It doesn’t feel nearly as long as it has been, but fourteen years ago, I was in the third grade celebrating United Nations Day with my elementary school. It was an exciting day for all of us as each class got to do a unit on a specific country and culture. We spent months learning about the land, some of the basic language, types of food, and traditional clothing. UN Day was our time to share with the rest of the school what we had studied, celebrating the beautiful cultures around the world. I remember being so excited to learn about New Zealand and the Māori people. The language, landscapes, traditional performances like the haka….EVERYTHING, was so new and so rich.
Fourteen years later, and I still have vivid memories of my third grade experience. However, my understanding and appreciation for today has grown and expanded in so many new ways.
You see, United Nations Day was not just a day of sharing what our classes learned about a country and culture over a period of a few months. October 24th was dedicated UN Day to celebrate “the formation of the international organization committed to maintaining international peace and security and promoting international cooperation.”
After the World Wars, global societies were left in shambles. Peoples were displaced, economies were shattered, and all areas of society were shaken in some way, shape, or form. The world needed peace and security, and nations around the world realized the extreme need for international collaboration. President Franklin D. Roosevelt suggested that the League of Nations needed to be replaced, and coined the term “United Nations” during WWII. On October 24, 1945, the UN Charter was officially adopted and ratified.
“The purposes of the UN, as enshrined in the Charter, are to maintain international peace and security, to prevent and remove threats to peace and to suppress acts of aggression; to bring about by peaceful means the adjustment or settlement of international disputes; to develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples; and to achieve international cooperation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural or humanitarian character, and to promote and encourage respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion.”
Today we celebrate both/and. We celebrate both the beautiful diversity of cultures around the world and the formation of an international organization that continues to work for global peace, security, and collaboration.
Jackie, SJW Justice Office Program Assistant