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António Guterres (UN Secretary-General) on the role of religious leaders in addressing the multiples challenges of COVID-19
12 May 2020 -  Remarks by António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations on the role of religious leaders in addressing the multiples challenges of COVID-19.

" (...) We are all vulnerable — and that shared vulnerability reveals our common humanity.
It lays bare our responsibility to promote solidarity as the foundation of our response – a solidarity based on the human rights and human dignity of all.
And it highlights your crucial role in your communities and beyond.
We know from previous public health crises – from HIV/AIDS to Ebola – that the actions of faith leaders influence people’s values, attitudes, behaviours, and actions.
And with this influence comes responsibility to work together, putting aside differences, and to translate our common values into action.
So today I would highlight four areas where you can play a pivotal role to deliver solutions to not only address the pandemic, but recover better.
First, I thank religious leaders for supporting my appeal for a global ceasefire so that we can together focus on fighting our shared enemy — COVID-19.
Yet we continue to see conflicts rage in many places — along with a rise in ethno-nationalism, stigma and hate speech targeting vulnerable communities and exacerbating suffering. Meanwhile, extremists and radical groups are seeking to exploit eroding trust in leadership and feed on people’s vulnerability to serve their own ends.
I ask that faith leaders actively challenge inaccurate and harmful messages, and encourage all communities to promote non-violence and reject xenophobia, racism and all forms of intolerance.
Second, I also made an appeal for peace in the home. Across the globe we are seeing an alarming increase in violence against women and girls as this pandemic spreads.
This is in violation of principles common to every faith, and I appeal to religious leaders to categorically condemn such acts and support shared principles of partnership, equality, respect and compassion.
Partnership also means ensuring women’s equal voice and representation in all spheres. I can share with you from my personal experience – in government and in the United Nations — that when we have a balance of perspectives, we have greater capacity to achieve our goals.
Third, as we fight the spread of disinformation and misinformation, I ask you to leverage your networks and communication capacities to support governments in promoting WHO-recommended public health measures — from physical distancing to good hygiene — and to ensure that faith-based activities, including worship, religious ceremonies and burial practices, comply with these measures.
Fourth, at a time when the vast majority of the world’s students are out of school or university, I urge faith leaders to support the continuity of education, working with education providers to find solutions so that learning never stops. (...)" - António Guterres [excerpt, as delivered].
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