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Overview of the History of the United Nation’s International Day of Peace and Beginnings of the Culture of Peace Initiative
International Day of Peace
In its 36th session, in 1981, the United Nations General Assembly decided "to devote a specific time to concentrate the efforts of the United Nations and its Member States, as well as of the whole of mankind, to promoting the ideals of Peace and to giving positive evidence of their commitment to peace in all viable ways." By unanimous vote, Resolution 36/67 was adopted establishing the International Day of Peace (IDP). The Assembly’s resolution was initiated by then Ambassador Emilia Castro de Barish from Costa Rica. Avon Mattison of Pathways To Peace worked behind the scenes with Assistant Secretary-General Robert Mueller, Ambassador John Donald, and others to obtain this historic level of support. The IDP was to be celebrated on the third Tuesday of September of each year, the first day of business of the General Assembly.
The first International Day of Peace was observed at the United Nations Headquarters on September 21 1982 the opening day of the 37th session of the General Assembly. At the start of the session delegates stood for the traditional minute of silence in observance of the Day.
At that time, Pathways To Peace saw that member states were not involving civil society as hoped, and therefore initiated action. In 1983 with the Minute of Silence of the UN, the idea of the Peace Day was developed so civil society was inspired to get involved and humanity had ways to engage in activity that benefits the larger community. This was structured to be intergenerational and intercultural. We wanted to make it more accessible.
By 1984, the September 18th International Day of Peace saw people involved from over 52 countries and Pathways to Peace organized the first major IDP celebration in San Francisco when department stores stopped their cash registers at noon; a major television network stopped its programming at noon and scrolled a message in silence with a minute of peace. In front of the San Francisco City Hall a program of music, speakers and a parade of flags took place inspiring many in the Civic Center Plaza. The Minute of Silence and Moment of Peace (Sound) and the global Peace Wave were also initiated around the world at this time. This celebration moved the activity outside of the headquarters of the United Nations for the International Day of Peace and into the hands of NGOs and Civil Society.
In 2001 the opening day of the General Assembly was scheduled for 11 September, and Secretary General Kofi Annan drafted a message recognizing that observance of International Peace Day on 11 September. That year the day was changed from the third Tuesday to specifically the twenty-first day of September, to take effect in 2002. A new resolution (A-Res-55-282) was passed by the General Assembly, sponsored by the United Kingdom (giving credit to Peace One Day) and Costa Rica (the sponsors of the original day) to give Peace Day a fixed calendar date of the 21st September. The resolution also declared it as a day of global ceasefire and non-violence.
This annual Peace Day marks our personal and planetary progress toward Peace, and also serves to remind us that our commitment, above all interests or differences of any kind, is to Peace.
International Day of Peace (Peace Day), September 21, provides an opportunity for individuals, organizations and nations to create practical acts of Peace on a shared date. All over the world, events are being organized to celebrate this landmark day.
Culture of Peace Initiative.
The Culture of Peace Initiative (formerly "We The Peoples" Initiative) originated in 1983 as a programme of Pathways To Peace by Avon Mattison, Founder and President, and Robert Muller, then Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations. It is a co-operative movement to unite the strengths of existing organizations and projects toward making Peace a practical reality in the 21st century. The annual highlight of this Initiative is the International Day of Peace (Peace Day), which is celebrated worldwide on September 21.
The Culture of Peace Initiative, from its early beginnings, was to highlight the unseen and unheard people around the world who help build a culture of peace and show what all nations and people can do to highlight Peace Day and recommend one peace action at that time. Growth has continued throughout the world. In 1989, this Initiative was granted Peace Messenger Initiative status by UN Secretary-General Perez de Cuellar.
The Culture of Peace (
) is also:
A local-global PeaceBuilding Initiative uniting our strengths along diverse pathways to realize a Culture of Peace for All. CPI highlights inter-generational and inter-cultural PeaceBuilders who are revealing the emerging Culture of Peace.
A dynamic global community platform of shared learning, co-creation, inspired action and thoughtful assessment related to the emerging vital force of PeaceBuilding.
Where the many pathways of human endeavor such as business, education,
environment come together to better understand each other and share activities in a way that enables deeper connections and wider systemic awareness.
Where individuals, businesses, other organizations, and networks can come together to use the PeaceBuilding compass to navigate through these turbulent times. We are at a crossroads that calls out for the best in each one of us, individually and collectively. Our purpose is to enable creativity and collaboration for finding working solutions to the toughest challenges of our times.
Through inspired interaction we will make choices that will build a culture of peace, which fosters the well-being of our global community.
We invite organizations and individuals to forge entirely new ground in cooperative association. Guided by vision and acting in concert with one another, each organization and individual contributes unique expertise and thereby augments power and purpose to transcend what any one organization or individual could have achieved alone.
"Positive creativeness is the fundamental quality of the human spirit. Let us welcome all those who, surmounting personal difficulties,…propelled their spirits to the task of Peace-building, thus ensuring a radiant future ."
--- Nicholas Roerich
“Peace is too important to entrust to States alone ...non-governmental organizations are now considered full participants in international life."
From DPI/NGO Conference 1994, International Day of Peace, on “WE THE PEOPLES BUILDING PEACE”, opening address by Secretary-General of the United Nations”