The International Day of Peace, also known as World Peace Day, was established by the United Nations with the overarching goal of advancing global peace and putting an end to violence and conflicts on a worldwide scale. Every year, the United Nations chooses a theme for this occasion that spotlights particular facets of peace-building and conflict resolution. This day is closely associated with symbolic representations, namely the dove, which embodies peace and freedom, and the olive branch, an age-old emblem of peace.
The International Day of Peace is universally observed on September 21.
On September 30, 1981, the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 36/67, which called for a worldwide cessation of hostilities and the declaration of a global ceasefire on that day. Consequently, the third Tuesday of September was designated as the International Day of Peace. The inaugural celebration of the International Day of Peace took place on September 21, 1982, marking a significant stride in the promotion of peace and the raising of awareness regarding the pivotal role of peacekeeping endeavors worldwide. It was officially designated as September 21 in 2001. Prior to this, it was commemorated during the opening session of the annual General Assembly, which usually fell on the third Tuesday of September.
The International Day of Peace serves as a poignant reminder of the United Nations’ unwavering commitment to peace and conflict resolution. It urges individuals, communities, and nations to labor collectively towards a more peaceful and equitable world. The day underscores that authentic peace transcends the mere absence of violence; it encompasses the “construction of societies where every member can flourish.” Furthermore, the International Day of Peace advocates for a world where all individuals are treated equitably, irrespective of their racial background. It furnishes a globally shared date for humanity to pledge to prioritize peace above all divisions and contribute to nurturing a culture steeped in peace.
In 1986, the United Nations Peace Bell was inaugurated at the UN Headquarters in New York City. Subsequently, an annual special ceremony is held on the International Day of Peace, featuring the ringing of the Peace Bell as a symbolic call for global peace. The Peace Bell was cast from donated coins and medals, provided by representatives of Member States, the Pope, and individuals, including children from over 60 different nations who lent their support to the initiative.
The design of the bell tower was inspired by the Hanamido, a small temple adorned with flowers, symbolizing the birthplace of Buddha. The Peace Bell is rung twice a year: on the first day of spring, during the Vernal Equinox, and on September 21 to commemorate the International Day of Peace.
On the International Day of Peace, the United Nations Secretary-General rings the bell to offer a prayer for world peace, in the presence of representatives from Permanent Missions and officials of the UN Secretariat. Globally, this day is observed through an array of events and activities encompassing peace marches, educational initiatives, art exhibitions, and intercultural dialogues. These activities provide a platform for people from diverse backgrounds to come together and advocate for peace and non-violence.