October 24, 2006
United Nations Day
Today is the anniversary of the entry into force of the United Nations Charter on 24 October 1945 which has been celebrated as United Nations Day since 1948. The UN is an imperfect but more-needed-than-ever organization. Long live international co-operation! The UN's cultural subsidiary UNESCO esp. is one of the few institutions around the world today that is almost universally appreciated. Let us all remember that, in the runup to the Iraq War, the UN and its weapons inspectors insisted on exhausting nonviolent ways of resolving the issues surrounding the Ba'ath regime in Iraq, only to be cast aside by the US and its Coalition of the Willing. The UN nevertheless followed the developments in Iraq closely and provided assistance as much as possible. However, ever since the devastating bomb attack on its Baghdad headquarters in August 2003 whereby 22 staff members including its seasoned and respected mission head Sergio Vieira de Mello were killed, UNAMI's (UN Assistance Mission for Iraq) presence on the ground has understandably been minimal. From the beginning, UNESCO has been involved in the efforts to salvage and protect the cultural heritage of Iraq, usually in co-operation with other specialized organizations, and mostly from outside the country.