United Nations Day
United Nations Day was established by Presidential Proclamation to commemorate the establishment of the United Nations in 1945.
It is celebrated very generally in all states and American possessions, and by all eighty-one countries, which are members of the United Nations for the purpose of informing the people of the world as to the aims, purposes, and achievements of the UN. The day is part of the United Nations Week, October 20-26.
The name "United Nations" was devised by United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt and was first used in the "Declaration by United Nations" of January 1, 1942, during the Second World War, when representatives of 26 nations pledged their governments to continue fighting together against the Axis Powers.
The representatives of 50 countries at the United Nations Conference drew up the United Nations Charter on International Organization, which met at San Francisco from April 25 toJune 26, 1945. Those delegates deliberated on the basis of proposals worked out by the representatives ofChina, the Soviet Union, and United Kingdom in the United States at Dumbarton Oaks from August to October of 1944. The representatives of the 50 countries signed the Charter on June 26, 1945. Poland, which was not represented at the Conference, signed it later and became one the original 51 Member States.
The United Nations officially came into existence onOctober 24, 1945, when the Charter had been ratified byChina, France, The Soviet Union, theUnited Kingdom, United States and by a majority of other signatories. United Nations Day is celebrated on October 24 each year.
OnApril 25, 1945, delegates from fifty countries drove through the rain to meet for the United Nations Conference on international Organization at the Flag-bedecked War Memorial Opera House inSan Francisco. Although the delegates came from nations, "small, weak, and strong, and in different stages of political and social development," these earnest individuals were "determined to set up an organization which would preserve peace, advance justice, and constitute a permanent structure for international cooperation."
For nine weeks (from April 26 to June 26) the conference worked on the Charter. Its preamble is considered by many to be one of the finest expressions of purpose ever set forth in any language. ByOctober 24, 1945, the majority of the signatory nations had ratified the charter, and had sent formal notes to the State Department inWashington, D.C. These signers includedChina, France, the U.S.S.R., theUnited Kingdom, the United States, and many others. Therefore, on October 24, 1945, with flags of fifty nations flying together, the United Nations came into being.
In order to stress the charter's importance, in 1947 the General Assembly of the U.N. passed a resolution:
that October 24 shall hereafter be officially called United Nations Day, and 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 the work of the United Nations.
It was apparent, and also quite important, that the general public should be informed about the content and purposes of the United Nations; therefore an entire week-United Nations Week-was set aside in October, with its chief observance on United Nations Day, October 24.
By 1956, the American committee for the United Nations promoted the celebration of United Nations week. The official American Association for the United Nations sent out information and suggestions for programs with this advice:
This is United Nations Week. The success of the United Nations in building world peace depends on all of us-on our won understanding and support; know how it works, and what it is doing. Help the United Nations help all of us to a peaceful future.
In 1960, the U.N. had been in existence for fifteen years, one newspaper stated:
While the great debate at U.N. headquarters in New York makes the headlines, workers of the various agencies like UNICEF (International Children's Emergency Fund), UNESCO (U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) and WHO (World Health Organization) continue their efforts to aid backward and underprivileged areas unheralded. Famine, disease, malnutrition, and subsistence living standards have already been markedly improved by teams of workers from the U.N. They render not only direct assistance, but train teams of natives to teach their own people.