Global UN Events

An Argentinean aid worker holds a girl injured in the earthquake in Léogâne, Haiti. UN Photo/Logan Abassi

World Humanitarian Day – 19 August

World Humanitarian Day is a time to recognize those who face danger and adversity in order to help others. The day was designated by the General Assembly to coincide with the anniversary of the 2003 bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad, Iraq, which killed 22 UN staff.

Every day humanitarian aid workers help millions of people around the world, regardless of who they are and where they are. World Humanitarian Day is a global celebration of people helping people.

A poll worker in Malakal, Sudan pictured on the last day of voting in Sudanese national elections. UN Photo/Tim McKulka

International Day of Democracy – 15 September

Democracy is a universal value based on the freely expressed will of people to determine their own political, economic, social and cultural systems and their full participation in all aspects of their lives.

While democracies share common features, there is no single model of democracy. Activities carried out by the United Nations in support of Governments to promote and consolidate democracy are undertaken in accordance with the UN Charter, and only at the specific request of the Member States concerned.

The UN General Assembly, in resolution A/62/7 (2007) encouraged Governments to strengthen their national programmes devoted to the promotion and consolidation of democracy, and also decided that 15 September of each year should be observed as the International Day of Democracy.

Former Secretary-General Kofi Annan (centre) and Nane Annan (left, holding UN flag) with UN Messenger of Peace Jane Goodall (right), fly a dove of peace. UN Photo/Mark Garten

International Day of Peace – 21 September

Each year the International Day of Peace is observed around the world on 21 September. The General Assembly has declared this as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples.

The first Peace Day was observed in September 1982. In 2001, the General Assembly established 21 September as an annual day of non-violence and cease-fire.

The United Nations invites all nations and people to honour a cessation of hostilities during Peace Day, and to otherwise commemorate the day through education and public awareness on issues related to peace.

The Sydney Opera House is lit blue as part of the 'Turn the World UN Blue' campaign for the UN Day celebrations in 2015. Photo courtesy of UNIC Canberra

United Nations Day – 24 October

UN Day marks the anniversary of the entry into force in 1945 of the UN Charter. With the ratification of this founding document by the majority of its signatories, including the five permanent members of the Security Council, the United Nations officially came into being.

24 October has been celebrated as United Nations Day since 1948. In 1971, the United Nations General Assembly recommended that the day be observed by Member States as a public holiday.

Under Apartheid inter-racial marriage was illegal in South Africa. Children however don't know about racial discrimination. UN Photo/DB

International Day for Tolerance – 16 November

In 1996, the UN General Assembly invited the UN Member States to observe the International Day for Tolerance on 16 November, with activities directed towards both educational establishments and the wider public.

This action followed on the United Nations Year for Tolerance, 1995, proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in 1993 at the initiative of UNESCO.

The 2005 World Summit Outcome document furthered the commitment of Heads of State and Government to advance human welfare, freedom and progress everywhere, as well as to encourage tolerance, respect, dialogue and cooperation among different cultures, civilizations and peoples.

Children's Rights Day Celebrations Held in Pilate, Haiti. UN Photo/Victoria Hazou

Universal Children’s Day – 20 November

On14 December 1954, the General Assembly recommended that all countries institute a Universal Children’s Day, to be observed as a day of worldwide fraternity and understanding between children. It recommended that the Day was to be observed also as a day of activity devoted to promoting the ideals and objectives of the Charter and the welfare of the children of the world. The date, 20 November, marks the day on which the Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child in 1959, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989.

In 2000 world leaders outlined the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – which ranged from halving extreme poverty to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education – all by the target date of 2015. In September 2015, the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which replace the MDGs, were introduced at UN Headquarters in New York. Like the MDG’s, the SDG’s are also working to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all as part of a new sustainable development agenda. Each Goal has specific targets to be achieved over the next 15 years.

In 2012, the Secretary-General launched a new initiative Education First. The Initiative aims to raise the political profile of education, strengthen the global movement to achieve quality education and generate additional and sufficient funding through sustained advocacy efforts. Achieving gains in education will have an impact on all of the SDGs.

“Luminarium” Sculpture on Human Rights by Alan Parkinson at the United Nations office at Geneva. UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré

Human Rights Day – 10 December

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was adopted on 10 December 1948. The date has since served to mark Human Rights Day worldwide. As the main UN rights official, the High Commissioner for Human Rights plays a major role in coordinating efforts for the yearly observance of Human Rights Day.

Every year, Human Rights Day presents an opportunity to celebrate human rights, highlight a specific issue, and advocate for the full enjoyment of all human rights by everyone everywhere.