The United Nations is needed now "more than ever," as multiple crises -- ranging from poverty and disease to terrorism and climate change -- continue to afflict the world, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said here Friday in his message to observe the 69th anniversary of the world body.
United Nations Day, which fell on Friday, is the anniversary designated to mark the entry into force of the Charter of the United Nations in 1945. The very day of Oct. 24 has been chosen and celebrated as United Nations Day since 1948. In 1971, the UN General Assembly recommended that the day be observed by member states as a public holiday.
In his message, the secretary-general acknowledged that millions of people continue to suffer deplorable exploitation through bonded labor, human trafficking, sexual slavery or unsafe conditions in factories, fields and mines while the global economy remains an uneven playing field.
"The founding of the United Nations was a solemn pledge to the world's people to end such assaults on human dignity, and lead the way to a better future," he said. "There have been painful setbacks, and there is much work ahead to realize the Charter's vision. But we can take heart from our achievements."
Among those achievements, Ban noted, were the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a set of eight anti-poverty targets, which had "inspired the most successful anti-poverty campaign ever, " numerous UN treaties addressing inequality, torture, and racism, and the on-the-ground work of UN peacekeepers and humanitarian workers.
"At this critical moment, let us reaffirm our commitment to empowering the marginalized and vulnerable," he said. "On United Nations Day, I call on governments and individuals to work in common cause for the common good."
The UN Office in Geneva (UNOG) also marked the Day. The event brought together staff from across the UN system in a formation reading "UN 70," a reference to the Organization's 70th anniversary, which will be observed in 2015.
As part of the observance of the Day, the UN Department of Public Information organized a concert, to be held Friday night in the newly-renovated General Assembly Hall at UN Headquarters in New York, with Chinese pianist Lang Lang, who also acts as UN Messenger of Peace, and 16-time Grammy Award-winner Sting playing.
Performing together with Lang Lang will be an international youth orchestra representing five continents, who have assembled especially for the occasion, plus Manuel Lopez-Gomez as the conductor.