The International Day of Peace


The International Day of Peace was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1981 for “commemorating and strengthening the ideals of peace within and among all nations and people”. Twenty years later, the General Assembly set the date of September 21st to observe the annual occasion as a “day of global ceasefire and non-violence… through education and public awareness and to cooperate in the establishment of a global ceasefire”.

This year, 2008, I had the opportunity to be present at the 60th anniversary of the International Day of Peace and to introduce my new film, ‘Rooted in Peace’ to the United Nations. Among the participants were 192 children who each carried a flag representing the nations of the world. It was also the 60th anniversary for UN Peacekeeping operations and its Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The International Day of Peace session was opened by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon who rang the Peace Bell at 10:00 am on Friday, September 19th in the United Nations headquarters accompanied by UN Messengers of Peace, Jane Goodall, Elie Wiesel, Michael Douglas, and violinist Midori Goto, appointed as the messenger of Peace that day. United Nations offices and peacekeeping missions around the world also held events to commemorate the occasion with a minute of silence observed at 12 noon local time around the world on September 21st.

To encourage even greater awareness of this important day, the United Nations encouraged people around the world to send text messages for peace on or before September 21st. Messages of peace were then collected by the UN who presented them to world leaders gathered in New York for the 63rd General Assembly held on September 23rd, 2008.

Conflicts rooted in grievances caused by systematic human rights violations, discrimination, marginalization and impunity manifest themselves long before violence begins. In a time filled with despair and gloom, from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to clashes in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Darfur, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, destructive violence continues to pervade our planet. This year, 27 million children live in conflict affected areas and more than 25 million in displaced homes. Continued...