You are here: UNA-UK celebrates UN Day 2019 at #TOGETHERBAND

28 October 2019

On Thursday 24 October, UNA-UK celebrated UN Day by presenting the Sir Brian Urquhart Award for Distinguished Service to the UN to Andrew Gilmour, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights. 

The award was bestowed during UNA-UK’s annual reception to celebrate the anniversary of the UN. This year’s event was generously hosted by #TOGETHERBAND - a campaign to mobilise global citizens around the Sustainable Development Goals. 

UNA-UK was delighted to welcome over 200 guests from across civil society, media and Government, including Dame Karen Pierce, the UK's Permanent Representative to the UN in New York, Mr Julian Braithwaite, the UK's Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva, and actress and activist, Joanna Lumley. 

Named in honour of a former UN civil servant whose service to the UN spanned four decades, UNA-UK’s Sir Brian Urquhart Award recognises the outstanding service to the UN of a British citizen.

In honouring Mr Gilmour we were able to highlight his unwavering commitment to upholding human rights in over three decades of service at the UN. The opportunity to celebrate previous decades’ progress on human rights also brought to the fore the challenges human rights defenders face today, as we witness widespread pushback against progress across the world. 

Mr Gilmour said:

“The current tendency of many countries in the world to undermine international institutions rather than trying to strengthen them at this very difficult time seems to be madness. I am hoping there will be a recommitment to multilateralism and the idea that we have to work together to deal with problems that no one country, or even a group of countries, can possibly handle by themselves."

You can see his full speech here.

UNA-UK was also delighted to support the launch of the UN’s "biggest-ever global conversation" on the role of global cooperation in building the future we want, and how the UN will have to adapt to bring this future about.

Natalie Samarsinghe, Deputy to the Special Adviser on the UN’s 75th Anniversary and Executive Director of UNA-UK (on sabbatical), announced the initiative by sharing this video

Ms Samarasinghe told the audience:

“In short, the world is a bit of a mess. If the international community was a friend of mine, I’d be sitting it down and saying: look we really need to talk.”

She highlighted how over the next few months UN75 will be looking for partners to help hold conversations across all 193 Member States, in spaces from classrooms to boardrooms, parliaments to the street and internet, adding, “I hope that all of you will take part. You can start today by telling us the three things you believe can save the world.”

Through our joint campaign Together First, UNA-UK will support this timely and vital initiative and help ensure results are implemented. With our rapidly growing global network, we will host UN75 dialogues to bring new voices into the mix. Throughout 2020, Together First will be campaigning for leaders to take forward the most promising ideas

UN75, Take Action!

It’s easy to join:

Record a short video for social media, either asking a young family member or friend “What Three Things Can Save the World?". Remember to tag @TogetherFirst and include the following hashtags #UN75 #ShapingOurFuture to ensure it is picked up by the UN team collating the results.

If you haven't got a camera to hand, please show your support by sharing this inspiring launch video on your social media platform and ask your friends, partners and networks to start making plans.

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