Speaking on the International Peace Day, observed on Saturday, a senior United Nations official told CNN that the commemoration is needed now more than ever.
"We have called for 24 hours of ceasefires, the end of all hostilities all over the world," Shashi Tharoor, the Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information, told CNN anchor Catherine Callaway. He voiced hope that the initiative would mark a beginning, "and that we can extend that around the world so we can use the ceasefires today to get the relief through, to get mediators doing their work to try and bring about peace, to try and work towards a time when we will not have peace as the exception but rather as the rule."
Asked about the value of the initiative in the context of a potential conflict in Iraq, he replied, "What could be a more appropriate time to talk of peace, when there is a prospect of war?"
Questioned about the role played by Secretary-General Kofi Annan in Baghdad's decision to unconditionally accept UN weapons inspections, Mr. Tharoor stressed that the UN leader's job is to promote compliance with Security Council resolutions. Iraq is currently in breach of those texts, and Mr. Annan's aim is "to make it very clear what terms were necessary to be found in that letter for that letter to be acceptable."
"He wanted to see an unconditional acceptance of the Security Council resolutions, and he wanted to see a reference to immediate compliance," the Under-Secretary-General explained. "He doesn't draft the Iraqi Government's letters."
The matter, he added, is now in the hands of the Security Council. "It's really up to them to decide what to do," he said.