In the spring of 2014, we started preparations for the 70th anniversary of the United Nations in 2015 and began exploring options that, in addition to being celebratory, would also contribute to substantive discussions about our Organization. Producing this special double issue of the UN Chronicle was at the top of the list of platforms for such discussions.

Thus in early 2015, we approached a wide, yet select group of eminent contributors who over the course of their careers have had strong associations with the United Nations, and invited them to join Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and his three immediate predecessors in sharing their reflections with the world through the UN70 issue of the UN Chronicle. We asked them to highlight key moments or achievements, challenges and obstacles and the role played by the United Nations. We also asked them to reflect upon the future, and what would make the Organization stronger and better able to serve humanity and our planet.

This is how this issue of the UN Chronicle was conceived and it is published under the theme, “Strong UN. Better World.”

We are honoured and privileged to print their reflections and ideas in this special issue, and we are confident that these contributions will provide a stimulus for further discussion on the future role of the United Nations.

In a special message on the 70th anniversary of the Organization, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said: “The 70th anniversary of the United Nations is an opportunity to reflect – to look back on the UN’s history and to take stock of its enduring achievements. It is also an opportunity to spotlight where the UN – and the international community as a whole – needs to redouble its efforts to meet current and future challenges across the three pillars of its work: peace and security, development, and human rights”. This issue is dedicated to this very notion of reflection and taking stock of history’s lessons.