World Understanding and Peace Day is marked on 23 February by Rotary Clubs across the world. On this special occasion, the Clubs promote several goodwill projects to help make the world a more peaceful and harmonious place.
The day also marks the anniversary of the formation of the Rotary Club on 23 February, 1905, by Chicago attorney Paul Harris. Harris formed the club so that it could help professionals from diverse fields develop life-long friendships and exchange various ideas promoting harmony and brotherhood.
History of the Rotary organisation:
Soon after its establishment by Harris in 1905, the Rotary organisation turned its focus towards humanitarian services. The Club ventured into several projects to promote peace and brotherhood and tried to tackle some of the most pressing issues across the globe.
A decade after its formation, the First World War broke out, resulting in widespread death and destruction. In 1921, three years after the end of the war, the Rotary Club amended its constitution to include “aid in the advancement of international peace and goodwill through a fellowship of business and professional men of all nations united in the Rotary ideal of service” as a goal of the organisation.
The Club later became one of the 42 organisations called to serve as consultants to the US delegation to the United Nations Charter Conference.
The Rotary Club continues to work towards its goal of aiding international harmony and brotherhood through endeavours such as polio eradication programmes, organising peace forums and so on.
The Rotary Club is involved in several projects aimed at eradicating diseases, providing clean water, protecting the environment, promoting education and so on. It is also focused on creating “optimal conditions" for harmonious societies.
Through its Peace Centres, the Club has also trained over 1,300 peace fellows to become catalysts for change and work in governments, non-governmental organisations and so on.
Today, over 46,000 Rotary Clubs in six continents take forward these ideals and remember their importance on World Understanding and Peace Day.