How we marked Peace Day 2016

International Alert marked the International Day of Peace on 21 September and 30 years of peacebuilding with celebrations around the world.

From live art and exhibitions to marches and street dancing, a variety of events were held in nine countries that are all facing different challenges, from Ukraine and Uganda to Lebanon and the Philippines. Everyone was united by the belief that peace is possible and we can all play a part in supporting it.

We launched a #HandofPeace campaign in the run-up to 21 September to spread this message of togetherness which is represented by our new logo. The campaign, which invites people to connect with someone by joining hands and sharing a selfie on social media, was embraced by our partners and communities globally.

In Nigeria, we met with partners in Maiduguri to reflect on a joint project that has this year supported hundreds of women and girls who have been victims of Boko Haram sexual violence, many of whom are now based in Internally Displaced Person (IDP) camps.

The #HandofPeace campaign also took off in Uganda, where a five-day youth camp was organised in Kasese in the west of the country, bringing 100 young people from six districts together in the build-up to 21 September.

Young people had the chance to share questions and concerns with politicians attending the camp, which included dancing and sports events, and was followed by an inter-faith prayer session. It culminated in a declaration from youth leaders to become peace ambassadors in their own communities.

The declaration was read out during national celebrations on the International Day of Peace, when we also staged a march in Bundibugyo. It was then submitted to parliament through the Uganda Parliamentary Forum on Youth Affairs (UPFYA).

In DRC, street artists and communities in the city of Goma joined forces for a day of painting and street dancing. A mural was produced with arts group Yolé!Africa which reflected a collective vision of peace.

The event was part of our #ART4PEACE campaign, which involved other Peace Day murals being painted in Ukraine, Lebanon and the Philippines – where young artists also struck up a #HandofPeace.

In Kenya, we celebrated Peace Day by launching a new report – A matter of trust: Reducing violent extremism in Kenya. This was based on research that found strengthening relationships was key to reducing this kind of threat.

The day also marked the launch of our Talking Peace Festival – a global fortnight of events that aim to spark interest and conversations about important peacebuilding issues.

In London the festival kicked off with a private view of Create Syria: The future constellation – a multimedia installation comprising of works from displaced Syrian artists, exploring how arts can help imagine and build a better future.

British comedian Harry Hill was among the attendees:

“It's brilliant to see some of the ways that art, acting and filmmaking are being used to support Syrian young people in refugee camps. They are learning to tell their own stories and develop new skills. The Create Syria project gives them hope for their future when the war is over.”

The private view was followed by a special reception to celebrate our 30th anniversary, with speeches that reflected upon three decades of peacebuilding. We also looked ahead to the future by unveiling our new logo. Actresses Trudie Goodwin and Adjoa Andoh, singer La Roux and comedian Jeremy Hardy were among the first visitors to put their mark on it.

Find out more and join the celebrations