The International Day of Multilateralism and Diplomacy for Peace was established on December 12 2018 by the General Assembly of the United Nations and first celebrated on April 24 2019. This day stands as a reminder of some of the most important values of the UN: peace and cooperation between all countries and the protection of human rights all over the world.
As the UN celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2020, during the Covid pandemic, the celebration of the International Day for Multilateralism and Diplomacy for Peace took on a special meaning. As the UN Secretary-General António Guterres wrote, the pandemic reminded us all of how deeply we are connected and how important it is, especially in these tragic circumstances, to remember the three fundamental pillars of the UN: peace and security, development and human rights. The 24th of April should serve as a reminder to all that without being open to others, the world may never become a place of dialogue and peace, a place where diplomacy is always able to resolve conflict before it arises. War and violence only bring pain and suffering, especially to the lower classes, the poorest and the ones we must aim to protect the most.
On April 24th 2020 the President of the General Assembly, Tijjani Muhammad Bande, also gave a speech to commemorate the importance of this date for all the UN. He reminded us all that while we are all suffering because of the pandemic, there are those who are also living in areas of conflict, which leads them to be at an higher risk of dying from the virus, by limiting their access to food, water and health care. In these times the world must unite as one only human family to, as the President underlined, “safeguard those most vulnerable, those who are often marginalized, children, the elderly and people with disabilities and, in particular, women who are disproportionately affected”.
The pandemic has shown us that only international cooperation can lead to security for all, the vaccines that are now being distributed were born as a result of cooperation, not isolationism and protectionism. Now it is our duty to distribute these vaccines also to countries who are developing, to bring security to those who are below the line of poverty and are at an highest risk in front of the virus. Covid-19 has laid in front of us all the inequalities that afflict not only the developing, but also the wealthiest countries. A global network of connection is necessary to fight those injustices and to bring forward new voices. Right now the values of multilateralism and altruism are essential to protect those, for whom this virus could be fatal, and can be shown through simple acts, such as wearing a mask, washing our hands frequently and adhering to social distancing.
To reach the purposes that the UN has set for itself, it is essential to remember the importance of young people, those who will have to pay the price of the pandemic. As António Guterres wrote in his message last year: “the voice of youth is decisive in shaping our future”. The importance of giving voice to young people during the recovery from Covid-19 is felt in Europe too, where the European Union has approved the proposal Next Generation EU, whose aim is to prepare a better future for the leaders of tomorrow.
The International Day of Multilateralism and Diplomacy for Peace cannot be just a day, the values it represents must be maintained every single day, altruism, dialogue, openness to other cultures and peoples; these are the values we must take as a lesson from this pandemic, and these are the values that us, the next generation, the leaders of the future must start to implement in our lives.