UN Day 2002

Resuming an annual tradition cancelled in 2001 by the events of 11 September, a record 800 Rotarians and others attended Rotary UN Day at the United Nations in New York on 9 November. They heard RI President Bhichai Rattakul, once a delegate to the UN himself, and a bevy of other leaders underscore the importance of cooperation between Rotary clubs and United Nations agencies.

One of the day’s highlights was a question-and-answer session, “Ask Rotary’s Top Leaders.” Joining President Rattakul in responding to the audience’s queries were President-elect Jonathan Majiyagbe,​

“Rotary has been a part of the UN from the very beginning,” President Rattakul told the crowd, noting that 49 Rotarian delegates helped draft the UN Charter in 1945, that the first president of the General Assembly was Rotarian Carlos P. Romulo of the Philippines, and that, even earlier, a Rotary-organized meeting in England in 1942 planted the seeds that led to the creation of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

“It is my hope that this day will strengthen our resolve to Sow the Seeds of Love throughout our troubled world by working with the various agencies of the United Nations,” the president told attendees. “Together, we will accomplish much more than either of us could hope to accomplish alone.”

Robert Coultas, RI’s primary representative to the UN, helped organize the event, with New York-area Rotarians. “In addition to Rotarians and Rotary leaders, we were very happy to have many young people attend, including EarlyAct club members [a local Rotary club-sponsored program for elementary school students], Interactors, Youth Exchange students, Rotaractors, and Ambassadorial Scholars,” he said.

David Malone, president of the International Peace Academy, spoke to the audience about the Security Council and Iraq on the day that the Council unanimously approved a resolution on Iraq. William Luers, chairman of the United Nations Association of the USA, highlighted UN challenges in 2002. Other speakers included representatives of the United Nations Population Fund and UNICEF.

H. Bradley Jenkins, an alternate RI representative to the UN, attributed the sizable turnout for the event to Rotarians’ eagerness to know more about world affairs after 9/11. “There would have been even more people were it not for an early cutoff date for registration because of heightened security arrangements at the UN,” he said. “We turned 100 people away.”