Nairobi, 19th June 2015– Each year the International Day of Peace is observed around the world on 21 September. This day is set aside as one of global unity and intercultural cooperation devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace among communities and nations. In the Great Lakes Region of Africa, the non-profit organization “Peace One Day” has been working to engage with different sectors of society in the region, to encourage all parties to take part in activities that promote peace and the cessation of violence and conflict within the region.
As a lead-up to this year’s International Day of Peace, a one-day forum was held at the Hilton Hotel in Nairobi with an aim of deepening the engagement of various sectors of society including governments, civil society, schools, and faith-based organizations. The countdown forum presented a platform to begin discussions and share ideas on how to best observe this year’s International Day of Peace in Kenya and the Great Lakes Region of Africa. Key local dignitaries, government officials, and UN representatives attended the event. Peace One Day Founder Jeremy Gilley led the discussions which centered on looking at peace through the prism of education, the issue of domestic violence, and a session on effective campaign tools for Peace Day, with regional representatives from the Great Lakes Region sharing their experiences.
Africa continues to grapple with issues of violence and conflict that expose intolerance and hate at national and regional levels. The recent spate of xenophobic attacks in South Africa, the Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria and neighboring countries, civil strife in South Sudan, and the long running conflict in Somalia among other conflicts present a challenge to the socio-economic growth of the continent. The International Day of Peace is therefore an important initiative as it calls for a cessation of hostilities during the Day. Communities are encouraged to commemorate the Day through education and public awareness activities on issues related to peace. By using sports and culture as campaign tools to advance peace within communities, the day opens avenues for dialogue and the advancement of peace on the continent and beyond. We call on the media fraternity to actively take part in this year’s International Peace Day events in their respective countries in order to further drive the agenda for peace on the continent.