On September 21st of each year since 1982, the United Nations calls for warring nations to lay down their arms and prove to the world they can stop conflict. In 1981, the United Nations General Assembly, by unanimous vote, adopted Resolution 36/67 establishing the International Day of Peace (IDP) which stated in part, “…to devote a specific time to concentrate the efforts of the United Nations and its Member States, as well as the whole of mankind, to promoting the ideals of peace and to giving positive evidence of their commitment to peace in all viable ways.” The Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, delivered the following speech this past week counting down to the International Day of Peace, or, Peace Day 2013:

Today we begin the 100-day countdown to the observance of the International Day of Peace, when the United Nations calls on all combatants around the world to lay down their arms and to give peace a real chance.

The International Day of Peace, marked on 21 September each year, offers an opportunity for the world to pause, reflect and consider how best to break the vicious cycle of violence that conflict creates.

The theme for the Day this year is “Education for Peace”. The United Nations will examine the role education can play in fostering global citizenship. It is not enough to teach children how to read, write and count. Education has to cultivate mutual respect for others and the world in which we live, and help people forge more just, inclusive and peaceful societies.

This kind of education is a central focus of my Global Education First Initiative, which calls on governments to place education at the top of their agenda.

I call on everyone – whether governments, parties to conflicts, religious institutions, community leaders, the media, academics, or civil society groups – to play their part. We must support peace education programmes, protect students and teachers from conflict, help rebuild schools destroyed by war, and ensure all girls and boys have access to a quality education that includes learning about resolving and preventing conflicts.

Over the next 100 days, let us resolve to learn together how to create a universal culture of peace.

~Secretary General Ban Ki-moon

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