World Refugee Day 2021 focuses on the power of inclusion. The shared experience of COVID-19 has showed us that we only succeed if we stand together. We have all had to do our part to keep each other safe and despite the challenges, refugees and displaced people have stepped up. Given the chance, refugees will continue to contribute to a stronger, safer, and more vibrant world. Therefore, the UN Refugee Agency's World Refugee Day campaign calls for the greater inclusion of refugees in health systems, schools, and sport. Only by working together can we recover from the pandemic.
This World Refugee Day and every day, we stand together with refugees.
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.
According to IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix, over 1.7 million people have been internally displaced due to the ongoing conflict in northern Ethiopia. Health facilities are severely overstretched. Many of those displaced, including women, children, new-born babies, and people living with disabilities are in need of basic necessities such as food and shelter. Added to this, the threat of COVID-19 is increasing fears as many people are living in overcrowded makeshift sites with poor hygiene facilities. The ongoing rainfall may worsen the situation with more displacement.
Spending on science worldwide increased (+19%) between 2014 and 2018, as did the number of scientists (+13.7%). This trend has been further boosted by the COVID crisis, according to UNESCO’s new Science Report, The Race against Time for Smarter Development. But these figures hide significant disparities: just two countries, the United States and China, account for nearly two-thirds of this increase (63%) while four out of five countries lag far behind, investing less than 1% of their GDP in scientific research. The scientific landscape remains largely a landscape of power.
Effective and binding action is urgently required to protect the millions of children, adolescents and expectant mothers worldwide whose health is jeopardized by the informal processing of discarded electrical or electronic devices, according to a new WHO report. As many as 12.9 million women work in the informal waste sector, which potentially exposes them to toxic e-waste and puts them and their unborn children at risk. Meanwhile more than 18 million children and adolescents are actively engaged in the informal industrial sector, of which waste processing is a sub-sector.
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.
Scientists help keep food safe
Science is behind the practices, guidelines and standards that keep our food safe in production, transit, processing, at market and at home. This video shows how the work of scientists all over the world helps to keep food safe along the supply chain. Read more about food safety at FAO and at WHO.
UN Free & Equal and IOM: Apollo’s story
For many lesbian, gay, bi, trans, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ+) people, leaving their communities in search of a safer and more welcoming place to call home is the only way to find a job, get access to healthcare or find safety from poverty, family rejection, criminalization, threats and violence. Every human being deserves the freedom to simply be themselves, without facing violence and discrimination. Together we can create a future free from prejudice, where everyone truly belongs. Help us spread these stories of determination and resilience . Learn more >>
E-waste policy to inspire a continent
Globally, every living human being produces 7.3 kg of e-waste, or WEEE, annually. While developed countries produce more than their share, e-waste is piling up in the developing world. Find out how ITU is supporting Namibia in finding policy solutions, including extended producer responsibility, to the e-waste problem.
Prisoner of Hope
"I understand the people I speak to in my current job, because I've been in their shoes: I've been arbitrarily detained. I've experienced enforced disappearance.”
In this episode of Awake at Night, we meet Michelle Bachelet who was the first female President of Chile for the Socialist Party of Chile (2006–10; 2014–18). She is now the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Michelle’s father served in the Air Force and, in 1973 after being taken prisoner during a coup that overthrew the government, he died in jail at just 50 years old. Michelle shares the harrowing stories of how she and her mother were later taken to a clandestine detention centre, her exile in Australia and East Germany, her motivations to study medicine and return to Chile and why, despite everything, she remains a prisoner of hope.
"We may not be all responsible for the past, but we are responsible for the future."
Eight-year-old Gabezech is one of the many children displaced since chronic border disputes erupted in violence around the Konso zone in southwestern Ethiopia, in late 2020. Tens of thousands of children have been uprooted from their homes, many separated from their families, leaving them at greater risk of disease, struggling to find shelter, and more vulnerable to violence. But conditions at these sites are often dire. The camps are overcrowded and unsanitary. UNICEF is supplying families with water treatment tablets to prevent diarrhoea.
Girls in South Sudan are more likely than boys to be excluded from education. In some parts of the country, it is estimated that over 75 percent of primary-school-aged girls are not in school. Conflict, poverty, early marriage, teenage pregnancy, and cultural and religious views are among factors driving educational inequality that hinders the prospects of girls. The WFP’s school feeding programme provides daily hot meals to 500,000 children in 1,100 schools across South Sudan, an essential safeguard contributing to increased enrolment.