UN Days May

Individuals and groups can help to make UN Days much more effective through meditation and prayer. On this site there is a meditation in support of the UN Days and information on ways to participate in the UN Days & Years Meditation Initiative

Here you will find information on the UN designated Days during May 2013. Information provided includes some backround, links to the UN site on the Day (where such a site exists), together with key thoughts for reflection.

3 May

Year 2013 theme: Safe to Speak: Securing Freedom of Expression in All Media

World Press Freedom Day highlights the importance of the freedom of the press. It is easy for those who live in liberal democracies to take a relatively free press for granted. We can forget how fundamentally important freedom of the press is to the health of a community. Reporters Without Borders document the many areas of the world in which journalists are far from free.

Perhaps the best way a media can work towards building mutual understanding is by strengthening the media culture itself. A media that is vibrant, independent, pluralistic, inclusive and fair, editorial free and beyond censor and influence from interests, political, commercial, or otherwise – only a free media will innately contribute to the dialogue and understanding across divides. Moreover, a media that is free is essential for the provision of information and knowledge upon which informed democratic participation and good governance depend.


On this Day every year UNESCO awards the World Press Freedom Prize to a journalist or an organisation that has made an outstanding contribution to the defence or promotion of press freedom. The stories of prize winners are told on UNESCO's World Press Freedom Day website.

See also this UN page on the Day


Key thoughts for reflection:

A free press is not a luxury. A free press is at the absolute core of equitable development, because if you cannot enfranchise poor people, if they do not have a right to expression, if there's no searchlight on corruption and inequitable practices, you cannot build the public consensus needed to bring about change. Most striking, what sets the poor apart from the rich is a lack of voice.

James Wolfensohn

We need a new information attitude, a new set of news values and new training which enables us to make process reporting as interesting and vital as we make the daily events we report. Reporting process – finding answers to the questions ‘why’ and ‘how’ is the inner dimensions of journalism.

Tarzie Vittachi

12 - 13 May
Year 2013 Theme: Networking for Migratory Birds

World Migratory Bird Day is an annual awareness-raising campaign highlighting the need for the protection of migratory birds and their habitats. On the second weekend each May, people around the world take action and organise public events such as bird festivals, education programmes and birdwatching excursions to celebrate World Migratory Bird Day.

World Migratory Bird Day 2013 highlights the importance of networks of sites for migratory birds along their migration routes…. Migratory birds travel huge distances along their migration routes, sometimes even tens of thousands of kilometres. These connected sites act like 'stepping stones' and are used by birds to migrate. They are important for resting, feeding, breeding and wintering.

More information on the Day here.

15 May
Year 2013 Theme: Advancing social integration and intergenerational solidarity

International Day of Families highlights the importance of families as basic units of society and provides an opportunity for governments, organisations and individuals to promote understanding of the problems, strengths and needs of families.

This years theme draws attention to two goals:

For more information on the Day, including suggestions for observing the Day and the text of the Family section of the World Summit for Social Development Programme of Action visit the International Day of Families website.

See also here.

Key thought for reflection:

All in all it is the worst of times and the best of times. In spite of all the dreary statistics about the family, never before in the history of humankind has there been a greater opportunity for family love based on true intimacy. I honestly believe that we are standing on the foundations which will open up an area of self-actualisation and interpersonal co-creation - the likes of which we've never known. All transitions are difficult. We are in the open air between trapeze bars. The transition offers us an evolution of consciousness. Like all previous evolutions, growth and expansion are fraught with pain. But without pain there is no gain. We must all 'take the current where it serves, else lose our venture'.

John Bradshaw

17 May

Year 2013 theme: ICTs and Improving Road Saftey

World Telecommunication and Information Society Day is held annually by the International Telecommunication Union, the oldest international organisation in the world, to stimulate reflection and exchange of ideas.

This years theme highlights the fact that communication technologies can play a major role in reducing road accidents.

Further information on this Day is available on the World Telecommunication Day website.

Key thoughts for reflection:

To get to know each other on a world-wide scale is the human race's most urgent need today.

Arnold Toynbee

The communications revolution [furthers] humanity's integration into a single learning system. The potential to exchange ideas and experiences that began with the emergence of language is now worldwide. Artificial satellites, fiber optics, digital coding, computerized switching, faxes, video links and other advances in telecommunications have woven an ever thickening web of information flowing around the world - billions of messages shuttling back and forth at the speed of light. We, the billions of minds of this huge 'global brain' are being linked together by the fibers of our telecommunications systems in much the same way as are the billions of cells in our own brain.

Through this rapidly growing network of light we can share ideas and experiences not just with those around us, but with anyone, anywhere on the planet.

Peter Russell

21 May

Cultural Diversity: a new universal ethic

Emphasizing the need to enhance the potential of culture as a means of achieving prosperity, sustainable development and global peaceful coexistence, the General Assembly, on 20 December 2002, proclaimed 21 May the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development (resolution 57/249). Acting during the closing days of the United Nations Year for Cultural Heritage (2002), the Assembly recognized the close link between protecting cultural diversity and the larger framework of the dialogue among civilizations.

The Day marks the important role that dialogue between different cultures plays in the overall development of society. A new global consciousness is in process of emerging. It is a mind set that values human unity and the oneness of life; while also valuing the immense diversity of human cultures.

Following the events of 11 September 2001, the 185 member states of UNESCO unanimously adopted the UNESCO Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity. The Declaration reflects the conviction that respect for cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue is one of the surest guarantees of development and peace. More information on the Day and the UNESCO Cultural Diversity programme here . See also here and the UN Dag Hammarskjold Library page on the Day and the UN Alliance of Civilisations.

22 May

Year 2013 theme: Water & Biodiversity

Biodiversity Day has been observed since 1994.  May 22 marks the date of adoption of the Convention on Biological Diversity.

The Convention has three main objectives:

Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan concluded his statement to mark the Day in 1999 with the following words:

Clearly, many nations are making commendable efforts to adhere to the Convention. Still, the threats to species and to ecosystems remain ominous and species extinction caused by human activities continue at an alarming rate. On this last Biodiversity Day of the 20th century, let us resolve to make the next century a harmonious one: between economy and environment, between consumption and conservation, between present needs and those of the future. And let us keep constantly in mind that preservation of the planet's biological diversity is a common concern of all humankind and an essential feature of the transition to sustainable development.



Visit the Convention on Biodiversity website and see the Convention's information on the Day. See also this UN site on the Day.

Key thought for reflection:

As a species we have long perceived ourselves as lords of all creation. Now Gaian insights tell us that we are not apart from nature but a part of nature - an equal part of a community of species. A distinctive part, but still a part of what is intrinsically a democratic community with shared roles, functions, and rights. This new perception has been reinforced by spacecraft pictures showing the biosphere as a unitary whole. So when we speak of "our planet", "our climate", and the like, we must expand the notion of "our" to embrace our 30 million fellow species.

Norman Myers

25 - 31 May

Key thought for reflection:

Human desires are many, but there should be one directing centre - the soul, the heart, reason, or a great vision. The many should have their places. All tribes, all nations should celebrate their uniqueness. But a beautiful vision should direct our sense of a universal goal. And that universal goal could be the realisation of the human potential, the eradication of poverty, the enhancement of liberty, and the triumph of justice. ...

This is precisely the time to dream the best dream of them all: that no peoples will know starvation, that no nation will be oppressed by another, that tyranny will not be able to exist unpunished, that liberty be given a more glorious song, and that the human race - after so long standing in shame at its failed possibilities - should now move [into] a new millenium where, overcoming our pettinesses and fears, we might begin to astonish even the gods.

Ben Okri

29 May

Year 2013 Theme: UN Peacekeeping: Adapting to New Challenges

The UN General Assembly has designated 29 May of each year as the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers, to pay tribute to all the men and women who have served in United Nations peacekeeping operations for their high level of professionalism, dedication and courage, and to honour the memory of those who have lost their lives in the cause of peace (resolution 57/129, 11 December 2002).

Check out the UN website for the Day to deepen your understanding of the UN’s peacekeeping activities.

Since 1948 the UN has been responsible for 63 different Peacekeeping operations. Today’s peacekeepers undertake a wide variety of complex tasks, from helping to build sustainable institutions of governance, to human rights monitoring, to security sector reform, to the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former combatants.   more


31 May

Year 2013 theme: Ban Tobacco Advertsing, Promotion and Sponsorship

Since May 1999, the World Health Organisation has been co-ordinating an international political process inspired by the idea that every tobacco related death is preventable. Every eight seconds someone, somewhere in the world is killed as a result of tobacco use. The WHO's Tobacco Free Initiative includes a public health campaign and an ambitious inter-governmental negotiation to secure a Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control is The first treaty ever negotiated under the auspices of WHO, it represents a signal achievement in the advancement of public health. In force only since 2005, it is already one of the most rapidly and widely embraced treaties in the history of the United Nations, with more than 170 Parties. An evidence-based treaty, it reaffirms the right of all people to the highest standard of health and provides new legal dimensions for cooperation in tobacco control.

Further information on the Day is available on the WHO website. See also the Quit Smoking Community for helpful advice.

Key thought for reflection:

The world counts 1.2 billion smokers today and if current predictions come true, we may have an additional 400 million smokers by 2020. [WHO] aims to reverse that trend and prevent future generations from falling victim to tobacco. If we are very successful, we could bring that figure down to one billion by 2020.

The transnational dimension of the tobacco epidemic unleashed on countries requires solutions that reflect the global nature of the problem. This must support implementation of existing and planned national laws in addition to providing global tools with which to protect future generations. Advertising and smuggling are not issues that countries can cope with in isolation.

Gro Harlem Brundtland


What's New

2013  is being observed by United Nations as: Year of Water Cooperation and Year of Quinoa. Check out meditations  for these themes and a full list of dates for the 2013 UN calendar.

SignUp to receive a monthly newsletter listing major international events and conferences to hold in the light. More info. Send an email to: info@intuition-in-service.org

Other Resources