International Day of Peace is observed around the world every year on September 21. The day was designated as such in 1981 by the United Nations General Assembly. Then after two decades in 2001, the United Nations General Assembly unitedly voted to delegate the day as a period of non-violence and ceasefire.
Although International Day of Peace was established by a UN resolution in 1981, the first time it was celebrated in 1982. Earlier till 2002, it was celebrated on the third Tuesday of September each year. After that, the assembly decided to celebrate International Day of Peace permanently on September 21. The main focus of declaring September 21 as International Day of Peace is to encourage people to work in cooperation to promote and maintain peace in the world.
No doubt, International Peace Day provides an opportunity to people all over the world to commit to peace above all differences and considerations and to contribute to building a culture of peace and harmony.
The 2021 theme for International Day of Peace was “Recovering better for an equitable and sustainable world”. “On this day we need to resolve to join the efforts of the United Nations family as we focus on recovering better for a more equitable and peaceful world. We need to celebrate peace by standing up against acts of hate online and offline, and by spreading the message of compassion, kindness, and hope for everyone,” the UN said.
The theme of International Day of Peace 2019 was “Climate Action for Peace”. The theme focuses on the need for combating climate change as a way to protect and promote peace throughout the world. According to the UN, climate change poses serious threats to international peace and security. Due to natural disasters, millions of people are forced to leave their homes. Food security is also hampered by the salinization of water and crops. If we want to achieve peace then it is necessary to take urgent action to combat climate change.
In line with the UN secretary-general’s appeal for a global ceasefire last March, in February 2021 the Security Council unanimously passed a resolution calling for member states to support a “sustained humanitarian pause” to local conflicts. The global ceasefire must continue to be honoured, to ensure people caught in conflict have access to lifesaving vaccinations and treatments.
Let us remember that International Day of Peace celebrates the power of global solidarity for building a peaceful and sustainable world. We now live in an environment of unprecedented challenges. New forces of disruption have emerged, spreading hatred and intolerance. Terrorism breeds violence, while extremist rhetoric seeks to poison the minds of the vulnerable and young people. In the poorest and least-developed parts of the world, climate-related natural disasters are compounding existing inequalities, increasing forced migration and heightening the risk of violence.
The barriers to peace are complex and steep which can be overcome only by collective efforts. Doing so requires new forms of solidarity and creative endeavor by all nations of the world. Establishing a culture of peace and sustainable development requires the promotion of human rights education, skills for peaceful relations, good governance, the prevention of violence and war and conflict resolution.
After a year and a half, the world is gradually recovering from the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic. At this moment, we must think creatively and collectively about how to help everyone recover better, how to build resilience, and how to transform our world into one that is more equal, more just, equitable, inclusive, sustainable, and healthier.
As we know, the pandemic hit the underprivileged and marginalized groups the hardest. Hundreds of millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered globally, but more than 80 countries have not received a single dose. This is vaccine injustice which must be corrected immediately.
In the wake of the pandemic, there has been a surge in stigma, discrimination, and hatred, which cost more lives instead of saving them. The virus is a common enemy of humankind, we must not forget that we are not each other’s enemy. To be able to recover from the devastation of the pandemic, we must make peace with one another and help those in need.
On Peace Day we must make peace with nature. Despite the travel restrictions and economic shutdowns, climate change continues to cause havoc all around the world. This day is a reminder that we must build a greener and sustainable global economy that produces jobs for all and builds resilience to climate calamity. Let us remind ourselves that peace cannot be established without justice and equity.