The UN and the nuclear age were born almost simultaneously. The horror of the Second World War, culminating in the nuclear blasts at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, brought home the need to address the nuclear issue. By its first resolution, the General Assembly established the UN Atomic Energy Commission to deal with the problems raised by the discovery of atomic energy. And a landmark address by United States President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1953, “Atoms for Peace”, led to the establishment in 1957 of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Since the Chernobyl nuclear plant accident on 26 April 1986, the United Nations, along with the Governments of Belarus, the Russian Federation and Ukraine, has been leading the recovery and development efforts to support the affected regions. While extensive humanitarian work was conducted immediately after the accident, additional recovery and rehabilitation activities were conducted in the following years to secure the area, limit the exposure of the population, provide medical follow-up to those affected and study the health consequences of the incident.
International days are occasions to educate the public on issues of concern, to mobilize political will and resources to address global problems, and to celebrate and reinforce achievements of humanity. The existence of international days predates the establishment of the United Nations, but the UN has embraced them as a powerful advocacy tool. We also mark other UN observances.