Monday, September 21st marks the annual United Nations International Day of Peace, a day dedicated to the core foundation and mandate of the UN – maintaining peace and security. The annual General Assembly begins, also marks another milestone, the seventy-fifth anniversary of the adoption of the UN Charter by the fifty governments who made up the UN’s founding member states. Tweeting in June this year the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, noted “[the UN Charter’s] principles ring just as true today. It is a much-needed guide to solving our shared problems. Let us now realize the vision of peace, human rights, justice and development – of dignity for all.”
It is the role of the UN Association in Canada (UNAC), as well as UNAs around the world, to empower and educate their citizens, and especially youth through informing them about the UN’s role, and advocate for the goals and ideals of that organization.
The first mention of the United Nations was in 1942 when the wartime Allied leaders conceived of an international organization that would ‘…save future generations from the scourge of war.’ The UN Charter, which came into force in October 1945 calls for the organization to maintain international peace and security; promote social progress and better standards of life; strengthen international law; and promote human rights. In the intervening years, the UN Secretariat has been joined by UN specialized Agencies such as UNICEF, the World Food Programme (WFP), the World Health Organization (WHO), the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and others, dealing with Human Rights or refugees for example. These agencies have focussed attention on some of the world’s most intractable problems.
The broad range of tasks envisioned in the UN Charter 75 years ago is as valid today as it was then. The goals, values and ideals which the Charter sets for the UN remain the capstone for a world mired in a pandemic, torn by discrimination, endangered by climate change and scarred by poverty, inequality and war. Every generation of young people in all 193 UN member states demands that the goals and ideals of the UN must be promoted.
In honour of the International Day of Peace each year the UN General Assembly calls upon the global community to participate in 24 hours of non-violence and cease-fire. On that day, staff in UN offices around the world from New York to Bangkok to Nairobi will celebrate the day with the communities they serve. Military and civilian staff from UN Peace Operations in diverse locations such as Mali, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Cyprus will use the day to advocate for the peaceful resolution of conflict.
At the UN Headquarters in New York the UN General Assembly will this year hold a virtual event. Because of the pandemic, world leaders will participate in the meeting through recorded video statements while their representatives will be in New York. The theme will be ‘The Future We Want; the UN We Need: Reaffirming our Collective Commitment to Multilateralism.’ It will focus on collective problem-solving and efforts to ensure that effective global governance is a reality when it is needed.
The United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will also be taking center stage during the 75th anniversary commemorations. The main purpose of the SDGs is to be a blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. For a more detailed view of the UN SDGs, please see the related article on the UNAC Vancouver website as well as the UN website.
As the UN marks its 75th anniversary, the UN Secretary-General acknowledge that many political, economic and social problems “are ratcheting up.” The organization itself faces a number of political and economic challenges yet it remains, after 75 years, a key part of the world’s response to those problems.