COVID-19 vaccines are being developed and people are getting vaccinated, however, the pandemic is not over yet. Due to the increase of Delta variant that is highly contagious than the previous coronavirus which can be dominant, the confirmed case from January to August in 2021 was more than the total number of confirmed cases in 2020. In this situation, vaccination is becoming urgent throughout the world.

Unequal Access to Coronavirus Vaccines

Equitable access to safe and effective vaccines is critical to ending the COVID-19 pandemic. By August 2021, over 4.84 billion COVID-19 vaccines have been used, but still, over 100 countries have not received a single dose. People who are caught in national strife are especially vulnerable, being prevented from access to healthcare.

In line with the UN Secretary-General’s appeal for a global ceasefire last March, the Security Council unanimously passed a resolution calling for all Member States to support a “sustained humanitarian pause” to local conflicts. The global ceasefire must continue to be honored, to ensure people caught in conflict have access to lifesaving vaccinations and treatments.

“Peace is the foundation of that recovery. The global vaccination effort cannot advance amidst armed conflict.”

– UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres

Discrimination Related to Coronavirus

Health officials have made clear there is no link between coronavirus and a person’s race or national origin—anyone can get the virus, and anyone can spread it. Yet, misinformation about COVID-19 virus is leading to hatred and discrimination. This scapegoating has led to derogatory name-calling, verbal harassment, denial of entry and service, and even physical violence.

Anti-Asian incidents are occurring in the U.S. after the COVID-19 pandemic, and numerous reports about COVID-19 attacks and discrimination are pouring out. The advocacy group Stop AAPI Hate said it received almost 1,500 reports of racism, hate speech, discrimination, and physical assault directed at Asians and Asian Americans in the four months since January 2020.

In the UK, there were reports of several violent attacks on Asians when the COVID-19 broke out which includes physical attacks.

Sky News in the U.K. reported that in many jurisdictions, the figures between January and March in 2020 showed ani-Asian hate crime incidents matching the total number of complaints during all of 2019.

Discrimination was not limited to Asians. In India and Sri Lanka, cases of COVID-19-related attacks and discrimination against Muslims have been reported. In Myanmar, extremist leaders have used the epidemic to justify the expressions of intimidation and hatred against Muslims.

Chinese authorities in Guangzhou, south of Guangdong Province, home to China’s largest African community, forced the Africans to take coronavirus tests in early April 2020 and ordered them to self-quarantine or quarantine in designated hotels. Since then, landlords drove out Africans, and many had to sleep on the streets. Moreover, they were refused at hotels, shops, and restaurants.

As the COVID-19 related discrimination gets worse, the World Health Organization [WHO] issued a warning statement, saying, “It is very important that we do not profile the cases on the basis of racial, religious, and ethnic lines,” On May 8, 2020, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that “the pandemic continues to unleash a tsunami of hate and xenophobia, scapegoating and scare-mongering” and urged governments to “act now to strengthen the immunity of our societies against the virus of hate.”

In our interdependent world, no one is safe until everyone is safe. The virus attacks all without caring about where we are from or what we believe in. That is why the coronavirus is affecting not only individuals in conflict-affected areas, but also the entire human society.

We must be reminded that we are not each other’s enemy. To be able to recover from the devastation of the pandemic, we must rid of discrimination and hatred, and make peace with one another.

“Recovering Better for an Equitable and Sustainable World”

Every year, the International Day of Peace is observed around the world on 21 September. The UN General Assembly has declared this as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, through observing 24 hours of non-violence and cease-fire.

A UN resolution established the International Day of Peace in 1981 to coincide with the opening of the UN General Assembly. The first Peace Day was celebrated in 1982 and was held on the third Tuesday of September every year until 2002, when September 21 became the permanent date for the International Day of Peace. The assembly decided that the International Day of Peace should be annually observed on September 21, starting from 2002. By setting a fixed date for the International Day of Peace, the assembly declared that the day should be observed as a day of global ceasefire and non-violence.

By creating the International Day of Peace, the UN devoted itself to worldwide peace and encouraged people to work in cooperation for this goal. Since its inception, it has grown to include millions of people worldwide and many events are organized each year to commemorate and celebrate this day.

The 2021 theme for the International Day of Peace is “Recovering better for an equitable and sustainable world.”

This day is to celebrate peace by standing up against acts of hate online and offline, and by spreading kindness, compassion, and hope in the face of the pandemic, and as we recover.

The Role of Youth for Peace

As we count down to the International Day of Peace, I call on people everywhere to be part of a transformation for peace, by standing up against hatred and discrimination, by caring for the planet, and by showing the global solidarity that is so vital at this time.  

– UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres

According to the State of World Population 2014 Report issued by the UN Population Fund, the world’s youth population (ages 14 to 24) reached 1.8 billion, the highest in human history; this is equivalent to 25% of the world’s population. The UN through its resolutions has recognized the important role of youth in shaping opinions of the future generations. They anticipate that the actions of young people will promote change and the success of the SDGs.

What can young adults do for peacebuilding?

  • Have Interest in the International Day of Peace (September 21) And Promote It Online and Offline.

Provide opportunities to have greater influence through messages and activities that support the International Day of Peace. Don’t think about peace for just one day, but continue to share your ideas to maintain peace.

  • Reduce Violence Everywhere

Eliminate discrimination and hatred at home, school, and everyday life. Show kindness to each other, understand others, and spread hope that the situation will be better. Raise awareness of non-violence by holding seminars, lectures, and online/offline campaigns.

  • Take Care of the Planet and Actively Support the Local and International Community Through Diverse Volunteer Activities.

Build peace and a sense of our common humanity through volunteering/service and learning about humanitarian and environmental issues affecting communities close to home and across the world.

Just like this year’s theme of the International Day of Peace, young people should become an active agent of peacebuilding and reconciliation for a fair and sustainable world.

As we are all together in this difficult time without exception, let’s celebrate peace and make positive changes in human society from small acts of kindness.