On this International Day of Peace , as the United States and other nations have returned to war in the Middle East, it is appropriate to read again the United Nations’ document “Declaration on the Right of Peoples to Peace”, this year celebrating its 30th anniversary.
The United Nations Security Council has itself approved war in the recent past, and employs military “peacekeepers”, so the declaration should also serve as a reminder to the U.N. and all of us.
The heart of the Declaration on the Right of Peoples to Peace is a call to renounce the use of military force:
3. Emphasizes that ensuring the exercise of the right of peoples to peace demands that the policies of States be directed towards the elimination of the threat of war, particularly nuclear war, the renunciation of the use of force in international relations and the settlement of international disputes by peaceful means on the basis of the Charter of the United Nations;
Needless to say, this point of principle, though affirmed and celebrated by the United Nations since 1984, has been widely ignored around the globe, including by the permanent member states of the U.N. Security Council.
But this declaration and this day remain ideals for individuals and nations to live up to.
Ban Ki-moon, U.N. Secretary-General published a message for this year’s International Day of Peace. Here’ a bit of it:
“Each year, on this day, the United Nations calls for a global ceasefire.
We ask combatants to put down their arms so all can breathe the air of peace.
Armed conflict causes untold grief to families, communities and entire countries.
Too many are suffering today at the brutal hands of warmongers and terrorists.
Let us stand with them in solidarity . . . .”
A day of ceasefire would be welcome. What we really need is a long-lasting ceasefire, the general acceptance of the faith that true peace between peoples and nations is not obtained or kept or assured with weapons. We must affirm again the moral principle that among our human rights is the right to live in peace.