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Seventy years since Saudi signed up to U.N. charter

The United Nations Saturday marked 70 years since 51 countries, including Saudi Arabia formed the international body

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The United Nations Saturday marked the 70th anniversary of the ratification of its founding document - the U.N. Charter - which was signed by the majority of its members including Saudi Arabia, and came into force in 1945.

King Faisal, then foreign minister heading the Saudi delegation, signed the Charter as a founding member at a ceremony held in San Francisco.

Since that historic event the U.N. has grown to comprise of a number of different agencies operating in and in partnership with the kingdom under the U.N. banner, including the World Health Organization, UNICEF and the World Bank Group.

The U.N. was established by 51 countries, although this number has grown to currently 193.

The day has been celebrated as “United Nations Day” since 1948, but this year the occasion was also marked with the adoption of a new global development agenda.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said: “The 70th anniversary of the United Nations is a timely opportunity to highlight its many and enduring achievements - and to strengthen our collective resolve to do more to promote peace and security, sustainable development and human rights.

“Every day, the United Nations makes a positive difference for millions of people: vaccinating children; distributing food aid; sheltering refugees; deploying peacekeepers; protecting the environment; seeking the peaceful resolution of disputes and supporting democratic elections, gender equality, human rights and the rule of law.”

He added that today’s challenges “transcend borders and require complex solutions reached through negotiation and compromise.”

As such, he said, the theme of the 70th anniversary was “Strong U.N.. Better World”.

“Only when we work together can we overcome shared threats and seize shared opportunities,” he explained. “Only at the United Nations can all countries - large and small, rich and poor - and all people have their voices heard.”

The U.N. system has become known unofficially as the “U.N. family,” as it is made up of more than 30 funds, programs and specialized agencies - many of which Saudi Arabia is a member of - and all of which operate independently and with their own separate finances.

Included in the many projects that Saudi Arabia has been involved in is more than 49 years working with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The scheme has focused on the kingdom’s efforts towards sustainable human development, which has been tailored to meet its plans in raising people’s standard of living, enhancing the role of women and youth in national development.

In other fields, the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) - which focuses on cities and housing, has been working with Saudi Arabian cities since the nineties as the kingdom expands and develops its urban areas.