Press Releases

UNIS/INF/260
18 February 2008

2008 United Nations International Years, Days and Weeks

VIENNA, 18 February (UN Information Service) -- In 2008, the United Nations will observe of the below international years, days and weeks.

International Years

International Year of Languages

On 16 May 2007, the General Assembly proclaimed 2008 as the International Year of Languages and called upon Member States and the United Nations Secretariat to promote the preservation and protection of all languages used by peoples of the world (resolution 61/266).  It invited the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to serve as lead agency for the Year.

In addition, the Assembly has recognized the period from 12 September 2007 to 11 September 2008 as the year commemorating the Ethiopian Millennium, and it has welcomed the decision by the World Health Assembly to commemorate Malaria Day annually on 25 April, or any day or days as individual Member States may decide.

International Year of Sanitation

Deeply concerned by insufficient progress in providing access to basic sanitation services in developing countries, and conscious of the impact of  the lack of sanitation on people's health, poverty reduction and economic and social development, and the environment, the General Assembly, on 20 December 2006, decided to proclaim 2008 as the International Year of Sanitation (resolution 61/192).  The Assembly requested that the Department of Economic and Social Affairs serve as focal point for the Year.

The Assembly encouraged all States, as well as the United Nations system and all other relevant stakeholders, to take advantage of the Year to increase awareness of the importance of sanitation and to promote action at all levels. It called upon States, as well as subregional, regional and international organizations and other relevant stakeholders, including the private sector and civil society, to make voluntary contributions in support of the Year.

Year of the Potato

The General Assembly has declared 2008 as the International Year of the Potato, by its resolution 60/191 of 22 December 2005. In taking this action, the Assembly affirmed the need to focus world attention on the role that the potato can play in providing food security and eradicating poverty, and in achieving internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals.  It invited the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to facilitate the implementation of the Year, in collaboration with Governments, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, and other relevant United Nations system and non-governmental organizations.

Previously, the Assembly had declared 2004 as the International Year of Rice, noting that rice is the staple food of more than half of the world's population (resolution 57/162 of 16 December 2002).  Then, too, it affirmed the need to heighten awareness of the role of rice in alleviating poverty and malnutrition and reaffirmed the need to focus world attention on the role it can play in attaining internationally agreed development goals, including those contained in the Millennium Declaration.

International Year of Planet Earth

On 22 December 2005, the General Assembly declared 2008 as the International Year of Planet Earth (resolution 60/192).  In so doing, it took account of the crucial role the Year could play in raising public awareness of the importance for sustainable development of the Earth's processes and resources; disaster prevention, reduction and mitigation; and capacity-building for the sustainable management of resources; as well as its important contribution to the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2014).

The Assembly designated the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as the lead agency and focal point for the Year, to organize related activities in collaboration with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and other relevant UN bodies, as well as the International Union of Geological Sciences and other Earth science societies and groups worldwide.

2008-2009 International Year of Human Rights Learning

(for one year, beginning on 10 December 2008)

The General Assembly has proclaimed the year commencing on 10 December 2008 as the International Year of Human Rights Learning, to be devoted to activities to broaden and deepen human rights learning based on the principles of  universality, indivisibility, interdependency, impartiality, objectivity and non-selectivity, constructive dialogue and cooperation (resolution 62/171 of  18 December 2007).  It aims to enhance the promotion and protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the right to development.

Annual Days and Weeks

27 January International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust

20 February (beginning in 2009) World Day of Social Justice

21 February International Mother Language Day

8 March United Nations Day for Women's Rights and International Peace (International Women's Day)

21 March International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

Beginning 21 March Week of Solidarity with the Peoples Struggling against Racism and Racial Discrimination

22 March World Day for Water

23 March World Meteorological Day

25 March International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade

2 April World Autism Awareness Day

4 April International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action

7 April World Health Day

23 April World Book and Copyright Day

3 May World Press Freedom Day

8 and 9 May Time of Remembrance and Reconciliation for Those Who Lost Their Lives during the Second World War

15 May International Day of Families

17 May World Telecommunication Day

17 May World Information Society Day

21 May World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development

22 May International Day for Biological Diversity

Beginning 25 May Week of Solidarity with the Peoples of Non-Self-Governing Territories

29 May International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers

31 May World No-Tobacco Day

4 June International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression

5 June World Environment Day

17 June World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought

20 June World Refugee Day

23 June United Nations Public Service Day

26 June International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking

26 June International Day in Support of Victims of Torture

5 July (first Saturday of July) International Day of Cooperatives

11 July World Population Day

9 August (through 9 August 2014) International Day of the World's Indigenous People

12 August International Youth Day

23 August International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and Its Abolition

8 September International Literacy Day

15 September International Day of Democracy

16 September International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer

21 September International Day of Peace

September (during last week of September) World Maritime Day

1 October International Day of Older Persons

2 October International Day of Non-Violence

4-10 October World Space Week

5 October World Teachers' Day

6 October (first Monday of October) World Habitat Day

8 October (second Wednesday of October) International Day for Natural Disaster Reduction

9 October World Post Day

10 October World Mental Health Day

15 October International Day of Rural Women

16 October World Food Day

17 October International Day for the Eradication of Poverty

24 October United Nations Day

24 October World Development Information Day

24-30 October Disarmament Week

6 November International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict

14 November World Diabetes Day

16 November International Day for Tolerance

16 November (third Sunday of November) World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims

20 November Africa Industrialization Day

20 November Universal Children's Day

21 November World Television Day

25 November International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

29 November International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People

1 December World AIDS Day

2 December International Day for the Abolition of Slavery

3 December International Day of Persons with Disabilities

5 December International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development

7 December International Civil Aviation Day

9 December International Anti-Corruption Day

10 December Human Rights Day

11 December International Mountain Day

18 December International Migrants Day

19 December United Nations Day for South-South Cooperation

20 December International Human Solidarity Day

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