International Day of Peace Special Blog

The International Day of Peace

A special blog to celebrate the UN International Day of Peace.

The International Day of Peace, also sometimes referred to as World Peace Day,  was first established in 1981 by the United Nations General Assembly, the first peace day was observed the following year, in 1982, the theme of which was “The right of people for peace.”  The day is celebrated on the 21st September every year and devoted to “strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and people.”

What happens on the International Day of Peace?

The day is marked every year by the tolling of the Peace Bell at the United Nations headquarters in New York and a two minute silence at noon.   Since 2001 the International Day of Peace has also been established as an annual day of non-violence and cease fire by the General Assembly, when the UN invites all nations and people to honour a cessation of hostilities and to otherwise commemorate the day through education and public awareness on issues related to peace. On the day, many people around the world take part in activities or events centred on the theme of peace, such as peace walks, concerts and prayer meetings to name but a few.  There are also lots of things that individual and groups can do to get involved.  If you take a look on the Peace One Day website: http://www.peaceoneday.org/welcomein the Get Involved section they have lots of information, ideas and resources. This year especially places significant importance on different sections of society working together in order to achieve peace as the theme of this year’s commemoration is “Partnerships for Peace – Dignity for All.” “Every year on the International Day of Peace, the United Nations calls on the people of the world to reaffirm their commitment to living in harmony as members of a single human family. . . Without the support of governments, civil society, the private sector, faith based groups and non-governmental organisations, peace will remain elusive. – UN Secretary -General Ban Ki-Moon. blogpic2 We have a number of objects in our collection relating to the International Day of Peace one of which is a ‘Prayer  for Peace Poster’ from 1985.  On the front of the poster there is a symbol of a white dove, a symbol which is very  widely associated with peace and the International Day of Peace. The poster was published to coincide with the United Nations Year of Peace which took place between October  1985 – 1986.  The aim of the poster was to ‘intensify attention on the Prayer for Peace’.  Although the poster was  created for the international year of peace, the prayer is still relevant today. “Lead me from death to life, from falsehood to truth.  Lead me from despair to hope, from fear to trust.  Lead me from hate to love, from war to peace.  Let peace fill our heart, our world, our universe.”

About the prayer

The prayer for peace began to circulate in 1981 in England. The prayer does not belong to any particular, faith or nationality.  It can be said by anyone, anytime, anywhere.  The appeal of the prayer is not confined to member of religions, but anyone who hopes for peace and believes in the power of thought.  It is in every sense of the word a universal prayer for peace that is spoken in more than 40 languages around the world at noon each day.

How did the prayer become the prayer for peace?

The prayer first became known as the Prayer for Peace with very little organisation, when in 1982  it was said by the 900 delegates at the Assembly of World Religions convened by the Patriarch of Moscow to coincide with the second United Nations Special Session on Disarmament.  It is thought to be the first time the world’s leading religions have ever prayed together the one prayer. blogpic We also have another poster from the United Nations General Assembly Second Special Session on Disarmament in 1982. The poster is very simple yet striking.  The green lines represent the world and at the forefront of this a black figure is shown breaking a rifle, to represent disarmament.  The poster holds as a representation of one of the United Nations many commitments to peace. 1982 was a very significant year in peace history, as well as being the year of the United Nations General Assembly Second Special Session on Disarmament and the year of the first International Day of Peace.  It was the year of one of the largest demonstrations in New York against nuclear weapons and to end the cold war arms race. The 1970s and 1980s saw various conferences in which countries committed to Arms Reduction Treaties, such as SALT I in 1972, the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty also in 1972, SALT II in 1979 and the INF Treaty of 1987.  Therefore the 1970s and 80s saw some efforts at disarmament.  However, the issue of nuclear weapon proliferation is still divisive today. We have various objects in our collection which relate to the UN’s involvement in peace and disarmament, and relating to the anti-nuclear movement.   Written by Sarah Bartey.

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