Jeremy Gilley is an actor and filmmaker turned self-professed ‘peace militant’. As founder of Peace One Day, a Surreybased NGO, Gilley led a successful international grassroots campaign that culminated in the creation of UN World Peace Day. Occurring on 21 September each year since 2002, Peace Day is recognized globally as a time of ceasefire and non-violence. For 2012, Peace One Day and partner Interpeace have joined efforts to create a ‘Global Truce NGO Coalition’ to coordinate and encourage mobilization towards the greatest reduction of violence ever seen in a single day.
How did you start your career as a ‘peace militant’?
I had been an actor for many years and was making films. I decided that I wanted to try to contribute to what was going on in the world. I could not really understand the killings and the starvation, the way we are destroying our environment. That was really the main motivation: what can I do? As a filmmaker, I decided I could make films about peace. Then, I realized there was no day of peace, and that was it! I decided to establish the first day of ceasefire on a fixed calendar date, 21st of September, and have that date voted by all member states of the UN – every government of the world. Once the day was created, we proved it could work in the one place everyone said it would be impossible, which is Afghanistan! And now, we’re taking the whole thing very global.
Do you have more impact than any other celebratory day?
I think any impact is a great impact, no matter what that impact might be. No matter how big or small the contribution. We know that lives are saved on the day. Children are vaccinated, aid is moved, women’s groups try to decrease the amount of women who are killed or injured on the day, students are coming together. We have now launched a coalition of NGOs to unite and come together as one. Whether it’s water, food, insecticide-treated mosquito nets, or planting trees, there are all kinds of examples in the NGO world that are involved. Most religions observe the day. The largest interfaith organization in the world, the World Council of Religions, has written a world peace prayer, in consultation with the leaders of all faiths. That is now said throughout the world. We see teachers registering from 193 countries globally to use our Peace One Day Citizenship Resource Pack. We see families doing things in their homes and bringing people together. We see people saying sorry. We see lots of sports activities, lots of football activities in every country of the world. I’m delighted and excited by what is happening.
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If interested, see what NGOs from the NGO coalition will do on Peace Day on our special feature.