When is it and why is it celebrated?
Wars have somehow always led to pathways of peace in the world. When World War I ended and the Paris Peace Conference was held, it yielded the League of Nations, which would then pave the way for the founding of the United Nations at the end of World War II.
Therefore, it was only natural that the United Nations celebrate the very cause it was founded to champion: Peace. This is believed to be the seed of the idea that would go on to become the worldwide observance that the International Day of Peace -- sometimes also called World Peace Day, but only unofficially -- is today. It is celebrated on 21 September every year.
When is International Day of Peace celebrated? When it was first established in 1981, and for a few years after that, International Day of Peace was celebrated on the third Saturday of every September, to coincide with the opening day of the annual sessions of the UN General Assembly. However, the date was changed to a more fixed 21 September in 2001, so that it would be observed on that day from 2002, and that is when it is celebrated every year now. The change enacted in 2001 also saw more connotations being attached to the International Day of Peace, thereby adding to its significance.
International Day of Peace
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon rings the Peace Bell at the annual ceremony held at UN headquarters in observance of the International Day of Peace (21 September)
Each year the International Day of Peace is observed around the world on 21 September. The General Assembly has declared this as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples.
The Day’s theme for 2016 is “The Sustainable Development Goals: Building Blocks for Peace.”
The 17 Sustainable Development Goals were unanimously adopted by the 193 Member States of the United Nations at an historic summit of the world’s leaders in New York in September 2015. The new ambitious 2030 agenda calls on countries to begin efforts to achieve these goals over the next 15 years. It aims to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all.
International Day of Peace
The International Day of Peace, sometimes unofficially known as World Peace Day, is observed annually on 21 September. It is dedicated to world peace, and specifically the absence of war and violence, such as might be occasioned by a temporary ceasefire in a combat zone for humanitarian aid access. The day was first celebrated in 1982, and is kept by many nations, political groups, military groups, and peoples. In 2013, for the first time, the Day was dedicated by the Secretary-General of the United Nations to peace education, the key preventive means to reduce war sustainably.
To inaugurate the day, the United Nations Peace Bell is rung at UN Headquarters (in New York City). The bell is cast from coins donated by children from all continents except Africa, and was a gift from the United Nations Association of Japan, as "a reminder of the human cost of war"; the inscription on its side reads, "Long live absolute world peace".
In 2001 the opening day of the General Assembly was scheduled for 11 September, and Secretary General Kofi Annan drafted a message recognising the observance of International Peace Day on 21 September. That year the day was changed from the third Tuesday to specifically the twenty-first day of September, to take effect in 2002. A new resolution was passed by the General Assembly, sponsored by the United Kingdom (giving credit to Peace One Day) and Costa Rica (the original sponsors of the day), to give the International Day of Peace a fixed calendar date, 21 September, and declare it also as a day of global ceasefire and non-violence.