This year is the 40th anniversary of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, an international treaty on the human rights of women. The agreement provides an international standard for protecting and promoting women’s political, civil, cultural, economic, and social rights. As of October 2019, 189 countries have ratified it. A Committee consisting of 23 independent experts on women’s rights from around the world monitors the implementation of the Convention. They will convene in Geneva from 21 October until 8 November to asses progress and consider the reports submitted by the State parties.
Minara Begum, an outreach worker in Balukhali camp, Bangladesh, March 2018.
The ActNow Climate Campaign aims to trigger individual action on the defining issue of our time. People around the world will be engaged to make a difference in all facets of their lives, from the food they eat to the clothes they wear.
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.
Reading and learning are essential to children’s growth and development; stories can fuel their imagination and raise awareness of new possibilities. The SDG Book Club aims to encourage them to learn about the Goals in a fun, engaging way, empowering them to make a difference.
Rural women have unique knowledge, skills and experiences that are critical to promoting sustainable practices and combating the ill-effects of climate change. Economically empowered rural women, like those in Brazil, Kyrgyzstan, Mali, Nepal and Niger mentioned in this article, are key to the success of families, communities and national economies. Through their labour, they are maintaining and improving their children’s education, household health, food security and nutrition, and are thus indispensable in the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Our understanding of poverty has grown. We now know that is not just about being able to feed your family or pay the bills on time—it extends its reach to every aspect of a person’s life, blighting her education, health, as well as her future along with that of her children’s. Are children in school? Do families have healthcare? Do households have safe water, sanitation, and electricity? These are some of the factors that can illustrate multidimensional poverty, which looks at the different deprivations people face when they lack the essentials for a dignified and decent life.
Audiovisual documents, such as films, radio and television programmes, are our common heritage and contain the primary records of the history of the 20th and 21st centuries. Unfortunately, that heritage is now endangered, because sound recordings and moving images can be deliberately destroyed or irretrievably lost as a result of neglect, decay and technological obsolescence. This year's celebration on 27 October urges us to Engage the Past Through Sound and Images, and recognizes the preservation efforts of the thousands of archivists, librarians and caretakers around the world, who care for these valuable collections.
While one in nine people goes to bed hungry every night, one-third of the food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted. Wasting food also increases greenhouse gas emissions and contributes to climate change.
Whales are known for being the largest and most intelligent creatures in the ocean. Now, marine biologists have discovered that they also capture tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere, a service with an economic value of US$1 trillion.
Innovators across the globe filed 3.3 million patent applications in 2018, up 5.2% for a ninth straight yearly increase, according to WIPO’s annual World Intellectual Property Indicators (WIPI) report. Global trademark filing activity rose to 14.3 million, while that for industrial designs reached 1.3 million.
The 2019 edition of the WTO’s World Trade Report highlights that services have become the most dynamic component of international trade and that its role will continue to expand in the coming decades. It stresses the need to enhance cooperation in the international community to support this expansion.
The global economy is in a synchronized slowdown and the IMF is, once again, downgrading growth for 2019 to 3 percent, its slowest pace since the global financial crisis. The October World Economic Outlook is projecting a modest improvement in global growth to 3.4 percent in 2020.
The United Nations is facing a severe shortage of cash in the regular budget, and unless more Governments pay their annual dues, “our work and our reforms are at risk,” the UN chief António Guterres has warned Member States.
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.
Digital technologies know no borders. They cut across boundaries, sectors and disciplines, opening up new opportunities which are transforming societies and economies, and helping achieve the world’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
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.
Nobel-winning economist outlines simple and inexpensive steps to fight poverty
Low-cost initiatives such as insecticide-treated mosquito nets and child de-worming programmes are proof that the world can take effective action to reduce poverty, a Nobel Prize-winning economist has said, as the world marks the International Day dedicated to its eradication. Michael Kremer, alongside fellow professors Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo, is the recipient of the 2019 Nobel Prize for Economics, for their research in fighting poverty.
Chronic malnutrition affects about a third of children in the Likouala region. But ‘Maman Véronique’, as she is known in her village, was determined to understand what was happening and to change the fortunes of Mbandza’s children. What she has learned about nutrition is not only helping to keep her own baby healthy, but has allowed her to share potentially life-saving advice with other families, too.
Photo:UNDP Jamaica/Talk Up Yout Media
In their raw, natural state, alabaster and clay can look like common rocks and soil. But in the hands of Jamaica’s artisans, their true colours emerge, and they are transformed into works of art. Pictured are youth wearing clay masks at the Trench Town Ceramic and Arts Centre. The centre, in west Kingston, recently received a US$5,000 grant as part of a programme implemented in partnership with UNDP.
Maximus arrived in Ecuador in July 2019 with a group of Venezuelan migrants, who crossed more than 2,600 kilometers by bus and on foot. Along the way they received food assistance from WFP. Max, as he is also called, walked between 15 and 20 kilometers daily, the same distance as the children also traveling with him. His owner made clothes for him from one of her blouses. Even so, Max suffered from the cold temperatures until they reached a shelter in Cali, Colombia.
The impact of conflict extends far beyond the frontlines. More than 29 million babies were born into areas experiencing armed conflict in 2018. UNICEF is working to protect them from trauma and toxic stress. The situation in Gaza remains particularly dire for children, including Reeam Aloush, seen here at one of UNICEF’s early childhood development centres in the Sheikh Radwan district of Gaza City.