Hand hygiene is more important now than ever, as the world battles to rein in the COVID-19 pandemic. For World Hand Hygiene Day 2021, the World Health Organization calls on health care workers and facilities to achieve effective hand hygiene when they care for patients. To be effective and prevent transmission of infectious microorganisms during health care delivery, hand hygiene should be performed when it is needed and in the most effective way. You, too, can join the SAVE LIVES: Clean Your Hands campaign in support of hand hygiene globally.
An Auxiliary Nurse Midwife washes her hands before she examines a pregnant woman in Shrawasti, Uttar Pradesh.
The ActNow campaign aims to trigger individual action on the defining issue of our time. People around the world have joined to make a difference in all facets of their lives, from the food they eat to the clothes they wear.
With just 10 years to go, an ambitious global effort is underway to deliver the 2030 promise—by mobilizing more governments, civil society, businesses and calling on all people to make the Global Goals their own.
Learn more about the Sustainable Development Goals! On our student resources page you will find plenty of materials for young people and adults alike. Share with your family and friends to help achieve a better world for all.
While immunization services have started to recover from disruptions caused by COVID-19, millions of children remain vulnerable to deadly diseases, the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance warned during World Immunization Week, highlighting the urgent need for a renewed global commitment to improve vaccination access and uptake. A WHO survey has found that, despite progress when compared to the situation in 2020, more than one third of respondent countries (37%) still report experiencing disruptions to their routine immunization services.
Advancing equitable livelihoods requires building the agency of the underrepresented: those who lack the space or the enabling environment in which to exercise their power and rights. It implies protecting and strengthening their capacities, along with the knowledge, resilience and innovation that they possess. The UN Food System Summit’s Action Tracks offer a space to share and learn, with a view to fostering new actions and partnerships and amplifying existing initiatives. Each of the five Action Tracks is aligned with one of the Summit’s five objectives.
The impacts of our changing climate are being felt worldwide, but countries already struggling with conflict, poverty and high levels of displacement are dealing with some of the most severe effects. From Afghanistan to Central America, droughts, flooding and other extreme weather events are hitting those least equipped to recover and adapt. This Earth Day, UNHCR released a new data visualization that shows how our warming world is compounding risks for people already living with conflict and instability, driving further displacement, and often decreasing possibilities for return.
“FAQ on human rights and climate change” takes a deep dive into the subject, showing the links between problems caused by worsening climactic factors, and violations of rights, such as the rights to life, culture, housing and food.
Romain Grosjean, French-Swiss professional racing driver competing in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES for 2021 is announcing his support for the WHO Foundation. Romain will race with the WHO Foundation logo prominently displayed on his race suit and helmet this year.
The IAEA and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development have agreed to continue to work together, and with Ukrainian authorities, towards safe and cost-effective solutions to decommission the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant and manage radioactive waste in the Exclusion Zone.
The global market for cashews is booming, but the African countries growing more than half the world’s supply aren’t cashing in, an UNCTAD report says, due to their lack of processing industries. Africa must add value to its nuts.
The success of national vaccination campaigns depends on how inclusive and equitable they are, but there are serious concerns that some members of vulnerable communities may be excluded even if they are mentioned on paper.
“What concerns me most are the refrigerants used in air conditioners, which damage the ozone layer or are a greenhouse gas. It will be more difficult to protect the environment if more such refrigerants are used" - WANG Lei
The United Nations came into being in 1945, following the devastation of the Second World War, with one central mission: the maintenance of international peace and security. The UN does this by working to prevent conflict; helping parties in conflict make peace; peacekeeping; and creating the conditions to allow peace to hold and flourish. These activities often overlap and should reinforce one another, to be effective. The UN Security Council has the primary responsibility for international peace and security. The General Assembly and the Secretary-General play major, important, and complementary roles, along with other UN offices and bodies.
Protect Human Rights
The term “human rights” was mentioned seven times in the UN's founding Charter, making the promotion and protection of human rights a key purpose and guiding principle of the Organization. In 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights brought human rights into the realm of international law. Since then, the Organization has diligently protected human rights through legal instruments and on-the-ground activities.
Deliver Humanitarian Aid
One of the purposes of the United Nations, as stated in its Charter, is "to achieve international co-operation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character." The UN first did this in the aftermath of the Second World War on the devastated continent of Europe, which it helped to rebuild. The Organization is now relied upon by the international community to coordinate humanitarian relief operations due to natural and man-made disasters in areas beyond the relief capacity of national authorities alone.
Promote Sustainable Development
From the start in 1945, one of the main priorities of the United Nations was to “achieve international co-operation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character and in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion.” Improving people’s well-being continues to be one of the main focuses of the UN. The global understanding of development has changed over the years, and countries now have agreed that sustainable development offers the best path forward for improving the lives of people everywhere.
Uphold International Law
The UN Charter, in its Preamble, set an objective: "to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained." Ever since, the development of, and respect for international law has been a key part of the work of the Organization. This work is carried out in many ways - by courts, tribunals, multilateral treaties - and by the Security Council, which can approve peacekeeping missions, impose sanctions, or authorize the use of force when there is a threat to international peace and security, if it deems this necessary. These powers are given to it by the UN Charter, which is considered an international treaty. As such, it is an instrument of international law, and UN Member States are bound by it. The UN Charter codifies the major principles of international relations, from sovereign equality of States to the prohibition of the use of force in international relations.
The General Assembly is the main deliberative, policymaking and representative organ of the UN. All 193 Member States of the UN are represented in the General Assembly, making it the only UN body with universal representation.
The Security Council has primary responsibility, under the UN Charter, for the maintenance of international peace and security. It has 15 Members (5 permanent and 10 non-permanent members). Each Member has one vote. Under the Charter, all Member States are obligated to comply with Council decisions.
The Economic and Social Council is the principal body for coordination, policy review, policy dialogue and recommendations on economic, social and environmental issues, as well as implementation of internationally agreed development goals.
The Trusteeship Council was established in 1945 by the UN Charter, under Chapter XIII, to provide international supervision for 11 Trust Territories that had been placed under the administration of seven Member States, and ensure that adequate steps were taken to prepare the Territories for self-government and independence.
The International Court of Justice is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations. Its seat is at the Peace Palace in the Hague (Netherlands). It is the only one of the six principal organs of the United Nations not located in New York (United States of America).
The Secretariat comprises the Secretary-General and tens of thousands of international UN staff members who carry out the day-to-day work of the UN as mandated by the General Assembly and the Organization's other principal organs.
Climate change is the defining issue of our time and now is the defining moment to do something about it. There is still time to tackle climate change, but it will require an unprecedented effort from all sectors of society.
Women and girls represent half of the world’s population and, therefore, also half of its potential. Gender equality, besides being a fundamental human right, is essential to achieve peaceful societies, with full human potential and sustainable development.
While global poverty rates have been cut by more than half since 2000, one in ten people in developing regions still lives on less than US$1.90 a day — the internationally agreed poverty line, and millions of others live on slightly more than this daily amount.
The UN’s 75th anniversary in 2020 arrived at a time of great upheaval and peril. To secure a world where everyone can thrive in peace, dignity and equality on a healthy planet we need a multilateral system that is inclusive, networked and effective. "Our Common Agenda" will build on the 12 commitments contained in the UN75 Declaration.
As the world’s only truly universal global organization, the United Nations has become the foremost forum to address issues that transcend national boundaries and cannot be resolved by any one country acting alone.
Video and audio from across the United Nations and our world-wide family of agencies, funds, and programmes.
FAO - Kyrgyz mountain women collaborate with fashion designer Stella Jean
Mountain women in Kyrgyzstan are working together with fashion designer Stella Jean to bring their traditional felt designs to the international market, thanks to a collaboration between the Mountain Partnership Products initiative, Topchu artisan group, FAO Women's Committee and Stella Jean.
How the Paris Agreement will help tackle the climate crisis (with Aidan Gallagher)- Within Our Grasp
Aidan Gallagher, actor, singer-musician and Goodwill Ambassador for the UN Environment Programme, explains how the Paris Climate Agreement is our roadmap to creating a world of clean air and clean energy, with vibrant forests and oceans. As we approach Earth Day and the Leaders’ Climate Summit, collective action to limit global temperature rises has never been more urgent. This is the first in a series of explainers called "Within our grasp". Narrated by environmentalists around the globe, "Within our grasp" shows how the Paris Agreement will help tackle the climate crisis.
There are now 169 sites participating in the Global Geoparks Network in 44 countries. UNESCO Global Geoparks are single, unified geographical areas where sites and landscapes of international geological significance are managed with a holistic concept of protection, education and sustainable development. Their bottom-up approach of combining conservation with sustainable development while involving local communities is becoming increasingly popular. Learn more about Geoparks and their commitments to our planet.
It Breaks Your Heart to Hear About the Brutality
“I returned from Bangladesh...and sent all of my dresses for dry cleaning. I have not worn these dresses again. I can't wear them. There's too much pain...because I came out and I was wet with all the women crying. I like to open the wardrobe and remind myself of the survivors at all times. They are my moral compass and I have to keep fighting for them. This is what keeps me going.”
In this episode of Awake at night, we meet Pramila Patten, the Secretary General's Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict whose work aims to end rape as a weapon of war, making it a crime that is both preventable and punishable. Pramila travels the world to meet survivors, carrying back the harrowing stories they entrust her to retell. She then advocates tirelessly on their behalf for accountability and justice.
"When you talk to Yazidi women, they tell you they want justice and reparations, in addition to support services [...] Whether it is Iraq [...] Nigeria [...] Somalia or Sudan, they tell you they want to have their day in court. And for me, that is very frustrating that so far, for example, where sexual violence is used as a tactic of terrorism, no single person belonging to Boko Haram or ISIS has been prosecuted for sexual violence. They are getting prosecuted under the counter terrorism legislation, but not for sexual violence. And that is a frustration."
Images from across the United Nations and our world-wide family of agencies, funds, and programmes.
UNRWA Launches Innovative Centralized Digital Learning Platform
The new centralized digital education platform is designed to improve education access for more than 540,000 Palestine refugee students in 711 schools across the Middle East. In emergency situations, such as the COVID-19 pandemic or periods of armed conflict, Palestine refugee children are often unable to physically access their regular schools, risking interruption of their education. In order to ensure learning continuity, the Digital Learning Platform (DLP) was developed to provide UNRWA students (and their parents) with access to age-appropriate, relevant, and safe self-learning material that is in line with UN values and humanitarian principles.
Grandi praises Rwanda for offering life-saving haven for refugees
“I spoke to some unaccompanied teenagers; I spoke to a family from Somalia. Many of them have harrowing stories of abuse and torture, even of long detention and uncertainty, of despair,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said during a visit to Rwanda. "I really want to particularly thank the Government of Rwanda,” said Grandi, who also met with the country’s president in Kigali during the trip. “It was President Kagame’s initiative to launch the Emergency Transit Mechanism (ETM) in Rwanda a few years ago, and of course we will continue to need this mechanism as long as the situation in Libya continues to be as difficult as it is now.”
A Yemeni woman improves lives and changes minds
Iman Hadi, an entrepreneur from Yemen’s rural north, is no stranger to the great poverty and misery that plagues much of the country’s remote villages where basic services are almost non-existent. But she felt a sense of responsibility and decided to do something about it. “I decided to go beyond social and cultural barriers and take action,” she says. Iman leads a group of 10 women who installed a solar power plant to provide clean energy. Since she started her business 2 years ago, with the support of UNDP and the European Union, the number of customers has increased from 25 to 43 and her net profit has reached about US $2,070, a significant sum in rural Yemen. Recently, Iman’s groundbreaking work was recognized abroad when she was announced as one of the world’s 100 most influential women. The list, compiled by the BBC, includes Finnish Prime Minister, Sanna Marin and climate activist Jane Fonda.
Honduras: Climate change, coronavirus and caravans
A caravan of about 100 people begin the month-long 3000km journey on foot through Guatemala and Mexico to the US. Southern Honduras looks shockingly similar to the Niger, Chad or countries in the arid Sahel region of West Africa. The effects of climate change, compounded by the economic effects of COVID-19, crime and years of drought, are driving many into a desperate migration. WFP data indicates a quadrupling of hunger since 2018 in the so-called dry corridor countries of Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua. In January, 15% of people surveyed said they were making concrete plans to migrate — double the number 2 years ago. Still, there is hope for those who want to stay. WFP is helping communities to plant drought-resistant crops, harvest water and use other techniques to grow enough food to feed their families.