The Charter of the United Nations was signed in San Francisco on 26 June 1945, at the conclusion of the United Nations Conference on International Organization and came into force on 24 October 1945. The UN was conceived as a means of saving succeeding generations from the scourge of war. The Charter calls for the UN to maintain international peace and security; promote social progress and better standards of life; strengthen international law; and promote human rights.
The values and goals of the Charter are just as relevant today as they were 75 years ago. The celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Charter’s signing will coincide with the conclusion of intergovernmental negotiations on a concise, substantive, forward-looking and unifying declaration that captures the collective commitment of Member States to multilateralism, and the United Nations and their shared vision for a common future. The declaration will be adopted by consensus at the high-level UN75 commemoration meeting of the General Assembly on 21 September 2020.
In this framework, the theme for this commemoration will be reflecting on the meaning of the Charter –today and for decades to come –for all nations and peoples of the world. This is especially necessary in light of our current difficult circumstances. The COVID-19 pandemic is the first truly global pandemic in the past century and poses one of the most significant challenges the United Nations has faced since its inception. The Charter’s 75th anniversary provides a unique opportunity to take stock both of the successes and the lessons learned in its implementation over the last decades, as well as to look ahead and examine how to best collectively overcome current and future challenges. Such stock-taking will include the voices of Member States, as well as relevant stakeholders such as youth, civil society, and the private sector, in line with the inclusive spirit of the aforementioned UN75 Declaration.
The Decade of Action to implement the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement are the best concrete illustrations today of the universal values embodied in the UN Charter. Building back better from the COVID-19 pandemic will require international and cross-sectoral cooperation. By reflecting on successes, as well as lessons learned, from the Charter’s past and current implementation, this event aims to inspire renewed confidence in multilateralism and galvanize collective action to build the future we want.