About the event
The date marks the anniversary of the launch of the United Nations Charter in 1945. Celebrated since 1948, United Nations Day is marked throughout the world by meetings, discussions and exhibits on the achievements and goals of the UN.
The purposes of the United Nations, identified in the UN Charter, include maintaining international peace and security, solving international economic, social, cultural and humanitarian problems and promoting respect for human rights. The UN consists of 15 different agencies and various bodies who are responsible for promoting and delivering its goals. You can read our article about the United Nations to get a general introduction.
How to approach it
The United Nations is one of the most crucial international institutions in the world. Composed of 193 member states it is, in practice, the highest level political forum in the world where the most important global issues are often discussed and ruled upon. As such, it is essential that future global citizens understand what the UN is, what ideals it has, and how it functions. The two main things to focus on here are firstly the values that the UN was founded upon and secondly, the (messier) political reality of how it attempts to enact them.
In terms of the UN’s values two great starting points are the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Sustainable Development Goals. You can cover these in varying degrees of detail depending on your students' key stage. The key points to get across are that these documents were written by a consortium of international politicians from around the world. They outline fundamental rights such as freedom of speech and the right to education as well as goals for the future such as an end to global hunger, sustainable cities and clean energy for all. A great pack for this is Belouga’s detailed guide on the SDG’s.
In terms of how the UN functions politically you may choose to analyse the structure of the UN. A good starting point for this is the UN Matters teaching pack. You could explore the general assembly of national representatives, the security council or the UN secretariat. Another topical aspect to cover are the COP conferences, UN events that provide the platform for global climate negotiations. Importantly with all of these systems is the ability to critically evaluate them and to analyse how well they function at implementing the stated goals of the UN. Good questions to ask are: is the UN structure fit for purpose? What is the best way for all countries to work together? Is it right for the permanent members of the security council to have veto powers?
The United Nations is where most of the world’s countries come together to discuss global issues. If you could stand up at the general assembly to talk about anything, what would you say?