Aishwarya Rai, Michael Douglas at UN to mark Intl’ Peace Day

UNITED NATIONS: Bollywood actress Aishwarya Rai Bachchan today joined UN chief Ban Ki-moon and American actor Michael Douglas to commemorate the International Peace Day, describing it as an “absolute honor.”

Bachchan was among a host of celebrities who were at the UN headquarters to take part in the ceremony which is held every year on September 21 and seeks cessation of hostilities around the world for a day. It was the first time for Bachchan at the UN headquarters.

The ceremony was held at the Rose Garden early morning today and was attended by Ban and UN Messengers of Peace Douglas, British anthropologist Jane Goodall, Jewish-American writer and Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel and American actress and singer Monique Coleman.

“It is an absolute honor to be here. I am glad I have been able to participate because it truly is an honor and I am looking forward to the whole experience,” Bachchan told PTI after the brief ceremony.

Bachchan, 38, said she was glad to be able to contribute in sending out a powerful message of peace.

“Peace is the call of the day, has been and will always be,” Bachchan said, adding, “We are all here to help resonate the message of peace.”

Dressed in exquisite Indian attire of a flowing creme lehenga and black sequenced top, Bachchan stood with Douglas as she listened intently to Ban’s address.

Later she was seen talking to Douglas and posed for photographs with a group of little children, who were part of a performance group that played the violin during the ceremony.

A moment of silence was observed in honor of the victims of conflict and those who are being subjected to human rights abuses. Ban along with UN General Assembly President Vuk Jeremic rang the ‘Peace Bell’ to mark the occasion. Ban said the International Peace Day is the day when the UN calls for compete cessation of hostilities around the world.

He said the peace bell should be rung with greater force this year so that the message of peace is “heard above the voice of discord and extremism that has sparked violence in recent days”.

The theme of this year’s observance is ‘Sustainable Peace for a Sustainable Future’.

Ban stressed that armed conflicts attack the very pillars of sustainable development.

“Natural resources must be used for the benefit of society, not to finance wars. Children should be in school, not recruited into armies. National budgets should focus on building human capacity, not deadly weapons,” he said.

Ban added that in the current tense times “we need a message of tolerance, cooperation, and harmony to resonate around the world”.

The International Peace Day, also known as World Peace Day, is dedicated to peace, and specifically the absence of war and violence, such as might be occasioned by a temporary ceasefire in a combat zone for humanitarian aid access.

The day was first celebrated in 1982. -PTI

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