*Photo by Antoine Hunt
*Photo by Antoine Hunt

When the Taliban agreed to support a Day of Peace polio immunization drive by agreeing not to target health workers, Jeremy Gilley knew he was on to something.

Confused and concerned about the ills of the world from war and famine to domestic violence and bullying, Gilley introduced International Peace Day to be observed on September 21 of each year.

Bermuda marked the event for the past two years with the John Lennon Peace Day Concert organized by Freisenbruch and Brannon Media.

The day of recognition was not an instant success — in the first year he decided to put together a film made up of a series of sound bites from people all over the world including Kofi Annan and the Dalai Lama. A film about a series of sound bites wasn’t enough “there needed to be a journey there needed to be a mounting to climb there needed to be some kind of structure.”

The next phase was to prove the impact of the day so another film was produced to show the effects that International Peace Day was having. This included images of Afghani children receiving medical treatment for polio after the Taliban agreed to hold its fire.

“There was a 70 per cent decrease in violence in Afghanistan on the day that really was the spring board for things to come.”

The third phase is the institutionalization of Peace Day — making itself sustaining. That process is well on its way — in 2010, there were 26 international NGOs active on peace day. This year there were 867 in place.

Gilley lauded the corporate community’s contributions. “The reason why there is more peace on this planet now than there has ever been if you listen to what the academics are saying it is because of the corporate sector because of its investment into emerging markets. He told how one businessman is to foot the $10m bill to create action for peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The funds will support documentary filmmaking and other forms of media to bring world attention to the conflict in eastern DRC and highlight positive developments in the region.