By Johan Galtung
It is amazing. The United Nations have decades, years, weeks and days, dedicated to more values, goals and concerns than most of us are aware of. Compare it to nation-states usually with only one day, their day, their national day, celebrating nobody but themselves.
Maybe the UN overdoes it, that one decade flows into the next without leaving more than some verbal traces?
But that is not the UN’s fault. The accusing finger points at all of us; what did you do when the world’s conscience called on you?
Let us start with the Decades:
1960s: First UN Development Decade
1970s: Second UN Development Decade
International Decade of Ocean Exploration
Into the 1980s: Decade to Combat Racism and Discrimination
United Nations Decade for Women
Transport and Communication Decade in Africa
1980s: Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation Decade
Second Disarmament Decade
Third UN Development Decade
Into the 1990s: UN Decade for the Handicapped
Development and Disarmament, Women and Race, the Handicapped are top concerns for most of us. Why? Among other reasons, due to the UN Decades admonishing media, all, to pay attention think, speak, act.
We are not born with these concepts and concerns, we are born with concern for ourselves and our nearest. The UN broadens that, and has learned one basic of communication: repeat, repeat–and then repeat!
Ocean exploration, transport and communication in Africa, water and sanitation focus on resources to promote concepts and concerns. Indispensable and we have to be reminded.
Let us proceed to the names of the Years.
There are many of them:
Geophysical Year, World Refugee Year, Health and Medical Research Year, World Seed Year, International Cooperation Year, International Years of the Quiet Sun, International Monument Year, International Tourist Year, International Rice Year, Year for Human Rights, International Education Year, Year for Action to Combat Racism, World Population Year, International Women’s Year, International Anti-Apartheid Year, International Year of the Child, Year of Solidarity with the People of Namibia, International Year for Disabled Persons, World Communication Year, International Youth Year, International Film Year, International Year for Oral Tradition & Folk Music, Year of Peace.
Some are repeating the decades, most are different, new, and often specifications. There are good reasons for all of them; moreover, the formulations generally point forward to some solution.
Compare that to how we are inundated with commercial propaganda, making us aware of products, but more for the benefit of the provider than the consumer, often packed with lies, and no right or means to challenge.
Each year is an invitation to think, sit down and discuss, to act. And many do, with the network of UN Associations backing the efforts.
21-27 March: Solidarity with people fighting racism-discrimination.Read More »