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Artwork By Galuh Edelweiss Sayyidina

International Day of Peace

History and Importance

Living in a world today where violence is commonplace and murder in the name of peace is occurring, it is crucial to adopt the message set forth by the United Nations and messengers such as Avon Mattison and Jeremy Gilley, who hope for a non-violent world where nations are able to reconcile and commemorate the need for peace.


In November of 1981, founder of Pathways to Peace (an international peace building organization) Avon Mattison, sought to devote a day to peace so that both within and across nations people could commemorate together the ideals of peace. Mattison along with the UN passed Resolution 36/67, which devoted such a day where peace founded on “the intellectual and moral solidarity of mankind” was observed. It was declared to be the third Tuesday of September as that was the opening day of the regular session of the General Assembly. This day invited all people to hope for peace, especially through education.


In 2001, Jeremy Gilley, founder of Peace One Day (a non-profit organization with the purpose of creating September 21st as an active day of observing peace every year) along with the United Nations revised Resolution 36/67 and created Resolution 52/282. This second Resolution established September 21st as the specific day to celebrate peace every year. The inspiration for the day to be the 21st of September originated from Gilley’s grandfather, a prisoner of war, whose favorite number was 21. Additionally, during his grandfather’s time in the war, 700 men went to war, 23 came back but 2 died on the boat, resulting in the return of 21 men.  It declared this day to be that of global ceasefire and non-violence with a cessation of hostilities for the day. The resolution strove to alleviate tension and causes of conflict to achieve the broadest observance and awareness. Through the efforts of Gilley, in 2007, the Taliban in Afghanistan agreed not to harm health workers on this day of peace. As a result, 10,000 vaccinators were able to go into areas, where they normally feared abduction or violence, and deliver vaccinations to millions of children, the first example of lives being saved due to the efforts of Peace One Day. This exemplifies that Peace Day is far from an ideal and has real life saving consequences.


In 2009, the United States Senate passed a resolution expressing its support of the goals and ideals celebrated on Peace Day. This resolution also supported the continuing efforts to raise awareness globally and engage all of society in observance, through life saving and humanitarian activities in addition to programs, ceremonies, and educational activities on this day.


All of these efforts call for people to play an active role in the expression of International Peace Day as a model for the entire year. On June 13, 2013, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon began the countdown to the International Day of Peace, the day that gives peace a chance. For the 2013 year, the theme is “Education for Peace” championing a kind of education that teaches youth to have mutual respect for others, the world we live in, and to help create a more fair, inclusive, and peaceful society.


“Children and young people lead peace, hand in hand, promoting unity within global communities.”

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