November 9, 2019 is Rotary Day at the UN. It is the day that Rotary and the United Nations celebrate and honour their 72-year relationship.
During World War II, Rotary, as the largest and most vital international organization dedicated to peace at the time pushed for the formation of an international organization to plan for peace. The term United Nations was first used in 1942, when the USA, the UK and 26 allies signed a pledge to uphold a set of ideals “On which they based their hopes for a better future for the world”. In 1943 and 1944, the USA, the UK, the USSR and China met in Washington and worked out a proposed structure for the international body.

After the draft agreement, Rotary distributed the document to all members, publicising how the United Nations could help Rotary’s goal of advancing international understanding. It was perhaps the first time in history that planning for peace started before the fighting had stopped.

In the spring of 1945, delegates from 50 nations attended a conference in San Francisco to work out the constitution for what was to become the United Nations. They were assisted by several Non-government organizations, including Rotary, which had a total of 11 delegates over the 3 months the conference took place. In 1947, the UN opened for business in New York because it was one of the world’s few major cities not damaged during the war, and easy access via air or sea to the rest of the world.

Today, Rotary holds the highest consultative status offered to a nongovernmental organization by the UN’s Economic and Social Council. There have been many areas of close cooperation between the UN and Rotary. The project to eradicate polio worldwide is only one of them. There is also cooperation in humanitarian work in gender equality, child and maternal health, and disease treatment and prevention.

This cooperation sometimes pays unexpected benefits. The Ebola outbreak in West Africa in recent years was contained largely because the medical infrastructure for monitoring and immunizing against polio could be utilized to combat and contain the disease.

At Rotary Day at the UN, 6 exemplary Rotarians from around the world are honoured by the UN for their contribution to world peace and the other areas of common focus between the UN and Rotary. The ceremonies are open to the public. Tickets can be arranged through the RI or the UN website.