The International Day of Peace, sometimes unofficially known as World Peace Day, is a holiday observed annually on 21 September. It is dedicated to world peace, and specifically the absence of war and violence, such as a temporary ceasefire in a combat zone for humanitarian aid access. The day was first celebrated in 1982, and is kept by many nations, political groups, military groups, and people. In 2013 the day was 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”. The United Nations General Assembly declared, in a resolution sponsored by the United Kingdom and Costa Rica,the International Day of Peace, to be devoted to commemorating and strengthening the ideals of peace
The First observance of the International Day of peace took place in 1982 and The theme of the first International Day of Peace was the Right to peace of people. In 1983 a Culture of Peace initiative was launched by the UN Secretary General entitled “a Culture of Peace in the 21st century” to unite the strengths of organizations, projects and peoples in order to make Peace a practical reality for the children of this and future generations. In 1996 A proposal was made to expand the International Day of Peace to include Reconciliation, for which a massive number of emblems (White Doves) would be distributed after a formal presentation at the United Nations, was put forward by Vincent Coyle, of Derry, Northern Ireland, and was debated at Seanad Éireann.
In 2001 the opening day of the General Assembly was scheduled for 11 September. In 2004 A diplomatic stir occurred when Lions Clubs International sponsored a competition for six posters to be used for International Day of Peace commemorative stamps issued by the UN Postal Administration. A poster by 15-year-old Taiwanese school student Yang Chih-Yuan was announced as one of the winners, but according to Taiwan media reports, Taiwan Lions Club and the government of Taiwan, the poster was withdrawn due to pressure from China. However It was decided that the rejection of the student’s painting on political grounds did not reflect the ideals of the International Day of Peace and The government of Taiwan (Republic of China) later issued a stamp containing the image.
In 2005, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan called for the worldwide observance of a 22-hour cease-fire and day of nonviolence to mark the Day. In 2006, then Secretary-General Kofi Annan rang the Peace Bell for the last time during his Term in office. That year the UN asserted the “many ways it works for peace and to encourage individuals, Groups and communities around the world to contemplate and communicate thoughts and activities on how to achieve peace.” The United Kingdom held the primary public and official observation of the United Nations International Day of Peace and Non-Violence in Rochdale, Greater Manchester. This was organized by Peace Parade UK In 2007, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon rang the Peace Bell at United Nations Headquarters in New York calling for a 24-hour cessation of hostilities on 21 September, and for a minute of silence to be observed around the world.
In 2009 the International Year of Reconciliation was announced. The day was marked by a massive number of white doves being distributed after a formal presentation at the United Nations, of the Charter of the United Nations, which is designed to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, by bringing about by peaceful means, and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations which might lead to a breach of the peace, and practising tolerance and living together in peace with one another as good neighbours, thus developing friendly relations among nations and promoting international cooperation to resolve international economic, social, cultural and humanitarian issues.
In 2011 the UN Peace Day’s theme was “Peace and Democracy: Make Your Voice Heard”. Many organizations held Peace Day events worldwide in 2011 including school activities, music concerts, global comedy clubs (www.thinkPEACE.net), peace doves, prayer vigils, peace conferences, and UN activities. Organizations like Peace One Day, Wiser and Culture of Peace have been active participants in Peace Day activities for years. In 2012 the theme was Sustainable Peace for a Sustainable Future commemorating and strengthening the ideals of peace both within and among all nations and peoples. Also in 2012 Peace One Day announced at their O2 Arena concert, a new international campaign called Global Truce 2012, a grassroots initiative and international coalition with non-governmental organisations and Students’ unions in every continent, which increased participation and action on Peace Day 2012, the day of Global Truce. Particular focus in this campaign included a cessation of hostilities on the day and a reduction of domestic violence and bullying in society. The Peace One Day Celebration concert on Peace Day in 2012 was held at Wembley Arena to celebrate Global Truce 2012.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon dedicated the World Peace Day 2013 to Peace education in an effort to refocus minds and financing on the preeminence of peace education as the means to bring about a culture of peace. Animator and children’s book author, Sue DiCicco announced a global campaign to increase awareness of Peace Day and promote peace education within schools and community groups through the Peace Crane Project. Gorey Community School in Co. Wexford, Ireland, was chosen as School of Peace for 2013. Peace One Day also launched a new theme for Global Truce 2013: Who Will You Make Peace With? And thinkPEACE promoted a Peace Day Comedy program, “Stand-Up For International Peace,” To bring awareness to Peace Day, this was held in over 50 global comedy clubs. In 2014 there was a March of Peace in Moscow, Protesting against the war with Ukraine and a concert of INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PEACE was organised by MasterPeace which took place at Amsterdam’s Ziggo Dome. The theme of the 2014 International Day of Peace was the Right of Peoples to Peace, reaffirming the United Nations commitment to the UN Declaration on the Right of Peoples to Peace, which recognizes that the promotion of peace is vital for the full enjoyment of all human rights. In 2014, the thinkPEACE Network held a Peace Day Comedy program, “Stand-Up For International Peace,” which was held in over 50 global comedy clubs. The Waves Of Kindness Global Initiative also celebrated the United Nations International Day Of Peace though global meditation events.
The Director of UNESCO to Vietnam, Katherine Müller, said in Global Education Magazine: “I personally identify with UNESCO’s values in the sense that I truly believe Education, Culture, Social and Natural Sciences, and Communication and Information are some of the most powerful drivers for sustainable development and peace, as a sustainable future cannot exist without sustainable peace. Raising awareness, capacity building, promoting understanding and respect for diversity, and fostering opportunities for interaction to find ways to ensure a culture of peace are all actions that will motivate people to become interested in setting peace as a priority for sustainable development”.
In 2015 The theme of the 2015 International Day of Peace was “Partnerships for Peace – Dignity for All”. In 2016 The theme of the 2016 International Day of Peace was “The Sustainable Development Goals: Building Blocks for Peace” and for 2017 the theme isTogether for Peace: Respect, Safety and Dignity for All.This theme is based on the TOGETHER global campaign that promotes respect, safety and dignity for everyone forced to flee their homes in search of a better life. The Peace Crane Project announced the goal of collecting 1,000 cranes from students around the world to display in various venues to celebrate.