September 21, 2023


By 2021 Legacy Award recipient, Angelo Cardona from Bogota, Colombia

Each year on the 21st September, the International Day of Peace is observed around the world. This year to mark the occasion, we asked Legacy Award recipient Angelo Cardona to explain why the day is so important and share some ways that we can all work towards achieving global peace.

Peace among nations has never been more urgent. We are living in a multipolar world; plagued with conflicts, human rights violations, and the permanent threat of nuclear confrontation. Today is a day to glimpse that human beings can decide their fates by choosing to silence their guns and listen to the sublime sound of peace among nations, individuals, and cultures.

The International Day of Peace (IDP) was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1981 with the aim of “commemorating and strengthening the ideals of peace both within and among all nations and peoples,” and it is observed all around the world on September 21. Furthering the day´s mission, the General Assembly added a provision to the original resolution to strengthen the ideals of peace by observing 24 hours of non-violence and cease-fire worldwide.  

Angelo Cardona delivering a speech at the International Peace & Disarmament Conference in Berlin 2019

The world is currently facing widespread hatred leading us to the highest number of violent conflicts since the Second World War. According to the Geneva Academy, there are more than 110 armed conflicts today in the world, with 45 armed conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa making it the most affected region, followed by Africa with more than 35 armed conflicts, Asia with 21 armed conflicts, Europe with 7 armed conflicts and Latin America with 6 armed conflicts.  

These staggering figures show not only the current state of the world but the current state of our hearts. International Peace Day was enacted for human beings to rethink the state of the world. To silence the guns and raise the voices of hope. We all can play our part, and it shouldn’t be bound to a single day of actions, but we should make it a daily habit until it becomes a cultural norm.

My journey to create more peaceful societies began when I was in high school. As a teenager, I had to experience firsthand a huge wave of violence. The only thought that crossed my mind was what can I do to change the narrative of violence in my community? The only feasible answer that came across was education.  

Conducting workshops on peace and human rights to students in Bogota

I began to conduct non-formal education workshops in my school and the local community. Little by little change was happening before my eyes. I received invitations from national and international organizations to share my experience waging peace in Colombia. One of those transformative experiences was at the United Nations Headquarters, where I shared about the work I was doing in my community, and how other nations could implement a similar work. Ever since then, I have been involved in the peace movement; working in different regions of the world and addressing the pressing issues that would arise globally.    

Devoting my life to the cause of peace has been a rollercoaster; filled with bright moments of hope and joy that have served the advancement of more peaceful societies, such as the signing of the Treaty on the Prohibition of nuclear weapons in 2017. However, it´s been also filled with sorrowful moments such as the outbreak of the conflict between Ukraine and Russia, or the systematic killing of human rights defenders around the world. I believe moments like these should challenge us to act.  

Today, I just don’t want peoples of the earth to reflect on our historic moments of war and tension or peace and calmness; nor to celebrate a day of non-violence and cease-fire, but I want to provide a short list of simple things that we all can do every day to begin unleashing a chain effect of peaceful actions so that we all can play our part.  

Angelo Cardona addressing the United Nations Economic Social Forum in 2019



Be Kind_

Being kind can play a significant role in building more meaningful and peaceful relationships. Be kind to anyone as you might not know what a colleague, a friend or another person could be going through – and sometimes, hearing some kind words can produce a healing effect.  

Get Involved_

One of the best ways to contribute is either by volunteering for an organisation or cause close to your heart, or by sharing the work of an organisation with acquaintances that might be interested in volunteering. When we volunteer, we’re not only making a difference in other people’s lives, or for the organisation we are volunteering for, but we’re developing new skills, making an impact on society, and having a greater sense of meaning. So, volunteering can be one of the most fulfilling experiences you could ever do.  

Be informed_

One of the main objectives of peace organisations around the world is to raise awareness about conflicts or concerns of national and international interest that can potentially affect the well-being of nations, and societies. By getting informed about the situation of countries abroad, or talking to friends, family members or acquaintances, you’re becoming a game changer by raising awareness!  

Support the cause_

The United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon said “The world is over-armed, and peace is underfunded” highlighting the pivotal need for resources that peace organizations face every year. So, if you have the means to help the advancement of a peace entity, consider donating to support the cause. Examples include:  

- International Peace Bureau

- Human rights watch  

- Peace Direct  

Making these seemingly simple actions part of our lives can play a remarkable difference in the advancement of the peace cause worldwide. We should strive to make this day a day of awakening for humanity. Multilateralism, trust, and fraternity should become the solid foundations of a new world order. Happy International Day of Peace!

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