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The United Nations prepares to blow out 75 candles

Press Release

In Geneva, the Palais des Nations and the Jet d’eau will be lit up in UN blue on the evening of 24 October

Geneva, 22 October 2020 – The Palais des Nations and the Jet d'eau in Geneva, as well as the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, will be among more than 180 emblematic buildings and monuments in Europe to be illuminated in blue on the evening of Saturday, 24 October to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the United Nations (UN).

From the Torre de Belém in Lisbon, the Grand Place in Brussels or the Peace Palace in The Hague, and the bridges crossing Turin’s Po river as well as the town halls of Madrid, Barcelona and Valladolid, buildings, fountains and plazas across Europe will be flooded in blue to mark the day when, 75 years ago, the United Nations Charter came into force. (See full list of participating cities.)

With 193 Member States, including Switzerland which joined in 2002, the United Nations has spanned the decades helping millions of people to escape the yoke of poverty, gain access to education and health, have their fundamental rights respected, and enjoy better livelihoods thanks to the adoption of instruments such as the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals. It also helped the world avoid a third world conflict - the main reason it was created - and remain relatively peaceful.

Recognizing the many strides the Organization has made over the years, UN Secretary-General António Guterres says “our founding mission is more critical than ever."

As we face the COVID-19 pandemic and the many challenges stressing our planet, “the Sustainable Development Goals give us an inspiring blueprint for recovering better,” he adds.

“We face colossal challenges. With global solidarity and cooperation, we can overcome them. That’s what the United Nations is all about. The United Nations not only stands with you… The United Nations belongs to you and is you: ‘we the peoples’.”

A survey conducted throughout the year to assess people’s perception of the UN shows that six out of 10 respondents believe the United Nations, since its inception, has made our planet a better place. Also, 87 per cent of respondents believe cooperation and solidarity at the international level are essential ingredients to effectively face today’s global challenges.

The full results of the survey, answered by more than one million people, were presented at the General Assembly in September to help the Organization shape a vision for the future and better face the challenges of tomorrow.

“People also said they wanted the UN to be more inclusive and diverse, more transparent, accountable and efficient,” says Tatiana Valovaya, Director-General of UN Geneva. "We will have to redouble our efforts to maintain or gain the trust and esteem of our audiences."

“The UN Geneva, International Geneva and Switzerland have carved out a reputation for themselves as places where exchanges and discussions can take place in the greatest confidence and neutrality,” she adds. "We will continue, thanks to the diversity of actors there, to stimulate international cooperation and strengthen multilateralism, which is currently in an important phase of transition."

Virtual event on multilateralism

To close the global discussion launched by the UN Secretary-General as part of the UN’s 75th anniversary celebrations, UN Geneva is today holding a third and final virtual discussion - COVID-19 prevailing - on the theme "The future of multilateralism: how will global cooperation evolve in the 21st century?"

This afternoon Ms. Valovaya will join Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, and Fabrizio Hochschild, Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on the 75th anniversary of the UN, for the event to be broadcast live on webtv.un.org from 3:30 p.m. Professors Patricia Clavin, from the University of Oxford, Souleymane Bachir Diagne, from Columbia University, and Carlos Lopes, from the University of Cape Town, as well as young people like Tarik Lazouni, Swiss Youth Representative to the United Nations and Radha Kulkarni, Young UN representative, will also send messages to the panellists.

Other events in Geneva on the 75th anniversary of the UN

• Until October 30, the Geneva public can visit the exhibition "100 years of multilateralism in Geneva" at the Place des Nations. Composed of 18 double-sided panels, this bilingual exhibition retraces the main stages of international cooperation in Geneva and the successes it has achieved through historic photos and original contemporary visuals. (Read the press release ).

• To show their pride in being part of the UN and the diversity they represent, some 1,000 members of the staff of the UN community in Geneva, active and former, sent their photos for the creation of a photomosaic of the Palais des Nations, seat of the United Nations Office at Geneva. This photo will be unveiled at midnight on Saturday, 24 October on the home page of the UN Geneva website and will be shared on social media.

• A special issue of the weekly UN Info Geneva news bulletin will be online at www.ungeneva.org from Friday morning 23 October. In addition to evoking the 75 years of the UN and the 100 years of multilateralism in Geneva, the program will meet the people of Geneva, who will express themselves on what should be, according to them, the priorities of the UN. In the studio, representatives of International Geneva will react to the comments.

• Following the international art competition "The Future We Want", an exhibition of works presented by the Permanent Missions to the United Nations will take place at the Palais des Nations from 22 October to 12 November. This exhibition will be open to a wider audience from 17 November at the D10 art gallery in Geneva.

Media contact:
United Nations Information Service
press_geneva@un.org / +41 22 917 23 36