On Oct. 24, 2012, the United Nations will celebrate its annual UN Day. This year, UN Day marks the 67th anniversary of the United Nations Charter going into effect.
According to the United Nations Association of the United States of America, the United Nations was instituted to “foster global peace, prosperity, and justice.” The organization focuses on aiding countries in cooperating with each other in international matters such as human rights, security, and economic development, among many others.
Following World War II, the United Nations was founded in 1945 to replace the League of Nations with a chief goal of preventing wars between countries. That year, United States President Harry Truman and leaders from 50 other countries met in San Francisco, Ca. to sign the UN Charter. Three years later, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt helped the UN in preparing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was regarded as “the first document to have international normative value.”
Aside from helping to end wars and supporting countries’ troops in conflicts such as the Korean War and more recently, the War on Terrorism, the United Nations has achieved many other successes. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in 1965, and UN Peacekeeping was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in 1988. In 1980, after a 13-year effort by the UN’s World Health Organization (WHO), smallpox was eradicated, saving about $1 billion each year in monitoring and vaccination costs.
The United Nations Association of the United States of America lists several statistics on their website to illustrate the UN’s actual impact. Every day, the UN provides food to 90 million people in 73 countries and saves 2.5 million lives a year by vaccinating 58 percent of the world’s children. The UN aids over 36 million “refugees and people fleeing war, famine or persecution,” and saves the lives of 30 million women per year by promoting maternal health.
Currently, there are 193 member states in the United Nations organization. The UN General Assembly admitted the most recent member, the Republic of South Sudan, in 2011. A full list of member states can be found at www.un.org.
UN Day is celebrated on October 24 every year in honor of the organizations past achievements and future goals. Last year, 136 celebratory events were held across the United States. The 2012 UN Day theme is Solutions for a Prosperous World. Toolkits and other information can be found at www.un.org or www.unausa.org.
Carol Fritz is a fourth-year student majoring in communication studies. She can be reached at CF716022@wcupa.edu.