people from different religious traditions united for peace provides a powerful lesson for humanity, said Dr. Simran Jeet Singh, the Sikh representative and Executive Director of the Religion and Society Program at the Aspen Institute, an international non-profit organisation.

“Often in our society, we use religion to divide one another across individual lines and community lines, and we see the pain of that all over the world.

“What I love about this idea of coming together across holidays is that so many different communities are celebrating; they are reflecting with so much in common and so much that unites us,” he said.

In his remarks, the High Representative of the UN Alliance for Civilisations (UNAOC), Miguel Ángel Moratinos, described the ceremony as a beautiful moment of harmony.

He said it demonstrated how to mobilise action and act in solidarity, and how to show compassion and mutual respect.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the UNAOC promotes cross-cultural understanding and cooperation and Moratinos emphasises continued support for efforts that aim to “build bridges of understanding, not walls of hate and division.”

UN staff, members of the diplomatic community and visitors at the UN were among those in attendance.

Representatives of major religions led prayers, and a moment of silence was observed to include those from secular backgrounds and to remember vulnerable people worldwide affected by conflict. (NAN)

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