The International Day of Peace, sometimes unofficially known as World Peace Day, is a United Nations-sanctioned holiday observed annually on 21 September. It is dedicated to world peace, and specifically the absence of war and violence, such as might be occasioned by a temporary ceasefire in a combat zone for humanitarian aid access. The day was first celebrated in 1982, and is kept by many nations, political groups, military groups, and people. In 2013 the day was dedicated by the Secretary-General of the United Nations to peace education, the key preventive means to reduce war sustainably.
I photograph for a number of non-governmental organisations and charities that work towards building lasting peace or indirectly by improving the economic stability of a region, including International Alert, The Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition International (TASSC) and The Red Cross.
I recently attended the launch of “The Peace Perceptions Poll 2018”, a collaboration between International Alert and the British Council, in partnership with global polling agency RIWI.
Bringing together the views of more than 100,000 people, the Peace Perceptions Poll sought to answer questions around how people experience and respond to violent conflict, and how they think their government should respond to conflict.
More countries are experiencing violent conflict now than at any time in the past 30 years. People have been displaced from their homes at a rate not seen since the Second World War. The cost of conflict is currently estimated at US$1.04 trillion a year.
Conflict and violence appear on our screens every day. Whilst we all understand that conflict is detrimental to the economic stability of a country and wellbeing of the people it is more challenging to assess what can be done to prevent conflict in the first place.
The findings showed a clear public appetite for long-term conflict prevention, commonly termed 'peacebuilding'. There are no short term fix solutions with education and economic improvement being the top two elements voted for in the poll.
During the panel debate, someone from the audience asked the question that if the solutions are long term, then what should we be doing in the here and now?”
Our perceptions that peacebuilding is long term often means that people do not think that they can make a difference. With long term solutions of education and economic improvement we will always be in the “here and now” and there will always be conflict around the world. The Peace Perceptions Poll is a shining example of what we should be doing in the “hear and now” and also to what a difference we can make.
Take the poll at The Peace Perceptions Poll 2018