United Nations Day

October 24 is United Nations Day, so designated in 1948 to honor the anniversary of the founding of the United Nations in 1945.  The United Nations emblem on the flag represents its ultimate goal: world peace.  The olive branches, a symbol for peace, surround a global map representing all the people of the world.

The United Nations is an international organization, initiated by fifty-one countries immediately following World War II. Currently there are 192 member countries. It is committed to maintaining international peace and security, developing friendly relations among nations and promoting social progress, better living standards and human rights. It has four main purposes:

 To keep peace throughout the world; to develop friendly relations among nations; to help nations work together to improve the lives of poor people, to conquer hunger, disease and illiteracy, and to encourage respect for each other’s rights and freedoms; to be a center for harmonizing the actions of nations to achieve these goals.

 In our world today, it is hard to imagine how nations can unite their efforts when many countries are so politically divided internally. And yet, without the U.N., would there be ANY coordinated actions among countries?  The current U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon summarizes it this way:

 “We are living through a period of profound turmoil, transition and transformation. Insecurity, inequality and intolerance are spreading. Global and national institutions are being put to the test. With so much at stake, the United Nations must keep pace across the spectrum of its activities — peace, development, human rights, the rule of law, the empowerment of the world’s women and youth.”

 The United Nations is not deterred by the many challenges it faces.  Its work not only reaches every corner of the globe but also affects current and future generations. Although best known (and criticized) for peacekeeping, conflict prevention and humanitarian assistance, there are many other ways the United Nations and its programs affect lives around the world.  It works on such fundamental issues as sustainable development, environment and refugee protection, disaster relief and counter-terrorism.  It promotes democracy, human rights, gender equality and the advancement of women, economic/social development, international health and much more. It is hard to imagine what life on earth would look like without the efforts of the United Nations.

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