United Nations Conferences and Observances

14 August 2009
Reference Paper No. 48

United Nations Conferences and Observances

August 2009
Press Release
Reference Paper No. 48
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

United Nations Conferences and Observances

During its sixty-third session, the General Assembly declared 19 August each year as World Humanitarian Day, to increase public awareness about humanitarian assistance activities worldwide and to honour all United Nations and other humanitarian workers, including those who have lost their lives in the cause of duty.

The Assembly has also proclaimed 2011 the International Year of Chemistry, designating the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as lead agency and focal point for the Year.  It has also designated 22 April each year as International Mother Earth Day and 8 June as World Oceans Day.

The Assembly is currently observing International Year of Human Rights Learning, which began on 10 December 2008 and marks the sixtieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.  On or around 10 December 2009, it will hold a special plenary meeting to review activities undertaken during the Year.

Also this year, the Assembly began observing 20 February as the World Day of Social Justice.

During 2009, the Assembly marks the International Year of Reconciliation, to highlight to necessity of reconciliation processes in societies affected by conflicts.  Observing that natural fibres, an important source of income for farmers, can play an important role in improving food security and eradicating poverty, it declared 2009 the International Year of Natural Fibres.  To promote widespread access to the fruits of astronomical observation, the Assembly is also observing 2009 as the International Year of Astronomy.

During 2010, the Assembly focuses attention on the importance of mutual understanding and interreligious dialogue, with the International Year for the Rapprochement of Cultures, and on the continued loss of biodiversity, with the International Year of Biodiversity.  In support of the International Year of Biodiversity, the Assembly will also hold a one-day high-level meeting during its sixty-fifth session, in 2010, with the participation of Heads of State, Governments and delegations.

The year will also mark the beginning of the United Nations Decade for Deserts and the Fight against Desertification (2010-2020).  The contribution of forests to sustainable development, poverty eradication and development will be highlighted in 2011, which has been declared the International Year of Forests.

The Assembly will hold a number of high-level meetings during 2009, including one day during its sixty-fourth session to commemorate the fifteenth anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development, which met in Cairo from 5 to 13 September 1994.

On 24 September 2009, the Assembly will commemorate the work of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) on its sixtieth anniversary at a high-level meeting to be convened at United Nations Headquarters.  It is encouraging the participation of Member States at the ministerial level.

The fifteenth session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Fifth Session of the Meeting of the Parties to The Convention’s Kyoto Protocol will meet at Copenhagen from 7 to 18 December 2009.

Recognizing the importance of the Treaty on a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone in Central Asia, the Assembly welcomed the convening of an international conference on the problem of uranium tailings, to be held in Bishkek in 2009.  It welcomed Turkmenistan’s initiative to convene a high-level international conference in 2009 to discuss the issue of ensuring the reliable and stable transportation of energy to international markets.  And it welcomed the offer by the Russian Federation to host and provide the necessary financial support for the first global high-level (ministerial) conference on road safety, to be held in 2009.

The Assembly has decided to convene the Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries at a high level in 2011, with an intergovernmental preparatory committee towards the end of 2010 and/or early in 2011.

On or around 5 December 2011, the International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development, the Assembly will devote two plenary meetings to follow up on the International Year of Volunteers and to commemorate its tenth anniversary.

The Assembly has also invited Member States, in 2011, to observe the twentieth anniversary of the closure of the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site in Kazakhstan, by conducting events and functions to provide the international community with information on the deteriorating consequences of nuclear testing on human health and the environment.

The Conference to Review Progress in Implementing the Programme of Action on Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons will meet in New York no later than 2012.  Ahead of this, the one-week, biennial meeting of States on implementation of the Programme of Action will meet in New York, no later than in 2010, and a one-week meeting of governmental experts on implementation challenges relating to the Programme of Action will be held no later than in 2011.

Within existing resources, the Assembly will hold a high-level dialogue on international migration and development in 2013, to be preceded by a one-day informal thematic debate on the subject in 2011.

Also during its sixty-eighth session (2013-2014), the Assembly will convene a meeting “at the highest appropriate political level” in support of the Second United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty.

Prior to issuance of this reference paper, the Preparatory Committee for the 2010 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) met in New Yorkfrom 4 to 15 May 2009.  The United Nations Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis and Its Impact on Development -- a three-day summit where world leaders assessed the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression -- was held in New York from 24 to 26 June.

Meanwhile, the Assembly continues to observe the Decade to Roll Back Malaria in Developing Countries, Particularly in Africa (2001-2010); the Second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism (2001-2010); the International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World (2001-2010); the United Nations Literacy Decade:  Education for All (2003-2012); the Second International Decade of the World’s Indigenous People (2005-2014); the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2014); the International Decade for Action, “Water for Life” (2005-2015); the Decade of Recovery and Sustainable Development of the Affected Regions, relating to the disaster at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant (2006-2016); and the Second United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty (2008-2017).

The following pages contain additional information on United Nations conferences and special observances scheduled for 2009 and ensuing years, listed by theme.  Under each subject heading, conferences and meetings are listed first, followed by special decades, years, weeks and days, in that order.

Strictly chronological listings appear in the index.

* * *

CONTENTS

AIDS

Children

Cultural Diversity

Decolonization

Disarmament and International Security

Disasters and Disaster Reduction

Drug Abuse Control

Economic and Social Development

Environment and Development

Health

Human Rights

Human Settlements

Humanitarian Assistance

Hunger

Indigenous People

Information

Older Persons

Outer Space

Palestine Question

Peace

Persons with Disabilities

Racism and Racial Discrimination

Second World War

Women

Youth

Other Observances

Index

AIDS

 

World AIDS Day

(1 December)

The General Assembly, in 1988, stated its deep concern about the pandemic proportions of the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).  Noting that the World Health Organization (WHO) had declared 1 December 1988 World AIDS Day, the Assembly stressed the importance of observing that occasion (resolution 43/15).  Today, more than 33 million people are living with HIV/AIDS.

Children

 

International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression

(4 June)

On 19 August 1982, at its emergency special session on the question of Palestine, the General Assembly, “appalled at the great number of innocent Palestinian and Lebanese children victims of Israel’s acts of aggression”, decided to commemorate 4 June of each year as the International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression (resolution ES-7/8).

Universal Children’s Day

(20 November)

The General Assembly recommended in 1954 (resolution 836 (IX)) that all countries institute a Universal Children’s Day, to be observed as a day of worldwide fraternity and understanding between children and of activity promoting the welfare of the world’s children.  It suggested to Governments that the Day be observed on the date which each considers appropriate.  The date of 20 November marks the day in which the Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, in 1959, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, in 1989.

Cultural Diversity

International Year for the Rapprochement of Cultures

(2010)

The General Assembly, on 17 December 2007, declared 2010 the International Year for the Rapprochement of Cultures (resolution 62/90).  It recommended that events be organized on interreligious and intercultural dialogue, understanding and cooperation for peace during the year, including a high-level dialogue and/or informal interactive hearings with civil society.

Affirming that mutual understanding and interreligious dialogue constitute important dimensions of the dialogue among civilizations and the culture of peace, the Assembly encouraged Member States to consider initiatives that identify areas for practical action at all levels of society to promote interreligious and intercultural dialogue, tolerance, understanding and cooperation.  It also encouraged the promotion of dialogue among the media from all cultures and civilizations.

On 13 November 2008, the Assembly invited the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), in consultation with Member States, to play a leading role in the preparations for celebration of the Year (resolution 63/22).

World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development

(21 May)

Emphasizing the need to enhance the potential of culture as a means of achieving prosperity, sustainable development and global, peaceful coexistence, the General Assembly, on 20 December 2002, proclaimed 21 May the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development (resolution 57/249).  Acting during the closing days of the United Nations Year for Cultural Heritage (2002), the Assembly recognized the close link between protecting cultural diversity and the larger framework of the dialogue among civilizations.

Decolonization

 

Second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism

(2001-2010)

On 8 December 2000, as the General Assembly observed the fortieth anniversary of its adoption of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, it declared 2001-2010 the Second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism (resolution 55/146).

On 22 December 2004, the Assembly urged Member States to contribute to the United Nations efforts to usher in a world free of colonialism within the Second International Decade, giving their full support to the Special Committee on decolonization in that endeavour (resolution 59/134).  Addressing the situation of American Samoa, Anguilla, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Guam, Montserrat, Pitcairn, Saint Helena, the Turks and Caicos Islands and the United States Virgin Islands, the Assembly reaffirmed the inalienable right of the peoples of the Territories to self-determination in conformity with the United Nations Charter and the General Assembly Declaration on decolonization (resolution 1514 (XV)).

The Assembly reaffirmed that there is no alternative to self-determination, and called on the administering Powers, in cooperation with the territorial governments, to facilitate political education programmes in the Territories to foster awareness among their peoples of their right to self-determination.  It also reaffirmed the responsibility of the administering Powers to promote the socio-economic development and preserve the cultural identity of the Territories, and request the Territories and administering Powers to protect the environment of the Territories under their administration against environmental degradation.

The first International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism, 1990‑2000, was declared in 1988 (resolution 43/47).

Week of Solidarity with the Peoples of Non-Self-Governing Territories

(beginning 25 May)

The General Assembly in 1999 requested the Special Committee on decolonization to observe annually the Week of Solidarity with the Peoples of Non-Self-Governing Territories commencing on the week beginning 25 May 1999 (resolution 54/91 of 6 December).  The Week had been proclaimed in 1972 (resolution 2911 (XXVII)) as the Week of Solidarity with the Colonial Peoples of Southern Africa and Guinea (Bissau) and Cape Verde Fighting for Freedom, Independence and Equal Rights, to begin on 25 May, Africa Liberation Day.

Disarmament and International Security

Biennial Meeting of States on Implementation of the Programme of Action

on Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons

( New York, no later than in 2010)

On 2 December 2008, the General Assembly decided that the next biennial meeting of States to consider the national, regional and global implementation of the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects shall be held in New York for a period of one week, no later than in 2010 (resolution 63/72).

- and -

Meeting of Governmental Experts on Implementation Challenges Relating to

the Programme of Action on Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons

( New York, no later than in 2011)

By the same resolution, the Assembly decided to convene an open-ended meeting of governmental experts for a period of one week, no later than in 2011, to address key implementation challenges and opportunities relating to the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects.

- and -

Conference to Review Progress in Implementing the Programme of Action

on Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons

( New York, no later than in 2012)

Also by this resolution, the Assembly decided to convene a conference to review progress made in implementing the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects.

Disarmament Week

(24-30 October)

The annual observance of Disarmament Week, which begins on the anniversary of the founding of the United Nations, was called for in the Final Document of the General Assembly 1978 special session on disarmament (resolution S-10/2).  States were invited to highlight the danger of the arms race, propagate the need for its cessation and increase public understanding of the urgent tasks of disarmament.

In 1995, the Assembly invited Governments, as well as non-governmental organizations, to continue taking an active part in Disarmament Week (resolution 50/72 B of 12 December).  It invited the Secretary-General to continue using the United Nations information entities as widely as possible to promote a better understanding among the public of disarmament problems and the aims of the Week.

International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action

(4 April)

On 8 December 2005, the General Assembly declared that 4 April of each year shall be officially proclaimed and observed as International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action (resolution 60/97).  It called for continued efforts by States, with the assistance of the United Nations and relevant organizations, to foster the establishment and development of national mine-action capacities in countries where mines and explosive remnants of war constitute a serious threat to the safety, health and lives of the civilian population, or an impediment to social and economic development at the national and local levels.

Disasters and Disaster Reduction

Decade of Recovery and Sustainable Development of the Affected

Regions (relating to the Chernobyl disaster)

(2006-2016)

On 20 November 2007, the General Assembly proclaimed the third decade after the disaster at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant(2006-2016) as the Decade of Recovery and Sustainable Development of the Affected Regions, aimed at achieving the goal of a return to normal life for the affected communities as far as is possible within that time frame (resolution 62/9).

Profoundly concerned at the ongoing consequences of the accident on the lives and health of people, particularly children, in the affected areas of Belarus, the Russian Federation, Ukraine and other countries, the Assembly requested that the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) coordinate the efforts of the United Nations system and other relevant actors with respect to the Decade.  Welcoming UNDP’s proposal to coordinate the drafting of a United Nations action plan for Chernobyl recovery to 2016, the Assembly asked UNDP to present its draft plan for review by the Chernobyl Inter-Agency Task Force by 26 April 2008 -- the twenty-second anniversary of the disaster.

International Day for Natural Disaster Reduction

(second Wednesday of October)

In 2001, the General Assembly decided to maintain the observance of the International Day for Natural Disaster Reduction on the second Wednesday of October (resolution 56/195 of 21 December), as a vehicle to promote a global culture of natural disaster reduction -- including disaster prevention, mitigation and preparedness.  The Assembly had designated that Day to be observed during the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction, 1990-1999 (resolution 44/236).

Drug Abuse Control

International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking

(26 June)

The General Assembly, in 1987, decided to observe 26 June as International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, as an expression of its determination to strengthen action and cooperation to achieve the goal of an international society free of drug abuse.  It took that action on 7 December 1987 (resolution 42/112), following a recommendation of the 1987 International Conference on Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, which, on 26 June, had adopted the Comprehensive Multidisciplinary Outline of Future Activities in Drug Abuse Control.

Economic and Social Development

One-Day Meeting to Commemorate the Fifteenth Anniversary of the

International Conference on Population and Development

( New York, during the General Assembly’s

sixty-fourth session (2009-2010))

On 3 November 2008, the General Assembly decided to devote one day, during its sixty-fourth session (2009-2010), to the commemoration of the fifteenth anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development, which was held in Cairo from 5 to 13 September 1994 (resolution 63/9).

High-Level Meeting to Mark the International Year of Biodiversity

(New York, in 2010, during the Assembly’s sixty-fifth session)

On 19 December 2008, the General Assembly also decided to hold a one-day high-level meeting in 2010, during its sixty-fifth session, as a contribution to the International Year of Biodiversity (resolution 63/219).  The meeting will be convened with the participation of Heads of State, Governments and delegations.

Two Plenary Meetings of the General Assembly as Follow-up to

the International Year of Volunteers and to Commemorate

its Tenth Anniversary

( New York, on or around 5 December 2011)

On 18 December 2008, the General Assembly decided that, on or around 5 December 2011, the International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development, it would devote two plenary meetings to follow-up to the International Year of Volunteers and to commemorate its tenth anniversary (resolution 63/153).

High-Level Dialogue on International Migration and Development

( New York, during the General Assembly’s

sixty-eighth session in 2013)

On 19 December 2008, the General Assembly decided to hold a high-level dialogue on international migration and development during its sixty-eighth session, in 2013 (resolution 63/225).  The focus and modalities of the dialogue will be decided upon at the Assembly’s sixty-seventh session (2012-2013).  This will be preceded, in 2011, by a one-day informal thematic debate on international migration and development.

Meeting of the General Assembly in Support of the Second United Nations

Decade for the Eradication of Poverty

( New York, during the Assembly’s sixty-eighth session (2013-2014))

The General Assembly decided to convene a meeting on poverty eradication “at the highest appropriate political level” during its sixty-eighth session, in support of the Second United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty (resolution 63/230 of 19 December 2008).  The meeting and its preparatory activities are to be carried out within the budget level proposed by the Secretary-General for the biennium 2012-2013.

Decade to Roll Back Malaria in Developing Countries,

Particularly in Africa

(2001-2010)

On 22 December 2008, the General Assembly welcomed the increased funding for malaria interventions and for research and development in support of the goals of the Decade to Roll Back Malaria in Developing Countries, Particularly in Africa (resolution 63/234).  It called upon the international community to continue to support the “Roll Back Malaria” partner organizations, including the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Bank and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), as vital complementary sources of support for the efforts of malaria-endemic countries.

The Assembly urged the international community to become fully knowledgeable about WHO technical policies and strategies, including for indoor residual spraying, insecticide-treated mosquito nets and case management.  It called upon the international community, through helping to meet the financial needs of the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, to intensify access to affordable, safe and effective antimalarial combination treatments, intermittent preventive treatment in pregnancies, long-lasting insecticide-treated mosquito nets and insecticides for indoor residual spraying for malaria control.

The General Assembly proclaimed the period 2001-2010 as the Decade to Roll Back Malaria in Developing Countries, Particularly in Africa, on 7 September 2001 (resolution 55/284).  In its efforts to address one of the most deadly tropical diseases -- which causes some 1 million deaths each year in Africa where 9 out of 10 cases occur -- the Assembly called for joint comprehensive efforts by Africa and the international community to reach specific goals aimed at rolling back this disease.

United Nations Literacy Decade:  Education for All

(2003-2012)

On 19 December 2001, the General Assembly proclaimed 2003 to 2012 as the United Nations Literacy Decade:  Education for All (resolution 56/116).  It reaffirmed that literacy for all was at the heart of the notion of basic education for all, and that creating literate environments was essential to eradicating poverty, achieving gender equity and ensuring sustainable development.

On 18 December 2008, the Assembly appealed to all Governments to develop reliable literacy data and information, and to devise innovative strategies to achieve the goals of the Decade (resolution 63/154).  It appealed to all Governments and to economic and financial organizations and institutions, both national and international, to lend greater financial and material support to efforts to increase literacy.

The Assembly took note of the three priority areas of the remaining years of the Decade, namely, mobilizing stronger commitment to literacy, reinforcing more effective literacy programme delivery and harnessing new resources for literacy.  It invited Member States, United Nations bodies and relevant intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations to support the implementation of those priorities within the framework of internationally agreed development goals, including those contained in the United Nations Millennium Declaration.

Second United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty

(2008–2017)

On 19 December 2007, the General Assembly proclaimed 2008 to 2017 as the second United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty, in order to support efficient and coordinated action for attaining internationally agreed development goals on poverty reduction, including the Millennium Development Goals (resolution 62/205).  In doing so, the Assembly described the eradication of poverty as “the greatest global challenge facing the world today and an indispensable requirement for sustainable development, in particular for developing countries”.

While reaffirming that each country must take primary responsibility for its development and that sustained economic growth is essential for eradicating poverty and hunger, the Assembly stressed that national efforts should be complemented by an enabling international environment.  It called upon donor countries to continue giving priority to poverty eradication in their assistance programmes and budgets.  The Assembly also recognized that for poverty eradication strategies to be effective, developing countries must be integrated into the world economy and share equitably in the benefits of globalization.

On 19 December 2008, the Assembly considered that a theme for the Decade, to be reviewed by the Assembly at its sixty-fifth session, shall be “Full employment and decent work for all” (resolution 63/230).

International Year of Natural Fibres

(2009)

Noting that the diverse range of natural fibres produced in many countries provides an important source of income for farmers and can thus play an important role in improving food security, eradicating poverty and contributing to achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, the Assembly, on 20 December 2006, decided to proclaim 2009 as the International Year of Natural Fibres (resolution 61/189).  It invited the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to facilitate the observance of the Year, in collaboration with Governments, regional, international and non-governmental organizations, the private sector and relevant United Nations bodies.

The Assembly encouraged all Governments, the United Nations system and all other actors to take advantage of the Year to increase awareness of the importance of these natural products.  It called upon Governments and relevant regional and international organizations, and invited non-governmental organizations and the private sector, to make voluntary contributions and lend other forms of support to the Year.

World Day of Social Justice

(20 February)

The General Assembly has decided to celebrate 20 February each year as the World Day of Social Justice, beginning in 2009.  By its resolution 62/10 of 26 November 2007, the Assembly recognized that the attainment of social development and social justice are indispensable for the achievement and maintenance of peace and security and yet cannot be attained without peace, security and respect for all human rights and fundamental freedoms.

The Assembly recognized that broad-based and sustained economic growth in the context of sustainable development is necessary to sustain social development and social justice, but that serious challenges remain, including serious financial crises, insecurity, poverty, exclusion and inequality within and among societies, and considerable obstacles to the further integration and full participation of developing countries and some countries with economies in transition in the global economy.

International Day of Cooperatives

(first Saturday of July)

On 16 December 1992, the General Assembly proclaimed the first Saturday of July 1995 as the International Day of Cooperatives (resolution 47/90.  The date marked the centenary of the International Cooperative Alliance, an umbrella group of organizations comprising 760 million members in 100 countries.  On 23 December 1994, recognizing that cooperatives were becoming an indispensable factor of economic and social development, the Assembly invited Governments, international organizations, specialized agencies and national and international cooperative organizations to observe the Day every year (resolution 49/155).

International Day for the Eradication of Poverty

(17 October)

In 1992, the General Assembly, welcoming the fact that certain non-governmental organizations, on the initiative of one of them (the French-based International Movement ATD Fourth World), had, in many States, observed 17 October as World Day for Overcoming Extreme Poverty, declared that date the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty (resolution 47/196 of 22 December).  The observance aims to promote awareness of the need to eradicate poverty and destitution in all countries, particularly in developing countries -- a need that has become a development priority.

Africa Industrialization Day

(20 November)

Within the framework of the Second Industrial Development Decade for Africa (1991-2000), the General Assembly proclaimed 20 November as Africa Industrialization Day (resolution 44/237 of 22 December 1989).  The Day is intended to mobilize the commitment of the international community to the industrialization of Africa.

International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development

(5 December)

The General Assembly has invited Governments to observe the International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development on 5 December each year (resolution 40/212 of 17 December 1985).  It urged them to heighten awareness of the contribution made by volunteer service, thereby stimulating people in all walks of life to offer their services as volunteers, both at home and abroad.  In 2001, the International Year of Volunteers, the Assembly adopted a set of recommendations on ways that Governments and the United Nations system could support volunteering and asked that they be widely disseminated (resolution 56/38 of 5 December 2001).  On 18 December 2008, the General Assembly decided that, on or around 5 December 2011, the International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development it would devote two plenary meetings to follow-up to the International Year of Volunteers and to commemorate its tenth anniversary (resolution 63/153).

International Human Solidarity Day

(20 December)

In connection with its observance of first United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty (1997-2006), the General Assembly, on 22 December 2005, decided to proclaim 20 December of each year as International Human Solidarity Day (resolution 60/209).  In taking that action, it recalled that the Millennium Declaration identified solidarity as one of the fundamental and universal values that should underlie relations between peoples in the twenty-first century.

Environment and Development

Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on

Climate Change and Meeting of the Parties to its Kyoto Protocol

( Copenhagen, 7 to 18 December 2009)

On 26 November 2008, the General Assembly welcomed the offer of the Government of Denmark to host the fifteenth session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and the fifth session of the Meeting of the Parties to the Convention’s Kyoto Protocol (resolution 63/32).  The meetings will be held at Copenhagen from 7 to 18 December.

Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries

(Venue and dates to be determined, 2011)

On 19 December 2008, the General Assembly has decided to convene the Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries at a high level in 2011 for a duration of not more than five working days (resolution 63/227).  To that end, it will convene an intergovernmental preparatory committee towards the end of 2010 and/or early in 2011, to hold no more than two meetings.  This will be preceded by two regional-level preparatory meetings, in collaboration with the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), respectively.  The Assembly will take a decision dates and venues of the conference and of the preparatory meetings before the end of its sixty-third session.

United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development

(2005-2014)

The General Assembly, on 20 December 2002, proclaimed the 10-year period beginning on 1 January 2005 as the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (resolution 57/254).  The Assembly designated the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as lead agency for promotion of the Decade, asking it to develop a draft international implementation scheme, clarifying the Decade’s relationship with such existing educational processes as the Dakar Framework for Action adopted at the World Education Forum in 2002 and the United Nations Literacy Decade (2003-2012).

On 22 December 2004, the Assembly requested that the Secretary-General call upon UNESCO to finalize the draft implementation scheme as soon as possible, preferably by the beginning of the Decade, with a view to its submission to UNESCO’s governing bodies for its final consideration and adoption (resolution 59/237).  It invited Governments to promote public awareness and wider participation in the Decade, including cooperation with and initiatives engaging civil society and other relevant stakeholders, especially at the beginning of the Decade.

International Decade for Action, “Water for Life”

(2005-2015)

On 23 December 2003, the General Assembly proclaimed the period from 2005 to 2015 as the International Decade for Action, “Water for Life”, commencing on World Water Day, 22 March 2005 (resolution 58/217).  It welcomed the decision of the Commission on Sustainable Development to consider water, sanitation and human settlements as the thematic cluster in the first cycle, 2004-2005, and invited the Commission to work within existing resources to identify possible activities and programmes in connection with the Decade within the framework of its consideration of that cluster at its twelfth and thirteenth sessions.

The Assembly invited the Secretary-General to take the appropriate steps to organize the activities of the Decade, taking into account the results of the International Year of Freshwater and the work of the Commission on Sustainable Development at its twelfth and thirteenth sessions.  It also called upon the relevant United Nations bodies, specialized agencies, regional commissions and other organizations of the United Nations system to deliver a coordinated response, utilizing existing resources and voluntary funds, to make “Water for Life” a decade for action.  By its resolution 59/228 of 22 December 2004, the Assembly called on the United Nations system to step up efforts to make the International Decade a period for delivering on promises through the use of existing resources and voluntary funds.

United Nations Decade for Deserts and the Fight

against Desertification

(2010–2020)

On 19 December 2007, the General Assembly declared the period 2010-2020 as the United Nations Decade for Deserts and the Fight against Desertification, on the recommendation of the Governing Council of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) (resolution 62/195).  In making that recommendation, the Governing Council, by its resolution 24/14 of 9 February 2007, reasserted its commitment to promoting desertification control, eradicating extreme poverty, promoting sustainable development in deserts and arid areas, and improving the lives of affected populations.  It also expressed its determination to maintain and boost the spirit of international solidarity that was generated by the designation of 2006 as the International Year of Deserts and Desertification.

International Year of Biodiversity

(2010)

On 20 December 2006, the General Assembly declared 2010 as the International Year of Biodiversity (resolution 61/203).  It designated the secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity as the focal point for the Year and invited the secretariat to cooperate with other relevant United Nations bodies, multilateral environmental agreements, international organizations and other stakeholders, with a view to bringing greater international attention to the continued loss of biodiversity.

The Assembly encouraged Member States and other stakeholders to take advantage of the Year to increase awareness of the importance of biodiversity by promoting actions at the local, regional and international levels.  It invited Member States to consider establishing national committees for the Year, and invited Member States and relevant international organizations to support the activities to be organized by developing countries -- especially least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing States -- and countries with economies in transition.

On 19 December 2008, the Assembly urged all Member States to fulfil their commitments to significantly reduce the rate of loss of biodiversity by 2010 by focusing on this issue in their relevant policies and programmes (resolution 63/219).  It invited Member States to create national committees, including representatives of indigenous and local communities, to celebrate the Year, and invited international organizations to mark it as well.

International Year of Chemistry

(2011)

Stressing that education in and about chemistry is critical in addressing challenges such as global climate change, in providing sustainable sources of clean water, food and energy, and in maintaining a wholesome environment for the well-being of all people, the General Assembly, on 19 December 2008, decided to proclaim 2011 as the International Year of Chemistry (resolution 63/209).  It designated UNESCO as the lead agency and focal point for the Year.

The Assembly expressed awareness that the Year also provides the opportunity to celebrate the contributions of women to science on the 100th anniversary of the awarding of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry to Maria Skłodowska-Curie.  The Year also provided an opportunity to highlight the need for international scientific collaboration on the 100th anniversary of the founding of the International Association of Chemical Societies.

International Year of Forests

(2011)

Recognizing that forests and sustainable forest management can contribute significantly to sustainable development, poverty eradication and the achievement of internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals, the General Assembly, on 20 December 2006, decided to proclaim 2011 as the International Year of Forests (resolution 61/193).  It requested that the secretariat of the United Nations Forum on Forests, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, serve as the focal point for the Year, in collaboration with Governments, international, regional and subregional organizations and processes, the Collaborative Partnership on Forests and relevant major groups.

The Assembly invited FAO in particular, as the Chair of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests, to support implementation of the Year.  It encouraged voluntary partnerships among Member States, international organizations and major groups to facilitate and promote activities related to the Year at the local and national levels, including by creating national committees or designating focal points in their respective countries.

World Day for Water

(22 March)

The General Assembly has declared 22 March as World Day for Water (resolution 47/193 of 22 December 1992).  The observance aims at promoting awareness of the extent to which water resource development contributes to economic productivity and social well-being.

International Mother Earth Day

(22 April)

Acknowledging that the Earth and its ecosystems is our home, and convinced that to achieve a just balance among the economic, social and environmental needs of present and future generations, it is necessary to promote harmony with nature and the planet, the General Assembly, on 22 April 2009, designated 22 April as International Mother Earth Day (resolution 63/278).

In so doing, the Assembly recognized that “Mother Earth” is a common expression in a number of countries and regions, reflecting the interdependence that exists among human beings, other living species and the planet we inhabit.  It requested that Member States, United Nations bodies, international, regional, subregional and non-governmental organizations, civil society and relevant stakeholders observe and raise awareness of the Day as appropriate.

International Day for Biological Diversity

(22 May)

On 20 December 2000, the General Assembly proclaimed 22 May, the date of adoption of the Convention on Biological Diversity, as the International Day for Biological Diversity (resolution 55/201).  The Day was previously observed on 29 December (resolution 49/119 of 19 December 1994).  In 2000, the Conference of the Parties to the Convention, at its fifth meeting, had recommended that the date be changed to give it greater visibility.

World Environment Day

(5 June)

By resolution 2994 (XXVII) of 15 December 1972, the General Assembly designated 5 June as World Environment Day to deepen public awareness of the need to preserve and enhance the environment.  That date recalls the opening day of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment ( Stockholm, 1972), which led to the establishment of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

World Oceans Day

(8 June)

Recognizing the important contribution of the sustainable development and management of oceans and seas to the achievement of international development goals, including those contained in the United Nations Millennium Declaration, the General Assembly, on 5 December 2008, designated 8 June as World Oceans Day (resolution 63/111).

Among the many features of its wide-ranging resolution on oceans and the law of the sea, the Assembly noted that ecosystem approaches to ocean management should be focused on managing human activities in order to maintain and, where needed, restore ecosystem health.  The aim would be to sustain goods and environmental services, provide social and economic benefits for food security, sustain livelihoods in support of international development goals, including those contained in the Millennium Declaration, and conserve marine biodiversity.

World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought

(17 June)

The World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought, 17 June, was proclaimed by the General Assembly in 1995 (resolution 49/115), marking the adoption of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification on 17 June 1994.  The Assembly invited States to devote the World Day to promoting awareness of the need for international cooperation to combat desertification and the effects of drought, including implementation of the Convention to Combat Desertification.

International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer

(16 September)

In 1994, the General Assembly proclaimed 16 September the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer, commemorating the date of the signing, in 1987, of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer (resolution 49/114).  States were invited to devote the Day to promote activities in accordance with the objectives of the Protocol and its amendments.  The ozone layer, a fragile shield of gas, protects the Earth from the harmful portion of the rays of the sun, thus helping preserve life on the planet.

International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment

in War and Armed Conflict

(6 November)

On 5 November 2001, the General Assembly declared 6 November of each year as the International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict (resolution 56/4).  In taking this action, it considered that damage to the environment in times of armed conflict impairs ecosystems and natural resources long after the period of conflict, often extending beyond the limits of national territories and the present generation.  It also recalled the United Nations Millennium Declaration, which emphasizes the necessity of working to protect our common environment.

United Nations Day for South-South Cooperation

(19 December)

On 23 December 2004, the General Assembly declared 19 December of each year as the United Nations Day for South-South Cooperation (resolution 58/220).  This marks the date, in 1978, when the General Assembly endorsed the Buenos Aires Plan of Action for Promoting and Implementing Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries (resolution 33/134).

Health

 

World Autism Awareness Day

(2 April)

Deeply concerned by the prevalence and high rate of autism in children in all regions of the world, the General Assembly has designated 2 April as World Autism Awareness Day.  By its resolution 62/139 of 18 December 2007, the Assembly encouraged Member States to take measures to raise awareness throughout society regarding children with autism.

Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that manifests itself during the first three years of life and results from a neurological disorder.  It affects the functioning of the brain and is characterized by impairments in social interaction, problems with verbal and non-verbal communication and restrictive, repetitive behaviour, interests and activities.  Autism affects children in all regions, irrespective of gender, race or socio-economic status.  It poses challenges to long-term health care, education, training and intervention programmes, and has a tremendous impact on children, their families, communities and societies.

World Diabetes Day

(14 November)

Welcoming the fact that the International Diabetes Federation has been observing World Diabetes Day globally since 1991, with co-sponsorship of the World Health Organization (WHO), the General Assembly, on 20 December 2006, designated 14 November, the current World Diabetes Day, as a United Nations Day, to be observed every year beginning in 2007 (resolution 61/225).

Recognizing that diabetes is a chronic, debilitating and costly disease which poses serious challenges to development, the Assembly encouraged Member States to develop national policies for its prevention, treatment and care in line with the sustainable development of their health-care systems, taking account of internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals.

The Assembly also invited all Member States, relevant organizations of the United Nations system and other international organizations, as well as civil society, including non-governmental organizations and the private sector, to observe World Diabetes Day in an appropriate manner, including through education and the mass media.

Human Rights

International Year of Human Rights Learning

(one year, beginning on 10 December 2008)

The General Assembly has proclaimed the year commencing on 10 December 2008, the sixtieth anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, as the International Year of Human Rights Learning (resolution 62/171 of 18 December 2007).  It will be devoted to activities to broaden and deepen human rights learning based on the principles of universality, indivisibility, interdependency, impartiality, objectivity and non-selectivity, constructive dialogue and cooperation.  It aims to enhance the promotion and protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the right to development.

On 18 December 2008, the Assembly urged Member States, in coordination with civil society, the private sector, academia and parliamentarians, and regional organizations, including the appropriate United Nations bodies, to develop international strategies and/or regional, national and local programmes of action aimed at broad-based and sustained human rights learning at all levels -- throughout the International Year and beyond (resolution 63/173).

- and -

Special Plenary Meeting of the General Assembly to Review Activities

during the International Year of Human Rights Learning

( New York, on or around 10 December 2009)

Also by resolution 62/171 of 18 December 2007, the Assembly decided to hold a plenary meeting at the end of the International Year of Human Rights Learning to mark its conclusion and to review activities undertaken in support of the Year.

World Refugee Day

(20 June)

On 4 December 2000, the General Assembly noted that 2001 marked the fiftieth anniversary of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, and that the Organization of African Unity (OAU) had agreed to have International Refugee Day coincide with Africa Refugee Day on 20 June.  It, therefore, decided that, as from 2001, 20 June would be celebrated as World Refugee Day (resolution 55/76).  [Note:  OAU was replaced by the African Union on 9 July 2002.]

International Day in Support of Victims of Torture

(26 June)

The Assembly, in 1997, on the recommendation of the Economic and Social Council (decision 1997/251), proclaimed 26 June the United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture (resolution 52/149 of 12 December).  The Day aims at the eradication of torture and the effective functioning of the 1984 Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which entered into force on 26 June 1987.

International Day for Tolerance

(16 November)

In 1996, the General Assembly invited Member States to observe the International Day for Tolerance on 16 November, with activities directed towards both educational establishments and the wider public (resolution 51/95 of 12 December).  This action came in the wake of the United Nations Year for Tolerance, 1995, proclaimed by the Assembly in 1993 (resolution 48/126).  The Year had been declared on the initiative of UNESCO; on 16 November 1995, the UNESCO member States adopted the Declaration of Principles on Tolerance and Follow-up Plan of Action for the Year.

International Day for the Abolition of Slavery

(2 December)

The International Day for the Abolition of Slavery, 2 December, recalls the date of the adoption, by the General Assembly, of the United Nations Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and the Exploitation of Others (resolution 317 (IV) of 2 December 1949).

Human Rights Day

(10 December)

All States and interested organizations were invited by the General Assembly in 1950 to observe 10 December as Human Rights Day (resolution 423 (V)).  The Day marks the anniversary of the Assembly’s adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.

International Migrants Day

(18 December)

As recommended by the Economic and Social Council (decision 2000/288 of 28 July 2000), the General Assembly has proclaimed 18 December International Migrants Day (resolution 55/93 of 4 December 2000).  On that day in 1990, the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families was adopted (resolution 45/158).  The Assembly has stressed the need to make further efforts to ensure respect for the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all migrants.  It is estimated that 1 in every 35 persons in the world is a migrant, living and working in a country other than his or her own.  All countries have migrants among their population.

Human Settlements

World Habitat Day

(first Monday of October)

In 1985, acting on a recommendation of the Commission on Human Settlements, the General Assembly designated the first Monday of October as World Habitat Day (resolution 40/202 A).  The first observance of the Day, in 1986, marked the tenth anniversary of the first international conference on the issue -- Habitat:  United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Vancouver, Canada, 1976).

Humanitarian Assistance

World Humanitarian Day

(19 August)

On 11 December 2008, the General Assembly designated 19 August each year as World Humanitarian Day (resolution 63/139).  The Day is intended to increase public awareness about humanitarian assistance activities worldwide and the importance of international cooperation in that sphere.  It also aims to honour all humanitarian and United Nations workers in the humanitarian cause, including those who have lost their lives in the cause of duty.

Hunger

 

World Food Day

(16 October)

The aim of World Food Day, proclaimed in 1979 by the Conference of FAO of the United Nations, is to heighten public awareness of the world food problem and strengthen solidarity in the struggle against hunger, malnutrition and poverty.  The Day marks the date of the founding of FAO in 1945.  In 1980, the General Assembly endorsed observance of the Day in consideration of the fact that “food is a requisite for human survival and well-being and a fundamental human necessity” (resolution 35/70 of 5 December).

Indigenous People

Second International Decade of the World’s Indigenous People

(2005-2014)

On 16 December 2005, the General Assembly adopted the Programme of Action for the Second International Decade of the World’s Indigenous People (document A/60/270, sect. II), and adopted “Partnership for action and dignity” as its theme (resolution 60/142).  It appealed to the international community at large to provide financial support to the Programme of Action, including through contributions to the Voluntary Fund for the Second Decade, and urged all Governments and indigenous organizations concerned to take action to facilitate adoption of the draft United Nations declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples as soon as possible.

The Assembly proclaimed the first International Decade of the World’s Indigenous People on 21 December 1993, with the goal of strengthening international cooperation for the solution of problems faced by indigenous people in such areas as human rights, the environment, development, education and health (resolution 48/163).  It proclaimed the Second International Decade on 20 December 2004, with the goal of further strengthening cooperation in those areas, including economic and social development (resolution 59/174).  It asked the Secretary-General to appoint the Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs as the Coordinator for the Second Decade, and invited Governments to ensure that activities and objectives for the Second Decade are planned and implemented in full collaboration with indigenous people.

International Day of the World’s Indigenous People

(9 August)

On 23 December 1994, the General Assembly decided that the International Day of the World’s Indigenous People shall be observed on 9 August every year during the International Decade of the World’s Indigenous People (resolution 49/214).  By its resolution 59/174 of 20 December 2004, in which the Assembly proclaimed the Second International Decade of the World’s Indigenous People (2005-2014), it also decided to continue observing the International Day of Indigenous People every year during the Second Decade, in New York, Geneva and other offices of the United Nations.  The Assembly asked the Secretary-General to support observance of the Day from within existing resources, and to encourage Governments to observe the Day at the national level.

Information

 

World Press Freedom Day

(3 May)

The General Assembly in 1993 declared 3 May as World Press Freedom Day (decision 48/432 of 20 December).  This action stemmed from the UNESCO General Conference, which, by a 1991 resolution on “Promotion of press freedom in the world”, had recognized that a free, pluralistic and independent press was an essential component of any democratic society.  The General Conference had transmitted to the General Assembly the wish of UNESCO member States to have 3 May declared “International Press Freedom Day”.

That date commemorates the Windhoek Declaration on Promoting an Independent and Pluralistic African Press, adopted on 3 May 1991 by the Seminar on Promoting an Independent and Pluralistic African Press, organized by UNESCO and the United Nations in Windhoek, Namibia.

World Telecommunication and Information Society Day

(17 May)

On 27 March 2006, the General Assembly decided to proclaim 17 May annual World Information Society Day, to help to raise awareness of the possibilities that the use of the Internet and other information and communications technology can bring to societies and economies, as well as of ways to bridge the digital divide (resolution 60/252).  The date marks the founding of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) on 17 May 1865.  The Assembly took this action as part of its follow-up to the World Summit on the Information Society, which was held from 10 to 12 December 2003 in Geneva, and from 16 to 18 November 2005 in Tunis.  The Assembly also decided to conduct an overall review of the implementation of the Summit outcomes in 2015.

Prior to the establishment of this Day, World Telecommunication Day had been celebrated annually on 17 May since 1969.  Following the Assembly’s proclamation, the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference, in November 2006, decided to celebrate both observances together, as World Telecommunication and Information Society Day.

World Development Information Day

(24 October)

The General Assembly in 1972 instituted World Development Information Day to draw the attention of world public opinion to development problems and the need to strengthen international cooperation to solve them (resolution 3038 (XXVII)).  The Assembly decided that the date for the Day should coincide in principle with United Nations Day, 24 October, which was also the date of the adoption, in 1970, of the International Development Strategy for the Second United Nations Development Decade.  The Assembly felt that improving the dissemination of information and the mobilization of public opinion, particularly among young people, would lead to greater awareness of the problems of development, thus, promoting efforts in the sphere of international cooperation for development.

World Television Day

(21 November)

In 1996, the General Assembly proclaimed 21 November as World Television Day, commemorating the date on which, in 1996, the first World Television Forum was held at the United Nations.  States were invited to observe the Day by encouraging global exchanges of television programmes focusing on issues such as peace, security, economic and social development, and the enhancement of cultural exchanges (resolution 51/205 of 17 December).

Older Persons

International Day of Older Persons

(1 October)

The General Assembly designated 1 October the International Day of Older Persons by resolution 45/106 of 14 December 1990, following up on United Nations initiatives such as the Vienna International Plan of Action on Ageing, adopted by the 1982 World Assembly on Ageing and endorsed later that year by the General Assembly.

Outer Space

International Year of Astronomy

(2009)

By its resolution 62/200 of 19 December 2007, the General Assembly declared 2009 the International Year of Astronomy.  Designating UNESCO as lead agency and focal point for the Year, the Assembly invited UNESCO to organize activities to be realized during the Year, in collaboration with other relevant entities of the United Nations system, the International Astronomical Union, the European Southern Observatory and astronomical societies and groups throughout the world.

The Assembly encouraged all Member States, the United Nations system and all other actors to take advantage of the Year to promote action at all levels to increase public awareness of the importance of astronomical sciences and promote widespread access to new knowledge and experiences of astronomical observation.  Activities of the Year will be funded from voluntary contributions, including from the private sector.

World Space Week

(4-10 October)

By resolution 54/68 of 6 December 1999, the General Assembly proclaimed World Space Week, to be observed between 4 and 10 October, to celebrate the contributions of space science and technology to the betterment of the human condition.  The dates recall the launch, on 4 October 1957, of the first artificial satellite, Sputnik I, and the entry into force, on 10 October 1967, of the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space.

Palestine Question

 

High-Level Meeting to Commemorate the Sixtieth Anniversary of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)

( New York, 24 September 2009)

On 5 December 2008, the General Assembly decided to convene a high-level meeting on 1 October 2009 to commemorate the work of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) on the occasion of its sixtieth anniversary (resolution 63/91).  It encouraged the participation of Member States at the ministerial level.

Acting on a request by the Secretary General (document A/63/238), the Assembly, on 11 August 2009, decided to reschedule the high-level meeting to 24 September, “mindful of the need to ensure the participation of Member States at the ministerial level”.

International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People

(29 November)

In 1977, the General Assembly called for the annual observance of 29 November as the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People (resolution 32/40 B).  On that day, in 1947, the Assembly adopted the resolution on the partition of Palestine (resolution 181 (II)).

On 26 November 2008, by its resolution 63/27, the Assembly encouraged Member States to continue to give the widest support and publicity to the observance of the Day of Solidarity.  It requested that the Division for Palestinian Rights of the Secretariat, under the guidance of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, continue to organize an annual exhibit on Palestinian rights or a cultural event in cooperation with the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the United Nations, as part of the observance of the Day.

Peace

 

International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence

for the Children of the World

(2001-2010)

On 5 December 2008, the General Assembly again stated that the objective of the International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World is to further strengthen the global movement for a culture of peace (resolution 63/113).  The Assembly invited States to continue to expand their activities promoting such a culture and encouraged UNESCO, as lead agency for the Decade, to further strengthen its activities to promote a culture of peace.  It also encouraged the Peacebuilding Commission to promote a culture of peace and non-violence for children and invited States to observe 21 September each year, the International Day of Peace, as a day of global ceasefire and non-violence.

The Assembly proclaimed the International Decade in 1998, following the observance of the International Year for the Culture of Peace in 2000 (resolution 53/25 of 10 November).  It invited non-governmental organizations, religious bodies and groups, educational institutions, artists and the media to support the Decade for the benefit of every child of the world.

International Year of Reconciliation

(2009)

On 20 November 2006, the General Assembly decided to proclaim 2009 as the International Year of Reconciliation (resolution 61/17).  It expressed its steadfast determination to pursue reconciliation processes in those societies affected or divided by conflicts, describing such processes as necessary for the establishment of firm and lasting peace.

The Assembly invited concerned Governments and international and non-governmental organizations to support reconciliation processes among such societies.  It also invited them to implement adequate cultural, educational and social programmes to promote the concept of reconciliation, including the holding of conferences and seminars, and the dissemination of information on the subject.

International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers

(29 May)

The Assembly has designated 29 May of each year as the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers, to pay tribute to all the men and women who have served in United Nations peacekeeping operations for their high level of professionalism, dedication and courage, and to honour the memory of those who have lost their lives in the cause of peace (resolution 57/129, 11 December 2002).  The Assembly invited all Member States, organizations of the United Nations system, non-governmental organizations and individuals to observe the Day in an appropriate manner.

International Day of Peace

(21 September)

In 1981, the General Assembly declared that the opening day of its regular session in September “shall be officially dedicated and observed as the International Day of Peace and shall be devoted to commemorating and strengthening the ideals of peace both within and among all nations and peoples” (resolution 36/67).  In 1998, the Assembly reaffirmed that the Day should continue to be observed on the opening day of its annual regular session (resolution 52/232 of 4 June).

On 7 September 2001, the Assembly decided that, beginning in 2002, the International Day of Peace shall be observed on 21 September each year, with this date to be brought to the attention of all people for the celebration and observance of peace (resolution 55/282).  It declared that the Day shall, henceforth, be observed as a day of global ceasefire and non-violence, an invitation to all nations and people to honour a cessation of hostilities throughout the Day.  It also invited Member States, United Nations bodies, regional and non-governmental organizations to commemorate the Day and to cooperate with the United Nations in establishing the global ceasefire.  On 17 December 2007, it again invited Member States to observe the International Day as a day of global ceasefire and non-violence (resolution 62/89).

International Day of Non-Violence

(2 October)

Reaffirming the universal relevance of the principle of non-violence, and desiring to secure a culture of peace, tolerance, understanding and non-violence, the General Assembly has decided to observe 2 October as the International Day of Non-Violence.  By its resolution 61/271 of 15 June 2007, the Assembly invited all Member States, organizations of the United Nations system, regional and non-governmental organizations and individuals to commemorate the Day in an appropriate manner and to disseminate the message of non-violence, including through education and public awareness.

The resolution originated from a Declaration adopted at the “International Conference on Peace, Non-Violence and Empowerment -- Gandhian Philosophy in the 21st Century”.  Mahatma Gandhi was born on 2 October 1869.

Persons with Disabilities

International Day of Persons with Disabilities

(3 December)

On 18 December 2007, the Assembly decided to rename the International Day of Disabled Persons, observed every year on 3 December, as the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (resolution 62/127).  It also called upon States that had not yet done so to consider signing and ratifying the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol as a matter of priority.  The Convention was adopted on 13 December 2006.

The Assembly proclaimed the Day in 1992, at the conclusion of the United Nations Decade of Disabled Persons (1983-1992), by its resolution 47/3.  The Decade had been a period of raising awareness and enacting measures to improve the situation of persons with disabilities and provide them with equal opportunities.  Subsequently, the Assembly appealed to Member States to highlight the observance of the Day in order to further integrate people with disabilities into society (resolution 47/88).

Racism and Racial Discrimination

Week of Solidarity with the Peoples Struggling

against Racism and Racial Discrimination

(beginning 21 March)

As part of its programme for the first Decade for Action to Combat Racism and Racial Discrimination, the General Assembly in 1979 called for the observance by all States of a Week of Solidarity with the Peoples Struggling against Racism and Racial Discrimination, beginning on 21 March (resolution 34/24).

International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

(21 March)

The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is observed annually on 21 March.  On that day, in 1960, police opened fire and killed 69 people at a peaceful demonstration in Sharpeville, South Africa, against the apartheid “pass laws”.  Proclaiming the Day in 1966, the General Assembly called on the international community to redouble its efforts to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination (resolution 2142 (XXI)).

International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of

Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade

(25 March)

Recognizing how little is known about the 400-year-long transatlantic slave trade and its lasting consequences, felt throughout the world, the General Assembly has designated 25 March as an annual International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade (resolution 62/122 of 17 December 2007).  The Assembly asked the Secretary-General to establish a programme of educational outreach to mobilize educational institutions and civil society, among others, on the subject of remembering the transatlantic slave trade and slavery, in order to inculcate future generations with the causes, consequences and lessons of the transatlantic slave trade and to communicate the dangers of racism and prejudice.

This designation makes perennial the Assembly’s observance of 25 March 2007 as the International Day for the Commemoration of the Two-Hundredth Anniversary of the Abolition of the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

Second World War

International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims

of the Holocaust

(27 January)

On 1 November 2005, the General Assembly designated 27 January as an annual International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust conducted during the Second World War by the Nazi regime (resolution 60/7).  In doing so, the Assembly rejected any denial of the Holocaust as an historical event, either in full or part.  By its resolution 61/255 of 26 January 2007, the Assembly condemned without any reservation any denial of the Holocaust.  It urged all Member States unreservedly to reject any denial of the Holocaust as a historical event, either in full or in part, or any activities to that end.

By other terms of resolution 60/7, the Assembly urged Member States to develop educational programmes to inculcate future generations with the lessons of the Holocaust, in order to help prevent future acts of genocide.  It commended those States which have actively engaged in preserving those sites that served as Nazi death camps, concentration camps, forced labour camps and prisons during the Holocaust.  It requested that the Secretary-General establish a programme of outreach on the subject of “the Holocaust and the United Nations”, as well as measures to mobilize civil society for Holocaust remembrance and education.

Time of Remembrance and Reconciliation for Those Who

Lost Their Lives during the Second World War

(8 and 9 May)

By its resolution 59/26 of 22 November 2004, the General Assembly declared 8 and 9 May as a time of remembrance and reconciliation, and invited Member States, United Nations bodies, non-governmental organizations and individuals to observe annually either one or both of those days in an appropriate manner, to pay tribute to all those who lost their lives in the Second World War.

Women

 

United Nations Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace

(8 March)

In 1977 (resolution 32/142), the General Assembly invited States to proclaim, in accordance with their historical and national traditions and customs, any day of the year as United Nations Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace.  States were called upon to contribute to creating conditions for the elimination of discrimination against women and for their full and equal participation in social development.  That action came on the wake of the International Women’s Year (1975) and the United Nations Decade for Women (1976-1985), both proclaimed by the Assembly.  The United Nations began observing International Women’s Day, 8 March, in 1975 -- the International Women’s Year.

International Day of Rural Women

(15 October)

The General Assembly has declared that 15 October of each year shall be officially proclaimed and observed as the International Day of Rural Women.  By its resolution 62/136 of 18 December 2007, the Assembly urged Member States, in collaboration with the organizations of the United Nations and civil society, to undertake measures to improve the situation of rural women, including indigenous women, in their national, regional and global development strategies.

These measures include creating an enabling environment to improve the situation of rural women; pursuing their political and socio-economic empowerment; supporting their full and equal participation in decision-making at all levels; integrating a gender perspective in the design, implementation, follow-up and evaluation of development policies and programmes; addressing their specific health needs; ensuring the rights of older women in rural areas to basic social services; mobilizing resources for increasing women’s access to existing savings and credit schemes; and integrating increased employment opportunities for rural women in all international and national development and poverty eradication strategies.

International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

(25 November)

The General Assembly has designated 25 November as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and has invited Governments, international organizations and non-governmental organizations to organize on that day activities to raise public awareness on the problem (resolution 54/134 of 17 December 1999).  Women’s activists have marked 25 November as a day against violence since 1981.  The date came from the brutal 1961 assassination of the three Mirabal sisters, political activists in the Dominican Republic, on orders of Dominican ruler Rafael Trujillo.

Youth

 

International Youth Day

(12 August)

The General Assembly, on 17 December 1999 (resolution 54/120 I), endorsed the recommendation made by the World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth (Lisbon, 8-12 August 1998) that 12 August be declared International Youth Day.  It recommended that public information activities be organized to support the Day as a way to promote better awareness of the World Programme of Action for Youth to the Year 2000 and Beyond, adopted by the Assembly in 1995 (resolution 50/81).

Other Observances

International Day of Families

(15 May)

In 1993, the General Assembly decided that 15 May of every year should be observed as the International Day of Families (resolution 47/237 of 20 September).  In 1989, by resolution 44/82, the Assembly had proclaimed 1994 the International Year of the Family, to increase awareness of family issues and improve the capability of nations to tackle family-related problems with comprehensive policies.

United Nations Public Service Day

(23 June)

On 30 November 2005, the Assembly stressed the importance of making more effective use of United Nations Public Service Day and the United Nations Public Service Awards in the process of revitalizing public administration by building a culture of innovation, partnership and responsibility (resolution 60/34).

The Assembly designated 23 June of each year as United Nations Public Service Day on 20 December 2002 (resolution 57/277).  It encouraged Member States to organize special events on that Day to highlight the contribution of public service in the development process.

World Population Day

(11 July)

In 1989, the Governing Council of UNDP recommended that 11 July be observed as World Population Day.  An outgrowth of the Day of Five Billion, celebrated on 11 July 1987, the Day seeks to focus attention on the urgency and importance of population issues, particularly in the context of poverty reduction and development strategies and plans.  World population totalled 6.7 billion in 2007, and was growing by some 78 million a year.  The United Nations estimates that there will be between 7.7 billion and 10.6 billion people in 2050, with 9.1 billion the most likely projection.

International Day of Democracy

(15 September)

The General Assembly has decided to observe 15 September of each year as the International Day of Democracy, to be brought to the attention of all people for its celebration and observance (resolution 62/7 of 8 November 2007).  The Assembly encouraged Governments to strengthen national programmes devoted to the promotion and consolidation of democracy.  It encouraged regional and other intergovernmental organizations to share their experiences in the field of democracy promotion with each other and with the United Nations system where appropriate.  It also urged them to actively participate in future meetings and activities of the International Conference of New or Restored Democracies.

The Assembly invited all Member States, organizations of the United Nations system, regional and intergovernmental organizations, non-governmental organizations and individuals to commemorate the International Day of Democracy in an appropriate manner that contributes to raising public awareness.  It also invited Member States to continue to ensure that parliamentarians and civil society organizations are given appropriate opportunity to be involved in, and to contribute to, the celebration of the International Day.

United Nations Day

(24 October)

The anniversary of the entry into force of the United Nations Charter on 24 October 1945 has been celebrated as United Nations Day since 1948.  It has traditionally been marked throughout the world by meetings, discussions and exhibits on the achievements and goals of the Organization.  In 1971, the General Assembly recommended that Member States observe it as a public holiday (resolution 2782 (XXVI)).

World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims

(third Sunday of November, annually)

On 26 October 2005, the General Assembly invited Member States and the international community to recognize the third Sunday in November of every year as the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims, as acknowledgement for victims of road traffic crashes and their families (resolution 60/5).

International Civil Aviation Day

(7 December)

In 1996, the General Assembly proclaimed 7 December as International Civil Aviation Day, and urged Governments, as well as national, regional, international and intergovernmental organizations, to take steps to observe it (resolution 51/33 of 6 December).  The Day had been declared in 1992 by the Assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a United Nations specialized agency, to highlight and advance the benefits of international civil aviation.  Observation of the Day started on 7 December 1994 -- the fiftieth anniversary of the signing of the Convention on International Civil Aviation, which established ICAO.

International Anti-Corruption Day

(9 December)

On 31 October 2003, the General Assembly adopted the United Nations Convention against Corruption and requested that the Secretary-General designate the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) as secretariat for the Convention’s Conference of States Parties (resolution 58/4).  The Assembly also designated 9 December as International Anti-Corruption Day, to raise awareness of corruption and of the role of the Convention in combating and preventing it.  The Convention entered into force in December 2005.

Other International Days

Other international days observed throughout the United Nations system include:  International Mother Language Day (21 February); World Meteorological Day (23 March); World Health Day (7 April); World Book and Copyright Day (23 April); World No-Tobacco Day (31 May); International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and Its Abolition (23 August); International Literacy Day (8 September); World Maritime Day (during last week of September); World Teachers’ Day (5 October); World Post Day (9 October); World Mental Health Day (10 October); and International Mountain Day (11 December).

Index

 

Conferences, Events and Special Meetings

One-Day Meeting of the General Assembly to commemorate the fifteenth anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development, which met in Cairo from 5 to 13 September 1994 (New York, during the Assembly’s sixty-fourth session (2009-2010))

High-level meeting of the General Assembly to commemorate the sixtieth anniversary of the establishment of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) (New York, 24 September 2009)

Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and Meeting of the Parties to its Kyoto Protocol ( Copenhagen, 7 to 18 December 2009)

Special plenary meeting of the General Assembly to review activities undertaken during the International Year of Human Rights Learning ( New York, on or around 10 December 2009)

High-Level Meeting of the General Assembly to mark the International Year of Biodiversity ( New York, in 2010, during the Assembly’s sixty-fifth session)

Biennial Meeting of States on Implementation of the Programme of Action on Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons (New York, no later than in 2010)

Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries (Venue and dates to be determined, 2011)

Two Plenary Meetings of the General Assembly as Follow-up to the International Year of Volunteers and to Commemorate Its Tenth Anniversary ( New York, on or around 5 December 2011)

Meeting of Governmental Experts on Implementation Challenges Relating to the Programme of Action on Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons ( New York, no later than in 2011)

Conference to Review Progress in Implementing the Programme of Action on Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons (New York, no later than in 2012)

Meeting of the General Assembly in support of the Second United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty ( New York, during the Assembly’s sixty-eighth session (2013-2014))

High-Level Dialogue on International Migration and Development ( New York, during the General Assembly’s sixty-eighth session in 2013)

International Decades and Years

2001-2010

Decade to Roll Back Malaria in Developing Countries, Particularly in Africa

2001-2010

Second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism

2001-2010

International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World

2003-2012

United Nations Literacy Decade:  Education for All

2005-2014

Second International Decade of the World’s Indigenous People

2005-2014

United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development

2005–2015

International Decade for Action, “Water for Life” (from 22 March 2005)

2006–2016

Decade of Recovery and Sustainable Development of the Affected Regions (relating to the Chernobyl disaster)

2008–2017

Second United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty

2010–2020

United Nations Decade for Deserts and the Fight against Desertification

2008-2009

International Year of Human Rights Learning (for one year, beginning on 10 December 2008)

2009

International Year of Reconciliation

2009

International Year of Natural Fibres

2009

International Year of Astronomy

2010

International Year of Biodiversity

2010

International Year for the Rapprochement of Cultures

2011

International Year of Forests

2011

International Year of Chemistry

Annual Days and Weeks

27 January

International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust

20 February

World Day of Social Justice (beginning in 2009)

21 February

International Mother Language Day

8 March

United Nations Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace (International Women’s Day)

21 March

International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

Beginning 21 March

Week of Solidarity with the Peoples Struggling against Racism and Racial Discrimination

22 March

World Day for Water

23 March

World Meteorological Day

25 March

International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade

2 April

World Autism Awareness Day

4 April

International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action

7 April

World Health Day

22 April

International Mother Earth Day

23 April

World Book and Copyright Day

3 May

World Press Freedom Day

8 and 9 May

Time of Remembrance and Reconciliation for Those Who Lost Their Lives during the Second World War

15 May

International Day of Families

17 May

World Telecommunication and Information Society Day

21 May

World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development

22 May

International Day for Biological Diversity

Beginning 25 May

Week of Solidarity with the Peoples of Non-Self-Governing Territories

29 May

International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers

31 May

World No-Tobacco Day

4 June

International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression

5 June

World Environment Day

8 June

World Oceans Day

17 June

World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought

20 June

World Refugee Day

23 June

United Nations Public Service Day

26 June

International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking

26 June

International Day in Support of Victims of Torture

4 July

International Day of Cooperatives (first Saturday of July)

11 July

World Population Day

9 August

International Day of the World’s Indigenous People (through 9 August 2014)

12 August

International Youth Day

19 August

World Humanitarian Day

23 August

International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and Its Abolition

8 September

International Literacy Day

15 September

International Day of Democracy

16 September

International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer

21 September

International Day of Peace

September

World Maritime Day (during last week of September)

1 October

International Day of Older Persons

2 October

International Day of Non-Violence

4-10 October

World Space Week

5 October

World Habitat Day (first Monday of October)

5 October

World Teachers’ Day

9 October

World Post Day

10 October

World Mental Health Day

14 October

International Day for Natural Disaster Reduction (second Wednesday of October)

15 October

International Day of Rural Women

16 October

World Food Day

17 October

International Day for the Eradication of Poverty

24 October

United Nations Day

24 October

World Development Information Day

24-30 October

Disarmament Week

6 November

International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict

14 November

World Diabetes Day

15 November

World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims (third Sunday of November)

16 November

International Day for Tolerance

20 November

Africa Industrialization Day

20 November

Universal Children’s Day

21 November

World Television Day

25 November

International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

29 November

International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People

1 December

World AIDS Day

2 December

International Day for the Abolition of Slavery

3 December

International Day of Persons with Disabilities

5 December

International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development

7 December

International Civil Aviation Day

9 December

International Anti-Corruption Day

10 December

Human Rights Day

11 December

International Mountain Day

18 December

International Migrants Day

19 December

United Nations Day for South-South Cooperation

20 December

International Human Solidarity Day

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.