Rotary and the United Nations

Throughout its history, Rotary International has collaborated with the United Nations and other intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations to improve the human condition.

The core goals of the United Nations Charter are to maintain peace and international security and to develop amicable relations between nations.

The United Nations was founded on 24 October 1945 by 51 countries. Today, there are 193 member states—almost all the world nations.

While most people associate the United Nations with the matters of peace and security, the organization’s resources are in fact overwhelmingly dedicated to economic, social, and sustainable development.

In 2000, the UN General Assembly established 8 goals to achieve by 2015. They were included in the Millennium Declaration that was approved by all the world nations and all the major global development institutions. These Millennium Development Goals have generated unprecedented efforts to meet the needs of the poorest people on earth.

During a historic summit in 2015, the United Nations adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and agreed to 17 Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs.

We should mention that these goals are fully aligned with the six areas of focus of our organization.

It is now well-known that Rotarians played an active role in the drafting of the United Nations Charter in 1945 in San Francisco. Forty-nine Rotarians were involved, including five who had been appointed by the RI President at the request of the President of the United States.

We must remember that, at the time, Rotary International is one of the most “international” organizations in the world.

In 1921, the Rotary International Convention in Edinburgh, Scotland saw the adoption of the Fourth Object of Rotary: “International service and the advancement of international understanding, goodwill and peace.”

Immediately after the UN Charter was signed, Rotary International implemented many projects to promote this new organization to Rotarians and to the general public.

During the Cold War, Rotary took its distance with the UN and it was not until 1988 and the PolioPlus Program that the relationship was reestablished, in particular with WHO and UNICEF.

This cooperation led Rotary to reestablish ties with the United Nations and key international organizations and today this cooperation is stronger than ever.

Today, Rotary holds the highest consultative status offered to a nongovernmental organization by the UN’s Economic and Social Council, which oversees many specialized UN agencies.

The Rotary Representative Network maintains and furthers its relationship with several UN bodies, programs, commissions, and agencies. This network consists of Rotary International representatives to the United Nations and other organizations.

The representatives follow the work of the organizations they have been assigned to and provide information on Rotary policies, programs, and activities.