75th anniversary of the birth of the United Nations
1945 - 2020
Zoom event, 20 October 2020, from 16:00 - 18:00 (British Standard Time)
Speakers and topics
Presentation by Dr Nazia Khanum OBE DL: UN Vision and recommended actions for a Better Together Future
On UN Day, 24 October 2020, people from the local Quaker Meeting took the message of United Nations Day to Bedford Market Square. Their focus was on the UN's 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons which called on states "never to develop, produce, manufacture, otherwise acquire, possess or stockpile nuclear weapons”. It was announced this weekend that it has been ratified by 50 countries so that it is legally binding and comes into force on January 21st 2021. But nuclear nations, including the UK, have not done so. The pressure continues.
The United Nations offers an alternative to competition between countries essential in the face of climate change, pandemics and human rights abuses. Work both internationally and locally is needed to build a world in which no country claims status through nuclear weapons and where all countries have a voice which is heard.
The event staredt with the
raising of the UN flag . This was followedby a dynamic
programme focused on the theme of Modern Day Slavery: local context and
resolutions. There was a range of interactive sessions designed to
increase awareness and understanding of the extent and nature of human
trafficking and modern day slavery, the related risks and actual or potential approaches
adopted by public and private organisations.
It was action-oriented, and included a ‘mini-UN’ session, which involved participants working in groups on the task of generating local resolutions
for this serious global challenge. Although slavery was officially abolished in the British Empire in 1833,
it continues in various less visible forms away from the public gaze and
amongst us, within our local communities.
Its prevalence is an abhorrence in today’s world but highlights the need
for us all to work to uphold and protect the standards of human rights and
dignity and to promote justice, equality and peace locally and globally.
The programme was hosted jointly by UNA-Luton and the University of Bedfordshire and started with the raising of the UN flag.
Presentation by David Cheesman: A comparison of two documents which remain highly contemporary and politically challenging, 800 years and 70 years after they were written.
The programme was preceded by a flag-raising ceremony at the University of Bedfordshire on 24 October, attended by the Mayor of Luton, Councillor Farooq Ahmed, Dr Nazia Khanum OBE, Chair of UNA-Luton and Trevor Evans, Chair of UNA-Harpenden and others.
David Jonathan from Luton Council of Faiths and Grassroots presented the event. The programme started with a UN Peace Prayer by Sister Marie from Luton Council of Faiths. Bill Rammell, Vice-Chancellor of the University and Honorary President of UNA-Luton, welcomed everyone, speaking about the international dimensions of the University of Bedfordshire and the importance of education, peace and cooperation. Dr Nazia Khanum, Chair of UNA-Luton, shared the story of when and how UNA-Luton was set up with its first AGM in 2009 and the official launch in 2010. Luton is a super diverse town whose international population is affected by incidents happening thousands of miles away, while what happens in Luton can have an impact on people in other countries. Local challenges often depend on global solutions.
The keynote speaker, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, Chair of the United Nations Association UK, used the UNA-Luton platform to launch the UNA-UK’s 10-point foreign policy manifesto, A force for good. He stressed the 10th point - to enhance the UN’s effectiveness by improving the transparency of its leadership selection. His interesting and erudite speech on ‘Is the UN Working?’ was informed by his experience and insights into geo-politics. He emphasised that the UN is a collection of governments and governmental organisations. As important as it is to have a space for deliberating on the issues confronting our world, what eventually matters is to think globally but act locally. We must remember our identity as global citizens.
Gavin Shuker, MP for Luton South, spoke about his experience as Shadow Minister for International Development. He, Sir Jeremy and Kelvin Hopkins, MP for Luton North, formed a Panel to respond to questions during a lively Q & A session. The issues included: the plight of people in Kashmir; the emergence of ISIS in Syria and its possible aftermath; issues relating to Palestine; growing tensions in the far east between Japan, North Korea and China; the lack of trust in the political machinery and organisations like UN, to make positive changes nationally or globally.
Some University students were keen to see a students’ branch of
the UNA in the University. Dr Khanum said she would do her best to see
this happen and also made an appeal to the guests to consider joining
UNA-Luton. While concluding the meeting, Trevor Evans, Chair of UNA-Harpenden, hoped that this
would become an annual event at the University. The
University has put a brief report on their website along with a video of
the whole event:
The University website has a video and brief report of the event
Councillor Tom Shaw, the Mayor of Luton, was the keynote speaker. He stressed that peace is critical for the safety and development of the human race across the world. After the devastation of the two world wars in the twentieth century, the United Nations was established on 24 October, 1945 so that all nations on earth can promote peace together. The Preamble to the Charter of the UN statesthat:
We the peoples of the United Nations,
· To save succeeding generations from the scourge of war…
· To reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights ….
· To establish conditions for maintaining justice and respect for international law..
· To promote social progress and better standards of life for all …
To achieve all those we need
· To practise tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbours …
· To contribute to international peace and security …
· To ensure that our armed forces are used in the common interest..
· To employ international machinery for the promotion of economic and social advancement of all peoples …
This inspiring vision brought the world’s nations together in San Francisco 65 years ago. Cllr Shaw said he wanted everyone to remember this and feel inspired to stand up for the rights of the oppressed, the rights of women, the rights of children and other vulnerable individuals and groups and above all to support the United Nations Organization’s aims for promoting peace and tolerance locally, nationally and internationally.