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International Day of Peace: Celebration, Causes, and Campaigns

September 21st is the International Day of Peace, dedicated to celebrating solidarity, peace, and goodwill. The United Nations General Assembly established the celebration in 1981. The peace day goes beyond a temporary truce, urging us to address various forms of violence and foster a culture of justice, peace, and equality.

Today, communities engage in educational sessions and dialogues to raise awareness and promote a deeper understanding of peace. The Day's symbolism sheds light on global conflicts, emphasizing the need for resolution and inclusive societies. 

Featured in: June- Awareness months, days, and observances

History of International Day of Peace

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The International Day of Peace, or World Peace Day, burst onto the global stage in 1981. This landmark resolution, proposed by the United Kingdom and Costa Rica, sparked new hope for a future free from strife. Back then, the calendar marked every third Tuesday of September for peace. The date coincides with the opening of the UN General Assembly. 

In 1982, the world observed the first Peace Day. The UN Secretary-General at the time, Javier Pérez de Cuéllar, delivered a message that centers on respect, safety, and dignity for everyone. 

However, it was in 2001 that the United Nations General Assembly voted, fixing the 21st of September as the official annual date for the Internation Day of Peace. The United Nations calls for an observance of 24 hrs of non-violence and a ceasefire. 

As time passed, Peace Day hit some pretty impressive milestones. The most notable was in 2005. The UN Secretary-General then, Kofi Annan, was in New York. He stood at the United Nations Headquarters and rang the Peace Bell. With this action, he reached out to the world, calling for a day of non-violence and cease-fire.

Over the years, the International Day of Peace has taken on new dimensions. Every year it's celebrated with a unique theme relevant to current issues. The 2022 theme was “End racism. Build peace”. This year's theme is "Actions for Peace: Our Ambition for the #GlobalGoals." 

What is the significance of the International Day of Peace? 

international peace day
Photo by Christian Wiediger on Unsplash

The International Day of Peace is more than a call to lay down weapons. Achieving true peace goes beyond mere cessation of hostilities. It is a joint effort to resolve armed conflict, restore fundamental human rights, and aim for a sustainable future where everyone is treated equally. Peace is needed now more than ever. Here are some statistics and studies that highlight its importance:

  • Disturbing research from 2014 reveals over 40 armed conflicts resulting in the highest yearly death tolls in the post-Cold War era3. It underscores that peace is not just a philosophical discussion but a matter of life and death.
  • The impact of conflicts extends far beyond immediate casualties. It leaves communities shattered long after the fighting ends, as seen in the displacement crisis. By the end of 2020, around 82.4 million people were forcibly uprooted from their homes, facing the aftermath of conflict, violence, and human rights violations. This number continued to rise. According to Global Trends Report 2022 by UNHCR2, 108.4 million people worldwide fled their home countries due to persecution, violence, and conflict.
  • Women and children are most affected as they are mostly left out during peace negotiations and experience sexual violence (as a war tactic). According to the UN Women report in the Democratic Republic of Congo, conflict amplifies various forms of violence against women, girls, men, and boys, including sexual violence (ranging from 18 to 40 percent for women and girls and 4 to 24 percent for men and boys), domestic violence, trafficking, and child marriage.
  • Peace disputes exacerbate world hunger. According to the Global Report on Food Crises, the number of people suffering from severe food insecurity has increased to 139 million in 2021 due to conflict and security threats1.

Related read: Equality & Diversity Facts & Statistics

Efforts and Initiatives to Foster Peace

Many diverse organizations persistently work to build sustainable peace and cultivate harmony in the global peacekeeping arena. Our champion in this effort is the United Nations. The UN actively ignites the spirit of non-violence and peace in people worldwide through educational programs and events.

Furthermore, the Peace One Day organization is also one of the leading peace advocates. Actor and filmmaker Jeremy Gilley gave birth to this idea. This organization has instilled the value of peace and reconciliation in schools worldwide through well-thought-out campaigns and educational programs.

On the other hand, the US Institute of Peace and the PeaceJam Foundation have come up with novel programs aimed at building peace and helping people understand how to resolve conflicts. The PeaceJam, which boasts a lineup of Nobel Peace Laureates mentoring youth, has positively impacted tens of millions of young lives in 40 countries.

How to Get Involved and Support the Cause

dove representing peace
Photo by cocoparisienne on Pixabay

Achieving true peace entails everyone making an effort. We can celebrate and support peace day by following these simple tips:

  • Spread Awareness: Share posts, articles, and information about the International Day of Peace on social media platforms to raise awareness among your friends and followers.
  • Engage in Dialogue: Foster open and respectful dialogues with people from diverse backgrounds to promote understanding and bridge cultural gaps.
  • Support Peaceful Initiatives: Engage with and support organizations that work towards peace, humanitarian aid, and conflict resolution efforts worldwide. You can also give monetary assistance to these organizations.
  • Practice Acts of Kindness: Spread peace by performing random acts of kindness in your community.
  • Join Peace Events: Plan or participate in local peace events, such as peace walks, meditations, or community discussions on promoting peace.

Conclusion

A peaceful world is an equitable and sustainable world. As we celebrate this united nations international day, let us all be reminded that the culture of peace should be practiced in our everyday life.

We can start right where we are, with small acts of kindness, educating others about peace, and fostering understanding within our communities. Supporting organizations that promote human rights and conflict resolution is another meaningful step.

Global peace is an ongoing journey, and it begins with each individual. Let's promote the peace message, one step at a time, not just on September 21st but every day.

International Day of Peace FAQs

1. When is the International Day of Peace?

This global observance on September 21st annually advocates peace and non-violence among nations and people. 

2. Why observe the International Day of Peace?

It serves to remind us of the value of peace in the world, encouraging the resolution of conflicts and peace promotion.

3. How can I join in observing the International Day of Peace?

By organizing or attending peace events, promoting the day on social media, or simply exercising kindness and understanding. 

1

Global Report on Food Crises - 2022 | World Food Programme. (2022, May 4).

2

UNHCR - The UN Refugee Agency. (2022). Global Trends Report 2022 | UNHCR. UNHCR.

3

Pettersson, T., & Wallensteen, P. (2015). Armed conflicts, 1946–2014. Journal of Peace Research, 52(4), 536–550.

By Chinny Verana, BSc.

Chinny Verana is a degree-qualified marine biologist and researcher passionate about nature and conservation. Her expertise allows her to deeply understand the intricate relationships between marine life and their habitats.

Her unwavering love for the environment fuels her mission to create valuable content for TRVST, ensuring that readers are enlightened about the importance of biodiversity, sustainability, and conservation efforts.

Fact Checked By:
Isabela Sedano, BEng.

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