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International Peace Day Message

Thursday, 21 September 2017

By
Ms. Rosa Malango, United Nations Resident Coordinator|
UNDP Resident Representative

The maintenance of international peace and security is one of the core purposes of the United Nations. Sustainable development, inclusive economic growth and dignified humanitarian assistance are not possible without peace and stability.

Today we celebrate the International Day of Peace. This year’s theme, Together for Peace: Respect, Safety and Dignity for All is based on the TOGETHER global campaign that promotes respect, safety and dignity for everyone forced to flee their homes in search of a better life. TOGETHER is also a core part of Ugandan traditional values. Ubuntu – our shared humanity – places respect, safety and dignity of people, our wildlife and our environment at the epicenter of our development.

We have an opportunity each year on the International Day of Peace to strengthen the ideals of peace, within and among all nations, communities and peoples. On 17 June this year, the UN Secretary-General António Guterres in his message stated that, “21 September embodies our shared aspiration to end the needless suffering caused by armed conflict. It offers a moment for the peoples of the world to acknowledge the ties that binds them together, irrespective of their countries of origin.”

As members of the human race, we have a shared opportunity to replace fear with kindness. We can transform stories of despair into narratives of hope and resilience. It is possible to change negative narratives on migration and to strengthen the social cohesion between host communities, refugees and migrants.

Uganda offers a perfect example of how local values can inform modern responses to refugees by ensuring that the values of Ubuntu – our shared humanity- remain at the foundation of the approach to welcome people fleeing conflict and support them to have dignified lives alongside Ugandan local communities. This vision is in line with long standing cultural values, shared universal principles and international law. In June 2017, the solidarity summit on refugees co-hosted by President Yoweri Museveni and the UN Secretary-General António Guterres took place in Uganda with the aim of increasing awareness of this progressive response and mobilizing new partnerships to support the investment in host communities. Since the Summit a growing number of partners – new and old – have visited Uganda and recognized that she is a world example of ensuring the dignity and safety of refugees is achievable. Uganda is an example that deserves robust investment in infrastructure, jobs and the environment in districts hosting refugees to keep the asylum space and sustain peace.

Uganda’s national vision 2040 has informed the engagement strategy of the UN in Uganda outlined in the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) 2016-2020. The UNDAF guides actions by the UN system to help Uganda achieve the objectives of the second National Development Plan (NDP II) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The UNDAF framework has three pillars, one of which is the Peace Security and Resilience Pillar which enables the UN to focus on social cohesion, peacebuilding and conflict prevention. Implementation of key activities is carried out by the UN system in Uganda, through UNHCR, UNDP, WFP, FAO, IOM, ITC, OHCHR, UNDP, UNFPA, UNICEF, UN Women and WHO who work with communities, civil society organisations, youth and women’s groups, development partners and the Government. Within this pillar UN action includes support to legislation and policies such as the draft National Peace Building and conflict Transformation policy, transitional justice policy, Small Arms and Light Weapons Bill, the Immigration policy and the prevention of violent extremism strategy. Peace, security and resilience also have regional implications. This is why the UN contributes to relevant regional initiatives that focus on sustaining peace, supporting indigenous peacebuilding and promoting social cohesion.

While recognizing the importance of peace for sustainable development and inclusive economic growth, it is important make sure that everyone has a role to play. Local government, cultural leaders, youth groups, women associations, parliamentarians, private sector leaders all have a role to play in supporting national government strategies that transform conflict and encourage respect for people and planet. This is an opportunity for each and everyone of us to advance SDG 16 in our families and communities in Uganda. Together we can strengthen democratic institutions as a foundation for promoting peace and development. This can help us address youth unemployment by investing in robust institutions that can promote and protect jobs. We can also take action to protect our natural resources including wetlands, gold, aluminium, oil, iron ore, forests and wildlife. Uganda is home to the world’s second biggest fresh water Lake- Lake Victoria, some of the most impressive forests and wetlands which are all critical if we are to save future generations, safeguard livelihoods and prevent conflict over access to resources. The responsible and sustainable use of natural resources is key to maintain peace while improving the quality of life of people regardless of location within Uganda.

As I conclude, I invite Ugandans and friends of Uganda to invest in its rich and diverse community of peacebuilders and champions for sustainable development. Allow me to highlight a few: the Elders Forum of Uganda (TEFU), the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda (IRCU), the Nabbagereka Development Foundation, Reach a Hand Uganda, the Whitaker Peace and Development foundation, the National Consultative Forum (NCF), the Inter-Party Organisation for Dialogue (IPOD), the Women’s Situation Room (WSR), the African Youth Initiatives and the Citizens’ Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda (CCEDU). I want to use this opportunity to thank Ugandans who actively promote peace and security including Victor Ochen our SDG 16 Ambassador, Maggie Kigozi our SDG 5 Ambassador and the Prime Minister of Uganda Right Honorable Rugunda for his continued leadership in this area. A collective effort by all of us from our homes to our jobs will be key if Uganda is to attain its vison 2040 and the agenda 2030.

I want to thank all the NGOs, religious and cultural leaders, business leaders, member of the Government and Parliament as well as development partners and staff of the UN family in Uganda for your commitment to peace, security and development. On this International Day of Peace, I invite you to express your commitment to peace by taking action today to help our families and communities live a dignified life even when they include refugees and migrants.

Together we must keep the concept of Ubuntu alive by promoting peaceful co-existence, nurturing dialogue and encouraging tolerance.

UN Agencies in Uganda