The International Day of Peace (or World Peace Day), celebrated annually on September 21, is devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace within and among all nations and peoples. When war and violence often monopolize our news cycles, the International Day of Peace is an inspiring reminder of what we can create together. International Day of Peace is celebrated around the world on September 21.
History of International Day of Peace
In 1981, the United Nations General Assembly declared the third Tuesday of September as International Day of Peace. This day coincided with the opening day of the annual sessions of the General Assembly. The day’s purpose was and remained to strengthen the ideals of peace worldwide.
Two decades after establishing this day of observance, in 2001, the assembly moved the date to be observed annually on September 21. So, beginning in 2002, September 21 marks a time to discuss how to promote and maintain peace among all peoples and a 24-hour period of global ceasefire and non-violence for groups in active combat.
Peace is possible. Throughout history, most societies have lived in peace most of the time. Today, we are much less likely to die in war than our parents or grandparents. Moreover, since the United Nations established and the Charter of the United Nations, governments are obligated not to use force against others unless they are acting in self-defense or have been authorized by the UN Security Council to proceed.
Life is better in a world where peace exists, and today, we look to those who have been peacemakers and peacekeepers to learn what we can each do individually to make the world more peaceful.
International Day of Peace Timeline
989 & 1027 AD
First known Peace Movements
The first recorded peace movements were the Peace of God (989 AD) and Truce of God (1027 AD), brought about from the desire to curb violence by limiting the days and times nobility could practice violence.
Nobel Peace Prize awarded
The first Nobel Peace Prize was awarded in 1901 “to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, the abolition or reduction of standing armies and the holding and promotion of peace congresses.”
A Bed-In for Peace
John Lennon and Yoko Ono spent eight days in bed to promote world peace; the song Give Peace a Chance was recorded during these eight days.
Iceland was ranked the most peaceful country in the world in 2008, according to the Global Peace Index, and they still hold that title.
Traditions of The Day
The United Nations General Assembly established the International Day of Peace to strengthen the standards of peace. The day is devoted to observing 24 hours of ceasefire and non-violence.
Today, peace and open-mindedness must be promoted for acceptance across gender, race, and territories. Individuals and organizations worldwide participate in activities, and host events centered on a set theme for the year. Activities vary from private events to public ceremonies, festivals, and concerts sending the message of peace to large audiences.
Educational institutes also take the lead, arranging art exhibitions and lessons for students to discuss how different cultures celebrate peace and to learn about conflict and wars in history so that mistakes are not repeated. On an individual level, people participate in activities like planting trees or setting caged animals free, as every little act helps spread the message of peace and love.
By The Numbers
$13.6 trillion – the economic cost of violence in 2015.
9,800 – the number of terrorism websites containing violent material by September 2015.
13% – the percentage of women negotiators between 1992 and 2019. </span
6% – the percentage of women signatories in significant peace processes worldwide between 1992 and 2019.
11% – the percentage of ceasefire agreements between 2015 and 2019, which included gender provisions.
15.9 million – the estimated number of people in Yemen’s population hit by the world’s worst food crisis.
135 million – the number of people in 2019 living with acute hunger.
60% – people with acute hunger living in conflict countries.
88 – the number of countries that had national action plans on women, peace, and security by October 2020.
417 – the number of policy measures enacted by national governments in response to the COVID-19 crisis.
408 million – the estimated number of youth living in areas of armed conflict in 2016.
How To Observe International Day of Peace
Observe the global “Minute of Silence.”
In 1984, the Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Pathways to Peace inaugurated the Minute of Silence. This observance of silence at noon in each time zone creates a “Peace Wave” around the world. Individuals, organizations, communities, and nations are invited to participate in this shared and practical act of peace-building.
Host a global peace feast
Bring people together with a ‘global’ potluck, encouraging your friends and neighbors to share a unique dish from various countries or cultures. Breaking bread together is one of the oldest yet most effective ways to bring peace into your life. Interfaith and intercultural discussions can make the evening even richer.
Foster peace through education
Let peace begin at home with you and your family. Teach your children key concepts that promote peace, such as conflict-resolution, peaceful dialogue, consensus-building, and the choice of non-violence.
5 Factors That Promote a Culture of Peace
Seek to understand
Around the world, we are more alike than different; seek common ground, understand and value the differences you find in the people you meet and cultures you experience different from yours.
Promote economic and social stability
Eliminating poverty, food insecurity, and social injustice leads to a more robust culture of peace because it removes common causes of unrest and violence.
Respect all human rights
At the core of peaceful relations is the belief that all humans are valuable – no group being better than another; see how you can contribute to this understanding in your sphere of influence.
Advocate for equality
Support the advancement of women in society through political and economic initiatives; actively oppose violence against women and girls in your community; and promote the elimination of discrimination in the workplace.
Choose democratic principles
Encourage the democratic participation of all people in your community so that every voice is heard in civic decision-making and corruption in political leadership and operations is eliminated.
Why International Day of Peace is Important
It connects us
Nations and communities worldwide struggle with poverty, disease, education, and healthcare. The International Day of Peace reminds us that we are more alike than different, regardless of where we come from or what languages we speak.
It reminds us to believe in something bigger than ourselves.
We can get caught up in the day-to-day work and family. But sometimes, reflecting on how communities and nations need to get outside our comfort zones is healthy. We can have peace when we try to see someone else’s perspective or, put another way, to “walk a mile in their shoes.”
It demonstrates that small actions can make significant impacts.
We can all contribute to the worldwide culture of peace through prayer, advocacy, education, and respecting others. If we did one small thing to bring peace, even each week, think of the global impact this would have!