On October 24, we are celebrating UN Day. This week, our newspaper has a supplement with extensive coverage of the day that we are dedicating in proud homage to how Copenhagen is the host of nine UN organisations at the same address: UNOPS, UNDP, WHO, UNICEF, WFP, UNFPA, UNEP, UN WOMEN and UNHCR. This makes Copenhagen the sixth largest UN city in the world.
A six day war, not six years
Many Danes remember the dramatic days in 1967 when Hans Tabor, the then chairman of the Security Council, managed to somehow get the parties involved in the Six Day War to negotiate a ceasefire before more trouble escalated into a full-scale world war.
Danes were truly proud to see how their countryman handled the permanent members of the council and Tabor was world famous for a while.
A forum of eternal hope
For Denmark it was living proof that the UN was a unique forum for hope and lasting peace. Since then, Denmark has never failed to offer assistance when the UN has called for its participation in military engagement or peacekeeping.
Danish wardrobes are full of blue berets proudly retained following peacekeeping and peacemaking operations, and even at this moment, seven F16 fighter jets are stationed in Kuwait to assist fighting IS in Iraq.
Many small contributions make the UN idea vivid and clear in our minds. Last week, the South Korean ambassador Ma Young-sam in this newspaper reminded us how a Danish ship hospital, the Jutlandia, is still remembered in his country 60 years after the Korean War – among other things because the staff also treated civilians when needed to.
Marvel at its machinations
With our own eyes we can see the enormous scale of the relief supplies handled by UNICEF’s logistics centre at Copenhagen Harbour to ease the hardship of children – the most vulnerable victims when natural disasters strike in the form of landslides, earthquakes, tsunamis or famine.
Right now it seems that WHO is encountering many problems putting the lid on the Ebola outbreak before it gets out of control.
It is also a fact that the number of fugitives from war and political unrest has reached an all-time high that will keep UNHCR busy for a long time to come.
Salute their service
These, and more examples like them, should motivate us to stop on Friday and salute the UN general secretary, Ban Ki-moon, and everybody serving at the UN.
We could take the time to contemplate what life would be like if it was not there. It’s a frightening thought, and the answer of course is that we would have to establish it. How else can you get 193 independent nations to talk and make peace, not war?