“We should … recognise the United Nations for what it is — an admittedly imperfect but indispensable instrument of nations working for a peaceful evolution towards a more just and secure world order.” These words, written over a half century ago by former UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld, remain as true today as they were back in 1957.
On 24 October 2016, countries across the globe celebrated UN Day, which commemorates the day in 1945 when the UN Charter entered into force. Initially with 51 member states, UN membership has grown to 193 members today. For the last 71 years, the UN also has been expanding its priorities, which now cover matters such as research and training of public officials, maintaining peace and security, protecting human rights, and upholding international law. In 2015 these challenges were bundled into the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which were introduced within the framework of the 2030 Development Agenda to ensure peace, progress, and prosperity across the world.
UN Day was celebrated by a number of UNU institutes. In Dresden, for example, the UNU Institute for Integrated Management of Material Fluxes and of Resources (UNU-FLORES) launched an extensive programme devoted to raising awareness among the local population about the aims and achievements of the UN, and to gaining their support for its work. Together with the City of Dresden and a number of local organisations, UNU-FLORES coordinated the event, “Urban Resilience — Linkages to the UN”, where the Head of UN Habitat’s City Resilience Profiling Programme discussed the topic of urban resilience in both international and local contexts.
In Maastricht, the UNU Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (UNU-MERIT) promoted the UNU Jargon Buster, a mobile app that gathers knowledge created by UN officials. The goal is to ensure that the important work conducted by the UN system is communicated effectively to a wider audience, including students, journalists, and civil society representatives.