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The World Federation of United Nations Associations (or WFUNA) was created in 1946, inspired by the opening words of the United Nations Charter "We the Peoples". Today it is a global network of people linked together through United Nations Associations (UNAs) in over 100 member states of the United Nations. Its networks enable people to connect with each other on critical global issues affecting us all, from peace and human rights to the spread of democracy, equitable development, and international justice.

The WFUNA is an independent, non-governmental organization with Category One Consultative Status at the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and consultative or liaison links with many other UN organizations and agencies.

History

The WFUNA was founded in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourgmarker on 2 August 1946 by 22 UNAs. The Constitution they adopted proclaimed that:

"We the representatives of the United Nations Associations in our respective countries, Believing that since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed, and Believing that the peace must be founded, if it is not to fail, upon the intellectual and moral solidarity of all peoples, Have resolved to combine our efforts to form an association of the peoples...to be known as the World Federation of United Nations Associations."

This was one year after the UN Charter was proclaimed with the opening words "We the peoples of the United Nations". Ever since, the WFUNA has been the only global organization with the primary mission of supporting the principles and purposes of the UN.

Its founders had long experience in international cooperation and were aware of the fundamental importance of public understanding of the role of the UN in shaping international relations between nation states.

While the first objective of the WFUNA Constitution was "To be a peoples' movement for the United Nations" the 7 subsequent objectives included to promote tolerance, understanding, solidarity and co-operation among men, women and children throughout the world without distinction as to race, sex, language, religion, or political orientation; to contribute to the removal of obstacles to peace, to work for justice, security and disarmament, and to promote the development of peaceful co-existence and co-operation among nations.

Over the years, UNAs have been established all over the world, as new nation states were formed and joined the UN. UNAs were born in a number of countries that were not yet UN members, serving as windows to the world organization. For example, this was the case in Hungary, Japan and Romania.

Mission and objectives

The mission of the WFUNA is to inform, sustain and energize a global network of UNAs to support the principles and programs of the UN and to help shape its agenda.

The objectives of the WFUNA are:
  1. To be a peoples' movement for the United Nations.
  2. To co-ordinate and further the activities of its Members and to promote the establishment of new United Nations Associations.
  3. To co-operate, where appropriate, with other organizations whose objects include the support of the United Nations and its development.
  4. To promote tolerance, understanding, solidarity and co-operation among men, women and children throughout the world without distinction as to race, sex, language, religion or political orientation.
  5. To contribute to the removal of obstacles to peace, to work for justice, security and disarmament, and to promote the development of peaceful co-existence and co-operation among nations.
  6. To strive for the recognition of and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms throughout the world and for the recognition of the responsibilities and duties which those rights involve for individuals, groups, and States.
  7. To promote economic development, enhancement of social progress and better standards of life.
  8. To promote research, information and education about the goals of the Charter of the United Nations and the work of the United Nations system.


Past Achievements

The UN General Assembly has adopted resolutions expressing appreciation for the Federations’ efforts to promote wider public support of the UN. In 1986 resolution 41/68 concerning questions relating to information dedicated an entire section to commending the efforts of the WFUNA and UNAs around the world for their "mobilization of popular support for the programs and work of the United Nations".

Eleanor Roosevelt was an active participant in the WFUNA. Since the adoption in 1948 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which she chaired, the WFUNA considered human rights advocacy as a central part of its programs. A number of international seminars in different regions of the world have been organized by the WFUNA on the teaching of human rights. The proposal for creating the position of a High Commissioner for Human Rights was on the WFUNA’s agenda for many years.

In practical terms, the WFUNA played a crucial role by helping people in those countries where human rights were violated, such as Franco’s Spainmarker, some of the former communist countries in Eastern Europe and in the Middle East. The WFUNA brought together people of divided countries – such as East and West Germanymarker and Cyprusmarker, and the opponents in conflicts, for example between Israelmarker and Egyptmarker in the late 1960s.

The WFUNA helped promote "Security and Co-operation in Europe" (CSCE) by holding in 1967 the first conference on this topic. Other NGOs followed the WFUNA’s campaign which continued until 1975 when the Final Act was signed at Helsinkimarker by 35 governments, including USAmarker and Canadamarker, establishing the CSCE process. Further campaigning led in 1994 to the CSCE process that consisted of a Biennial Review Conference being raised to a Permanent Organization (OSCE).

The WFUNA, including its African UNA members, made significant contributions to the NGO campaign for the abolition of Apartheid. The 32nd General Assembly of the UN, in 1977, received a resolution from the 117th WFUNA Executive Committee meeting, which requested:

"The Security Council of the UN to give urgent consideration to the taking of immediate steps to ensure that no State, multinational or other body or person be allowed to provide South Africa or Rhodesia with any equipment, technology or production of nuclear weapons of any kind".

The WFUNA facilitated high-level informal consultations on disarmament issues between key experts of the USA and USSRmarker during the Cold War. It organized a number of NGO Seminars on disarmament in cooperation with the UN, UNESCOmarker and other NGOs.

During its history, the WFUNA has served as a forum for global dialogues on development. Several suggestions, like the establishment of an Economic Commission for Africa, were first adopted at the WFUNA Plenary Assemblies and then endorsed by governments.

The WFUNA has actively supported reform of the UN and its capacity to meet new tasks and challenges. The WFUNA has continually received recognition from the highest ranks of the UN. The sentiments in this statement by UN Secretary-General, Dag Hammerskjöld, to the WFUNA's 12th Plenary Assembly were shared by his successors: "I wish... to express my appreciation of your most essential service. At the same time, I wish to urge you to fresh endeavors. Over the years you have accomplished much and have acted with an ever increasing sense of your great responsibilities."

For many years the WFUNA conducted a fund raising program based on the sale of first day covers of UN stamps and lithographs produced by artists and celebrities, such as Picasso, Lou Zheng Jang, Miro, Salvador Dali, Ruben Leyva, Al Hirschfeld and Andy Warhol to promote the ideals of the UN. This highly successful program ran for several decades during the 20th century.

Now in the 21st century, the WFUNA sees a need for the UN to rise to the challenges of globalization. True to the vision of its founding members, the WFUNA is searching for ways of giving voice to the peoples of the world. The monthly newsletter UN Connection aims to equip people with an appreciation of what is happening at the UN and provides insights into the partnerships being formed between the UN and NGOs and civil society to promote peace, sustainable development and human rights. Many member UNAs and the WFUNA itself have been actively engaged in the various processes for reforming the UN with the aim of, in UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's words, "Making the UN a more effective instrument in the hands of the world's people".

Members

There are currently over 100 UNAs represented in all of the world's regions.

Africa

  • Benin
  • Burundi
  • Cameroon
  • Comoros
  • Egypt
  • Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Ethiopia
  • Ghana
  • Guinea
  • Kenya
  • Liberia
  • Mauritius
  • Mozambique
  • Nigeria
  • Sierra Leone
  • South Africa
  • Sudan
  • Tanzania
  • Tunisia
  • Uganda
  • Zambia


Asia-Pacific

  • Afghanistan
  • Australia
  • Bangladesh
  • Bhutan
  • Cambodia
  • China
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Iran
  • Japan
  • Kyrgyz Republic
  • Lebanon
  • Malaysia
  • Nepal
  • New Zealand
  • Pakistan
  • Philippines
  • Republic of Korea
  • Samoa
  • Singapore
  • Sri Lanka
  • Syria
  • Thailand
  • Yemen


Europe

  • Albania
  • Armenia
  • Austria
  • Belarus
  • Belgium
  • Bulgaria
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Finland
  • France
  • Estonia
  • Georgia
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Ireland
  • Israel
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Macedonia
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Romania
  • Russia
  • Serbia
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Turkey
  • United Kingdom


North America

  • Barbados
  • Canada
  • Cuba
  • Dominican Republic
  • Guatemala
  • Haiti
  • Jamaica
  • Mexico
  • Nicaragua
  • Trinidad & Tobago
  • United States of America


South America

  • Argentina
  • Bolivia
  • Brazil
  • Chile
  • Ecuador
  • Guyana
  • Peru
  • Suriname
  • Venezuela
  • Colombia (undergoing process of accreditation UNACOLOMBIA)


UN Connections

UN Connections is a bimonthly newsletter published by the WFUNA, which highlights the present work of the UN.

WFUNA Youth

WFUNA-Youth aims to gain more support for the spirit of the UN among young people, as well as to further the worldwide activities of UN Youth Associations and UNA Youth Programs. It seeks to promote the establishment of UN Youth Associations or Youth Programs where they do not exist. WFUNA-Youth is an autonomous, not-for-profit organization, affiliated with WFUNA.

External links




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