On  September 21st every year, the United Nations Secretary General rings the Japanese Peace Bell to bring in International Day of Peace. As the echo of the bell vibrates across New York’s UN Headquarters, the rest of the world is also asked to join on and observe a day of peace.

Peace Day was introduced in 1981 by the UN to recognise that every person has the inherent right to live in peaceful conditions, in an absolute absence of war and violence.

“Every year on the International Day of Peace, the United Nations calls on the people of the world to reaffirm their commitment to living in harmony as members of a single human family.” – Ban Kee Moon

Peace Day Saves Lives

Since 1981, we have seen the face of conflict change time and time again. Unfortunately, even between 2014-2015, armed wars and violence wiped out decades of development gains across the world. In 2014, 14 million children were caught up in conflict, a statistic that humanitarian organisations such as UNICEF are working hard to reduce. Violence destabilizes countries, impedes economic progress, and destroys civilian’s freedom to their basic human rights and dignities.

Despite the harrowing accounts of today’s conflicts, there is hope for a more peaceful world. In fact, despite what it may seem, every day the world is continuing to become less and less violent.

Peace Day is just one initiative to inspire unity across cultures, as we cooperate towards peace. Although it will take more than one day to obtain world peace, the impact of Peace Day has helped move us much closer to global harmony.

Peace Day appeals to countries involved in conflict to observe a day of ceasefire and non-violence. These precious moments of peace allow relief for civilians from the terror and tensions of anticipating where the next strike will come in conflict zones. It also allows aid organisations to perform life-saving activities not usually possible in these areas. As consequence of the ceasefires called on International Peace Day, millions of children could be vaccinated for Polio. UNHCR were able to deliver over 1000 fuel-efficient stoves to women in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, reducing their exposure to gender based violence as they gather firewood.

The Achievements of Peace Day

In 2016, Peace Day reached over 2.2 billion people worldwide through campaigning efforts. So far, every country in the world has taken part in different types of activities to help promote peace on September 21st. In 2016, Afghanistan’s National Environmental Protection Agency hosted their 8th annual Peace Trek in the Koh-e Baba mountains of Bamyan, IMC facilitated interfaith dialogue sessions with youth across North Nigeria, as well as music concerts, conferences and festivals held all over the world.

Nothing short of extraordinary, 940 million were introduced to Peace Day in 2016, with the majority of growth achieved in India. What’s more, 16 million people behaved more peacefully that day.

How You Can Take Part in Peace Day

The efforts and goals of our government and international agencies are creating great changes, however, we must also pay attention to peace and conflict within ourselves. Peace goes beyond the absence of war, and calls for a universal understanding amongst our many differences as human beings. This Peace Day, make sure you observe peace and conflict in your own lives, and those around you. Can you make peace with yourself, or a conflict you are having? Peace begins with a smile, so do what you can to spread the good stuff!

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