At the Lamp of Peace Ceremony Honouring UN Secretary General António Guterres

Remarks by His Majesty King Abdullah II

At the Lamp of Peace Ceremony Honouring UN Secretary General António Guterres

18 December 2021
(Via teleconference)


In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful

Father Moroni,
Cardinal Bassetti,
My Friends:

The Lamp of Peace is a doubly meaningful award. Those who are honoured to receive it are also welcomed to help pass it forward. Nothing is more appropriate to peace; nothing more expresses our human bonds; and nothing is more true to the common teachings of our different religions than to give of what we receive.

So I am humbled to join you today to help pass the Lamp of Peace to a man who has devoted his life to serving others, a man I am proud to call my dear friend—United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres.

Your Excellency,

We have waited a long time for this day! For almost two years, a global plague has delayed it. All that time, our world has been challenged to work together; challenged to find answers; and above all, challenged to help the most vulnerable, on an equal basis with those who have much.

And even today, we are forced to meet remotely as this global pandemic continues to impact our world; yet, other dangers also cry out for serious attention—violent regional conflicts with global reach, a global refugee crisis, the threat of extremist violence and hatred, and the urgent crisis of climate change.

The lives of our children and the hope for our future depend on what we do now.

My friends, 

That message has been the consistent call of the Secretary-General—urging our world forward, to make real the enduring, shared values of peace, justice, mercy, and mutual respect. Long before he was Secretary-General, he championed these values, in his home city Lisbon, his country Portugal, the EU, and across the world.

As UN High Commissioner for Refugees, he worked tirelessly to deal with a surging global refugee crisis, reaching out to refugees with compassion and empathy. And I can attest personally to his concern, not only for refugees, but for the tremendous sacrifices of people in host countries like Jordan.

When he was elected to serve as UN Secretary-General, he brought to the job a deep understanding of the importance of collective action to counter critical issues. And he has also warned against the threats to our unity—ignorance, hatred, and polarisation. 

And, of course, he is a true peacemaker. In my region, the Middle East, the Secretary-General has been unwavering in his support for political resolutions to conflicts, including the two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict—the only way towards a future of security and peace for both sides. And he has been a strong voice for international law and the protection of Jerusalem, maintaining the security and status quo of its Holy Sites. 

My friends,

In my faith, Islam, we are commanded to be kind, not only to the neighbour who is near, but to the neighbour who is a stranger; not only to the friend at our side, but to the wayfarer who passes by. Such a teaching is part of every major faith in our world. And this compassion is clearly known well by the man we honour today. 

The people of the world have been fortunate twice: first, to have a UN Secretary-General with such tremendous empathy and vision, and second, to have a great advocate for the values we share. I am proud to pass to my dear friend the Lamp of Peace.