In New York’s Central Park, Ban unveils sculpture depicting ‘great hope all of us have invested in the UN’

24 October 2015

As worldwide celebrations of the 70th anniversary of the United Nations kicked into high gear, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and a host of senior UN officials gathered this evening in New York's Central Park to unveil a new sculpture, Enlightened Universe, comprised of a sphere surrounded by a spiral of 70 human figures – one for each of the 70 years since the UN was created, which Mr. Ban said, “depicts the great hope that all of us have invested in the [Organization].”

The interactive sculpture, created by renowned Spanish artist Cristobal Gabarron, honours UN70 and is the newest addition to Central Park's sculpture programme.

The historic ceremony was presided over by the Secretary-General and the President of the 70th session of the UN General Assembly, Mogens Lykketoft. It was expected to include the President of the Security Council, Román Oyarzun, of Spain, and the President of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), Oh Joon, alongside New York City officials, including Commissioner for Department of Parks and Recreation Mitchell Silver.

The sculpture's central sphere and its diameter of 6,371 millimeters are a tribute to the Earth, whose average radius measures 6,371 kilometres. The 70 figures form a universal chain of the human values defended by the UN – freedom, equality, solidarity, tolerance, respect for nature, shared responsibility, education and culture.

In his remarks, the Secretary-General said: “This structure behind us depicts the great hope that all of us have invested in the United Nations. The 70 figures surrounding the globe represent the 7.3 billion humans living on Earth today.”

“Their hands are joined in solidarity, to show how we create a more inclusive world. A world in where we have shared values and a shared responsibility to protect our planet,” observed the UN chief, expressing gratitude to Mr. Gabarrón “for creating this masterpiece and for doing so on his own initiative. His artistic talent is only matched by the generosity of his spirit and his Foundation.”

Thanking those that had gathered in the Park on a crisp fall Saturday, Mr. Ban reiterated the significance of UN Day, and underscored that: “For seven decades, the United Nations has served as a beacon of hope for people the world over…I hope you will leave believing that a better future is within reach.”

Hailing the sculpture as a fitting tribute to the Organization, Assembly President Lykketoft said: ”This colourful and imaginative art work will serve to inspire and remind visitors to New York that billions of people around the world dream of enjoying peaceful and prosperous lives in a sustainable and just world.”

Indeed, he continued, it reminded all of their common responsibility to give to the United Nations the strength and capacity to pursue that dream on behalf of all humanity. “We who are here tonight have a strong commitment to contribute further to the ideals of the UN Charter about peace, development and respect for human rights. We must work to end the senseless conflicts and violence that disrupt development, displace millions and destroy hundreds of thousands of lives,” he emphasized.

The worldwide celebrations of 'UN70' has been taking place since late last night, when from Australia to Azerbaijan, Indonesia to Iraq, Saudi Arabia to South Sudan, some 350 sites around the world began lighting up in UN blue – the official beginning in New Zealand and followed by a wave of blue moving across countries and continents as monuments around the world began taking part in the event.

UN Headquarters in New York will be lit up for two nights, beginning 23 October when the annual UN Day concert will be held, and concluding on 24 October, which has been celebrated as UN Day since 1948.

The Day marks the anniversary of the entry into force of the UN Charter. With the ratification of this founding document by the majority of its signatories, including the five permanent members of the Security Council, the Organization officially came into being.

“The timeless values of the UN Charter must remain our guide. Our shared duty is to 'unite our strength' to serve 'we the peoples',” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his message for the Day.

“To mark this anniversary, monuments and buildings across the world are being illuminated in UN blue. As we shine a light on this milestone anniversary, let us reaffirm our commitment to a better and brighter future for all.”

Among the famous landmarks taking part in the 'Turn the World UN Blue' campaign will be the Great Pyramids of Giza in Egypt, the statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, the Great Wall of China, Russia's Hermitage Museum, and the ancient city of Petra in Jordan.


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News Tracker: Past Stories on This Issue

United Nations remains 'beacon for all humanity,' says Ban ahead of 70th anniversary

Marking the 70th anniversary of the Organization ahead of UN Day on 24 October, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said there is only one flag that belongs to everyone – the blue flag of the United Nations.