Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” (Gospel of St Matthew 5:9)
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has welcomed the unanimous vote in the United Nations Security Council for a global ceasefire in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Archbishop, spiritual leader of the global Anglican Communion, has written to the Permanent Five members of the Security Council to urge them to go further than words and to actively promote peace. “I now appeal to the Permanent Five members of the Security Council: lead the world and support the Secretary General in actively seeking to implement even this temporary peace, when trust can be built and reconciliation begin,” the Archbishop wrote.
Archbishop Welby, who sits on the Secretary General’s High-Level Advisory Board on Mediation, called for the Security Council members to act “positively and with speed, responding to this crisis and this opportunity with the same selflessness that enabled its establishment after the great horrors of World War II.”
He also committed his own Church to actively working for peace and called for other churches and faith groups to join in taking hold of the historic opportunity presented by the Security Council’s call amid the pandemic. “In company with other faith leaders and communities around the world, I will use all possible efforts to work with the UNO in each of the areas affected by conflict; to seek peace and pursue it,” said the letter. “I will encourage other churches, faiths and ecumenical bodies to do the same.”
The United Nations Organisation has stood for peace since the end of World War II. Despite the many conflicts since 1945, it has remained one of the most powerful signs of hope and of the intention of human beings to put aside the wars that have been the common experience of nations and peoples throughout history, and seek another way of settling our disputes.
Amidst the unprecedented spread and menacing reality of Covid-19, the appeal by the Secretary General for a global ceasefire is a powerful expression of this legacy. And the unanimous support for the ceasefire in the Security Council is a courageous and inspiring moment of hope in a year of grief and danger, offering us the opportunity to face the pandemic together in unity and compassion.
Both nations and armed groups must now put aside partial and local interest for the common good, and act in solidarity and common humanity to seek to care for the most vulnerable; those caught up in conflict.