#Peaceday: a day of global ceasefire and non-violence.
Aylan Kurdi, a three-year-old boy from war-torn Syria, drowned and was found off the shore of Turkey as his family tried to flee Kobani for safe haven in Europe. Just a few weeks ago, an overcrowded wooden boat sank near Turkey’s south west coast with 22 lives, including four children. Both of these tragic events shocked the world and highlight the plight of desperate people caught in one of the gravest refugee crises of the century. At the very least, this is a wake-up call to all that peace is needed now. The promotion of peace is vital for the full enjoyment of all human rights and for global solidarity.“It’s not too late at all. You just don’t yet know what you are capable of,” said the master peace builder Matama Gandhi. Taking his advice, it is never too late for peace or to be part of that shift. Jeremy Gilley, a British actor, also believed that it was not too late for peace and worked to do his part to build momentum the world over.Gilley recognized the power of collective change through film and directed an award-winning film Peace One Day in 1999. This film documents his efforts to establish the first ever annual day of global ceasefire and non-violence. As a result of Gilley’s work, in 2001 the United Nations unanimously established September 21st as an annual day of non-violence and cease-fire. This adoption complemented the General Assembly’s 1981 resolution that declared September 21st as the International Day of Peace.For the past 33 years, September 21st has been a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples. Thanks to Gilley’s work, the day also invites all nations and people “to honor a cessation of hostilities during the Day, and to otherwise commemorate the Day through education and public awareness on issues related to peace.”The world just marked the 34th anniversary of the International Day of Peace. The theme of this year was “Partnerships for Peace – Dignity for All,” which urges the need for every sector of society to be working together.There were celebrations for peace all around the world this year. In fact, Peace Day took social media by storm, as users recognized peace in their daily lives and shared it with the world via the hashtag campaigns #peaceday and #internationaldayofpeace. Others set the entire day aside to pray for peace. The Rwanda Broadcasting Agency (RBA) recorded a Peace One Day Youth Celebration from Petit Stade Amahoro, including performances from Knowless, Innoss'B, Urban Boys, Krest Crew, Jabba Juniors, African Children's Choir as well as the premiere performance of “One”, the Peace Day Anthem by Coke Studio Africa (this anthem is supporting Peace One Day to raise awareness of Peace Day, 21 September in the Great Lakes region of Africa and across the world). HE Iyad Ameen Madani, the Secretary-General of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) called for non-violence and ceasefire in full respect of Peace Day. Apple Music created a “Peace Day” playlist with music from leading artists, actors and musicians. Even Google, the world’s most powerful search engine, lended its voice to Peace Day by a Google Doodle!World leaders will soon gather at the United Nations and pledge their commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as part of the UN's General Assembly. Goal 16 is to promote peace and justice, another great opportunity to continue “overwhelming the world with good.” As the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said, “Together, as “partners for peace”, we can achieve a world of peace, prosperity and dignity for all.” September 21st marks one much needed day of awareness and unity, but let us remember that there are numerous opportunities for us to daily #prepareforpeace.