We mark UN Day this year at a time when we are hearing a growing chorus of voices in anger towards the ‘other’. When the aspirations expressed in the founding Charter – to expressly work on what brings us together in our world – are being called into question as some aspire to make hearts and minds smaller and meaner.
It was in this week that I had the privilege to represent UNA-Canada at our World Federation of UNAs Plenary Assembly bringing about 60 of our national UNA’s together to build links, capacities and goals. The conversations from the podium and over coffee shared much fear in the world and the real risks to the UN and the shared values of peace, security and justice for all, upon which it was founded.
Is it trust that we have lost? Faith in each other? Cynicism that politicians and institutions have let us down?
I left our meetings not with despair though. I left with real optimism. There were so many of our peers, those working on advancing the values of their countries – not just interests, who were identifying real risks in their home countries. But here we were, sharing strategies, concerns, opportunities and the sheer necessity to stand and defend the United Nations and the good that it has done and can do in the world.
By the way, none of our UNA’s see themselves solely as cheerleaders for the UN. These are scholars, retired diplomats, activists and community leaders. Some have been jailed for their vocalism. And yet we stand ready to ask our neighbours whether unity isn’t better than division? Whether lifting those in poverty; accepting those who aspire to a better, safer world; and acknowledging we can do better together to steward our planet.
In this spirit, it is my hope that you will continue to be inspired to work together towards a better future for all.
President & CEO