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The International Day of Peace (“Peace Day”) is observed around the world each year on 21 September. Established in 1981 by unanimous United Nations resolution, Peace Day provides a globally shared date for all humanity to commit to Peace above all differences and to contribute to building a Culture of Peace.
The Day’s theme for 2017 is “Together for Peace: Respect, Safety and Dignity for All.”
The theme honours the spirit of TOGETHER, a global initiative that promotes respect, safety and dignity for everyone forced to flee their homes in search of a better life. TOGETHER unites the organizations of the United Nations System, the 193 Member States of the United Nations, the private sector, civil society, academic institutions and individual citizens in a global partnership in support of diversity, non-discrimination and acceptance of refugees and migrants. It was initiated during the United Nations Summit for Refugees and Migrants on 19 September 2016.
“In times of insecurity, communities that look different become convenient scapegoats,” said United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres. “We must resist cynical efforts to divide communities and portray neighbours as ‘the other’. Discrimination diminishes us all. It prevents people — and societies — from achieving their full potential.” He added, “Together, let us stand up against bigotry and for human rights. Together, let us build bridges. Together, let us transform fear into hope.”
This year, the International Day of Peace will focus on engaging and mobilizing people throughout the world to show support for refugees and migrants. Its messages will be shared with communities hosting refugees and migrants as well as people concerned that refugees and migrants may bring physical and economic insecurity to their lives.
The Day will highlight solidarity with refugees and migrants and showcase the shared benefits of migration to economies and nations, while also acknowledging legitimate concerns of host communities. Ultimately, it will be about bringing people together and reminding them of their common humanity.
Young people will have a vital role to play. For example, they can volunteer to welcome and help refugees and migrants in their communities. They can also extend the hand of friendship to young refugees and migrants who they might meet in their classrooms and neighbourhoods.
Peace what an elusive word and how hope-less its definition has become. The fragility of peace is evident each passing day, -shall we despair and give up or shall we dig into our reserves of hope, to strengthen peace each time there is a sound of it shattering. We have heard time and again about the role women can play in stalling human destruction, in proving those spaces of peace and in restoring trust in human goodness.
Therefore, at global forum as the UN, Women’s participation in peace building is brought centre stage. They have a role in peace negotiations and post-conflict peace consolidation as agents of peace. Further in order to address women’s concerns as victims of conflict – it is increasingly vital to recognized their contribution to help in long term recovery.
At the micro level the seeds of peace are sown by Soroptimists when they gather Easter Eggs, or Christmas gifts for the hundreds of war displaced refugees. Knitting for children torn from their homes is a comforting service but also an act of peace. Organizing small events to raise funds for asylum seekers to keep their dignity intact, is a peaceful gesture. Soroptimists in Clubs have extended their concern to ensure that respect, safety and dignity is assured while the displaced walk on the road to recovery.
The United Nations Department of Public Information has launched a new animated video on the dramatic story of Yusra Mardini, a young refugee from conflict-torn Syria who achieved her dream to compete in the 2016 Olympics. Yusra was appointed as a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), on 27 April 2017. The video was produced by the Education Outreach Section in support of the Together Initiative to mark World Refugee Day on 20 June and highlight the advent of the International Day of Peace on 21 September.