Every year on September 21, nations around the world celebrate International Day of Peace (also known as “Peace Day”). Established by the United Nations (UN) in 1981, this holiday focuses on strengthening the ideals of peace among all nations and people. In 2001, the UN General Assembly voted to make the holiday a period of nonviolence and cease-fire. The UN asks all nations and people to celebrate the day by ceasing hostilities and spreading awareness of issues related to peace.
“Although it may seem hopelessly distant, the dream of peace pulses in the lives of people everywhere.” – UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
Each year, a ceremony takes place at the UN Headquarters in New York City, where the Peace Bell is rung. The Peace Bell was donated by the UN Associations of Japan in 1954 as a symbol of hope and peace and was cast from coins and other metals from 60 nations around the world. The bell is traditionally only rung twice a year: once on the first day of spring to symbolize the commitment of the world to peace and care of the earth, and six months later on Peace Day.
Right to Peace
A theme is chosen yearly; this year’s theme is “Right to Peace” in celebration of the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The document was created by representatives of many backgrounds from nations all over the world and was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1948. The Declaration is a milestone in human rights; it recognizes all people from every nation as equal and states that this recognition is the foundation of peace, freedom, and justice in the world. To this day, the Declaration is the most translated document in the world and is available in over 500 languages. Interestingly, although there are 30 articles in the document stating a range of human rights, “Right to Peace” isn’t one of them. It’s for this reason that the UN picked this as the theme for this year’s Peace Day; they ask, “What does ‘Right to Peace” mean to you?
How to Celebrate
Many cities around the world have Peace Day celebrations. Some of the activities typically held are conferences, workshops, marches, art exhibits, meditations, multicultural dialogs, and musical celebrations. The UN urges everyone internationally to take part in celebrating Peace Day, regardless of whether or not it’s at an organized event. Whether it’s observing a moment of silence, writing about peace, reflecting on how to bring more peace to your community or doing a small act of kindness for a stranger, there are many ways to celebrate the holiday in a meaningful way.