What Is The Significance Of The International Day Of Peace?

For me, the 21st of September of every year is a special day. It is special for a number of reasons, but particularly for the reason that it marks my birthday! For others too, it may be special for reasons known to them. However, globally (at least in the 193 member states of the United Nations), it is celebrated as the International Day of Peace or, what it is recognized more informally as, the World Peace Day. The International Day of Peace arose by resolution 36/37 of the United Nations General Assembly in 1981. The 21st day of September was chosen to commemorate and strengthen the ideals of peace, and this was first effectuated in 1982.

The 21st of September of this year marked the 36th anniversary of the International Day of Peace. Inevitably, a lot of changes have occurred in the last 36 years, which compels me to question the efficacy of the International Day of Peace. Importantly, the United Nations designated this 24-hour period as one of “non-violence and cease-fire” in 2001. With the degradation of human rights through, for example, the rise in terror-related violence and administrative corruption worldwide, should not each day be devoted to commemorate and strengthen the ideals of peace? Prima facie, it seems rather superficial and irrational to solely dedicate a single day for considerations of peace.

Growing up, and perhaps still today, it is common for many of us to make a wish before blowing out the brightly lit candle(s) of one’s birthday cake. Of course, sooner or later, you realize that you do not always get what you had wished for. However, what is more, potent is the belief that if you toil hard enough to pursue your realistic worldly aspirations, then maybe you will get what you desire or realize something very close to it. Likewise, I do not believe that accomplishing a state of world peace is impossible, nor is it something that can be realized overnight. But if humankind unites to toil hard enough for the realization thereof, it just might be possible or we may be able to reach a state of affairs that is substantially akin.

As John Lennon suitably proposed: “Peace is not something you wish for; it’s something you make, something you do, something you are, and something you give away.” In my opinion, by illuminating the 21st day of September as one of peace, the United Nations has glazed the concern of world peace as a wish, rather than an aim to toil towards. This is not to suggest that the International Day of Peace does not accomplish anything positive towards that goal, for it temporarily unites people from different corners of the world to deliberate issues thwarting world peace and to propose strategies to counter those issues.

I believe that each and every one of us (as global citizens) have at least a moral obligation to toil towards world peace. But you need not devote to this cause merely on the International Day of Peace. As such, through one’s liberal interactions with members of marginalized groups and through, for example, voluntary engagements founded on compassion, we can possibly repair worn bridges to journey towards a more peaceful and inclusive world.

Sarfraz Khan