Millions worldwide set to back 'Peace One Day'

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The Independent Online

Millions of people around the world are expected to mark an international "peace day" today, encouraged by the British-based, celebrity-backed organisation "Peace One Day".

This year's event is being especially promoted in Afghanistan, where parliamentarians, clerics, and children in orphanages and schools are all holding events to push for peace.

"We're doing it because we think there are potential benefits from it," a UN spokesman, Adrian Edward, told the International Herald Tribune. " We are dealing with a massive group psychology: How do you persuade people in a place where there's been so much conflict that a day of peace is possible? We have nothing, in fact, to lose by trying. What do you have to lose by promoting peace."

In the West, the theme of this year's special day –which has been running since 1999 and is backed by the UN – is "Yoga as Peace in Action, " and yoga enthusiasts the world over are preparing special group sessions as a tribute to the occasion.

"Peace One Day" was founded by the British film-maker Jeremy Gilley, and is endorsed by a number of celebrities including the singer Annie Lennox, Sir Richard Branson, the footballer David Beckham and the actor Jude Law.

The initiative has been running since 1999 and, in 2001, a UN General Assembly resolution was unanimously adopted by member states, formally recognising and encouraging an annual day of global ceasefire and non-violence on21 September each year.

Last year on that date, 27.6 million people from 200 countries marked the day, according to Mr Gilley.

Jude Law visited Afghanistan in June to film for a forthcoming documentary promoting peace. Peace One Day 2007 is being sponsored by the shoe company Puma, which will today announce plans for its Peace One Day football collection, unveiled at the African Cup of Nations in January 2008.