The International Day of Peace officially goes by the name of World Peace Day. It is a United Nations-sanctioned holiday which people observe annually on 21st September. This day is dedicated to world peace, and specifically the absence of war and violence. People can give an example like a temporary ceasefire in a war zone for humanitarian aid access. This day was first celebrated in 1981. Many nations, political groups, military groups, and people still celebrate it.
People inaugurate this day in a very special way. The officials ring the United Nations Peace Bell at the UN Headquarters (in New York City). This bell is made from coins which the children from all continents except Africa donate. It was actually a gift from the United Nations Association of Japan. It was ‘a reminder of the human cost of war’. The inscription on the side of the bell says: “Long live absolute world peace”.
The United Nations General Assembly declared the International Day of Peace to be devoted to strengthen and celebrate the ideals of peace. This was declared in a resolution sponsored by the United Kingdom and Costa Rica. The date which the officials initially chose was the regular opening day of all annual sessions of the General Assembly, the third Tuesday of September. This was changed in 2001 to the current annual celebration on 21st September each year.
In 2001, the opening day of the General Assembly was scheduled for 11th September. The Secretary-General Kofi Annan drafted a message which observed the International Peace Day on 21st September. The attacks of 9/11 happened on September 11. They were perpetrated on the same day when a series of four coordinated terrorist attacks by the militant Islamist terrorist group al-Qaeda went on against the United States of America. It occurred just blocks away from the United Nations on the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001. It was in that year when the officials changed the date from the third Tuesday to specifically the twenty-first day of September. This was to take effect from the year 2002. The General Assembly by the United Kingdom and Costa Rica, the original sponsors of the day, passed a new resolution. It said to give the International Day of Peace a fixed calendar date, 21st September. The resolution also mentioned declaring this day as a day of global ceasefire and non-violence.
Every year, there are different themes for this special day. In 2021, the theme is “Recovering better for an equitable and sustainable world.” In the year 2021, we are healing from the Covid-19 pandemic. As we do so, we are inspired to think creatively and collectively about how to help everyone recover better. We are also thinking as to how we can build resilience and how to transform our world into one that is more equal, more just, equitable, healthier, inclusive, and sustainable.