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24th October, UN Day: A Look at the Past and Future of the UN

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The UN celebrates its 73rd UN Day on 24th October this year. Here is a look at why this organisation continues to be important to us.

The United Nations (UN) again gears up for the UN Day on 24th October, marking the ratification of the 1945 UN Charter that officially established the international organisation. The 73rd UN Day is a reminder to the organisation to face the new dangers that the world faces today, and work towards its mitigation.  

In a public lecture to students, journalists, and officials from around New Delhi on 2nd October 2018, the UN Secretary-General Antonio Gueteres made the pitch for global terrorism and climate change being the greatest threats to humanity today. He spoke about the need to support Rohingya refugees, the growing environmental hazards that endanger the future of the planet, and also criticised the US for backing out of the UN Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC). In a speech in the 72nd General Assembly, Mr. Gueterres had listed the seven main threats faced by the world: nuclear peril, terrorism, unresolved conflicts, and violations of international humanitarian law, climate change, growing inequality, cyber warfare and misuse of artificial intelligence, and human mobility, or refugees.

In 2018, these issues remain as pertinent as ever as policy makers, politicians, and leaders come to terms with the new report released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which would claims that the world has just 12 years to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Failing this, we might have to deal with an apocalyptic-like situation with heat waves, annihilation of virtually all coral reefs, climate change refugees, melting of polar ice caps at unprecedented rates, not to mention the creation of climate change refugees. The report, another manifestation of the important information dissemination the UN does today, is a wake-up call that should serve to curl the toes of even the hardest of skeptics.  

The UN day has been a part of the UN Week which runs from 20th to 26th October and is devoted to making people know about the aims and achievements of the UN. The day came to be formally celebrated as UN Day from 1948 when the UN General Assembly declared that the day would follow such a course and also be used to drum up support for the work of the UN. Each year the UN Information Centres organises ceremonies, seminars, panel discussions, symposiums, art competitions, rallies, films screenings, book/photo exhibitions, and media campaigns to mark the day.

Often the UN has been called toothless and a “talking shop” for its apparent inability to contribute to solving the global problems because of the indecision of its members, the extraordinary veto powers of the UN Security Council members, its resistance to taking a tough stance on excesses of power by countries like the US, and its inability to curb its own excesses such as the sexual violence perpetrated by its Peacekeepers. However, the UN is important for the communitarian resistance it offers to global problems by bringing people and countries together, however symbolic its action may be. Hence, this UN Day, one can only hope that the UN, true to the spirit of the day, brings people together to address the impending dangers faced by the world. Even if it is for one day, talking, listening, and learning to solve our problems collectively can help us immensely in the long run.


Feature Image Credits: United Nations Peacekeeping

Sara Sohail

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