Commemorations at the UN

Messengers of Peace, President of the General Assembly, Secretary-General and his wife at the Peace Bell ceremony in New York. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe
Messengers of Peace, President of the General Assembly, Secretary-General and his wife at the Peace Bell ceremony in New York. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

The observance of the International Day of Peace 2007 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York began with a ceremony at the Japanese Peace Bell on the front lawn of the Secretariat Building on the morning of 21 September. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Mrs. Ban, President of the General Assembly Srgjan Kerim and the Messengers of Peace Michael Douglas, Jane Goodall, Elie Wiesel and new Messenger Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein of Jordan were flanked by 193 students from the UN International School, dressed in their national costumes, holding flags of the United Nations and all the Member States. The United Nations singers welcomed them with the “Song of Peace”. The Secretary-General announced the appointment of four new Messengers of Peace: Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein of Jordan, Israeli conductor and pianist Daniel Barenboim, Brazilian author Paulo Coelho, and violinist Midori Goto from Japan. The Secretary-General then rang the Peace Bell to mark the International Day of Peace.

192 students bear flags of each UN Member State, in New York. UN Photo/Paulo Filgueirass
192 students bear flags of each UN Member State, in New York. UN Photo/Paulo Filgueiras

At the end of the ceremony, the dignitaries and flag-bearers joined the annual Student Observance in which 700 middle and high school students in New York, including young refugees from Peru and Sudan, were connected via satellite to young people at the UN missions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lebanon and Sudan. Following opening remarks by the Secretary-General and the President of the General Assembly,

Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lebanon and Sudan. Following opening remarks by the Secretary-General and the President of the General Assembly, the students as well as the Messengers of Peace exchanged their views on the theme “Peace: A Climate of Change”. The student commemoration ended with a Parade of Nations, in which, one by one, the flags of the nations of the world were presented with a pledge for peace.

At noon, the Secretary-General called on the staff at Headquarters and people all over the world to observe one minute of silence, in the name of peace.

Also many UN peace operations and Information Centres around the world celebrated the International Day of Peace in many different ways:

Kids let peace kites fly in Kabul, Afghanistan. 
UN Photo/Helena Mulkerns
Kids let peace kites fly in Kabul, Afghanistan. UN Photo/Helena Mulkerns

The most effective campaign may have taken place in Afghanistan, where the UN Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), UN agencies, the Government, parliament, mosques, schools and many Afghan organizations prepared for the Day of Peace months ahead of time. The Ministry of Health used to occasion to carry out a polio vaccination campaign in the country’s south. Numerous events took place across the country, although the called-for ceasefire was not observed. In Kabul, 1.500 people watched and took part in performances, kite flying, songs and prayers for peace. 500 people joined a peace march in Jalalabad. (Read More)

In Liberia, hundreds of young people observed the Day in a stadium in Monrovia, participating in sporting and entertainment events, which were supported by the government. Liberia’s Youth and Sports Minister as well as the country’s Deputy Defence Minister for Operations attended the celebrations. (Read More)

Panel discussion in Dili, Timor-Leste.
UN Photo/Martine Perret
Panel discussion in Dili, Timor-Leste. UN Photo/Martine Perret

Several activities took place in Timor-Leste, organized by the United Nations Mission there, ranging from panel discussions, a public speaking contest on the theme of peace, marches, football matches and movie screenings. (Read More)

In Freetown, Sierra Leone, the UN Integrated Office, the African Youth for Peace and Democracy Movement and a coalition of civil society organizations organized a music and drama festival. (Read More)

The UN mission in Cyprus observed the Day with a peace candle ceremony in Nicosia hosted by the Chief of the Mission Michael Møller. More than 70 guests participated, including the Cyprus World War II Veterans’ Association, the diplomatic corps, youth organizations from the two communities and a group of cyclists, who had pedaled from Brussels to the island in the name of peace. (Read More)

In Sudan, the UN mission there and the Government of North Darfur organized ceremonies for the International Day of Peace together. The observerance, held in El Fasher, marked the first cooperation between them on a public event. (Read More)

UN Special Representative Georg Charpentier delivers his peace message in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. UN Photo/Basil Zoma
UN Special Representative Georg Charpentier delivers his peace message in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. UN Photo/Basil Zoma

Reading peace poems, a roundtable discussion and speeches featured in the UN peacekeeping operation’s celebrations for the Day at its main headquarters in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. The Ivorian Minister of Foreign Affairs, several Ambassadors, representatives from organizations of civil society and UN agencies participated. (Read More | Lire Plus)

The UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the Democratic Republic of the Congo, William Swing, gave an interview, explaining the significance of the Day for the UN mission there and the country. (Read More - English Interview)

Let’s redouble our efforts in peace building” was the theme of the Day in Burundi. The president, vice presidents, UN officials and diplomats opened a vernissage with children’s drawings, took a bicycle ride around Bujumbura and spoke about peace in the country at the official ceremony. (Read More | Lire Plus)

In Bujumbura, Burundi a bicycle ride around the capital took place.
In Bujumbura, Burundi a bicycle ride around the capital took place.

In Haiti, the observations took place at a high school in Cité Soleil, a former crime-ridden part of Port-au-Prince. The symbolic value of celebrating the Day of Peace in that area was emphasized by several speakers. The events included an exhibition of drawings by students, reading of the message of the Secretary-General, tree-plantings and awards for top students. (Read More | Lire Plus)

In Bissau, Guinea-Bissau the Day of Peace was marked in a public ceremony, a football tournament and the observation of one minute of silence. (Read More)

Numerous United Nations Information Centres (UNICs) around the world held peace ceremonies on the Day. In Yaounde, Cameroon, the message of the Secretary-General was brought to three different schools. In Azerbaijan, the exhibition “1000 Women for Peace” was opened, and a roundtable on “Peace for you, for me, for everyone” was held. UNIC-Prague organized a debate and presentation of a new peace and security related publication. In Moscow, a wreath-laying ceremony took place, and in Bucharest, Romania, a sporting event was held. (Read More)

The programme of the UN Information Service in Vienna included a dance performance by 70 children representing 50 different nations. Students wrote and read a peace statement, and the message of the Secretary-General. (Read More)