Seventy-five years ago, countries came together and formed the United Nations, in the hope of saving future generations from the scourge of war.
Today, the United Nations is the only forum in the world where 193 countries can discuss issues affecting us all, find areas of agreement and solve problems together.
Through the United Nations and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the world can promote peace, health, prosperity, gender equity and human rights, and ensure a more sustainable tomorrow. Within the United Nations, WHO works to secure the health of all people, everywhere.
Building health across generations
In the past 75 years, the United Nations has made a real difference to the lives of billions of people across continents and across generations.
For example, when WHO announced the eradication of smallpox in 1980, a disease that had plagued humanity for over 3000 years, it also marked a victory for global cooperation. No country could have done it alone.
When WHO and its partners spearheaded efforts to tackle the HIV epidemic, the world witnessed a monumental shift in the way the disease was progressing. Global coordination means that today more and more people can manage the disease. And prevention efforts are returning promising results. No country could achieve this alone.
In 2020, the African continent was declared free of wild poliovirus, a historic milestone for all of humanity. Now, over 90% of the world’s population is polio-free, because with WHO’s support, countries came together and coordinated immunization and public health efforts. No country could have realized this alone.
Solidarity and multilateralism to move beyond the COVID-19 pandemic
Today, an unprecedented pandemic has plunged the world into a global health emergency, impacting our economies, our livelihoods and our health. Health is a human right, and when that human right is threatened, everything else is at risk.
The pandemic has highlighted now more than ever the need for the world to come together in unity and in solidarity. No country can beat these challenges alone.
“COVID-19 offers us an opportunity to build back a better society for the future. To achieve this, we already have necessity and innovation. Now we need courage and collaboration. I count on you, and you can count on the World Health Organization,” said Dr Hans Henri P. Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe.
UN75: The future we want, the United Nations we need
In January 2020, the United Nations launched a global consultation to mark its 75th anniversary. Through surveys and dialogues, it asked people about their hopes and fears for the future, and by 21 September this year, over 1 million people had taken part.
The top 3 findings are:
- Amidst the current crisis, the immediate priority of most respondents everywhere is improved access to basic services: health care, safe water and sanitation, and education.
- The next main priority is greater international solidarity and increased support to the places hardest hit by the pandemic. This includes tackling poverty and inequalities, and boosting employment.
- While health is the most pressing issue now, respondents were hopeful about this area improving. They also believe access to education and women’s rights will improve.
“Across this anniversary year, we have engaged in a global conversation. And the results are striking. People are thinking big – they are also expressing an intense yearning for international cooperation and global solidarity. Now is the time to respond to these aspirations and realize these aims. In this 75th anniversary year, we face our own 1945 moment. We must meet that moment. We must show unity like never before to overcome today’s emergency, get the world moving and working and prospering again, and uphold the vision of the Charter,” said United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres.