Thinking about Peace One Day

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Peace One Day is an initiative founded in 1999 by Jeremy Gilley. As you can guess from the name, Gilley’s aim is to have one day every year where peace prevails on earth. He came some way to achieving that goal when in 2001 the United Nations adopted 21st September as Peace Day.

Trying to achieve a reduction in global violence, however, is no small undertaking. In 2007, as part of the initiative, Gilley travelled to Afghanistan alongside Jude Law, ambassador for Peace One Day. Their campaign resulted in the vaccination of 4.5 million children against polio. Then, in 2008, the UN Department of Safety and Security recorded a 70% reduction in violent incidents in Afghanistan on Peace Day thanks to the efforts of Gilley and his team. Partnering with organisations such as Star Syringe, to date Peace One Day has participated in 88 life-saving and humanitarian activities with 28 organisations across 31 countries.

Going forward, the 2012 Peace One Day global truce is being supported by several global organisations including the Cultural Olympiad for the London 2012 Games. Aside from events happening in Mexico and Austria, three concerts have been organised in London to raise awareness of Peace Day, the first of which took place last week on 21 September 2011 at the O2 Arena in London.

The night started with the Brazilian band AfroReggae, stars of the film ‘Favela Rising’ that charts the story of the band’s transformation, from its humble beginnings in a notorious favela of Rio into a social movement of global amplitude. After their vibrant performance, the head of the Cultural Olympiad, Ruth Mackenzie, came on stage to reiterate the importance of Peace One Day. She was followed by a jaw-dropping dance collaboration between the English National Ballet and contemporary street dance group Flawless.

The night also included performances from chart toppers Eliza Doolittle and Razorlight. They played between the screening of videos showing the work that Peace One Day and other partners have been doing, and included a message from UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon. The legend formerly known as Cat Stevens, Yusuf, performed classics such as Wild World, Father and Son, Moonshadow and a touching homage to John Lennon. The vibe in the arena reached a fever pitch, as if all had been touched by hope. And as people were leaving, you could hear animated conversations about how they planned to get involved and help increase peace.

The educational reach of Peace One Day is immense, with talks taking place in schools all over the world, reaching over 40,000 young people in 65 countries. They have also developed an educational resource pack with tools and material put together with teachers. Aligned with the National Curriculum, lessons are currently being implemented in UK and will be expanding through US.

In 2012 two concerts take part of the cultural celebrations of the Olympic Games, one on June 21st and the second in September. At ditto tv, I curated and produced on the 21st June, a Campfire event in partnership with D&AD, promoting the White Pencil award, this year dedicated to Peace One Day. See more about the event here.

Drastically reducing violence, or even stopping it for one day, can seem like a mission doomed from the outset, but Peace One Day is showing that it is possible to make something positive by mobilising the world leaders, decision makers and the next generation who together can change the world for the better.

There are several ways to get involved. For more information visit www.peaceoneday.org


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