ACTION: International Day of Peace: September 21, 2022

September 21st, 2022 - by António Guterres, UN Secretary-General & Yurii Sheliazhenko / Ukrainian Pacifist Movement

ACTION: International Day of Peace
Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Message from UN Secretary-General António Guterres on International Day of Peace

(September 21, 2022) — Peace is a noble and necessary pursuit, and the only practical pathway to a better, fairer world for all people. Yet in too many places, in too many contexts, we are failing the cause of peace.

The theme of this year’s International Day of Peace — “End Racism, Build Peace” — reminds us of the many ways racism poisons people’s hearts and minds and erodes the peace we all seek. Racism robs people of their rights and dignity. It inflames inequalities and mistrust. And it pushes people apart, at a time when we should be coming together, as one human family, to repair our fractured world.

Instead of fighting each other, we should be working to defeat our true enemies: racism, poverty, inequality, conflict, the climate crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic.

We should tear down structures that sustain racism, and lift up human rights movements everywhere. And we should drown out the vicious voices of hate speech with a united and sustained cry for truth, understanding and mutual respect.

On this important day, a time to observe 24 hours of non-violence and cease-fire, we renew our call for all people to do more than lay down their weapons. We call on them to re-affirm the bonds of solidarity we share as human beings and get down to the business of building a better, more peaceful world.

Greetings to the Peace March in Slovakia

Yurii Sheliazhenko / Zjednoteni za Mier

KYIV, Ukraine (September 20, 2022) — Dear Slovakian friends, greetings from Kyiv, capital of Ukraine, and congratulations with the International Day of Peace. All sane people in the world with moral compass in their hearts and minds support peace, human life free from violence, not the war, which is organized mass murder.

“Peace not war” is a universally recognized social norm and value. And now, this norm is trampled and broken in my country with collateral damage to Europe and the world.

I was lucky enough to survive Russian shelling of Kyiv — though February and March were nightmares — and Putin’s brutal invasion of Ukraine resulted in tens of thousands of deaths, millions of refugees, and ruined cities.

The general mood in Ukraine is to fight for victory, to have revenge, to rip Russia apart. And a similar toxic mood has emerged in Russia, to rip Ukraine apart — when Russian TV said that Ukrainian armed forces killed civilians in pro-Russian separatist-controlled Donetsk and Luhansk regions. But even under Russian bombardments here in Kyiv, I called for peace by peaceful means, for a diplomatic solution, asserting the position of Ukrainian pacifists.

We need a ceasefire, along with comprehensive and inclusive peace talks to find reconciliation — not only between Ukraine and Russia but also between the East and West. We are neighbors on our common home, planet Earth, and we must live as one loving, friendly family.

War in my country is the most scandalous example of an irrational, disruptive global fight for power between the East and West. Ruling elites in both rival camps — and in both belligerent countries — intend to continue war forever, because it brings undeserved glory and profits.

Military patriotic upbringing, conscription, war propaganda and absolute trust to army, all these undemocratic things made it easy for governments in both Russia and Ukraine to mobilize people for bloodshed and, by the way, instead of prohibiting conscription under international law, some hot-heads are pushing for conscription to be required in European countries, turning people into cannon fodder against their will — promoting the lie that true democracy is only a product of meat grinder. Zelenskyy said that he is ready to fight Russia for the next 10 years, Putin hinted he could continue his so-called “special military operation” for 21 years — as long as Peter the First waged Great Northern War.

Sooner or later, the war in Ukraine will be ended at the negotiation table. Better it will be not out of exhaustion, weakening and pain, but because of big democratic changes in our countries and in the world — changes that will come when we understand that democracy and militarism are not compatible, systemic changes, transition from tyranny of warmongers to social and environmental justice.

We should be better than waging wars, sacrificing our welfare to harm others, killing enemies, and destroying ourselves.

The problem is not the enemy, the problem is militarization and weaponization of everything, which creates fictional enemies from regular sinful people like ourselves and makes us screws in a perpetual war machine, the slaves of militarist tyranny, believers in our absolute right and power and the absolute wrong and weakness of others.

Rival ideologies of Atlanticism and Eurasianism — with their fictional pseudo-reasons for eternal fight between NATO, Russia and China — must be abandoned in favor of the culture of peace, the knowledge and ethics of nonviolent life and governance. The world’s total military budget exceeds two trillions dollars, while regular budget of United Nations is only 3 billion. Compare it with three cents for friendship versus twenty euros for a hidden dagger!

The arms industry’s merchants of death are happy that governments spend a fortune on war and measly cents on diplomacy, but peace-loving taxpayers are robbed and their lives become more in danger with the looming threat of a nuclear confrontation between great powers. We must invest hundreds of times more resources and efforts in peace instead of bloodshed.

The arms race, economic war, and the multiplication of sanctions could not bring peace to Ukraine, Europe and the world. We need more voices of sanity, voices of peace-loving people reminding the governments of their responsibility for building peace, according to the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace adopted by the General Assembly of United Nations.

So, thank you for your march of peace. Let’s also say “thank you” to all people around the world raising voices today for peace and justice, especially to people who are repressed for their brave antiwar protests in belligerent countries.

I invite you to support the Object War campaign and sign a petition to EU at the website You Move Europe that calls for protecting and granting asylum for deserters and conscientious objectors to military service from Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine. Let’s build better world without wars together!

Wishing you peace and happiness.
Yurii Sheliazhenko, Ph.D. (Law)
Executive secretary, Ukrainian Pacifist Movement
Board member, European Bureau for Conscientious Objection (Brussels, Belgium)
Member of the Board of Directors, World BEYOND War (Charlottesville, VA, United States)
LL.M., B.Math, Master of Mediation and Conflict Management