Can you imagine one day – just one day – without fighting anywhere on the globe? In a climate of fear and terror, it can seem hopelessly naïve to imagine a day without violence, and peace organisations and activists who do are easily tagged as dreamers, tree huggers and relics of the 1960s, just idealists who have no idea how the world really works.

Peace One Day

Jeremy Gilley is one of those dreamers. Back in 1981, the UN General Assembly declared the third Tuesday of September to be the International Day of Peace, in a resolution sponsored by the United Kingdom and Costa Rica. It was Jeremy Gilley, a Bristish filmmaker and founder of the organisation Peace One Day, who campaigned not only to get a fixed calendar date for a symbolic ‘International Day of Peace’, but also to have it recognised as an annual day for a genuine global ceasefire. 

Use your peace day to follow the efforts of Jeremy Gilley in this YouTube video, showcasing how he, together with a group of passionate celebrities, got the UN to embrace the idea of a fixed calendar date for ceasefire and non-violence. Video: Peace One Day.

In September 2001, Jeremy Gilley’s dream came true. A General Assembly resolution was unanimously adopted by UN member states, setting 21 September as the International Day of Peace; or Peace Day. 

Since 2001, a full global ceasefire has not yet taken place, but local ceasefires have allowed food drops in Sudan, mosquito nets to be provided to families in the DRC, and kids in war and conflict-affected areas to be vaccinated on this day of cease fire, on this one day of peace.

WILPF does not buy the idea that the military presence equals security and that military responses lead to peace. In 2016, we initiated the campaign #Movethemoney, advocating for military expenditures to be reallocated to human needs. Photo credits: WILPF.

$.991.780.821 to spend on humanity

WILPF supports any initiative that makes peace popular – big or small – but peace for one day out of 365 is not enough. We want peace to be a reality every day. 

While we support the idea for a one day ceasefire, it is important to remember that peace is more than the absence of war. 

And why not be more radical and follow the idea of day without war to its logical conclusion: what would happen if all governments allocated one day’s military expenditure towards addressing a real security threat such as climate change? The annual global military expenditure in 2018 exceeded  $1,800,000,000,000 USD – almost $5 billion per day. 

As WILPF stated in our 2008 statement on Peace Day more than 10 years ago: “We must have a paradigm shift in resource allocation. We can meet this challenge, but only if we are prepared to face the fact that bombs, guns, cluster bombs and landmines will not deter or remove the threat of a tsunami, a hurricane, a flood, a virus, or a water shortage.” 

This year, the official UN 2019 theme for the Peace Day is “Climate Action for Peace.” We welcome the theme, and while we might be naïve peaceniks, maybe we are just always 10 years or more ahead of the pack. But what seems radical today, may well be commonsense in 2029. 

Happy peace day to all of you! Follow us on facebook and instagram to see our activities around the globe marking Peace Day 2019.

PS: Curious to see what you actually can spend the $5 billion USD on? Then get inspired in our campaign #MovetheMoney

Our members spreading the message of peace for the International Peace Day.