United Nations Day

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By Ruth Owino

The world is marking the United Nations Day, which is annually observed on October 24th since 1948. This day marks the anniversary of the UN Charter entry into force in 1945. With the ratification of this founding document by the majority of its signatories, including the five permanent members of the Security Council, the United Nations officially came into being. This day highlights, celebrates and reflects on the work of the United Nations particularly in the fields of human rights, support in areas of famine, eradication of disease, promotion of health and settlement of refugees. The UN works with its family of specialized agencies including: the World Health Organization (WHO); the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO); the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO); the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF); International Labour Organization (ILO); United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR); and United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC).

This year’s United Nations Day celebration will focus on the theme: “The Ways the United Nations Makes a Difference in Everyday Life.” The United Nations will announce the countdown to October 31 when the world population is expected to reach 7 billion. This is in relation to a campaign spearheaded by the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), called 7 Billion Actions, that seeks to inspire change that will make a difference by highlighting positive action by individuals and organizations around the world. A world of 7 billion poses many challenges: in fighting poverty and disease, in securing education and sustainable livelihoods and in mitigating climate change. But this milestone for humanity can also be seen as an opportunity to renew everyone’s commitment to work individually and together for a better world. The UN believes that by 31st October 2011, the world will be 7million strong, even as the human family welcomes its 7 billionth member.The world is under threat from economic crisis, rising joblessness, inequality and climate change, the United Nations is therefore calling on all people and nations to unite, seven billion strong, in the name of the global common good.

As the world marks the 63rd United Nations Day, there has been remarkable progress since the United Nations was born 66 years ago. The UN has endeavored to build a better world; to leave no one behind; to stand for the poorest and most vulnerable in the name of global peace and social justice. But this progress is under threat; people around the world live in fear believing that their governments and the global economy can no longer deliver for them. In these turbulent times, the United Nations Secretary General says, there is only one answer: unity of purpose. Global problems demand global solutions. They compel all nations to unite in action on an agenda for the world’s people.

History
The foundations for a “League of Nations” were laid in the Treaty of Versailles, which was one of the treaties to formally end World War I. The treaty was signed in Versailles, France, on June 28, 1919. The league aimed to encourage disarmament, prevent outbreaks of war, encourage negotiations and diplomatic measures to settle international disputes and to improve the quality of life around the world. However, the outbreak of World War II suggested that the League of Nations needed to take on a different form. The ideas around the United Nations were developed in the last years of World War II, particularly during the UN Conference on International Organization in San Francisco, the United States, beginning on April 25, 1945. The UN Day was established to highlight the aims and achievements of the United Nations. The day marks the anniversary of the entry into force in 1945 of the UN Charter.

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About FEMNET

FEMNET (The African Women's Development and Communication Network) is a pan African, feminist organisation working to advance the rights of women and girls in Africa. FEMNET has carved a niche in Informing and mobilizing African women in order for them to participate and influence policies and processes that affect their lives. FEMNET has hundreds of members in over 40 countries in Africa as well as in the diaspora. It has played a critical role in building the women's movement in Africa since inception in 1988.

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