Secretary-General António Guterres rings the Peace Bell at the annual ceremony held at UN Headquarters in observance of the International Day of Peace in 2019. UN Photo/Kim Haughton
The 2020 International Day of Peace Observance under the theme “Shaping Peace Together ”, was held on 17 September 2020 from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. EDT. In response to COVID-19 restrictions, the Observance was held online. Inspired by messages from Messengers of Peace, Midori, Paolo Coehlo, Daniel Barenboim, Jane Goodall and Yo-Yo Ma, the Student Observance began with a dialogue between United Nations Messengers of Peace, Yo Yo Ma, and Jane Goodall and young people around the world on the United Nations Secretary-General’s call for a global ceasefire and the importance of coming together peacefully to turn the COVID-19 crises into an opportunity for peace and inclusivity. The dialogue was followed by the Peace Bell Ceremony, featuring the participation of United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, Volkan Bozkir, President of the 75th session of the UN General Assembly, and Kimihiro Ishikane, Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations.
The youth moderator of the student observance was Jaideep Singh, student at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, Secretary-General of the MUN@Home programme and former Deputy Secretary-General of THIMUN Qatar.
The student speakers included:
Xiye Bastida (United States) is a member of the indigenous Mexican Otomi-Toltec Nation and a leading voice for Indigenous and immigrant visibility in climate activism. She is one of the organizers of Fridays for Future New York City and serves on the administration committee of the People's Climate Movement. In her statement, Xiye introduced an Indigenous philosophy called “Pachamama”, and explained how it can be used as a guide for rethinking international relations and sustainable development.
Khalil Elamin (United States) just started his senior year at Mater Dei Prep, a Catholic Preparatory School in New Jersey. He is a youth representative for Pathways to Peace and the Mater Dei Prep Global Leaders Institute. In his dialogue with the Secretary-General, Khalil asked the UN to take concrete measures to promote justice and equality and to make sure that institutions are strong and accountable, so that he and other youth can thrive without fear of injustice or discrimination.
Rita Emmanuel (South Sudan) is an 8th grade student at Thomas Nursery Primary and Secondary School in Juba. As a child born and raised in war, Rita expressed to the Secretary-General her hope for the United Nations to bring lasting peace to the world, so students like her can finish their education and have a bright future.
Kyla Golding (United States) is an award-winning young activist and student at Harvard University, who has led spiritual fellowship in her community and done extensive volunteering work in Ecuador and Jamaica. Her statement for the observance showcased the actions that students can take at the grassroot level to foster peace.
Jiwan Kim (Republic of Korea) is a senior manager of the Korean Organizing Committee for UN International Day of Peace. She has coordinated youth programmes and global peace campaigns for women such as International Girls in ICT Day and Orange Day in the Republic of Korea. Her message to the observance highlighted the importance of gender equality for promoting peace.
Alexis Lombardo (United States) is an actor, singer and peace builder with extensive experience in project development regarding creating peaceful and inclusive societies. She has produced award-winning student videos including A House Divided and assists in public relations for Pathways to Peace and The Peace Traveller. As a performer who has been influenced by music her whole life, Alexis asked UN Messenger of Peace Yo-Yo Ma about the key elements in using music for peaceful change in society and how the message can be made universal.
Divina Maloum (Cameroon) is the Founder of Children for Peace, a youth-led movement that teaches over 5,000 children in Cameroon about peacebuilding and sustainable development. She is a co-winner of the 2019 International Children’s Peace Prize, together with Greta Thunberg. In her statement, Divina shared her experience contributing to sustainable peace in Africa through Children for Peace.
Sarah Oliver (South Africa) is a Youth Coordinator at United Religions Initiative (URI), who has led interfaith and leadership skills training programmes for youth in South Africa, Malawi, and Mozambique. She developed the Girls Not Brides Campaign with URI Youth Ambassadors in these areas. During the Q&A session of the observance, Sarah asked UN Messenger of Peace Jane Goodall for her advice on achieving successful collaboration between grassroots activists and policymakers to create real change and build lasting peace.
Vanda Proskova (Czech Republic) is a student at American University in Prague and Vice Chair of the Prague Vision Institute for Sustainable Security. She also serves as the social media coordinator for the Move the Nuclear Weapons Money campaign. Her speech for the observance reflected on the importance of nuclear disarmament as well as the Sustainable Development Goals 16 and 17.
Javier Rincon (Mexico) is a high school student living in Mexico City. He is serving as the Co-Deputy Secretary-General of MUN Impact’s leadership team and the Secretary-General of the project MUN Impact in Latin America. His remarks focused on how social media can be used to promote peace and solidarity.
Abdullah Shamsi (Egypt) is a high school senior in Cairo. He is an experienced Model UN participant who currently serves as the Under-Secretary-General for the Middle School Program for MUN@Home and a Diplomat for the MENA Region for MUN Impact Global. From the perspective of a global citizen living in the Middle East, Abdullah talked about how ensuring stability of the region can start with every individual in his remarks.
Issac Thomas (India) is the Founder of One Billion Youth for Peace and organizer of youth trainings in peace education and leadership. He has developed activities to engage youth on social media and one of his most recent campaigns is for a World Free from Nuclear Weapons. Issac’s statement focused on the ways that young voices can become part of the solution for peacebuilding.
Pragna Vasupal (United Arab Emirates) lives in Dubai and is the Head of Events at the youth-led organization Green Hope Foundation. She has worked on the Foundation’s international projects and events in Western India and the United Arab Emirates, engaging with marginalized young people globally. During her dialogue with the Secretary-General, Pragna highlighted the importance of multilateralism for building back better from the pandemic and asked the UN to ensure that young people are not left behind.
Virtual Concert to Celebrate International Day of Peace
The virtual concert will be hosted by Beth Nielsen Chapman, twice Grammy-nominated who has released thirteen solo albums and written seven #1 hits and songs. Musical guests will include Keb Mo', Victoria Canal, Melanie, Mary Gauthier and NuDeco/Ben Folds, aside from messages of peace delivered by Olivia Newton John, Leland Melvin, Jody Williams, Dr. Kakha Shengelia, Mungi Ngomane and Rev. Becca Stevens.
You can click here to watch the virtual concert live.