“If the human race wishes to have a prolonged and indefinite period of material prosperity, they have only got to behave in a peaceful and helpful way toward one another.”
– Winston Churchill –
The International Day of Peace provides a globally shared date for all humanity to commit to peace above all differences and to contribute to building a culture of peace. The International Day of Peace or World Peace Day is observed around the world each year on the 21st of September and the UN General Assembly has declared this as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace both within and among all nations and people. It’s celebrated by observing 24 hours of non-violence and cease-fire.
The day was first celebrated in 1981 and in 1981, the UN General Assembly declared the 3rd Tuesday of September as the International Day of Peace. This day coincided with the opening day of the annual sessions of the General Assembly. Two decades after establishing this day of observance, in 2001 the Assembly moved the date to be observed annually on the 21st of September. To inaugurate the day the UN peace bell is rung at UN Headquarters in New York City (the UN peace bell was donated by the UN Association of Japan in 1954 and it has become a tradition to ring the bell twice a year, on the first day of Spring and on the International Day of Peace).
For the International Day of Peace 2022, the theme is “End Racism, Build Peace” and it involves creating a world in which people are treated equally regardless of their race. The Youth Observance for International Day of Peace was held on the 16th of September at the UN Headquarters.
As Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said, “Racism continues to poison institutions, social structures and everyday life in every society, it continues to be a driver of persistent inequality. And it continues to deny people their fundamental human rights. It destabilizes societies, undermines democracies, erodes the legitimacy of governments, and… the linkages between racism and gender inequality are unmistakable’’.
So this year, the UN aims to promote a message of anti-racism through education. As conflicts continue to erupt and as COVID-19 keeps impacting our communities, we have seen race-based discrimination, hate speech and violence directed at racial minorities. On this occasion of the International Day of Peace, we all have a role to play in fostering peace and we can support movements for equality and human rights. We can speak out against hate speech. We can promote anti-racism. If each of us did one small thing to bring about peace even each week, think of the global impact this would have!
“You cannot find peace by avoiding life!’’ – Virginia Woolf –