Civil society celebrates 70th anniversary of the United Nations together with UN agencies, funds and programmes with representation in Spain

PR No.: PR15077

Hundreds of visitors of all ages participated this weekend in the celebrations at the Conde Duque Cultural Centre of Madrid to mark the 70th anniversary of the signing of the founding Charter of the United Nations.  In the course of a day-long open house, 14 agencies, funds and programmes showcased their work with photographic exhibitions, discussions and activities for children, providing visitors with an opportunity to learn more about the UN family. 

“It's exciting to see the work of the agencies up close in areas such as childhood, sustainable tourism, refugees or decent work, and also to analyse what has been achieved and what remains to be done,” said a group of visitors to the exhibition 'United Nations, a Global Village'.

In the first joint action of this kind to be held in Spain, visitors were able to write messages and convey their wishes to the United Nations as well as to interact with the staff of the agencies that are represented in Spain. One of the most moving celebrations was the mass release of balloons bearing the wishes that had been written by visitors throughout the day. Hundreds of people joined the countdown led by journalist Teresa Viejo, who moderated the meeting with members of civil society. The event featured a video message from Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the organization, as well as discussions among representatives of agencies present in Spain and civil society organizations regarding the relevance of the UN and the challenges it faces.

“All of the United Nations agencies share a common objective: to build a better world for all. We will continue to work together to make a difference,” said Márcio Favilla, Executive Director of the Madrid-based World Tourism Organization, the only specialized agency with its permanent headquarters in Spain. Susana Malcorra, Chef de Cabinet of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was present among the representatives of the agencies and said that “we are in a time of challenges but also of opportunities, and Agenda 2030 with the Sustainable Development Goals constitutes a tool to unify voices and to end poverty and hunger in the world.”

In addition to acknowledging the progress accomplished, the discussion also included critical reflection and touched upon strategies for improving the United Nations system. Mercedes Ruiz-Giménez, President of the Spanish NGDO Platform, insisted upon “the need to provide more transparency to the system and to increase the presence of women in leadership posts.”

In the closing ceremony, Francesca Friz-Prguda, the UNHCR representative in Spain, recalled the human tragedy of refugee movements and the need to work in a coordinated manner. Just in 2015, Friz-Prguda pointed out, “some 700,000 people have arrived in Greece and Italy, mostly as refugees; more than 3,100 drowned. There are currently 60 million people displaced by conflict in the world, the highest figure ever recorded by UNHCR; and this does not include the five and a half million Palestinian refugees with whom the UNRWA is working”.

The soprano Pilar Jurado, ILO ambassador for the eradication of child labour, closed the event together with the boys and girls of the Las Rozas Choir by singing ‘Nana para dormir a un niño que no descansa’, now considered an anthem in the fight against child labour.

This joint celebration of all the UN agencies represented in Spain is part of the programme of activities to commemorate this 70th anniversary, which include a visit by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who will be in Spain from 28 to 30 October.


Useful links:

70th anniversary of the United Nations

Official celebration of the 70th Anniversary of the UN in Spain



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