Happy 70th birthday to the United Nations

Posted by The Skibbereen Eagle | October 25, 2015 0

 

A photographer is silhouetted against the historical site of the Giza Pyramids as they are illuminated with blue light, as part of the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the United Nations, in Giza, just outside Cairo, Egypt, Saturday, Oct. 24, 2015. Oct. 24 is the anniversary of the entry into force of the U.N. Charter in 1945 and is celebrated as U.N. Day. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

Iconic landmarks across the world have turned blue to mark the 70th anniversary of the United Nations. The UN’s HQ in New York, Sydney Harbour Bridge, Uluru and the Great Wall of China were among the monuments lit up in celebration. Indeed the founding of the UN was of some personal interest as for many years on my way to work in Central London I passed by the plaque on the Methodist Central Hall, Westminster where the first meeting of the UN General Assembly took place in Jan / Feb 1946.

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About 300 sites across the world, including the Empire State Building, the leaning Tower of Pisa and Edinburgh Castle, are set to take part in the event commemorating the date the UN charter came into force on 24th October 1945.

The UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon, said: “The timeless values of the UN Charter must remain our guide. Our shared duty is to ‘unite our strength’ to serve ‘we the peoples’… As we shine a light on this milestone anniversary, let us reaffirm our commitment to a better and brighter future for all.”

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As the celebration rolls around once again this weekend, it will surely be used as an occasion to celebrate the U.N. and its values: spreading democracy, promoting peace, combating world hunger and other sweeping noble missions. But when it’s not United Nations Day, the organization often finds itself criticized for both its failures and tendency as an unwieldy organization to not take decisive actions.

So, in order to provide you with some specific success examples to sprinkle into your conversations over the course of the day, here is a list of five specific, mostly-uncontroversial accomplishments that the U.N. has actually achieved in the 70 years of its tenure:

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Saving the Pyramids: UNESCO, the U.N.’s cultural agency, has a list of World Heritage Sites that it deems culturally significant and will take steps towards preserving or protecting. The area around the Giza pyramids and Sphinx in Egypt is one such site. When construction began on an eight-lane highway a mile south of the Sphinx and three great pyramids in 1995, the impending change threatened the architectural site and its ancient structures. UNESCO dispatched an expert mission to Egypt to meet with government authorities about diverting the highway, which the officials agreed to do.

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Eradicating Smallpox: The World Health Organization, a U.N. agency, led the global effort to eradicate the disease. By 1980, after almost 13 years of an immunization campaign, the WHO declared smallpox extinct.

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Protecting the Ozone: In 1987, the U.N. Environment Program sponsored a conference of 24 nations to pledge to take action against the deterioration of the ozone layer at the time. After nearly five years of talks, the group produced the Montreal Protocol — a treaty to reduce the emissions of chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, on a broad scale.

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Helping Save the Lives of 90 Million Children: UNICEF is a broader example, but merits acknowledgment on any list of U.N. successes. Created in 1946, the United Nations Children’s Fund works for the rights of children, and won the Nobel Peace Prize less than two after it was founded. Its efforts have steadily increased since; in its last annual report, the fund says it has helped save over 90 million children since 1990.

Promoting Arms Control: The U.N. was founded with goals of promoting non-violence by means of nuclear weapons. The resolutions of disarmament proposed in U.N. General Assemblies and discussed by the five permanent members of the Security Council played an instrumental role in the lead-up to the 1968 Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

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The Skibbereen Eagle

In 1898, to widespread bemusement, a small Provincial Newspaper in an equally small town in the South West corner of Ireland sonorously warned the Czar of Russia that it knew what he was up to and he should be careful how he proceeded for “The Skibbereen Eagle” was wise to his game and in future would be keeping its eye on him! It is doubtful that Nicholas II, Emperor and Autocrat of All the Russias, even noticed the Eagle’s admonitions but as history soon proved he should have paid closer attention to the Eagle’s insightful opinions!

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