The United Nations observes designated days, weeks, years, and decades, each with a theme, or topic. By creating special observances, the United Nations promotes international awareness and action on these issues.The majority of observances have been established by resolutions of the United Nations General Assembly, although some have been designated by UN specialized agencies.
The list of May observances are:
With the UN General Assembly resolution of 2 May 2017 was the first internationally recognized World Tuna Day. At present more than 80 States have tuna fisheries, thousands of tuna fishing vessels operate in all the oceans and tuna fishery capacity is still growing in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Millions of people rely on the oceans for their livelihoods, so marine resources need to be sustainably managed.
- May 3, World Press Freedom Day
Freedom of expression is a fundamental human right, enshrined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Yet every day around the world, journalists and media workers are under attack. They face intimidation, threats and violence from governments, corporations, criminals or other forces that wish to silence or censor. This Day is marked through tributes to journalists who have lost their lives in the line of duty. The UN General Assembly proclaimed this Day in its 1993 declaration A/DEC/48/432.
- May 8-9, Time of Remembrance and Reconciliation for Those Who Lost Their Lives during the Second World War
The United Nations was founded in 1945 in the aftermath of the Second World War. The Time of Remembrance and Reconciliation for Those Who Lost Their Lives during the Second World War pays tribute to all victims of this conflict. The UN General Assembly proclaimed this observance in its 2004 resolution A/RES/59/26.
- May 11, World Migratory Bird Day
Many human activities such as unsustainable hunting, as well as the impacts of climate change, fisheries by-catch and pollution, gravely threaten migratory bird populations. World Migratory Bird Day raises awareness of the threats to the migration patterns of these species and advocates for their protection. The observance was established in 2006.
- May 15, International Day of Families
Families hold societies together, and intergenerational relationships extend this legacy over time. Yet millions of people around the world lack decent working conditions and the social support to care for their families. International Day of Families promotes awareness of the social, demographic and economic issues relating to families. The UN General Assembly proclaimed this Day in its 1993 resolution A/RES/47/237.
- May 16, International Day of Living Together in Peace
The General Assembly bearing in mind the Charter of the United Nations, including the purposes and principles contained therein, and especially the dedication to saving succeeding generations from the scourge of war in its Resolution A/RES/72/130 adopted on 8 December 2017 declared 16 May the International Day of Living Together in Peace.
- May 16, International Day of Light
The International Day of Light is celebrated on 16 May, the anniversary of the first successful operation of the laser in 1960 by physicist and engineer, Theodore Maiman. Light plays a central role in our lives. On the most fundamental level, through photosynthesis, light is at the origin of life itself. The International Day of Light celebrates the role light plays in science, culture and art, education, and sustainable development, and in fields as diverse as medicine, communications, and energy.
- May 17, World Telecommunication and Information Society Day
World Telecommunication and Information Society Day highlights the possibilities that ICT can bring to societies and economies, as well as ways to bridge the digital divide. This Day also marks the anniversary of the signing of the first International Telegraph Convention and the creation of the International Telecommunication Union. The UN General Assembly proclaimed this Day in its 2006 resolution A/RES/60/252.
- May 17, "Vesak", the Day of the Full Moon
The Day of the Full Moon in May, Vesak, marks the birth of Buddha, his enlightenment, and his death. As the most sacred day to Buddhists, Day of Vesak highlights the importance of Buddhism as one of the world's oldest religions. The UN General Assembly, in its 2000 resolution A/RES/54/115, recognized Day of Vesak to acknowledge the contribution that Buddhism has made to the spirituality of humanity.
Bees and other pollinators, such as butterflies, bats and hummingbirds, are increasingly under threat from human activities. Pollinators allow many plants, including many food crops, to reproduce. Not only do pollinators contribute directly to food security, but they are key to conserving biodiversity - a cornerstone of the Sustainable Development Goals. On 20 December 2017, the UN Member States unanimously approved Slovenia’s proposal to proclaim 20 May as World Bee Day. 20 May coincides with the birthday of Anton Janša, who in the 18th century pioneered modern beekeeping techniques.
- May 21, World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development
Three quarters of the world's major conflicts have a cultural dimension. Bridging the gap between cultures is necessary for peace, stability and development. World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development provides an opportunity to deepen our understanding of the values of cultural diversity and to build a world community of individuals committed to supporting diversity. The UN General Assembly declared this Day in its 2002 resolution A/RES/57/249.
- May 22, International Day for Biological Diversity
Biological diversity—or biodiversity—is the term given to the variety of life on Earth and the natural patterns it forms. Seventy per cent of the world's poor live in rural areas and depend on biodiversity for their survival and well-being. International Day for Biological Diversity highlights the action needed to conserve and maintain genes, species and ecosystems for sustainable management of biological resources. The UN General Assembly proclaimed this Day in its 2000 resolution A/RES/55/201.
- May 23, International Day to End Obstetric Fistula
Obstetric fistula is the result of prolonged, obstructed labour and each year between 50,000 and 100,000 women worldwide are affected by this preventable and treatable condition. International Day to End Obstetric Fistula aims to intensify collective action towards ending this through education and timely access to obstetric care. The UN General Assembly proclaimed this Day in its 2012 resolution A/RES/67/147.
- May 29, International Day of UN Peacekeepers
29 May UN Peacekeepers protect the vulnerable in the world's most dangerous places, but their service comes at a high cost. International Day of Peacekeepers gives the international community a chance to mourn the fallen and salute personnel currently serving in missions in the world's most dangerous environments. The UN General Assembly proclaimed this Day in its 2003 resolution A/RES/57/129.
- May 31, World No-Tobacco Day
Nearly 6 million people are killed by tobacco each year. World No-Tobacco Day increases awareness of the dangers of tobacco and the threats of second-hand smoke. Annual events take place about the health benefits of quitting smoking, as well as promote the protection of future generations from this preventable cause of death. The day is observed since 1988.