October 24th is the United Nations’ birthday. Happy 74th! On this date in 1946, the UN Charter entered into force. The UN has lived up to its name of uniting and more. It has received the Nobel Peace Prize 11 times. The UN has protected global health, aided refugees, and prevented wars, among many other activities chronicled by TIME’s (9/24/19) article, “These 5 Facts Explain Why We Need the United Nations.” Recognizing the inherent dignity and the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family as the foundation of freedom, justice, and peace in the world, has brought vast consequences, both moral and material. TIME rightly points out that for people not born before 1945 lived experiences are missing of the catastrophes and “surge of idealism that defined [the UN’s] mission.” Today we live in a world where the challenges, and reasons for celebration and sadness, have changed. However, it is wise to remember the dignity that comes with age and that new is not always better. In the words of UN Secretary-General António Guterres, “…the Charter remains our shared moral anchor.” As Professor Hurst Hannum, a scholar of human rights, points out, a world with imperfect multilateralism may be more benevolent than a world without it.
The Center for Governance and Sustainability continues to work with the United Nations through a range of projects on global environmental governance and its engagement in the UN Scientific Advisory Board.