Each year the International Day of Peace is celebrated around the world on 21 September to promote the values of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples. The United Nations adopted the 17 Sustainable Development Goals in 2015, realizing the fact that it would not be possible to build a peaceful world if steps were not taken to achieve economic and social development for all people everywhere and ensure that their rights were protected. The Sustainable Goals cover a broad range of issues, including poverty, hunger, health, education, climate change, gender equality, water, sanitation, energy, environment and social justice. Sustainable Development Goal 16 “Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions” calls for promoting ideals of peace and inclusive societies for sustainable development, providing access to justice for all and building effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels. A peaceful society is one where justice and equality are available for everyone.
This year, the theme of International Peace Day is “the Right to Peace” which celebrates the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is considered a landmark document in the history of human rights. The declaration was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 10th December 1948 as a shared achievement for all peoples and all nations. This is the most translated document in the world, available in more than 500 languages – is as relevant today as it was on the day that it was adopted.
The Secretary General United Nations in his message has also highlighted importance of Universal Declaration of Human Rights which recognizes the inherent dignity and equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human race.
Although, Universal Declaration does not include a separate article on “Right to Peace” yet article No. 3 of the declaration provides the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world by stating “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.”
International Day of Peace calls upon all seeking peaceful resolution of conflicts when disagreements arise around us. We can be part of the solution by taking small steps including preventing any injustice in the society by adopting a non-violent approach to problem solving.
The day also calls that wherever we are, we should make a real difference through extending support and standing for others rights especially weak segments of the society against the injustice, inequalities, discrimination and human right violations. We should raise our voices peacefully and can join others to publicly lobby for better leadership, effective implementation of constitutional provisions related to fundamental rights, formation of better laws and greater respect for human values.
There is also dire need to address multiple root causes of extremism and violence in the society i.e. weak rule of law, bad governance, inequalities/ injustices, absence of merit & transparency and shrinking spaces especially for youth & marginalized segments of society. Policies to counter violence and extremism should be diverse and holistic. Effective implementation of National Action Plan can also be greatly helpful in promoting pluralism, religious tolerance and improving governance.