Annual UN Day celebrations span the globe
In Addis Ababa, UN staff members are planting up to 2,000 trees in a national park above the Ethiopian capital and holding their traditional flag-raising ceremony as part of a series of events to observe the Day.
Professors and students at Kabul University in Afghanistan held a question-and-answer session about the role of the UN in which the Secretary-General’s Deputy Special Representative Christopher Alexander participated.
In Bangkok, 22 UN entities and international organizations with offices in the Thai capital are taking part in a bilingual exhibition in CentralWorld, the city’s largest mall, to show the many ways in which the Organization tries to improve the lives of people in the region. Musical performances and other events will also take place during the life of the three-day exhibition.
Thai Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont told a separate ceremony to mark the Day that for the UN to maintain its rightful place on the world stage, continuing reform was necessary.
“But we the Member States also have to do our share,” he said. “We need to have the political will to empower the UN to take action as and when necessary. We need to provide the UN with sufficient resources.”
In Vienna, the UN Information Service (UNIS) in the Austrian capital organized a student forum bringing together more than 80 students from universities in Austria and Slovakia.
Classical music concerts were also held tonight in both Geneva and New York. In the Swiss city, Luigi Cherubini and Maurice Ravel performed at Victoria Hall, while the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra performed at the General Assembly Hall in New York.
Speaking at the concert in New York, General Assembly President Srgjan Kerim said the music being performed, which included the works of Verdi, Puccini and Brahms, offered a reminder that the UN “must serve and preserve our highest human potential for centuries to come.”
He said: “While it is essential that we respond to the realities of the day, the actions of the UN must be guided by longer-term wisdom, solidarity, and justice. Our work is for posterity, and we should be mindful of our legacy.”
In his first UN Day message as Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon said that although the world was turning in favour of the UN, the world body needs to strengthen its ability to respond to key global challenges on peace and security, development and human rights.
“More people and governments understand that multilateralism is the only path in our interdependent and globalizing world,” Mr. Ban said in his message. “Global problems demand global solutions – and going it alone is not a viable option.”
He stressed that the demands on the UN were “growing every day,” and warned that “we will be judged in the future on the actions we take today – on results.”
In a separate message, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Timor-Leste Atul Khare stressed that the UN peacekeeping mission in the South-East Asian country (UNMIT) was striving to transform the collective goodwill of the international community towards the small nation into practical action.
“We are dedicated to accomplishing the mandate entrusted to us by the Member States of the United Nations: promotion of peace, democracy and human rights, while supporting efforts to secure food, clean water, health care and the right to education and employment for all,” Mr. Khare said.
The UN Country Team in Myanmar issued its own statement saying the Day should serve as an opportunity to “reflect on the importance of ensuring development, prosperity, peace, security and dignity for all” and stressing that all peoples deserve to have these rights and freedoms.
“In Myanmar, the peaceful demonstrations that followed the sudden hike in fuel prices on 15 August highlighted that many of these aspirations are not yet a reality for the people here,” the statement noted.
Tamrat Samuel, the Secretary-General’s Deputy Special Representative in Nepal, said UN Day should be used in the Asian country as a time to reflect on what can and should be done in the year ahead to foster peace and development, regardless of any recent setbacks.
In Sudan, a televised debate was held to discuss the UN and climate change, the theme of this year’s Day, while in Kenya more than 500 people attended a ceremony awarding the “UN in Kenya Person of the Year” to Abbas Gullet, Secretary-General of Kenya Red Cross Society.
Many UN Information Centres (UNICs) around the world held their own activities, including an exhibition of the works of young painters in Bahrain and the opening of the “UN Alphabet” exhibition in Prague, the Czech Republic, in which schoolchildren contributed short stories, essays, drawings, photographs and other art works about issues from A to Z, ranging from AIDS and fair trade to land mines, refugees and climate change.
Indonesian children took part in a quiz on UN activities and watched animated films on the work of the world body, while in Togo a ceremony was held to mark the symbolic destruction of arms and weaponry.
In Haiti, UN peacekeepers organized a series of humanitarian activities in commemoration of the Day, including providing medical care, food and water to hundreds of orphans and others in need in various parts of the country.
Elsewhere, special events were also staged in Algeria, Argentina, Bangladesh, Belgium, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Colombia, Egypt, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, India, Iran, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Morocco, Namibia, the Netherlands, Peru, Poland, Portugal, the Republic of Congo, Romania, Russia, Senegal, South Africa, Spain, Tanzania, Turkey, the United States, Ukraine and Zimbabwe.
UN Day has been celebrated on 24 October every year since 1948, exactly three years after the UN Charter entered into force when China, France, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, the United States and a majority of other signatories had ratified the document. In 1971, the General Assembly adopted a resolution recommending that the Day be observed as a public holiday by Member States.