International Peace Day - why and what we celebrate

About International Peace Day, 21st September
Peace is a word that is often talked about by state leaders, academicians and people in common parlance. What is it that we really mean by peace? What significance does it hold for us today? Has this significance grown over the years?
The United Nations resolution in 1981 established the International Day of Peace and was first inaugurated on the third Tuesday of September, 1982 coinciding with the UN General Assembly. Although a positive step attempting to assert the importance of peace internationally, the day merely remained as a sign of tokenism for the cause of peace. It could not be established as a day of celebration for the world because of other political priorities and shifts taking place globally. The 1981 resolution also lacked a holistic definition of peace. The resolution states, “since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defence of peace must be constructed.” The resolution therefore left the creation of peace to “mankind” and stressed a very narrow definition of peace as opposed to war. 
It was in 2002 that an effort to revive this resolution and to redefine peace was initiated. The UN General Assembly amended the 1981 peace resolution and declared 21 September, as the permanent date for the International Day of Peace and defined peace day as “a day of global ceasefire and non-violence”. This however again directly links the notion of peace merely as the absence of war connected with non-usage of arms. It does not incorporate the notion that war extends beyond arms, that structural violence that is pervasive in our social structure causes war that global ceasefire will not eradicate and hence will impede any initiative for holistic peace. 
As a civil society group, we do not adhere to this limited definition of peace. For us peace means comprehensive human security. For us peace means diversity, justice, sustainability and nurturing. Peace means equality, compassion, harmony. Peace does not begin and end with war. A just peace means that dominant structures of power, greed, profit and violence are challenged. For us, peace is also a collective effort, which comes through the contribution of many. Peace begins with each one of us, in homes, families, communities, organisations, countries, regions and the world. Peace is holistic, integrative ecological. It is a part of our everyday life. Although revived in 2002, we feel that the International Day of Peace has not received full recognition.
Celebrating this day, we feel will help us not only popularise this day but will also help us in redefining the notion and vision of peace as we envisage. This year, once again, we would like to take forward the intellectual peace process that we has initiated some years back with informal and formal discussions with different stakeholders of society. We believe that every individual should stake a claim to the peace process and make it his\her own. This belief is most fundamentally reflected in our open invitation to everyone to come and participate in this peace process and make peace a living reality.

This is the sixth year of our festival, with us organizing the 1000 peace women exhibition in 2006 along with music and contemporary dance performances on the peace theme; a week long peace and rights festival in 2007; a peace discussion, dance cum poetry and music festival in 2008; a workshop on manufacturing peace, theatre for peace and peace reels in 2009; expressions and performance for sharing peace by students and friends in 2010; and two evenings of peace reels; interactive installation, talk show and rhythms of peace with Vidya Shah and Pervez Imam this 20-21 September 2011.
Kriti: a development research, praxis and communication team, New Delhi
Phone: +91-11-26027845/ 26033088             

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