What Is the Significance of the United Nations Day Celebration?
Every 24 October, the United Nations Day is celebrated all over the world to commemorate the anniversary of the official creation of the United Nations through the 1945 UN Charter.
Though it’s not a public holiday, people come together and celebrate the day with pomp and show in various cities in different countries. National costumes, flags, speeches, slogans, and parades are organised to mark the day and promote the idea of diversity and unity.
In this post:
- Why do we celebrate United Nations Day?
- Why is United Nations Day celebrated on 24 October?
- A bit about the League of Nations, the forerunner to the United Nations
- Why did the League of Nations fail?
- What do we do on United Nations Day?
- Official UN languages
- The United Nations and the translation industry
Why do we celebrate United Nations Day?
The significance of United Nations Day lies in its celebration of diversity. It is an official day to appreciate the diversity of cultures, religions, and languages all over the world. On this day, countries come together to spread ideas of peace and harmony among people who originate from various backgrounds.
Because the United Nations are famous for their work in disaster relief, humanitarian aid, peacekeeping, and international unity, every 24 October we celebrate its anniversary as a reminder of the importance of:
- The cooperative spirit among nations
- Universal respect for justice and international law
- Human rights, fundamental freedoms
Why is United Nations Day celebrated on 24 October?
It was on 24 October 1945 that the foundational treaty of the United Nations brought the organisation into existence.
Mainly, the aim was to encourage co-operation between all the governments of the world after the failure of the League of Nations. In other words, it was an effort to prevent another war like World War II from breaking out.
A bit about the League of Nations, the forerunner to the United Nations
Horrified by the suffering of WWI, many people in Europe wanted lasting peace. The League of Nations was set up to this purpose and was supposed to keep the peace. In the 1920s it had some successes, but by 1937 it had become irrelevant, ignored even by its main members, Britain and France. In 1939, despite the efforts of the League, the world was once again plunged into war.
Why did the League of Nations fail?
- The self-interest of leading members: the League depended on Britain and France to provide firm support in times of crisis, but these were not prepared to abandon their own self-interest.
- The USA and other important countries were absent: Germany was not a member until 1926 and left in 1933. The USSR did not join until 1934, while Japan left in 1933 and Italy in 1937. Most importantly, the USA was never a member. Without such major powers, the League lacked authority and sanctions were not effective.
- Economic sanctions did not work: they were supposed to be the League’s main weapon, but members of the League did not willingly impose them because they worried that without America’s support they would not work.
- Lack of troops: if economic sanctions failed, military force was the next option. Yet the League had no armed forces of its own.
- The treaties it had to uphold were seen as unfair: it became apparent that some of the terms of those peace treaties were harsh and unjust.
- Decisions were slow: when a crisis occurred, the League was supposed to act quickly and with determination. In many cases, however, the League took too long.
The birth of the United Nations
After the failure of the League of Nations, the United Nations was founded in 1945 in an attempt to prevent further wars and to help nations to co-operate in tackling some of the major problems facing the world after WWII.
What does it mean to be ‘United’?
To be united doesn’t mean living in complete harmony (though that would be best for all). It simply means working together through thick and thin.
All countries united with one purpose formed the United Nations in 1945. The same spirit is carried forward every year on the occasion of United Nations Day, established as a reminder that even though we’re all different, there are ways to unite and showcase our diversity.
What do we do on United Nations Day?
On United Nations Day, there are no restrictions on what we can do. People from all over the world come together and celebrate with a number of different activities.
In some places, parades are organised to spread happiness among people from different countries. In other places, people may be invited to share their favourite meal with friends and family from different countries. The idea behind united celebration is that we should come together as one united people and celebrate our diversity, love for other cultures and religions.
Celebrating United Nations Day is a way of acknowledging this organisation’s tireless work. Did you know that the UN feed over 90 million people around the world? Also, they promote women and child health, and aid refugees who are escaping war. Have you ever been concerned about climate change? The UN work to encourage sustainability and green practices.
Here are some ideas for celebrating #UNDay, alone or with others:
- Do you live in a country that is not your native one? Then, you can wear your national costume!
- Not a fan of public displays? You can simply go about your day being tolerant, curious towards other cultures, and open-minded.
- Discuss the importance of cultural diversity with your colleagues at work or with your family at home.
- Post about this day on social media together with your thoughts on international cooperation and other related matters.
- Check out if there are any cultural activities taking place in your area and attend one.
- Organise an international dinner to explore the traditional dishes of other cultures.
- Offer voluntary work to organisations working for humanitarian aid, like Translators Without Borders.
- Recycle! The UN is very committed to protecting the environment.
United Nations Day celebration in schools
On this day, schools usually organise special programmes to spread awareness about the significance of United Nations work. Children are told why it is necessary to appreciate diversity. They are made aware of various cultures, and how people from different parts of the world can co-exist.
In a way, United Nations Day commemorates the formation of a new era in history – an era where equality, peace, and cooperation are valued above war. It signifies that humans can come together united by their shared values of love, justice, and peace and that we can fight for our rights together. The diverse cultures, traditions, races, and languages unite as one family to serve humanity.
Some typical school activities include debates, presentations, speeches, and story-telling. Teachers also give special lectures on the importance of international cooperation, peace, and tolerance.
United Nations observances
The UN embraces designated days, weeks, years, and decades as a powerful advocacy tool. There’s a theme for each observance, which is designed to help people and worldwide communities come together united under a particular topic and contribute towards making this world a better place to live in.
For example, the International Day of Peace is observed on 21 September. The purpose of this UN observance is to encourage people to use non-violent means before resorting to armed conflicts and wars.
In terms of designated weeks, the UN observes World Space Week from 4-10 October in order to promote space education and outreach events held by space agencies, aerospace companies, planetaria, museums, astronomy clubs, and more.
Some designated years are also united by a particular theme, like the below.
2019 was The Year of Indigenous Languages
The United Nations declared 2019 The Year of Indigenous Languages. The reason for it is to raise awareness about the important contribution they make to cultural diversity. Languages are dying and we should try to save them!
Indigenous Peoples have a unique connection with their languages. They are the keepers of traditions and customs that define each tribe’s identity. In order for indigenous people to maintain their identity, traditions, beliefs, and ways of life, languages need to be preserved.
2020 was The Year of Plant Health
Plants make the oxygen we breathe and give us 80 percent of the food we eat. But plants are under attack by invasive pests.
That leaves millions of people worldwide without enough food to eat and seriously damages agriculture—the primary source of income for rural communities. To bring worldwide attention to this challenge, the UN declared 2020 as the International Year of Plant Health.
2021 is The Year of Fruits and Vegetables
The United Nations has proclaimed 2021 the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables (IYFV) in an attempt to raise awareness about the crucial role that fruits and vegetables play in human nutrition and sustainable development.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is the lead agency for the celebration of the Year of Fruits and Vegetables, together with other UN bodies.
Official UN languages
Have you ever dreamed of working as a linguist for the United Nations? If so, you should know that their official languages are six:
The reason behind this choice, it would be safe to assume, is that these languages are among the most widely spoken in the world. However, there’s also a political history behind it. As explained in an article by FluentU,
First of all, besides Spanish, all of these languages can be matched directly to permanent members of the Security Council with veto power (the U.S., Britain, China, Russia and France). In other words, the languages that became official were the languages of the most politically influential nations in the post-war period.”Source here
The United Nations and the translation industry
The United Nations bridges cultural gaps. In the same way, translation has been connecting cultures by breaking language barriers for centuries (with many famous translators in history).
Actually, the UN are very concerned with languages: one of its most important projects aims at language preservation and is called “World Languages in Danger”. According to their website, they intend to raise awareness “about language endangerment and the need to safeguard the world’s linguistic diversity.” Thanks to their extensive research work, it is possible to check a complete list of languages in danger of extinction.
Also, in terms of actual translation work, the workload of the UN exceeds the capacity of their in-house staff. For that reason, the organisation outsources up to 25 % of the work. Among the external providers, we can count over 220 external individual translators and 6 translation companies that work on a contractual basis.
Let’s join forces and make the world a more united place!
There are many ways through which everybody can contribute to the celebration of United Nations Day. You can participate in the event by organising a celebration, attending an activity, or even sharing your knowledge with other people.
The magic of this special day is that it is not only celebrated by the UN but also by individuals all over the world who are eager to make their contribution to world peace and international cooperation.
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