Observances

The United Nations observes designated days, weeks, years, decades and anniversaries, each with a theme, or topic. By creating special observances, the United Nations simulates interest in United Nations activities and programmes in these areas, and promotes international awareness and action.  The majority of observances have been established by resolutions of the United Nations General Assembly, although some have been designated by UN specialized agencies.

Women and girls celebrating after their successful fistula repair surgeries at the Aberdeen Women’s Centre in Freetown.

Why do we mark International Days?

International days are occasions to educate the general 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.

Each international day offers many actors the opportunity to organize activities related to the theme of the day. Organizations and offices of the United Nations system, and most importantly, governments, civil society, the public and private sectors, schools, universities and, more generally, citizens, make an international day a springboard for awareness-raising actions.

Children participate in UN Headquarters’ celebration of Chinese Language Day, where books and games were on offer.

United Nations Anniversaries

The United Nations observes milestone anniversaries of key events in its history.

International Years

These are the international years currently observed by the United Nations. The United Nations designates specific days, weeks, years and decades as occasions to mark particular events or topics in order to promote, through awareness and action, the objectives of the Organization. Usually, it is one or more Member States that propose these observances and the General Assembly establishes them with a resolution. On occasion, these celebrations are declared by the specialized agencies of the United Nations, such as UNESCO, UNICEF, FAO, etc., when they concern issues that fall within the scope of their competencies.  Some of them may be later adopted by the General Assembly. 

International Decades

These are the international decades currently observed by the United Nations. The United Nations designates specific days, weeks, years and decades as occasions to mark particular events or topics in order to promote, through awareness and action, the objectives of the Organization. Usually, it is one or more Member States that propose these observances and the General Assembly establishes them with a resolution. On occasion, these celebrations are declared by the specialized agencies of the United Nations, such as UNESCO, UNICEF, FAO, etc., when they concern issues that fall within the scope of their competencies.  Some of them may be later adopted by the General Assembly. 

International Weeks

These are the international weeks currently observed by the United Nations. The United Nations designates specific days, weeks, years and decades as occasions to mark particular events or topics in order to promote, through awareness and action, the objectives of the Organization. Usually, it is one or more Member States that propose these observances and the General Assembly establishes them with a resolution. On occasion, these celebrations are declared by the specialized agencies of the United Nations, such as UNESCO, UNICEF, FAO, etc., when they concern issues that fall within the scope of their competencies.  Some of them may be later adopted by the General Assembly. 

International Days

These are the international days currently observed by the United Nations. 

The United Nations designates specific days, weeks, years and decades as occasions to mark particular events or topics in order to promote, through awareness and action, the objectives of the Organization. Usually, it is one or more Member States that propose these observances and the General Assembly establishes them with a resolution.

On occasion, these celebrations are declared by the specialized agencies of the United Nations, such as UNESCO, UNICEF, FAO, etc., when they concern issues that fall within the scope of their competencies. Some of them may be later adopted by the General Assembly.

Find out more about why we mark international days.

 

A young woman at Zam Zam Camp for internally displaced in North Darfur, Sudan, participates in an event in 2012 which promoted the message, “Together to Protect Women from Violence”, as part of the Sixteen Days of Activism against Gender Violence campaign, which takes place between the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (25 November) and International Human Rights Day (10 December) to symbolically link the spirit of both events.

United Nations Observances

The United Nations observes designated days, weeks, years, and decades, each with a theme, or topic. By creating special observances, the United Nations promotes international awareness and action on these issues.  The majority of observances have been established by resolutions of the United Nations General Assembly, although some have been designated by UN specialized agencies.  The United Nations also observes anniversaries of key events in its history.

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