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  • Writer's pictureConnor McGinnis

Celebrating UN Day 2023

United Nations Day 2023

Connor McGinnis (2023-24 College Ambassador from the University of Northern Iowa)

October 24, 1945, marks the founding of the United Nations. On this date in 1947, the United Nations General Assembly designated the 24th of October as United Nations Day in recognition of the anniversary of the UN Charter and declared that this day should be “devoted to making known to the people of the world the aims and achievements of the United Nations and to gaining their support for its work.” In 1971, the United Nations General Assembly recommended that member states observe UN Day as a public holiday. Today, nations around the world will be celebrating the United Nations and the accomplishments the global institution has achieved. As we approach the 80th anniversary of the United Nations in 2025, let’s explore its achievements and ways to commemorate this momentous event in history.

Since 1945 the United Nations, in collaboration with the member states, has managed to accomplish remarkable feats. The UN plays an important role in promoting international peace and security. The UN is not a world government and cannot impose peace in violent conflicts. But it plays an important role in bring countries together to engage in diplomacy to try to resolve global conflicts. UN peacekeeping missions also help to create conditions in which peace can be negotiated. These missions also provide critical humanitarian aid to civilians suffering from war, natural disasters, or other humanitarian crises. We see the important diplomatic and humanitarian role that the UN plays in the current Gaza/ Israel. The UN has strongly condemned the violence perpetrated by Hamas against innocent Israeli civilians. It also is providing aid to innocent Palestinian civilians in Gaza and calling for Israel to follow the laws of war in its response to the attacks by Hamas.

One of the largest UN feats is in the area of global health. For example, the World Health Organization (WHO) is a UN-affiliated agency that organized a global, large-scale plan to eradicate smallpox. By 1980 the WHO declared it eradicated, making it the only infectious disease to carry this title. It is believed that smallpox had existed for 3,000 years and had killed millions before a vaccine was created. Other large initiatives of the WHO are in preventing the spread of AIDS and the eradication of polio.

The UN also does important work to encourage peace and security by promoting cultural, social, and scientific cooperation. For instance, UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) works to bring people and countries together through its initiatives. UNESCO’s programs encourage peace and security through the cooperation of cultural and scientific pursuits. UNESCO’s programs also try to advance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). UNESCO was created post-WWII as a way to rebuild the education systems of countries whose infrastructure was destroyed. UNESCO also operates the World Heritage Foundation which protects thousands of sites that have cultural significance around the world.

In general, the UN exists works to make the global system easier to navigate by collaborating with governments, non-governmental organizations, and other intergovernmental organizations. For example, the UN cooperates with the World Trade Organization (WTO), an intergovernmental organization that oversees the implementation and operation of international trade laws. They also oversee a forum where nations may come together to further negotiate topics of trade. The WTO’s existence has helped remove trade barriers and streamline the process of trade between countries.

Here are a few ideas about how you can you celebrate UN day:

  • Spend time celebrating and learning about UN history.

  • Watch the UN Day concert which will feature the Environmental Symphony with world-renowned cellist Michael Fitzpatrick.

  • This year’s UN Day theme is the Frontiers of Climate Action. Take time to learn about how you can act now to support climate action and the achievement of other SDGs.

  • Talk with others on how you can create positive change within your community and internationally.

  • Try and experience new cultures. Whether this be through travel, learning a new language or experiencing their cuisine.

  • Dedicate time to a non-profit organization working to solve an issue locally or globally.

The United Nations has transformed the world, including fostering international cooperation, contributing to the improvement of global health, and promoting intercultural understanding and global trade. As we commemorate its 78th anniversary, let us celebrate the organization’s accomplishments and rededicate ourselves to building a more peaceful, equitable, and sustainable world for all.

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