More than half a million people die violently every year - in armed conflicts; from criminal activity; and from violent attacks in their own homes.
An estimated 1.5 billion plus people are live in countries affected by war, violence, and/or high levels of crime.
The absence of peace exacts a terrible toll. Armed conflict terrifies communities and makes development progress very difficult. Deep inequalities may be reflected in levels of violence – and will be exacerbated by it. For example, women and girls, who suffer discrimination in many places, are disproportionately affected by armed conflict. War increases their economic and social vulnerability.
Yet it is possible to tackle these challenges decisively, and UNDP sees progress being made in a number of countries in which we work. For example:
· This year El Salvador recorded its first murder-free day in over three years. Murders there have fallen by an average of 12 per cent since the introduction of gun-free zones;
· Liberia is on the road to recovery from many years of civil war, 2013 will mark a decade of peace there; and
· In Angola, an arms amnesty led to the surrender of more than 76,000 illegal weapons.
These examples all show that success is possible, but much more success is needed to enable all people in our world to live free of fear and for human development to gain traction everywhere.
Peace Day is a day when we can all commit to the cause of non-violence. UNDP is joining forces with the Peace One Day movement to make this call across the world.
Let us resolve to work together to combat violence and promote peace; and to use non-violence to achieve social and political change. Let us each in our own way support the peace advocates and the citizens who demand a future free of violence.
I call on you to join the Peace One Day movement – and to act to ensure peace in our homes, communities, countries, and world.