Today, 75 years ago, 51 heads of governments entered the San Francisco Opera House and
signed the Charter of the United Nations. There was a gentle rain when William Lyon McKenzie
King stepped up to sign for Canada. I know because the now well-retired Reverend Paul Morris,
a young Canadian soldier, decided during a break from studies at UBC, to visit the Opera House
because he knew something historic for a person in uniform was happening there. Paul, along
with millions in Canada and around the world, was weary of war and aspired to a better world.
This aspiration motivated the allied leaders meeting to create this United Nations, the greatest
and most resilient model of global humanitarian and political cooperation on our planet.
Canadians, then and now, remain supporters of the UN and those aspirations for a forum where
countries debate and decide on pathways toward a better world.
In spite of anger-inducing, intentional scleroses that we all see must be addressed, there can be
no disagreement that the UN and citizens of the now 193 Member States have so much to be
proud of. UN programmes directly aid and support hundreds of millions of people living with
poverty, hunger, war -including refugees – now more than at any time, including after the Second
World War. The UN is vital to the unified fight against changing climate; in ensuring free and
fair elections, in providing peacekeepers where a single country wouldn't go it alone
Today, as we confront a global health pandemic and the pandemic of systemic racism and
exclusion, it is the United Nations and it's Agencies and agreements like the World Health
Organization and the Paris Accord, Peacekeeping and the Sustainable Development Goals that
will create and sustain our ability to build a better world for all.
On this day, as we are losing so many of that great generation, who lived and experienced the
need for a United Nations, I wish Paul Morris and each of us and the UN Member States a happy
birthday and, recall: “We the peoples of the United Nations determined to save succeeding
generations from the scourge of war....reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity
and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and
Our investment of this faith includes faith in building an even better, more effective UN to
continue the promise of solving global challenges, together.
President & CEO