Earlier this year, the UN Secretariat-General António Guterres called for a global ceasefire to ‘focus on the true fight of our lives’. Rightfully so, as the world rages with a pandemic, the need for world peace has never been so imminent. But as border skirmishes continue to happen, conflict—not just violent but that of the stark inequalities that the COVID world has exposed—seems inevitable. In a scenario like this imagining peace seems utopian. But that is exactly what the theme of this year’s International Day of Peace, taking place on 21 September, aims to change.
“We are in this together—and we will get through this together”
Held at the same time each year, the International Day of Peace was established in 1981 through a unanimous United Nations resolution. The mission of celebrating this International Day is to “provide a globally shared date for all humanity to commit to peace above all differences and to contribute to building a Culture of Peace.” From ‘Climate Action for Peace’ to ‘Education for Peace’ to ‘Dignity for All’; the themes to celebrate peace over the last few years have contextualised peace in several humanitarian and environmental issues facing the planet.
2020 marks a significant year for the International Day of Peace as it is the 20th Anniversary of the ‘UN Resolution on the Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace.’ This year’s theme. ‘Shaping Peace Together’ is also quite apt and calls for “spreading compassion, kindness and hope in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.” It urges people to “stand together with the UN against attempts to use the virus to promote discrimination or hatred.”
Every year, the annual 100-day countdown for the day sees several conferences, ceremonies, events and workshops across the world. However, keeping in mind the current pandemic and the lockdowns that it has imposed, the celebrations for this year wil largely be held digitally, allowing several more people to participate towards ‘shaping peace together.’
Peace, as the UN press note states, is not just “putting aside arms, but depends on societies being inclusive, healthy and economically stable. It requires a predictable climate, an unpolluted environment and solidarity across community lines.” The way to achieve this is not just through policy-level approaches and global dialogues amongst international organisations, but also through enabling change at the grassroots level wherein everyone can play their part.
There are several ways to get involved in this year’s International Day of Peace celebration. People are invited to create a virtual or socially distanced ‘public or private activity related to peace’ and/or attend a peace event. This map helps you guide and track all peace day events happening across the world. Whether planting a tree of peace, writing poetry, engaging in acts of kindness and peace, everyone can play a part. There’s even a singalong dance party to Every Man, Woman, and Child, a musical presentation by Merrill Collins of Spiraling Music. There is also a call for a ‘Minute of silence’ at noon (all timezones). Citizens are also encouraged to spread the word about the Day of Peace through social media.
The theme is also in line with the UN marking its 75th anniversary, calling for dialogue to not just solve the growing health crisis but to achieve the Sustainable Development goals it set out; through global cooperation. Thus another way to get involved in shaping peace for the world is by checking out the UN75 toolkit that details how one can ‘join in, inspire conversations and amplify voices through channels and communities’ and discuss how the UN can help you to meet your peace goals.
The International Day of Peace should not just be seen as one day to unite against violence and conflict, but as an inspiration to continue working towards making the world a better and peaceful place to live for everyone. Join in to shape peace together, make your voice count, enable a bottom-top tier approach and strive towards making the utopian idea of an ‘eternal global ceasefire’, a reality.
Further details on International Day of Peace.