2013 International Day of Peace | 21 September
"Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal," said Martin Luther King. "Those who love peace must learn to organize as effectively as those who love war."
The International Day of Peace (IDP) provides an opportunity for individuals, organizations and nations to create practical acts of peace on a shared date.
This year, the IDP will be observed on Saturday, September 21, and special activities and celebrations will take place all across the world over the 2013 Peace Day Weekend — including festivals, concerts, a global Peace Wave with moments of silence at noon in every time zone, and much more.
In 2013, for the first time, this day is dedicated by the Secretary-General of the United Nations to peace education — the key preventive means to reduce war sustainably.
To inaugurate the day, the United Nations Peace Bell is rung at UN Headquarters in New York City. The bell is cast from coins donated by children from all continents except Africa, and was a gift from the United Nations Association of Japan, as "a reminder of the human cost of war." The inscription on its side reads, "Long live absolute world peace."
In 1981, the United Nations General Assembly, by unanimous vote, adopted a resolution establishing the International Day of Peace, and in 2002 the Assembly officially declared September 21 as the permanent annual date for the IDP.
The UN Secretary-General's Countdown Message:
Education for Peace
Earlier in June, Ban Ki-moon begun a 100-day countdown to the observance of this Day of Peace, when the United Nations calls on all combatants around the world to lay down their arms and to give peace a real chance.
He cited that "the theme for the Day this year is Education for Peace. The UN will examine the role education can play in fostering global citizenship. It is not enough to teach children how to read, write and count. Education has to cultivate mutual respect for others and the world in which we live, and help people forge more just, inclusive and peaceful societies.
"This kind of education is a central focus of my Global Education First Initiative, which calls on governments to place education at the top of their agenda. I call on everyone — whether governments, parties to conflicts, religious institutions, community leaders, the media, academics, or civil society groups — to play their part. We must support peace education programmes, protect students and teachers from conflict, help rebuild schools destroyed by war, and ensure all girls and boys have access to a quality education that includes learning about resolving and preventing conflicts," Ban said in his message.
In creating the International Day of Peace, the UN discussion on the resolution suggested that:
"Peace Day should be devoted to commemorating and strengthening the ideals of peace both within and among all nations and peoples… This day will serve as a reminder to all peoples that our organization, with all its limitations, is a living instrument in the service of peace and should serve all of us here within the organization as a constantly pealing bell reminding us that our permanent commitment, above all interests or differences of any kind, is to peace."
Since its inception, Peace Day has grown to include millions of people in all parts of the world, and each year events are organized to commemorate and celebrate this day. Events range in scale from private gatherings to public concerts and forums where hundreds of thousands of people participate.
Anyone, anywhere can celebrate Peace Day.
It can be as simple as lighting a candle at noon, sitting in silent meditation, or doing a good deed for someone you do not know. Or it can involve getting your co-workers, organization, community or government engaged in a large event. The impact if millions of people in all parts of the world, coming together for one day of peace, is immense, and does make a difference.
International Day of Peace is also a Day of Ceasefire — personal or political. Take this opportunity to make peace in your own relationships as well as impact the larger conflicts of our time. Imagine what a whole Day of Ceasefire would mean to humankind.
Poster: Armando Milani
International Day of Peace