On January 20, 1945, President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered his fourth and final Inaugural address as war raged across Europe and the Pacific, saying: “We have learned lessons – at a fearful cost – and we shall profit by them. We have learned that we cannot live alone, at peace; that our own well-being is dependent on the well-being of other nations far away. … We have learned to be citizens of the world, members of the human community.”
President Roosevelt’s message of global cooperation and citizenship was enshrined in the United Nations Charter, which was signed 70 years ago today in San Francisco.
The Charter, which begins with the words, “We the peoples of the United Nations,” created an organization where governments, businesses, civil society groups, and individuals can come together and work on the causes of peace, development, and human rights.
Over the past seven decades, we’ve seen the enduring value of the UN as:
- A forum for nations to exchange words instead of warheads;
- A watchdog for human rights and a protector of peace;
- A first responder to humanitarian disasters, providing food, shelter, and medical aid;
- A convener on global challenges from climate change to disease outbreaks; and
- An expert on development.
Its work is as important today as it was 70 years ago.
From responding to crises from Syria to South Sudan to working with world leaders on a global agenda to promote opportunity for all and protect the planet, the UN is on the frontlines of today’s challenges and tomorrow’s opportunities.
Each of us can play a role in supporting the UN’s transformative work.
This year, world leaders are working with the UN on agreements on climate change and our next global development agenda. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to set the path for a world where everyone has opportunity and dignity and no one is left behind.
The UN can’t achieve this future on its own. We need people like you to join with the UN in building the world we want.