International Justice and Action: UU Office at the United Nations
Main Content

Part 1: UN Sunday: Celebrating the Unitarian Universalist - United Nations Connection

Part of UN Sunday

These resources are created by the Unitarian Universalist Office at the UN to help UU congregations plan a worship service that honors the work of the United Nations, particularly addressing this year’s theme, All In for Climate Justice: People, Power, Planet.

Find yourself in the Global U/U Story! With a UN Sunday Service, your congregation will learn about an important global issue and be inspired to take action in the name of justice. That’s what the global U/U story is all about: Unitarians, Universalists, and Unitarian Universalists around the world engaging in liberal spiritual worship and doing their part to bend the arc of history toward justice. This collection of resources will take you through the steps of learning about, planning, and executing a successful and inspirational UN Sunday.

Please be aware of the requirements and deadlines for:

Dedicate your UN Sunday Offering

We ask congregations to consider dedicating their UN Sunday offering or collection to the important work of the Unitarian Universalist Office at the United Nations and to inform members of the value of contributing to the UU@UN. The UU@UN exists to provide a Unitarian Universalist perspective and voice in the decision-making halls of the United Nations. We depend on individual and congregational support, and we need your involvement, engagement, and enthusiastic contributions to help us make UU values heard at the UN. Read more about the UU@UN here. You can help to change the world so that every person enjoys a safe and dignified life.  Thank you for participating in UN Sunday! Sample language to introduce the offering can be found within the Sample Order of Service.

Share about your service

Lastly, please add a description of your UN Sunday service to the online map! You can find instructions on that page. Sharing about services on the map allows you to see what other congregations have done and gives congregations a chance to describe the events they put together.

Please contact the UU@UN at unenvoycoordinator@uua.org or 617-948-4366, with any questions or concerns.

Good luck and have a fantastic UN Sunday celebration!

About the United Nations

Below is a brief overview of the history of this international organization. You may choose to read the Purposes (below) or the Preamble (Singing the Living Tradition #475) as opening words or as a reflection.

With the scourge of war heavy on hearts and minds following World War II, 51 countries met in San Francisco to create the United Nations, where they drafted and signed its Charter. When these 51 countries signed the Charter on 24 October 1945, they became Member States of the United Nations and committed their governments and peoples to “maintain international peace and security” as well as to the Charter’s other purposes and principles. When states become members of the United Nations, they agreed to accept the many obligations of the UN Charter.

Much of the UN’s work sets normative frameworks that governments must take upon themselves to implement. The fourth purpose listed in the Charter is particularly illustrative of the UN’s mission: “To be a center for harmonizing the actions of nations in the attainment of these common ends.”

A common misunderstanding is that the UN is a director of action or change, or that it has power over states. Much like how elected or appointed officials in a city or province draft legislation in the interest of their local constituents, UN delegates from different countries deliberate about law and legislation at the international level. Governments draft, debate, and vote for or against treaties, conventions, or action plans discussed at the UN. Then it is necessary for the individual countries that sign these conventions to ensure that they are followed through – and for civil society to hold our own countries accountable for the commitments they make.

There are 193 Member States in the United Nations (the newest Member State is the Republic of South Sudan, 14 July 2011). In addition, the Holy See and the State of Palestine have observer status, meaning that they have speaking rights, but no voting rights. Working with such a diversity of peoples requires a large full-time translation team; the UN works in six official languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, & Spanish.

Purposes

Below are the four main purposes for which the UN was created and continues to work:

  • To maintain international peace and security, and to that end: to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace,…
  • To develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, and to take other appropriate measures to strengthen universal peace;
  • To achieve international co-operation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character, and in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion; and
  • To be a center for harmonizing the actions of nations in the attainment of these common ends.