International Day of Peace – 21 September 2019

#PeaceDay and #ClimateAction

Another International Day of Peace approaches and we renew our pledge for peaceful co-existence, if only for that day. Since, 1981 the day, (21st September) has been celebrated with a commitment to rise above all differences and build a culture of peace. Once again, the Japanese Peace Bell housed in the New York UN Centre, will be tolled. Whenever it is rung, it has sent a clear message. The message is addressed to all humanity. “Peace is precious. It is not enough to yearn for peace. Peace requires work – long, hard, difficult work.

UN Secretary General António Guterres’ call for this International Day of Peace is, “I count on your continued support as we strive to build a world where we can live every day in harmony with the environment and with each other.”

In turbulent times as now it’s the commodities like peace and harmony that are in severe short supply. Do you not hear those rumblings that tell you that all future wars will be fought over fast depleting natural resources? Climatic vagaries and natural disasters grip the headlines on a daily basis. Should we not be bewildered?

Therefore, finding that elusive peace becomes all the more important and urgent. Guterres is so focused on Climate Action for Peace. Ironically this Action for Peace has to be addressed on a war footing!

Flash back to 1948 when climate action wasn’t the urgent need, but wars none the less had muddied the peace and quiet of nations. Soroptimists gathered for the SI Convention in Harrogate England. The theme for the Convention was “Working for the World we Want.” Clearly, the message sent out was one of international friendship and also a measure towards greater understanding between nations and cultures. As they said at that same Convention, “We are women of different languages and customs but our hearts beat alike – our united desire for peace, for world betterment for understanding made us akin.”

Later in 1956 the then SI President at the New York Convention mourned the rise of materialism and warped sense of values. She said, “We pray for peace – little realising in our hopeless desperation that if peace prevails it must start in the hearts of each of us.”

Seventy plus years on Soroptimists continue to march for peace, taking up the cause of peace with the different demand in each decade. Today, it is dire need for peaceful cooperation for Climate Action.

We cannot but ponder on the fact that the Peace Bell presented by Japan in 1951, is housed in a Japanese cypress wooden structure supported by a base stone donated by Israel, while the bell is itself made with metal from coins collected by children donated by delegates of 60 nations.

This symbol of peace had much coming together.

The coming together is needed for Climate Action

As the Japanese Ambassador said while presenting it, “The bell embodies the aspiration for peace not only of the Japanese but of the peoples of the entire world. Thus, it symbolised the universality of the United Nations.

Nisha Ghosh
APD Violence and Conflict Resolution