“Each year the International Day of Peace is observed around the world on 21 September. The General Assembly has declared this as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples.” – United Nations.
The theme for 2016 was “The Sustainable Development Goals: Building Blocks for Peace” in light of the unanimous adaption of the 2030 agenda by all 193 Member States. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals are the world’s unanimous attempt to achieve peace during our time.
On the International Day of Peace itself, I had the opportunity to attend a workshop initiated by the Sri Lanka United Nations Friendship Organization, at the National Museum of Sri Lanka. At first glance, I could sense that this was an important event considering that people of all ages from students to seniors were present, as well as the media was providing coverage. The workshop consisted of various presentations and dance performances that were trying to convey the message of ‘peace’.
The first presentation was called “Peace begins with a smile”, which was based around Nobel Peace Prize winner St. Mother Teresa and her mission in promoting peace around the world. The speaker highlighted one important point: we, the youth can follow in Mother Teresa’s footsteps by helping and being more aware of others in need. The second presentation, “Peace through national unity and reconciliation”, was an overview of Sri Lanka itself and how it’s necessary for the different religions and ethnicities to coexist in harmony after the recent civil war. Having said that, I believe that the third and final presentation, “Peace and justice for sustainable development” was the most important as it discussed Sri Lanka’s own efforts towards the SDGs set for the year 2030. Moreover, the presenter brought up the role of the youth and citizens as the drivingforce behind any decisions the government takes, whether it be related to climate, economy, poverty, etc.
There were three different dance performances during the course of the workshop. The event began with a folk dance performance by a local student. Although I am neither a dancer nor a judge, I can say that his facial expressions and dance moves were quite dignified and effectively represented Sri Lankan culture. The other two performances, one of which was by children from the SOS Children’s Village, were also ample.
From a critiquing standpoint, I would say that the event was ineptly planned. A function of such global significance should be taken very seriously, but to my dismay, it was not. The proceedings commenced exceedingly late, speeches were monotonous, technology was used shoddily and dance performances were ill-conceived. As disappointing as this was, I was at least able to gain some knowledge on the United Nations’ current initiative regarding global peace.