• International Day of Peace

Ambassador McDonald: Instrumental in spearheading the International Day of Peace



Ambassador McDonald was instrumental in spearheading the effort for the International Day of Peace to be recognized by the U.N.


Put your ego behind you, not in front of you. – John W. McDonald


U.S. Ambassador (ret.) John W. McDonald is a lawyer, diplomat, former international civil servant, development expert and peacebuilder. Throughout his career, Ambassador McDonald has been addressing social, economic, and ethnic problems on a global scale. Spending twenty years of his diplomatic career in Western Europe and sixteen years in the Middle East as the United States delegate for the United Nations economic and social affairs, Ambassador McDonald was instrumental in spearheading the effort for the International Day of Peace to be recognized by the U.N.

It began in 1981. Ambassador McDonald was having his coffee in the UN Delegates Lounge when he was approached by the delegate from Costa Rica, whose president, Rodrigo Carazo Odio, had recently successfully founded the University for Peace and was interested in going further to pursue an International Year of Peace.

Not long before, the UN had passed a resolution that  odd-numbered years could be designated as International Years and even-numbered years as World Conference Years. For another year to be assigned to Carazo’s proposition, the Ambassador explained, the next available year would be in another decade.

Yet Carazo was set on a formal, global recognition of peace, and so the Costa Rican delegate returned to Ambassador McDonald two weeks later to find a solution to their dilemma.

It was then that Ambassador McDonald drafted the resolution, which he passed off to President Odio, who, at the Ambassador’s urging, made a speech before the U.N. and endorsed the resolution as his own. The resolution for the International Day of Peace was adopted unanimously in November of 1981 by the UN General Assembly. It was declared to be celebrated on the third Thursday of September to coincide with the opening day of the General Assembly.

The year 1982 was the first year that had the International Day of Peace.

Twenty years later, in 2002, a second resolution was passed to cement the date to the 21st of September.

The International Day of Peace is one day, declared by the UN General Assembly and internationally recognized, to be a day of spreading the message of peace and strength, among all nations and people.


The Institute for Multi-Track Diplomacy (IMTD), founded in 1992, is another testament to the dedication of U.S. Ambassador (ret.) John W. McDonald to peace. IMTD champions a multi-channel, solutions-based approach to peacebuilding and is based in Arlington, VA.

Alexandra Tureau 
Arlington, VA


VIDEO: Ambassador (ret.) John W. McDonald talking about how he was involved in starting the International Day of Peace.