Martin Luther King Day: UN seeks more investments in social justice

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Martin Luther King

The United Nations on Monday marked the Martin Luther King Jr. Day with top officials urging more investments towards world peace, equality and social justice.

“Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream of equality and social justice for all remains an inspiration,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a tweet.

“Decades after his death, the fight for equality is far from over. Let us build on his work as we continue our pursuit of a better world for all,” he added.

In a video message, the Deputy Secretary-General, Ms Amina Mohammed, said the COVID-19 had exposed “deep-rooted inequalities” in human societies, highlighting the disproportionate impacts of the virus, with members of racial minorities and other vulnerable groups worst hit.

“Even before the pandemic, the world was facing a surge of hate speech, racism, xenophobia, neo-Nazism, white supremacy and other forms of discrimination.

“Now is the time for unity, solidarity and compassion. UN values of equality and human dignity point the way,” she said.

The UN deputy chief called for new social contracts, based on inclusion and sustainability, as the world strives to recover from the pandemic and build a better future. 

This, she emphasised, requires huge investments in social cohesion and promotion of equality and opportunity for all.

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“Dr Martin Luther King’s legacy, as well as that of other African American civil rights leaders will continue to inspire us in that journey.

“Dr Martin Luther King embodied the ideals of the United Nations: peace, social justice and human rights.  He lived and died defending human dignity and believing in the equal worth of every human being.

“As we use this commemoration to reaffirm commitment to that work, let us draw strength from Dr. King’s words: ‘Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.’

“The United Nations will continue to be your strong partner in this essential mission of the important work of Martin Luther King Jr,” Mohammed added.

Abridged as MLK Day, the Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a federal holiday in the U.S., commemorating the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr.

King was an American Baptist minister, activist and leader of the civil rights movement between 1955 and 1968. He is celebrated all over the world for advancing civil rights through nonviolent means and civil disobedience.

Although King was born on Jan. 15, the day is observed on the third Monday of every January.