United Nations Association of Russia


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March 28, 1956 - establishment of the Soviet and now the United Nations Association of Russia (UNA-Russia).

Founders: the USSR Academy of Sciences, Moscow State University, Institute of General History, MGIMO, other research institutes, trade unions, the Committee of Youth Organisations, and a number of non-governmental public organizations. They also became its first members.

In the same year, 1956, the Association was admitted to the World Federation of United Nations Associations, the only international organization whose activities are entirely devoted to the United Nations itself and which maintains a special relationship with the UN. It is known that the activities of WFUNA are highly appreciated in the UN itself. The UN Secretaries General have repeatedly expressed their support for the Federation, emphasizing the important role it plays in public outreach in many countries of the world as well as in the global community of non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

During the Cold War, a program of regular meetings was formed with the United Nations Association of the United States to discuss UN problems, international policy issues, and Soviet-American relations.

In 1973, the Association took an active part in preparing and holding the Congress of Peaceful Forces.

In October 1975, for the first time, the WFUNA Plenary Assembly was held in Moscow, in the Hall of Columns.

During this period, many prominent public figures were involved in the activities of the Association: Academician G.A. Arbatov, D.M. Gvishchiani, V.V. Zhurkin, I.D. Ivanov, V.P. Lukin, V.F. Petrovsky, E.M. Primakov, A.O. Chubaryan and many others.

At the beginning of Perestroika (1985), a number of important decisions were made that changed the nature of the organization. In particular, it was decided:

  • to pay more attention to activities within the country;
  • to involve young people in these activities;
  • to create branches of the Association in other cities and regions of the country;
  • to create commissions for various areas of activity.

In 1990, the first Model United Nations was held. UN Models immediately became very popular among students and high school students and became one of the regular programs of the Association. Several tens of thousands of Russian students and schoolchildren took part in them during the Model years.

Student representatives of the Association participated in the Model UN in The Hague in 1998 and 1999, in the Model Commission on Human Rights in Geneva (1998, 1999 and 2001), in the Model UN in Bulgaria (1999, 2000), in the conference “Model UN and Leadership” (July 2001) in New York, etc.

Two international conferences on peacekeeping problems were held in Moscow in 1990-1991, with the participation of the Deputy Secretary General and other representatives of UN structures involved in peacekeeping.

In 1991 - early 1992, in preparation for the conference in Rio de Janeiro, 12 international regional conferences - hearings on the problems of the environment and sustainable development in the region and ways to solve them were held. One of these conferences was held in Moscow, and the organizational preparation, the holding of the conference itself, as well as the reception of foreign participants and organizers was provided by the Association.

In 1992, an international conference on interethnic relations was prepared and held in Irkutsk.

On October 25, 1995 - preparation for the 50th anniversary of the UN. Conducting a number of youth contests dedicated to the anniversary. Here an active role of MGIMO should be noted.

Many students participated in a contest announced by the World Federation of Associations on the theme "My greetings to the UN on the occasion of its 50th anniversary”. 

Representatives of the Association were among the international observers for the elections to the State Duma in 1993 and the elections of the President of the country in 1996.

On  June 17, 1997 a regular conference of the Association was held, which summarized the results of its activities over the years since the previous conference (1989). It adopted amendments to the Charter taking into account new requirements of Russian legislation.

In 1997 Anatoly Vasilyevich Torkunov, the rector of MGIMO University of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia, was elected Chairman of the UNA-Russia. 

Close relationships with MGIMO and university circles have allowed the Association to work extensively with young people. The Association's youth activities in dozens of cities across the country involve more than a thousand people. They are participants of the annual Moscow International Model UN, UN models that have become a part of the Moscow Model UN in other cities (Yaroslavl, St. Petersburg, Chita, Krasnodar, etc.), youth contests on UN activities, which are held annually by the Association.

In 1998, the UNA-Russia was granted the highest consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the UN (ECOSOC) (the so-called General Status), which gives the right to representatives of the Association to attend all UN meetings, distribute documents, make proposals for resolutions, i.e. provides an instrument of real influence on the formation of international policy priorities. Russia enjoys authority and respect in the UN, puts forward initiatives on the development of international law, and participates in numerous multilateral ones.

In accordance with the opportunities provided by this status, the Association's delegations actively participated in the Millennium Forum in New York, in the “UN RIO+10” Conference on Ecology and Sustainable Development in Johannesburg (South Africa), in the General Assembly consultations with civil society organizations in New York in July 2005 on the Millennium Development Goals and other less "high-profile" cases. In 2005 the Association became the organizer of the largest environmental forum "Baikal Natural Area".

In 2006, on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the UN, the Association took the initiative to establish a broad public committee to celebrate the 60th anniversary, which developed a large program of events. The completion of this program was a solemn public meeting held on UN Day, on October 24 , in the Hall of Columns of the House of the Unions, in which more than a thousand people took part.

In 2017, the Moscow International UN Model was named after the outstanding Russian diplomat Vitaly Ivanovich Churkin by decision of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov and Chairman of the United Nations Association of Russia (UNA-Russia) Alexander Torkunov. Professional path of Vitaly Ivanovich Churkin can serve as an example both for future generations of Russian diplomats and for representatives of countries at the UN.

In November 2017, the 6th UN Forum on Business and Human Rights was held in Geneva. For the first time, the event officially included a special program of the Russian delegation under the auspices of the UNGC Russian National Network. The UNGA acted as a partner of the UNGC, and among the moderators of the events there was A. N. Borisov, Deputy Chairman of the UN Association of Russia and Chairman of the Executive Committee of the World Federation of UN Associations. The program of the Forum was designed in such a way that its participants could present the position and experience of Russian responsible business in the field of human rights, confirm the involvement of Russian leading companies in the global process of forming modern criteria of business leadership and the consistency of requirements to responsible business with international standards, as well as to inform the target audience of the international community about the results and prospects of activities of the UNGC Russian Network in partnership with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation and responsible companies to analyze and implement in practice the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. 

Since 2009, the Russian Association of the United Nations has been implementing a flagship project - "The Regions of Russia and the Sustainable Development Goals", implemented by the Association with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation. The program has achieved a number of brilliant results, including the publication of reports "The Regions of Russia and the UN Millennium Development Goals" in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2018, 2019, presentation of these reports at the UN Headquarters, meetings with the UN Secretary General, in the UN Office in Geneva, as well as the initiative and implementation of gubernatorial projects to facilitate the translation and spread of UN values in Russia. Thirteen regions have so far participated in the program: the Irkutsk region, the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Region - Yugra, the Karachay-Cherkessia Republic, the Astrakhan region, the Kamchatka territory, the Perm territory, the Tambov region,the  Krasnodar territory, the Krasnoyarsk territory, the Moscow region, the Kursk region, the Omsk region, the Sverdlovsk region, Moscow and the Republic of Tatarstan. All these regions have demonstrated excellent projects in the logic of sustainable development and are developing them. They adequately represented their regions at the UN headquarters and at a meeting with the UN Secretary General.

For example, three regions participated in the program in 2018-2019 - Moscow, the Sverdlovsk region, and the Republic of Tatarstan. The presentation of the latest, sixth edition of the report took place in two stages: on November 27, 2019 at the Palace of Nations in Geneva, at a meeting with T.D. Valova, Director- General of the UN Office in Geneva, and on February 3, 2020 at the UN headquarters in New York, at a meeting between the President of the Republic of Tatarstan Rustam Minnikhanov and the UN Secretary-General António Guterres, as well as during  a side event on the "margins" of the 74th session of the UN General Assembly. A year earlier Moscow and the Sverdlovsk Region participated in the program. Undoubtedly, the regions are strong on the SDGs. For example, in 2018, Moscow ranked first in the UN ranking of e-services indexes, surpassing 40 world capitals. In the same year, the Tatarstan Investment Development Agency received the UN Award for outstanding achievement in stimulating investment in industries that bring social and economic benefits and help countries achieve sustainable development goals. Yekaterinburg has become a candidate city for the right to host the World Expo-2025 and won the right to host the World Day of Cities in 2019, held under the auspices of UN-Habitat, after participating in the UNA-Russia program. The Regions of Russia and UN Development Goals program is a tool to promote national projects within the UN system, as well as to help improve the image and investment attractiveness of Russia's regions. The long experience of the United Nations Association of Russia, its strong membership and track record of successful projects ensure the correct implementation of the program “Russian Regions and the UN Development Goals”. 

In 2015 and 2020, the United Nations Association of Russia on behalf of the Russian Foreign Minister S. V. Lavrov and with the support of the Russian Foreign Ministry, the Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the UN Office and other international organizations in Geneva, as well as the UN Information Center in Moscow, held a number of events included in the plan of the Russian Public Committee to celebrate the 70th and 75th anniversaries of the United Nations. The committees included more representatives of the modern school of diplomacy, business, politics, the media, science and creativity, and public figures. A plan of economic, social, cultural and humanitarian events for the UN anniversaries was prepared and implemented with the participation of a wide range of the Russian public. In particular, the UN Association of Russia together with the Moscow State Institute of International Relations of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia held a regular all-Russian contest "Letter to the President" on the theme of the 75th anniversary of the UN. The Russian news agency TASS, with the support of the Rossiya 24 TV channel, filmed a feature-length film about the UN. Photo exhibitions devoted to the UN, forums, the All-Russian distance Olympiad "The UN and We", international conferences, round tables and exhibitions were organized in the regions of Russia. Exhibitions devoted to the history of the United Nations and Russia's participation in its activities were held in the offices of the UN system in New York, Geneva, Vienna and Paris. 

At present, the UNA-Russia  continues to conduct such programs as: Model UN, Russian Regions and UN Sustainable Development Goals, Letter to the President Contest, International School of Youth Diplomacy, Young Diplomat Club, etc.

The Association's Public Commissions are active in a variety of areas:  human rights, national relations, ecology and sustainable development, youth work, and health care. And each Commission has an important area of activity, each employing high-level specialists. UNA-Russia  regularly conducts charity events for socially vulnerable children.

The educational and publishing activities of the UNA-Russia  are widely known. The Association has published popular books on the UN activities, as well as unique collections of documents. One of such interesting publications is the collection of documents "Speeches of the Heads of Delegations of the USSR/Russian Federation at the Sessions of the UN General Assembly", prepared by the UNA-Russia  with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia and MGIMO.

On March 28, 2021, the United Nations Association of Russia celebrated its 65th anniversary.

Congratulations on the 65th anniversary to all members of the United Nations Association of Russia, veterans of the Russian "UN" movement, prominent diplomats and public figures, scientists and all those who were involved in the formation of the UNA-Russia, who are still actively working in its ranks!