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7 and 5 Facts about the UN on its 75th Anniversary

Following the devastation of the Second World War, a new era of global cooperation was born.  On October 24, 1945, representatives from 51 countries (including Canada) signed an international pledge to work together to resolve conflicts, promote development, champion human rights and maintain peace. The United Nations (UN) was officially established.

Guided by the purposes and principles in the founding Charter, the UN has achieved great things since its inception 75 years ago. As Canadians, we should be very proud that we were a Founding Member, and that we continue to play a vital role in world peace.

In honour of the 75th anniversary of this monumental day, we’d like to share 7 Canadian focused and 5 general (get it…75…) facts that you may not have known about the UN, the Charter and Canada’s role in global change.

7 Canadian Facts

1. Drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 
John Peters Humphrey, a Canadian law professor and the Director of the United Nations Human Rights Division, authored the original draft of Universal Declaration of Human Rights. He is now recognized as the father of human rights following the discovery of his original drafts of this Declaration at McGill University.

2. Inspiration 
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights inspired Canada’s own legislation, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, in 1982. Much of what was ordered under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights can now be enforced by Canada’s courts through the Charter.

* BONUS: According to Statistics Canada, Canadians rank the Charter of Rights and Freedoms as our most important national symbol, beating out other symbols like hockey or the beaver.

3. Peacekeeping
Canada is best known for its role in United Nations peacekeeping efforts. Former Canadian Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson spearheaded the idea of peacekeeping as a possible solution to the Suez Crisis, when Britain, France and Israel attempted to prevent Egypt from seizing control of the Suez Canal.

4.  Prestigious Prize
Lester B. Pearson was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1957 for the establishment of the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF) and its role in resolving the Suez Crisis.

5. The first woman in charge
In 1999, Canadian diplomat, Louise Frechette, was named UN Deputy Secretary-General, making her the first woman in a position of high responsibility in the organization.

* BONUS: Louise Frechette was appointed by Kofi Annan, the seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations (January 1997 to December 2006)

6. Treaties
Canada is party to seven principal United Nations human rights conventions and covenants, also known as treaties, and is required to submit reports every four or five years on its implementation of each of these treaties.

* BONUS: Once a report is submitted to the appropriate UN committee, a delegation of officials from Canada appears before the committee to present its report and answer question

7. Spreading the word
The National Film Board of Canada (NFB), Canada's state film producer, has produced several works about or on behalf of the U.N. The first, UNRRA - In the Wake of the Armies, released in 1944. The second released in 1945, Now – the Peace.

Photo credit: Canadian Delegation, United Nations Conference on International Organization

5 General Facts

1. Forerunner of the United Nations
United Nations was the successor of League of Nations, an organization established in 1919 during the First World War under the Treaty of Versailles to promote international cooperation and to achieve word peace.

2. The Origin of the Name
In 1942, former US President Franklin D. Roosevelt proposed the name "United Nations" to former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Winston Churchill. Until then it was called “Allies of World War II.”

3. The Proclamation of Human Rights
The term “human rights” is mentioned seven times in the Charter, making it a key guiding principle for the Organization. In 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights made human rights part of international law.

4.  Multilingual
The Charter has been translated into 23 languages including Hindi, Japanese, Ukrainian and Inuktitut. It has also been published in both English and French Braille.

5. Wearable Logo
The UN logo, created by Donal McLaughlin, was originally designed as a lapel pin.  Donal described the UN logo as an "azimuthally equidistant projection showing all the countries in one circle, flanked by crossed olive branches."

Learn More

We hope this has piqued your interest. We encourage you to learn more about the United Nations and all that they do, as well as Canada’s role in global change.

Learn more at United Nations Association in Canada and the United Nations.

Hold on to peace with the 75th Anniversary of the Signing of the UN Charter $1 coin

In honour of this momentous anniversary, we have released a commemorative $1 circulation coin. The coin, which is the first-ever coloured circulation loonie, celebrates Canada’s role as a Founding Member of the UN and a contributor to world peace. Look for it in your change, or guarantee owning a piece of history with the keepsake card. Hold on to peace.

Sources – The Canadian Encyclopedia, Government of Canada, National Film Board of Canada, United Nations, United Nations Association of Canada, Canadian Human Rights Commission

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