Although few Americans recognize Oct. 24 as a holiday, it is celebrated by many in the U.S. and around the world as United Nations Day.
The United Nations treaty was signed on Oct. 24, 1945 and three years later (1948) the UN General Assembly declared the signing day as a holiday and said the day “shall be devoted to making known to the people of the world the aims and achievements of the United Nations and to gaining their support for its work.”
UN General Secretary António Guterres delivered a speech on UN Day where he addressed the challenges the world faces. He said: “our world faces many grave challenges: widening conflicts and inequality, extreme weather and deadly intolerance, security threats – including nuclear weapons. We have the tools and wealth to overcome these challenges. All we need is the will. The world’s problems transcend borders. We have to transcend our differences to transform our future. When we achieve human rights and human dignity for all people – they will build a peaceful, sustainable and just world. On United Nations Day, let us, ‘We the Peoples’, make this vision a reality.”
All the member states of the UN help finance the operations of the organization. Aside from world peace, its role has grown to protecting human rights, promoting social and economic development, and providing aid around the world in cases of famine, natural disaster and armed conflict.
The UN started with just 51 members but now has 193. It marks humanity’s second attempt to build a world body to maintain peace. The first body, the League of Nations, lasted a little more than a decade. The UN has stood the test of time.
What type of work does the UN do? Each year the body helps 38 million refugees fleeing war, conflicts, famine and persecution. The UN also saves lives through agencies like the World Food Program, which feeds 90 million people in 80 countries every year. In addition, the UN vaccinates 58 percent of the world’s children, this saves 3 million lives a year.