International Day of Peace: Notre Dame experts on actions, ambition for peace


Sanctioned by the United Nations in 1981, the International Day of Peace is observed around the world on September 21 and serves as a call to action that we all have an individual and collective responsibility to foster peace. This year’s theme is “Actions for peace: Our ambition for the #GlobalGoals.”

The following University of Notre Dame experts are available for comment:

Asher Kaufman is a professor of history and peace studies and the John M. Regan, Jr. Director of the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies in the Keough School of Global Affairs at the University of Notre Dame. His research includes the history and legacy of nationalism and colonialism in the Middle East, border conflicts and dynamics, and the interplay between memory, history and violence. He says the International Day of Peace provides an annual reminder of both violence and conflict around the globe, and that peace and the reduction of violence are achievable goals that require cooperation at the global, international and sub-national levels.  

Kaufman says:

“The new 2023 agenda for peace is part of a series of papers that UN Secretary-General António Guterres circulated among member states of the UN in preparation for the Summit of the Future scheduled for September 2024. It breaks away from the 1992 agenda for peace that addressed the end of the Cold War and gave the UN greater responsibility in leading the global system into a more peaceful world. This 2023 agenda for peace puts the onus more on the member states of the UN than on the UN itself as a leader, and calls for greater cooperation among states.

“It recognizes the deteriorating status of global security as well as the limited power the UN has in challenging global threats such as climate change, poverty, wars, and the risks of weaponizing new and emerging technologies. Its analysis of the UN limited power, as well as its call for greater international collaboration, are realistic but bleak.

“As the world is more fragmented today than in the last few decades, and as states have not sufficiently demonstrated attention to the global crises listed in the 2023 new agenda for peace, staying within the narrow confines of their own limited interests, what is needed is a stronger UN and stronger international organizations more broadly that can address these global challenges, reduce violence and promote peace.

Laurie Nathan, professor of the practice of mediation and director of the mediation program at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies in the Keough School of Global Affairs at the University of Notre Dame, has expertise in mediation, conflict resolution, preventive diplomacy, UN peacemaking and African regional security. He says that, unfortunately, the International Day of Peace is celebrated by people and organizations that cherish peace and is largely ignored by those engaged in violence.

Nathan says:

A New Agenda for Peace says very little about international mediation. This is surprising because the document repeatedly emphasizes the goal of conflict prevention — and mediation is one of the primary means of achieving that goal.

“Moreover, the UN is the premier global mediator, either leading peacemaking initiatives to end armed conflicts or supporting regional organizations engaged in peacemaking. 

New Agenda should have called on states to provide more support to UN and regional mediation efforts and to avoid acrimonious competition between rival mediating bodies.


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