Women gather inside a "peace hut" in Liberia. (UN Photo/Andi Gitow)

Today is the International Day of Peace, sometimes unofficially known as World Peace Day. The United Nations General Assembly declared it a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples, in 1981. In the intervening years, much research has been done on peace and on the factors that contribute to a peaceful society—key among them being the existence of justice and equality for everyone. Peace, of course, is the central goal of all the work of international actors and in order to understand how to promote it, we need to recognize how peace is built on the ground and how initiatives at the grassroots contribute to building and sustaining peace.

In recent years, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has been working to reform the UN’s approach to peace and introduced the prevention and sustaining peace agenda. The definition of sustaining peace contextualizes peacebuilding within the full spectrum of the conflict cycle, rather than solely an action taken after conflict ends. This reframing shifts the starting point of thinking about peace to understanding risk and resilience in a society, and preventative rather than reactive approaches. Central to this is the prioritization of the local and ensuring that the work of the international community compliments and supports the initiatives of local actors. Read more