International Day of Peace: crowdsourcing ideas for change

By Simon Barrow
September 21, 2016

The United Nations' (UN) International Day of Peace is marked and celebrated on 21 September each year. Its purpose is to recognise the efforts of those who have worked hard to end conflict and promote peace over the past year, and to resolve and act for positive change in the coming year.

The International Day of Peace is also a day of ceasefire – both personal and political. This has added poignancy in 2016, because of the collapse into bloodshed this week of the highly fragile Syrian ceasefire, the deaths of Red Crescent aid workers, and the continuing catastrophe brought about by human dislocation, conflict and war across the Middle East.

Ekklesia has been working on active peacemaking, peacebuilding and conflict transformation (not merely 'resolution') since our inception in 2001/2. We have partnered with Christian Peacemaker Teams, the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) and others. Our particular focus has been on re-imagining Remembrance. How we commemorate and remember war and conflict says a good deal about how we propose to handle it moving forward.

Are we, as peoples and nations, committed to alternatives to war and to security strategies that reduce and eliminate militarism?  How is our Remembrance engaged with difficult truth-telling about the human and environmental cost of war? How can Remembrance contribute towards policies which actively seek to move away from military interventions and strategies towards ones based on political solutions and humanitarian priorities?

These are some of the questions and practical possibilities highlighted in Ekklesia's reports - Re-Imagining Remembrance (PDF document 2009, revised 2011 and 2104), in Remembrance: Where do we go next?, and in the co-published Veterans for Peace report, My Name is Legion

In the meantime, the focus of the International Day of Peace 2016 (UN site) is on the relationship between peacemaking and the International Development Goals (IDGs) which seek to reduce and eliminate global poverty and degredation, often a significant factor in conflict. 

Ekklesia welcomes practical suggestions for peacemaking and peacebuilding in the 21st century (for action by government, civil society and faith organsiations), and we are crowdsourcing these as part of IDP 2016 via our social media pages. 

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© Simon Barrow is the director of Ekklesia. 

Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.