Marking International Day, UN chief urges people to ‘act on charitable impulse’

WFP distributing rations to residents of Homs, Syria in September 2012. Photo: WFP/Abeer Etefa

5 September 2014 – Marking the International Day of Charity, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called on people everywhere “to act on the charitable impulse that resides in every human being – to start giving and to keep on giving.”

“Let us recognize charity for what it is at heart: a noble enterprise aimed at bettering the human condition,” Mr. Ban said in a message for the Day.

The International Day of Charity was proclaimed last year by a UN General Assembly resolution essentially recognizing the role of charity in alleviating human suffering. The Day is observed on 5 September to commemorate the anniversary of the death of Mother Teresa, who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 for her work with the poor, sick, orphaned and dying in Calcutta.

“[Mother Teresa’s] life and good works for some of the human family’s poorest and most vulnerable members has been such an enormous inspiration,” the Secretary-General said.

Especially in times of intense fiscal and budgetary constraints, charity and acts of kindness, no matter how big or small, make an enormous impact on people’s lives. Charity also contributes greatly in efforts to achieve the anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and implement the ambitious post-2015 development agenda.

At the same time, it is important to remember that charity cannot be seen as a replacement or alternative to public spending, Mr. Ban said, adding that it plays an invaluable complementary role.

Giving back and aid assistance is one of the core pillars of the UN and its agencies. Charity contributes to the promotion of dialogue, solidarity and mutual understanding ?among people.?

From the volunteering of time and expertise to straightforward financial donations by individuals, corporations or philanthropic foundations, charity comes in many forms and sizes.

“Whatever the case, such generosity and kindness, with no expectation of financial gain, can make profound differences in human well-being,” the UN chief said.

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