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Globally Recognized Luminaries Lend Support to Peace One Day to Raise Awareness and Encourage Peace-building Activity in DRC and Great Lakes on Peace Day

GOMA, Democratic Republic of Congo, 18 March 2014 – This year Grammy Award-nominated recording artist Akon and UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region of Africa Mary Robinson have joined with Peace One Day to harness the collective strength of an unprecedented coalition of organizations in order to ignite a grassroots campaign for peace and stability in the DRC, Great Lakes region and around the world.

Peace One Day, founded by British filmmaker Jeremy Gilley, led the initiative 15 years ago to establish an annual day of global ceasefire and non-violence on 21 September - Peace Day. With analytics support from McKinsey & Company, Peace One Day believes that around half a billion people were aware of Peace Day in 2013, with around 8 million behaving more peacefully as a result of being involved in activities on the day. Peace One Day's target for 2014 is to reach 1.5 billion people with the message of Peace Day, and 3 billion people by Peace Day 2016.

The annual Peace One Day concert, this year to be held in Goma, DRC on 21 September, 2014, will be headlined by Akon, who's mass appeal across the region is expected to carry the message of Peace Day to millions via a multi-platform delivery across digital, mobile, radio and television broadcasts, linking Goma, the DRC and Great Lakes region with the rest of the world. Unifying the people of the DRC and Great Lakes on Peace Day is the primary objective of Peace One Day's campaign in the region, being made possible through a $10million donation by the Howard G. Buffett Foundation. The 2014 concert is being produced by Jeremy Gilley and Peace One Day ambassador Jude Law.

Awareness of Peace One Day and Peace Day is being further supported by major brands including Unilever, Beats Electronics and Coca-Cola. This year, Unilever activated their support through their AXE/Lynx brand and the launch of a new men’s product line, called Peace. AXE debuted its ‘Make Love Not War’ TV ad, featuring Peace One Day, during the biggest game in American football in February, 2014, and it is now airing in 50+ countries around the world. The ‘Make Love Not War’ ad and subsequent Peace campaign has brought awareness of the Peace One Day message to hundreds of millions of consumers around the world.

Today's Peace One Day press conference in Goma brought together representatives from a unique coalition of NGOs, interfaith and youth representatives in the Democratic Republic of Congo, joined live by satellite by five-time Grammy Award-nominated artist Akon in New York, USA. Peace One Day and partners today revealed their bold plans to turn Peace Day 21 September into a day of unity in the DRC, one of the world’s most war-torn countries, and the Great Lakes region.

Akon, linking in from New York, joined a press conference that also featured Mary Robinson, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the region, Jeremy Gilley (Founder of Peace One Day), the DRC Minister of Education, H.E. Mr. Maker Mwangu Famba, UNICEF Representative in the DRC Mrs. Barbara Bentein, UNHCR Regional Representative Stefano Severe, Marie Coutin Country Director of Search For Common Ground, the DRC national footballer Robert Kidiaba, Sister Angélique Namaika on behalf of the interfaith community and youth representatives.

In addition to the announcement of the Goma concert, a nationwide education campaign in collaboration with Peace One Day was revealed by UNICEF and the DRC Minister of Education. The education campaign is centered around a poster, carrying images of Akon and Kidiaba that will be distributed to 45,000 schools in DRC, encouraging young people to stand together as one in the name of peace on Peace Day 21 September.

Joining live from NYC, Akon said, "I felt extremely honored and yet humbled when asked to lend my voice to the resounding cry for "Peace". I challenge myself and others to think contemplatively and ask "who will I make peace with on September 21, 2014."

Peace One Day founder Jeremy Gilley said, "We could not have found a more fitting partner than Akon to help inspire a generation to stand together on Peace Day. It's incredibly exciting. I'm also honoured to welcome here today Mary Robinson, who has been a supporter of Peace One Day for many years. We are honoured to be in a position to support Mrs. Robinson's critical work in the region. Similarly, I'm delighted that our collaboration with UNICEF will reach millions of children in DRC this year. The concert, the education initiative and our wider campaign in the region are only made possible thanks to the Howard G. Buffett Foundation. I'm deeply grateful to Howard for the trust he has placed in us."

Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, is the UN Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Great Lakes Region of Africa. Her mandate focuses on working with, and supporting the governments of the signatory countries of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the DRC and the Great Lakes Region of 24 February 2014, to deliver on the commitments. She calls the Framework “a Framework of Hope” because it represents an avenue of hope for the people of the region to build long-term stability by addressing the root causes of the conflict, foster trust between neighbouring countries and end the cycle of violence in the region. She added her support to the Peace One Day Campaign, highlighting its ability to encourage the vital grassroots engagement needed to usher in a period of stability, progress and peace: “When I first met Jeremy over 10 years ago I said to him that an annual day of ceasefire and non-violence with a fixed date was an idea who’s time had come. I now say that its time has come for the DRC and the Great Lakes. We have a Framework of Hope for the region, which has now been signed by 13 countries, and a regional Plan of Action. Peace Day 21 September is an opportunity for people across the region to come together in support of the Framework, to make their voices heard and demonstrate their commitment to a lasting peace.”

Howard G. Buffett, Chairman and CEO of the Howard G. Buffett Foundation said, "Our foundation has invested a total of $175 million in eastern DRC and Africa’s Great Lakes region in the belief that people need better economic opportunities to achieve lasting peace. We are grateful that our $10 million support for Peace One Day allows them to focus the next three years of their campaign on this region. Given their past successes and enormous following we believe they will bring the necessary attention and momentum this region needs and deserves to help end conflict.”

Country representative of UNICEF Mrs. Barbara Bentein said, "UNICEF works with DRC's Ministry of Education, Peace One Day and many other partners to make this year a milestone on the country’s path to sustainable peace. Today, 1.5 million children are still displaced because of ongoing conflict. There can be no development without peace and all children have to be protected from this endless cycle of violence. With the children of DRC, through the educational system and peace education, we are working to make this a reality. It is time to act together on Peace Day 21 September, and support Peace, every day.”

Actor and Peace One Day ambassador Jude Law said, “I have seen first hand Peace Day working, particularly in Afghanistan, and I am proud that the documentaries and concerts that Jeremy and I have produced together have made such an impact. I am excited to see how the Goma show will take our work to the next level”

About Peace One Day
Founded in 1999 by filmmaker Jeremy Gilley, the non-profit organisation Peace One Day drove the initiative that led to the unanimous adoption by the United Nations member states of an annual day of global ceasefire and non-violence on 21 September – Peace Day.

Not only has Peace Day been proved as a catalyst for broad-ranging civil society action by individuals and groups in every country of the world, but also for life-saving activities: notably, in 2007, Jeremy Gilley, his film crew and Peace One Day Ambassador Jude Law travelled to Afghanistan to help develop and document preparations for life-saving activities across the country for Peace Day. As a result of this work, since 2007, Peace Day agreements by all parties to conflict in the region have resulted in the immunisation against polio of 4.5 million children in areas hitherto unreachable or hard to reach due to conflict. The United Nations Department for Safety and Security, which monitors security related incidents, recorded a 70% reduction in violent incidents on Peace Day 2008 in Afghanistan. Since then, Peace One Day has launched a series of Peace Day coalitions and runs a number of campaigns to further awareness and engagement on Peace Day.

With the day in place, Peace One Day’s objective is to institutionalise Peace Day around the world, making it self-sustaining. A report supported by Mckinsey & Company estimated that 280 million people were aware of Peace Day 2012, with approximately 5.6 million people behaving more peacefully as a result. With further support from McKinsey & Company, Peace One Day believes that around half a billion people were aware of Peace Day in 2013, with around 8 million behaving more peacefully as a result of being involved in activities on the day. Peace One Day's target for 2014 is to reach 1.5 billion people with the message of Peace Day, and 3 billion people by Peace Day 2016.Thanks to support from Howard G. Buffett Foundation, over the next three years Peace One Day is focusing significant resources on the DRC and Great Lakes region of Africa.

For more information visit www.peaceoneday.org.

About Unilever:
Unilever is one of the world’s leading suppliers of Food, Home and Personal Care products with sales in over 190 countries. We work with 173,000 colleagues around the world and generated annual sales of €49.8 billion in 2013. Over half of our company’s footprint is in the faster growing developing and emerging markets (57% in 2013). Working to create a better future every day, we help people feel good, look good and get more out of life. Our portfolio includes some of the world’s best known brands, 14 of which - Knorr, Persil / Omo, Dove, Sunsilk, Hellmann’s, Surf, Lipton, Rexona / Sure, Wall’s ice cream, Lux, Flora / Becel, Rama / Blue Band, Magnum and Axe / Lynx - now generate a turnover of €1 billion or more. For more information about Unilever and its brands, please visit www.unilever.com.

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