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 December observances are:
Over 30 million people are living with HIV/AIDS, with over 2 million people infected each year. It remains the leading cause of death worldwide. World AIDS Day is a key opportunity to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS, commemorate those who have lost their lives, and celebrate victories such as increased access to treatment and prevention services. Events are held to help eradicate the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS, raise awareness of the connection between HIV and AIDS, and to raise funds for prophylaxis that can prevent mother-to-child transmission.
Today, 21 million women, men and children around the world are trapped in slavery, including human trafficking, sexual exploitation, child labour, forced marriage, and child soldiers. International Day for the Abolition of Slavery focuses on the eradication of all modern forms of slavery, and coincides with the date of the adoption of the Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others. The United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund on Contemporary Forms of Slavery has assisted tens of thousands of victims of slavery in more than 90 countries. Governments and business are encouraged to contribute to the Fund in support of victims worldwide.
More than one billion people, or approximately 15 per cent of the world's population, live with some form of disability. Of these, 80 per cent live in developing countries. International Day of Persons with Disabilities highlights that persons with disabilities are largely marginalized, disproportionately poorer, frequently unemployed and have higher rates of mortality. Events take place around the world to raise awareness and to help achieve the goals of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, including the elimination of discrimination and exclusion. The UN General Assembly proclaimed this Day in its 1992 resolution A/RES/47/3.
Every day thousands of people are volunteering, online or on-site, in the service of others and to contribute to peace and development. International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development offers an opportunity for volunteer organizations and individual volunteers to make visible their contributions at local, national and international levels. Events include discussion-point videos and social media engagement. The UN General Assembly proclaimed this Day in its 1985 resolution A/RES/40/212.
The International Union of Soil Sciences (IUSS), in 2002, adopted a resolution proposing the 5th of December as World Soil Day to celebrate the importance of soil as a critical component of the natural system and as a vital contributor to human wellbeing. Under the leadership of the Kingdom of Thailand and within the framework of the "Global Soil Partnership", FAO has supported the formal establishment of World Soil Day as a global awareness raising platform. The FAO Conference, in June 2013, unanimously endorsed World Soil Day and requested official adoption at the 68th UN General Assembly. In December 2013, the 68th UN General Assembly declared 5th of December as the World Soil Day. Since 2012, the FAO-GSP has been organizing celebration events of this important day.
Air travel is essential to the well-being of our global society. It brings together family and friends, drives international tourism and trade, maintains millions of jobs and provides a way for island States, land-locked countries and remote areas to tap into the markets and receive essential services. International Civil Aviation Day urges Governments as well as relevant organizations to take appropriate steps to aid further sustainable development of the civil aviation industry, and ensure continued maintenance and promotion of the safety of civil aviation. The UN General Assembly proclaimed this Day in its 1997 resolution A/RES/51/33.
In September 2015, the United Nations General Assembly established 9 December as the International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide and of the Prevention of this Crime. The 9th of December is the anniversary of the adoption of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (the “Genocide Convention”).The purpose of the day is to raise awareness of the Genocide Convention and its role in combating and preventing the crime of genocide, as defined in the Convention, and to commemorate and honour its victims. In adopting the resolution, without a vote, the 193-member Assembly reiterated the responsibility of each individual State to protect its populations from genocide, which entails the prevention of such a crime, including incitement to it.
Corruption afflicts all countries, undermining social progress and breeding inequality and injustice. International Anti-Corruption Day urges States to do their part by exposing and cracking down on corruption and engendering a culture that values ethical behaviour. Events take place each year to encourage the public to report acts of corruption in their communities and refuse participation in corruption. The UN General Assembly proclaimed this Day in its 2003 resolution A/RES/58/4.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted on 10 December 1948. The date has since served to mark Human Rights Day worldwide. Human rights belong equally to each of us without any distinction. Events held each year pay tribute to all human rights defenders and encourage public involvement in the global human rights movement. The UN General Assembly proclaimed this Day through its 1950 resolution A/RES/423(V).
Mountains are crucial to life. They provide most of the world's freshwater, harbour a rich variety of plants and animals, and are home to one in ten people. Yet each day environmental degradation, the consequences of climate change, exploitative mining, armed conflict, poverty and hunger threaten the web of life that mountains support. International Mountain Day raises awareness of the importance of mountains to life and to build partnerships that will bring positive change to the world's mountains and highlands. The UN General Assembly proclaimed this Day in its 2003 resolution A/RES/57/245.
Neutrality - defined as the legal status arising from the abstention of a state from all participation in a war between other states, the maintenance of an attitude of impartiality toward the belligerents, and the recognition by the belligerents of this abstention and impartiality — is critically important for the United Nations to gain and maintain the confidence and cooperation of all in order to operate independently and effectively, especially in situations that are politically charged. As Article 2 of the UN charter obligates member states to settle their international disputes by peaceful means and to refrain from the threat or the use of force in their relations, the General Assembly reaffirmed those obligations in its resolution 71/275. The resolution also underlined that some states’ national policies of neutrality can contribute to the strengthening of international peace and security and play an important role in developing mutually beneficial relations among countries of the world.
On 12 December 2017, the United Nations proclaimed 12 December as International Universal Health Coverage Day (UHC Day) by resolution A/RES/72/138. The resolution urges countries to accelerate progress toward universal health coverage (UHC) – the idea that everyone, everywhere should have access to quality, affordable health care - as an essential priority for international development.
The total number of international migrants has increased from an estimated 175 million in 2000 to 232 million persons today. International Migrants Day highlights that under international human rights law, all persons, without discrimination and regardless of nationality or legal status, are entitled to enjoy fundamental human rights. This Day raises awareness of the problems faced by migrants today, and encourages the dissemination of information on the human rights and fundamental freedoms of migrants. The UN General Assembly proclaimed this Day in its 2000 resolution A/RES/55/93.
Arabic is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world: it is spoken by more than 422 million people and is spoken in the region known as the Arab World, as well as many other neighboring regions. In support of the multilingualism and multiculturalism of the United Nations, the United Nations Department of Public Information adopted a resolution on the eve of the International Mother Language Day, celebrated on 21 February each year at the initiative of UNESCO, to celebrate each of the six official languages of the United Nations. It was decided to celebrate Arabic on 18 December as the day on which General Assembly resolution 3190 (XXVIII) of 18 December 1973 was adopted and the General Assembly decided to introduce Arabic into the official and working languages of the UN. The purpose of this day is to raise awareness on the history, culture and development of each of the six official languages.
Solidarity is identified in the UN Millennium Declaration as one of the fundamental values of international relations in the 21st century. In an increasingly complex world of common challenges, no nation can succeed on its own; only through working together can we build a safer, more prosperous future for all. International Human Solidarity Day is celebrated to highlight the importance of diversity and spirit of sharing in combating poverty. Events are held each year to raise public awareness, encourage new initiatives for poverty eradication, and remind Governments to respect their commitments to international agreements. The UN General Assembly proclaimed this Day in its 2005 resolution A/RES/60/209.