The 16th Sustainable Development Goal (Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions) is to promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels. The International Day of Peace (IDP) was established in 1981. It is followed by many political groups, militant people and the general public. The date initially chosen was the regular opening day of the annual sessions of the General Assembly, the third Tuesday of September. However, after the September attacks of 2001, commonly known as the 9/11 attacks, the IDP was shifted to a fixed date- 21st September of every year, which would take effect from 2002. It was also declared that that day would also be observed as a day of global ceasefire and non-violence. The peace dove with an olive branch in its beak, which is also a sign of peace, is an important symbol of this day. The United Nations Peace Bell is rung to start this day, after which the UN Secretary-General delivers a speech. This Peace Bell includes coins contributed by people from 65 member countries, and was a gift from Japan to the UN in 1954. The Peace Bell symbolizes hope for peace and has an inscription that reads “Long live absolute world peace”. Every year, the UN chooses a theme for this day, this year’s being “Actions for Peace: Our Ambition for #GlobalGoals”. Apart from nations stopping all hostilities for a day, the general public can also do a lot to celebrate the International Day of Peace, by planting trees for peace, holding exhibitions and matches in the name of peace and lighting candles. At noon in each time zone, we observe a one-minute silence to create a “Peace Wave” all around the world. Peace can also mean improving our interpersonal relations and changing our behaviour towards each other and the environment.
War is not a compulsion - it is a choice. And if war is a choice, peace can be too. As Nelson Mandela so greatly said, “People learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more easily to the human heart than its opposite. Man’s goodness is a flame that can be hidden but never extinguished.” Humanity and peace go hand in hand. The first emotion we learn in our life is love, and with love comes peace.
Jhanvi Pendyala, Class 10 Antares