The United Nations (UN) International Day of Peace also known as “World Peace Day” is annually observed across the globe on 21 September and is dedicated to strengthening the principles of peace both within and among all nations and peoples, advocating for 24 hours of non-violence and cease-fire.
- The theme of International Day of Peace (IDP) 2023 observed on 21st September 2023 is “Actions for peace: Our ambition for the #GlobalGoals“.
The theme aims to recognise individual and collective roles in promoting peace. Fostering peace is essentially tied to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and achieving the SDGs will create a culture of peace for all.
i.In 1981, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) declared the 3rd Tuesday of September as International Day of Peace. This day coincided with the opening day of the regular annual sessions of the General Assembly.
ii.The first IDP was observed on 21 September 1982 (3rd Tuesday of September 1982).
iii.In 2001, the UNGA declared 21 September of every year as an official date for the IDP. The day will henceforth be observed as a day of global ceasefire and non-violence.
- During the IDP, the UN invites all nations and people to honour a cessation of hostilities.
iv.The UN Peace bell is rung in the UN headquarters in New York City, the United States of America (USA), to signal the call for global peace.
UN Peace Bell:
i.The Peace Bell, also known as the “Japanese Peace Bell”, was donated by the United Nations Association (UNA) of Japan in June 1954.
ii.Chiyoji Nakagawa, the former counsellor of the UNA of Japan (UNAJ) proposed to build a Peace Bell as a symbol of hope for peace.
iii.The bell was presented to the UN by Renzo Sawanda, Japanese observer to the UN, in 1954.
- The bell was cast from coins donated by delegates of 60 nations who attended the 13th General Conference of the UNA held in Paris, France in 1951.
Note: The bell tower was modelled after the Hanamido (a small temple decorated with flowers) that symbolises the place where Buddha was born.
Tradition of Ringing Bell:
i.The Japanese Peace Bell is traditionally rung twice a year:
- On the first day of spring, at the Vernal Equinox, in celebration of the annual Earth Day.
- On 21 September to celebrate the IDP.
ii.António Guterres , the Secretary-General and Dennis Francis, the President of the General Assembly celebrated the IDP in the Peace Garden at the UN Headquarters in New York (USA) by ringing the Peace Bell and observing a minute of silence.
- To commemorate the IDP, the traditional Peace Bell Ceremony took place on 13 September 2023.
Symbol of World Peace Day:
The IDP is represented with a dove and an olive branch symbol. The ‘dove’ represents peace and freedom, while the ‘olive branch‘ has been a traditional symbol of peace since ancient times.
Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace:
i.On September 13 1999, the UNGA adopted the resolution A/RES/53/243 for the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace. The resolution called for the programme of action to include 8 action areas:
- Culture of peace through education
- Sustainable economic and social development
- Respect for all human rights
- Equality between women and men
- Democratic participation
- Understanding, tolerance and solidarity
- Participatory communication and the free flow of information and knowledge
- International peace and security
ii.The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organizations (UNESCO) emphasises that these interconnected action areas have been the key priorities of the UN, uniting them under the umbrella of a culture of peace and non-violence.
iii.The year 2023 marks the 20th Anniversary of the UN Resolution on the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace.
A Youth Event programme was organised on 14 September 2023, where Young leaders, activists and performers were raising their voices and demanding action on the issues that matter to them at the Youth Event for the IDP.