The United Nations-designated Day for Peace is a shared opportunity to acknowledge that peace is the path we should be all walking, for an equitable and sustainable world. The EU’s very existence is an example of what can be achieved together. Almost 65 years ago, the treaties signed in Rome, paved the way for the longest period of peace in the written history of its founding members.
This week the 76th UN General Assembly gathers world’s leaders, civil society, young people and global businesses to debate and shape our collective future, to build back better. It is the second year when the UNGA High-level week takes place against the backdrop of a deeply polarised world with the pandemic as an aggravating factor.
On World Peace Day, “no-one is safe until everyone is safe” gains added meaning. For the past two years, COVID-19 has been our common enemy and has brought the global community closer to the hard evidence that a safe and sustainable future cannot be achieved by nations acting alone. International cooperation based on universal values and rules remains beyond doubt the most effective means to govern global relations in a way that benefits all.
This is why an effective international governance and a United Nations fit for the 21st century are at the heart of EU’s priorities at the United Nations. In the fight against COVID-19, the EU is promoting global health as a public good in full support of the World Health Organisation, joining forces with international partners to support prevention, treatments and vaccine research. The EU and its Member States have committed three billion euros to COVAX, the global collaboration to accelerate the development and delivery of vaccines to low and middle-income countries, and are assisting those most in need by mobilising 46 billion of financial support to address the humanitarian, health, social and economic consequences of the crisis.
Together with the UN, we are working hand in hand to strengthen international security and peace. We stand for the same principles and we prioritise prevention and peacebuilding by addressing the root causes of conflicts and crises. The current situation in Afghanistan is a grim reminder that women and girls are the first to suffer in conflict and fragile situations and this is the reason why women and girls are at the centre of our peace and security policy.
The EU follows an integrated approach to conflicts and crises, from conflict prevention and peacebuilding to crisis response and stabilisation, cooperating closely with the UN: at the political level, to ensure synergies between UN and EU good offices, and at the operational level, to ensure early planning and coordination on the ground. As international actors, we link up with the local contexts and seek to build bridges between local realities, supporting actors such as insider mediators and, more broadly, the global peace infrastructure.
Peace is not merely the absence of conflict. Inequalities, racism, intolerance, climate change, disinformation, to name just a few, are all forms of violence, which cost lives instead of saving them. The EU and the UN are working together in more than 170 countries, across all policy areas, for peace, dialogue, and cooperation, promoting Human Rights, the rule of law, sustainable development, and fighting climate change and environmental degradation.
To recover from the devastation of the pandemic, we must make peace with one another and we must make peace with nature too.
From rising temperatures to extreme weather phenomena, the impacts of climate change are global. As a “risk multiplier”, climate change can have profound implications for international peace and security and for the stability and resilience of societies. This is why, over the past decade, the climate and security nexus has gained prominence on the EU agenda, and a Concept for an Integrated Approach on Climate Change and Security will be adopted this week. The Concept will offer a comprehensive framework to address the climate and security nexus throughout the entire conflict cycle, and at all levels, international, regional, national and local, and in our partnerships.
To prevent environmental challenges from becoming sources of conflict, food insecurity, population displacement and forced migration, the EU works with partners to increase climate and environmental resilience. More than 40% of the world’s public climate finance comes from the EU and the EU has recently decided to double its external funding for biodiversity, in particular for the most vulnerable countries.
The International Day of Peace was established in 1981 by the United Nations General Assembly. Two decades later, in 2001, the General Assembly unanimously voted to designate the Day as a period of non-violence and cease-fire. During the pandemic, the EU has put its full weight behind the UN Secretary-General’s call for a global ceasefire.