The International Day of Peace was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1981 for “commemorating and strengthening the ideals of peace within and among all nations and people”.

Twenty years later, the General Assembly set 21 September as the date to observe the occasion annually as a “day of global ceasefire and non-violence… through education and public awareness and to cooperate in the establishment of a global ceasefire”.

This year, as we commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as the 60th anniversary of UN peacekeeping, the Day offers an opportunity to spotlight the crucial relationship between peace and human rights, which are increasingly recognized as inseparable. In the aftermath of World War II, world leaders acknowledged that “disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts” and have prevented the “advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy…freedom from fear and want”.

Today, we are still struggling to achieve this vision. Too many conflicts, from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to conflicts in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Darfur, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, cause unnecessary loss of life and have a devastating impact on the structures that maintain societies, such as education, health and justice systems and the maintenance of law and order.

**Peace Bell Ceremony** – This year to mark the International Day of Peace, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will ring the Peace Bell at United Nations Headquarters in New York on Friday, 19 September, in the company of the UN Messengers of Peace. UN offices and peacekeeping missions around the world will also be holding events to observe the occasion. A minute of silence will be observed at 12 noon local time on 21 September, around the world.