International Day of Peace
“Today peace faces a new danger: the climate emergency, which threatens our security, our livelihoods and our lives. That is why it is the focus of this year’s International Day of Peace. And it’s why I am convening a Climate Action Summit.” — UN Secretary-General António Guterres
The International Day of Peace is a day that recognises the efforts of those who have worked hard to end conflict and promote peace. A UN resolution established the International Day of Peace in 1981 to coincide with the opening of the UN General Assembly.
The first Peace Day was celebrated in 1982 and was held on the third Tuesday of September each year until 2002, when September 21 became the permanent date for the International Day of Peace. The assembly decided in 2001 that the International Day of Peace should be annually observed on September 21 starting from 2002. By setting a fixed date for the International Day of Peace, the assembly declared that the day should be observed as a day of global ceasefire and non-violence. (UNITED NATIONS)
The theme for the International Day of Peace in 2019 is “Climate Action and Peace”. It draws attention to the importance of combating climate change as a way to protect and promote peace throughout the world. Climate change causes clear threats to international peace and security. Natural disasters displace three times as many people as conflicts, forcing millions to leave their homes and seek safety elsewhere. The salinization of water and crops is endangering food security, and the impact on public health is escalating. The growing tensions over resources and mass movements of people are affecting every country on every continent.
Peace can only be achieved if concrete action is taken to combat climate change. Speaking to young Māoris and people of the Pacific islands in New Zealand in May, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said “nature does not negotiate” and emphasized four key measures that Governments should prioritize in order to reach carbon neutrality by 2050: tax pollution, not people; stop subsidizing fossil fuels; stop building new coal plants by 2020; focus on a green economy, not a grey economy. (UNITED NATIONS)
The reason as to why the dove flying with an olive branch in its beak is used as the symbol for peace is because it represents “hope for peace” or a peace offering from one person to another.
By creating the International Day of Peace, the UN devoted itself to worldwide peace and encouraged people to work in cooperation for this goal. Since its inception, Peace Day has marked personal and planetary progress toward peace. It has grown to include millions of people worldwide and many events are organised each year to commemorate and celebrate this day.