The United Nations' (UN) International Day of Peace is annually held on September 21 to recognize the efforts of individuals, organizations and governments to end conflict and promote peace
What do people do?
On the International Day of Peace, also known as Peace Day, people around the world take part in various activities and organize events centered on the theme “peace”. Events vary from private gatherings to public concerts and forums involving large audiences. Activities include:
- Interfaith peace ceremonies.
- A toast for peace.
- A peace choir.
- Lighting candles.
- Peace prayers.
- A peace convoy of vehicles.
- Tree planting for peace.
- Art exhibitions promoting peace.
- Picnics for peace.
- Peace walks.
Organizations such as Roots & Shoots, an international environmental and humanitarian program for youth, show their support for the event on an annual basis. Young people involved in Roots & Shoots may engage in activities such as crafting giant peace dove puppets from re-used materials and flying the doves in their communities. People from diverse religious and spiritual backgrounds also commit to organizing an International Day of Peace Vigil. Some groups observe a minute of silence at noon in every time zone across the world on Peace Day.
The UN’s International Day of Peace is a global observance and not a public holiday. It is a day when nations around the world are invited to honor a cessation of hostilities during the day.
A UN resolution established the International Day of Peace in 1981 to coincide with the opening of the UN General Assembly. The first Peace Day was celebrated in 1982 and was held on the third Tuesday of September each year until 2002, when September 21 became the permanent date for the International Day of Peace. The assembly decided in 2001 that the International Day of Peace should be annually observed on September 21 starting from 2002. By setting a fixed date for the International Day of Peace, the assembly declared that the day should be observed as a day of global ceasefire and non-violence.
By creating the International Day of Peace, the UN devoted itself to worldwide peace and encouraged people to work in cooperation for this goal. Since its inception, Peace Day has marked personal and planetary progress toward peace. It has grown to include millions of people worldwide and many events are organized each year to commemorate and celebrate this day.
The peace dove flying with an olive branch in its beak is one of the most commonly featured symbols for the day. In Judaism, Christianity, and Islam a white dove is generally a sign for peace. The dove can also represent “hope for peace” or a peace offering from one person to another, hence the phrase “to extend an olive branch”. Often, the dove is represented as still in flight to remind people of its role as messenger.
Each year on September 21, the UN invites all nations and people to honor a cessation of hostilities and commemorate the International Day of Peace through education and public awareness on issues related to peace. In the quest for peace, the Universal Peace Federation and its Ambassadors for Peace around the world organize commemorations of the International Day of Peace each year. The theme for 2012 is:
"Sustainable Peace for a Sustainable Future"
Armed conflicts rob people of the opportunity to develop, create jobs, safeguard the environment, fight poverty, reduce the risk from disasters, advance social equity, and ensure that everyone has enough to eat. We want a future where natural resources are protected and valued rather than used to finance wars, where children can be educated at school and not recruited into armies, where economic and social inequalities are resolved through dialogue instead of violence. To read UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's Message, click here.
Events planned by UPF chapters:
- Argentina: Winners announced in the poetry contest on the theme of "Words of Meeting and Universal Consciousness"
- Malaysia: A program in Ipoh, Parak
- Norway: European Leadership Conference in the Norwegian Parliament on "Sustainable Peace for a Sustainable Future"
- Peru: Programs in Lima at the Peruvian Congress and in Trujillo
- Spain: A forum and "Helping Your Neighbor" awards
International Day of Peace observances may include:
- Reading UN and UPF statements about the Day of Peace and observing one minute of silence
- A forum on the theme chosen by the United Nations
- Prayers offered by representatives of various traditions
- A ceremony of reconciliation
- Music, art, dances, and food from various cultures
- A march, rally, service project, or sports event