The role of UN today

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United Nations Day is celebrated each year on October 24 since 1945 to mark its promotion of human rights, diversity and progress across countries. On this day, most UN signatories came together to sign the founding document — the UN Charter. Rotary has influenced the formation of UN and Rotarians have played a leading role in communicating its ideals. When the UN Charter was written, Rotary was one of the 42 organisations invited to serve as consultants, at the San Francisco Conference.

Since its inception, UN has impacted the lives of people on issues like human rights, peace and security, development, disease prevention, gender equality, education, humanitarian assistance, etc. The body has been at the forefront to ensure a secure, prosperous and equitable world, from supporting major decolonisation efforts across Africa and Asia to providing a critical platform for discourse through the cold war; from eradicating extreme poverty and hunger to addressing the pressing challenge of climate change.

Rotary and UN share a vision for peace and critical humanitarian issues. On many occasions, UN bodies like UNICEF and Rotary partner to provide lifesaving medicine, clean drinking water, educational material, etc to children and families in developing countries.

Rotary’s seat at the United Nations’ General Assembly signifies its efforts to foster goodwill and peace across boundaries. Rotary is the largest non-government foundation providing education and humanitarian aid.

The UN, along with its specialised agencies, provides a platform for people with different opinions to interact and seek methods to forge a middle ground. Despite polarisation between its member states, it has arbitrated and successfully mediated in many disputes. Many nations’ military truces and ceasefire agreements have been upheld by the UN peacekeepers. Though the organisation has been facing challenges in the last couple of years, like climate crisis, food insecurity, the Covid pandemic, and the Ukraine war, its relevance has increased.

India’s global contributions to UN have been monumental and a source of pride for South Asia and all peace-loving democracies. During the Covid recovery phase, India acted as a pharmacy for the world.

India strongly supports UN’s purposes and principles and has made significant contributions to implementing the UN’s Charter goals and evolution of its specialised programmes and agencies.

As the UN marks 77 years of existence, we have every reason to celebrate all that our comity of nations has achieved. We must ensure that it remains effective and relevant in a dynamic changing new world.

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Dr Mahesh Kotbagi
RI Director, 2021–23

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