From the elevated aims set out by its founding Charter 70 years ago, to the life-saving work it undertakes today in peace and security, development and human rights, the United Nations is real and critical to the day-to-day lives of many people around the world.

The UN connects people to the rest of the global community. The UN Charter remains alive and determined – and an inspiration to so many people worldwide. The UN Charter had grown out of the cauldron of war. Its aim was high, even if the UN at its founding in 1945 did not yet encompass all nations and all peoples. The Organization soon expanded to meet the challenge of its founders; 142 more Member States joined the 51 that originally signed the founding Charter.

Today, the UN’s work adheres to its three comprehensive pillars: peace & security, human rights, and development – three fields that overlap and intersect, on real-life issues ranging from climate change to gender violence.

The UN is not only a professional institution: it is an ideal, shared by the peoples of the world, that is breathed into life every day by humanitarian workers, human rights advocates, diplomats and peacekeepers – and by the people they serve.

Indeed, the opening phrase ‘we the peoples’ in the preamble of the UN Charter speaks to us and to the responsibility that that promise carries with it. The preamble was a lofty proposition at the inception. Today, 70 years later; and, most importantly, tomorrow, that what is described in the preamble remains a goal to reach for, for billions of people around the world.

On 24 December this year, United Nations Associations from around the world (connected through the World Association of United Nations Associations – WFUNA, will commemorate the 70thanniversary of the UN. Alongside, a multitude of conferences, seminars and activities will be held that will render the opportunity to actively contribute to open up the work of the UN to the public.

The twelve months that will follow after the 70th anniversary will be crucial for the Organization and the international community, because of the important decisions to be taken in terms of sustainable development, the fight against climate change and humanitarian crises ravaging several regions of the globe.

From the UN summit to adopt the UN post-2015 development agenda in New York this September,[1] to the Conference of Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change[2] in Paris in December and the first World Humanitarian Summit in spring 2016,[3] the world is looking to the UN – and counting on the UN – to make a difference.

In each region, individuals and organizations will have the chance to contribute their ideas in the discussion forums, and in numerous other events. Ultimately, intensified international cooperation in 2015 will be the legacy of the UN’s 70th anniversary.

From its very inception towards the point where we stand today, thousands of Dutch citizens have devoted (part of) their professional careers to the United Nations. In their pursuit to serve the public, they worked for the UN as ambassadors, policy advisors, lawyers, technicians, translators, secretaries, librarians, drivers, IT specialists, peacekeepers, clerks, field workers and volunteers. We the peoples’ includes all of us – and all of them.

We recognize today not only the anniversary of the United Nations as an organization, but also the personal contributions that many of us have made – great or small – for the benefit of all.

So cheers today to the United Nations and all its workers. May they remain utterly determined to deliver tangible, meaningful results in the advancement of global peace, sustainable development and human rights.

The Hague, The Netherlands, 1 September 2015

Caecilia Johanna van Peski,

Caecilia Johanna van Peski,

Member of the Board of the United Nations Association The Netherlands


[1] The United Nations Sustainable Development Summit, 25-27 September, 2015 (New York City, New York, U.S.A.).

[2] United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), “COP 21”, 30 November – 11 December, 2015 (Paris, France).

[3] World Humanitarian Summit, 23-24 May, 2016 (Istanbul, Turkey).