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International Day of Peace

Next Thursday, September 21 marks the International Day of Peace, a day dedicated to world peace and celebrating harmonious cooperation throughout humanity. In the week leading up to this event, Nonviolence International intends to highlight the triumphs our global society has accomplished towards the goal of world peace, as well as examining the current status of and obstacles to achieving peace. As part of examining the current status of the movement towards eradicating violence, the first question that begs to be asked regards the necessity of having a specific day dedicated to peace. Why was the International Day of Peace created in the first place, and why is it still relevant today?

The International Day of Peace was formalized by United Nations Resolution 36/37 in 1981, and the first celebration of the holiday was on September 21, 1982 [1]. At this point, much of the world was engulfed by the threat of the Cold War. The United States was engaged in an arms race with the Soviet Union, with each side spending massive amounts of their respective budgets on increasing their military force and nuclear arsenals. At the same time, the struggle between Western nations against the perceived spread of communism had begun to spread to new territories, namely Afghanistan. In the midst of a struggle between two nations with immense nuclear capabilities, the International Day of Peace stood as one day in which the entire world could pause to remember how warfare adversely affects the most innocent members of society. Fittingly, the theme of the first Day of Peace was the “Right to Peace of People.”

In 2017, the world has greatly evolved since the precarious circumstances of the Cold War. Although increased cooperation between nations has decreased interstate warfare, it is still essential to recognize that violence is still an ever present force in the world, and one that often affects the most innocent members of society.

  • The Global Peace Index 2016 published by Institute for Economics and Peace found that only 10 nations currently were “not at war and completely free from conflict” [2]

  • It is conservatively estimated that over 70% of casualties of conflict are civilians, more than half of which are children [3]

  • According to UNICEF, “nearly 250 million children live in areas affected by prolonged, violent conflict.” [4]

  • More than 10,000 children have died in the Syrian conflict alone [5]

While the threat of international war between different nations has been largely diminished (with some notable exceptions), conflict has now evolved into different warring factions largely divided along ethnic or religious lines. In light of this phenomenon, the necessity for an International Day of Peace is clear, and this year’s UN theme is “Together for Peace: Respect, Safety and Dignity for All.” The UN intends to focus on building bridges across cultures and sectors in order to reduce discrimination and stigmatization of diversity, refugees and migrants. The UN’s planned activities are with the purpose of standing in solidarity with migrants, as well as highlighting the economic and societal advantages offered by ethnic diversity. It is essential to recognize that no matter separations of ethnicity, religion and other cultural differences, a more peaceful world is for the benefit of all.

As we approach the International Day of Peace, we at NVI encourage each individual and organization to consider how they can contribute to fostering world peace and cooperation across societal divisions.World peace is achievable not only through peacekeeping actions but through fostering an environment conducive to nonviolence. This includes a multitude of actions, including fostering an educational environment that teaches nonviolence, public institutions that ensure equality across gender and race, and promoting equitable economic development. This day is an opportunity for us as a global community to take a step back, realize our progress and recognize the long road ahead towards achieving world peace.

Danny Kleschick

[1] “About,” UN International Day of Peace,,

[2] Anti-Media News Desk, “Only 10 Countries in the Entire World Are Not Currently at War,” Anti-Media, June 9, 2016,

[3] Fiona Hodgson, “War disproportionately affects women, so why so few female peacekeepers?”, The Guardian, September 7, 2016,

[4] “Children in War & Conflict,” Fast Facts, Unicef USA, 2017,

[5] “Children in War & Conflict,” Fast Facts, Unicef USA, 2017,

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