International Day of Peace was observed on Saturday as the United Nations called for an end to hostilities around the globe.
“In this tense global climate, we need a message of tolerance, dialogue, cooperation and harmony to resonate across the world,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said as he rang the Peace Bell cast from pennies donated by children from 60 nations.
“The United Nations works for sustainable peace across the world. We strive to prevent conflicts before they erupt – to resolve disputes through peaceful means – and to help people build the foundations of lasting peace.
“Today we must ring the peace bell with extra force and conviction. We need its beautiful sound to be heard above the voices of discord and extremism that have sparked violence in recent days.”
The theme of this year’s International Day of Peace observance is Sustainable Peace for a Sustainable Future. Ki0-moon touched on this idea during his remarks, highlighting the use of child soldiers and unlawful mining of so-called blood diamonds and the natural resources wasted to wage these wars.
“Natural resources should be used for the benefit of society, not to finance wars,” he said. “Children should be in school, not recruited as soldiers. National budgets should focus on people’s needs, not deadly weapons.”
International Day of Peace was celebrated in many other corners of the globe, including Afghanistan. Though the country has been filled with turmoil as the United States attempts to transition power to the Afghans, AntiWar correspondent Johnny Barber said the importance of the day must be remembered.
Stationed in Kabul, Afghanistan, he wrote:
Yet, on this International Day of Peace groups will come together around the world (and yes, even in Afghanistan) to promote peace, cooperation, friendship and love. These efforts are necessary, if for no other reason then to remind people peace is an option, a possibility, and a personal responsibility. It is necessary to counter the flames of hatred. It is necessary to be inspired by those who walked this path before us. It is necessary for our sanity as human beings. As the darkness of our violence prone world threatens to overwhelm us, it is necessary to dance, to sing, to laugh, and to open our minds to creative opportunities to live in harmony with our world. It is necessary to stand together for even just one day and say, “No, just because you have superior firepower, or can rain down hell fire missiles, or fly planes into buildings, I will not be swayed, I will not live in fear. Your sickness will not persuade me, infect me, or deter me.” In this electoral season, choosing between Obama and Romney is a huge distraction; there is real work to be done. Our perverse system of endless war needs to be dismantled, our culture realigned. We need to begin again. War is over. Peace is the path.
The ceremony for the International Day of Peace included the United Nations ringing the Peace Bell at its headquarters in New York, a call meant to be heard at all points of the world.
The Peace Bell has tolled every year since 1981, when the United Nations General Assembly established International Day of Peace to coincide with its opening session in September.