White dove
Photo:UN Photo/Mark Garten
Dove released as part of the ceremony in observance of International Day of Peace. UN Photo/Mark Garten

The victory over fascism and tyranny in May 1945 marked the beginning of a new era. An appreciation for international solidarity and our shared humanity led to the birth of the United Nations, with the overriding mission of saving succeeding generations from the scourge of war.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres

The historic event that established the conditions for the creation of the United Nations

By resolution 59/26 of 22 November 2004, the UN General Assembly declared 8–9 May as a time of remembrance and reconciliation and, while recognizing that Member States may have individual days of victory, liberation and commemoration, invited all Member States, organizations of the United Nations System, non-governmental organizations and individuals to observe annually either one or both of these days in an appropriate manner to pay tribute to all victims of the Second World War.

The Assembly stressed that this historic event established the conditions for the creation of the United Nations, designed to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, and called upon the Member States of the United Nations to unite their efforts in dealing with new challenges and threats, with the United Nations playing a central role, and to make every effort to settle all disputes by peaceful means in conformity with the Charter of the United Nations and in such a manner that international peace and security are not endangered.

Background

On 2 March 2010, by resolution 64/257, the General Assembly invited all Member States, organizations of the United Nations system, non-governmental organizations and individuals to observe 8-9 May in an appropriate manner to pay tribute to all victims of the Second World War. A special solemn meeting of the General Assembly in commemoration of all victims of the war was held in the second week of May 2010, marking the sixty-fifth anniversary of the end of the Second World War.

During the commemoration, the Secretary-General called the Second World War “one of the most epic struggles for freedom and liberation in history,” adding that “its cost was beyond calculation, beyond comprehension: 40 million civilians dead; 20 million soldiers, nearly half of those in the Soviet Union alone.”

In resolution 69/267, the General Assembly recalled that the Second World War “brought untold sorrow to humankind, particularly in Europe, Asia, Africa, the Pacific and other parts of the world.” It underlined “the progress made since the end of the Second World War in overcoming its legacy and promoting reconciliation, international and regional cooperation and democratic values, human rights and fundamental freedoms, in particular through the United Nations, and the establishment of regional and subregional organizations and other appropriate frameworks.”

A special solemn meeting, marking seventieth anniversary of the Second World War, was held on 5 May 2015.

Secretary-General's Message for 2020

At this time of remembrance and reconciliation, we pay tribute to the millions of people who lost their lives in the Second World War, and remember their sacrifices.

We must never forget the Holocaust and the other grave and horrendous crimes committed by the Nazis.

The victory over fascism and tyranny in May 1945 marked the beginning of a new era.

An appreciation for international solidarity and our shared humanity led to the birth of the United Nations, with the overriding mission of saving succeeding generations from the scourge of war.

Our world is still suffering the impact of conflict. Even during the current COVID-19 crisis, we see new efforts to divide people and spread hatred.

As we mark this 75th anniversary, let’s remember the lessons of 1945 and work together to end the pandemic and build a future of peace, safety and dignity for all.

— António Guterres

 

Past Events

9 May 2018

Opening Ceremony of the Photo Exhibition entitled “The Lessons of the Long-gone War We Still Remember”

Secretary-General's Remarks

I believe that today’s commemoration has more meaning than in any of the previous years.

We see a world in which conflict is proliferating, we see a world in which so many wars are taking place, and so I believe it is absolutely essential to remind us all of the lessons of the Second World War that, for the Soviet Union, was considered the Great Patriotic War.

That was an absolutely unimaginable, devastating destruction in the world and I think we need to pay tribute to those that in the Soviet Union at the same time represented the biggest military effort against Nazism, but also by far the biggest number of sacrifices. Sacrifices especially of human lives, but also sacrifices of all kinds, that the Soviet Union has endured in order to defeat Nazism.

We absolutely need to make sure that in the world, this kind of events do not take place anymore.

The second mention is related to the fact that in recent times we see the Neo-Nazi message coming again afloat. We see political movements that either confess their neo-Nazi affiliation, or at least use the symbology, the images, the words, for instance, “blood and soil” – we see it repeated in demonstrations in different parts of the world. This is a cancer that is starting to spread again, and I think it is our duty to do everything possible to make sure that this horrible disease is cured, and the memory of all those that managed to defeat Nazism in 1945, that memory allows us to defeat any form of neo-Nazism in today’s time.

We cannot forget the worst crime of the Nazis, which was of course the Holocaust; it was possible for the Soviet troops still to release a few; unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of the Jews and others has been killed.  And again, it is interesting to see how hatred, anti-Semitism and other forms of hatred, even anti-Muslims hatred etc, are still again proliferating in the world.

I sincerely hope that the lessons of this May victory, will help us defeat this resurgence of ideas and convictions that I thought had been buried forever.  It is our duty to do it, because we cannot accept for these ideologies to come back.

Thank you very much.

— António Guterres

5 May 2017

  • Special event entitled “Monuments: Keeping the Memory of the Long-gone War Alive” by the Tree of Peace and Unity at 18:00 on the South side of the General Assembly Building, co-organized by the Permanent Missions of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, the Russian Federation, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
  • Event on “Conflict-Awareness and the Implementation of Peace Education” co-organized by the Permanent Mission of Malawi, the International Peace Youth Group, People’s Movement for Human Rights Learning, Peace Action, Four Freedoms Park, Schools Without Borders and the Center for Environmental and Social Development (15:00 to 18:00 Economic and Social Council Chamber).

2015 Commemoration

Press releases

2010 Commemoration

Film screening: "Ballad of a Soldier" (1959), 27 April 2010

Grigori Chukhrai's "Ballad of a Soldier" is an unconventional meditation on the effects of war, and is considered a milestone in Russian cinema.

Photo Exhibition: "We Won Together" 1 - 14 May 2010

This special exhibition celebrated the victory in World War II through photos highlighting the role of the CIS (former Soviet Union) in the defeat of fascism.

Special Solemn Meeting of the UN General Assembly, 6 May 2010

Concert featuring the CIS Youth Symphony Orchestra, 7 May 2010

This special commemorative concert featured the Youth Symphony Orchestra of the Commonwealth of Independent States, CIS (former Soviet Union), led by world-renowned conductor, Vladimir Spivakov.

2005 Commemoration

Messages

Conventions and Declarations

Additional Resources

Founding of the UN

The UN and Peace

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