"Peace is the United Nation's highest calling," Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon declared on the lawn of the UN headquarters in New York. He marked the 26th annual International Day of Peace by ringing the Peace Bell, a gift from Japan. The day was first established by the UN General Assembly in 1981 as a day of global ceasefire. In hopes of promoting conflict resolution and peace building, UN staffers throughout the world are observing a minute of silence in the name of peace.
However, it's difficult to remain optimistic in a time of increasing global hostilities. The UN has deplored a record number of more than 100,000 peacekeepers to restore stability throughout the world. Today's front page of the BBC News online addition features stories about the murder of an anti-Syrian Lebanese member of Parliament and the extradition of Peru's former president for charges of human rights violations. In times like these, it's enough to make the most idealistic of pacifists lose hope.
Perhaps that is why now, more than ever, we must celebrate this international day of peace, not just today, but everyday. The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan reported that while the country has seen an increase in violence, thousands of people participated in the biggest peace effort the country has ever seen. Large scale rallies took place in various cities, from Herat to Jalalabad. If a country so torn by conflict and violence can stop to appreciate the importance of peace, well that's something to be hopeful about.