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The International Bonn celebrates UN birthday and 50 years of German membership

At the joint invitation of the Federal and UN City of Bonn, the Federal Foreign Office and the State Chancellery of North Rhine-Westphalia, representatives of the international Bonn celebrated the founding of the United Nations 78 years ago as well as 50 years of German UN membership at the Old Town Hall on Tuesday, October 24, 2023. UN Secretary-General António Guterres offered his congratulations in a message of greeting.

Spoke at the international reception in the Old Town Hall (from left): Prof. Dr. Shen Xiaomeng, UNU Vice Rector in Europe, Director of the UNU Institute for Environment and Human Security, Ibrahim Thiaw, Executive Secretary of the UN Secretariat of the Convention to Combat Desertification, Mayor Katja Dörner, Nathanael Liminski, Minister for Federal and European Affairs, International Affairs and Media of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia and Head of the State Chancellery, Ambassador Dr. Rainer Lassig, Head of Liaison Office UN Campus Bonn/International Organizations in Germany.

For the first time since the Corona pandemic, the network meeting for the international community in Bonn was again held as a face-to-face event. At the international reception in the city’s "front parlor”, Mayor Katja Dörner welcomed, amongst others, Nathanael Liminski, Minister for Federal, European and International Affairs and Media of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia and Head of the State Chancellery, Dr. Rainer Lassig, Head of the Liaison Office UN Campus Bonn/International Organizations in Germany at the Federal Foreign Office, as well as the heads and staff of numerous Bonn-based agencies of the United Nations and many other international organizations.

In her welcoming address, Katja Dörner emphasized the importance of the United Nations in light of the current crises and conflicts in the world. "We are particularly pleased that the United Nations has been bundling its sustainability commitment here in Bonn for almost three decades now. Together with the German government and the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, we as a city support the work of UN Bonn and the growing group of like-minded, international organizations around it on the multilateral and holistic path of global, sustainable development." Dörner thanked the federal government and the state for actively promoting Bonn as Germany's second political center and United Nations City on this path and for continuing to do so.

Minister Nathanael Liminski expressed his pleasure that the anniversary could be celebrated together this year: "International relations are currently undergoing a stress test. The 50thanniversary of Germany's accession to the United Nations is a reminder of how urgently the international community needs the United Nations, multilateral cooperation and dialogue. Against this backdrop, too, it is a task of national importance to develop the federal city and the UN site of Bonn as a location for a modern, crisis-resistant Germany and to strengthen it with a corresponding supplementary agreement to the Berlin/Bonn Act. The state of North Rhine-Westphalia remains the local contact and advocate for Bonn, the United Nations and international organizations."

In his welcoming address, Ambassador Dr. Rainer Lassig emphasized that the commitment to multilateralism and to the United Nations has been a cornerstone of German foreign policy since Germany's accession 50 years ago. Not only the current challenges such as Russia's brutal war of aggression against Ukraine or Hamas's terrorist attacks against Israel require multilateral responses, he said, adding that Germany's commitment to the United Nations was demonstrated, among other things, by the fact that Germany is now the second-largest contributor to the UN.

Germany has been a member of the United Nations for 50 years

UN Secretary-General António Guterres sent a message of congratulations on Germany's UN anniversary: "It is a great pleasure to celebrate 50 years of Germany’s membership in the United Nations as you gather in Bonn, the cherished home of over 25 UN entities. Today, you mark half a century of Germany’s support for international cooperation, multilateral action, and our ever-deepening partnership to advance peace, sustainable development, and human rights. We also celebrate a remarkable journey – Germany’s return to the family of peace-loving nations. Today, Germany is an indispensable pillar of the rules-based order and stalwart defender of the UN Charter.” 

On September 18, 1973, the two German states, the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) and the German Democratic Republic (GDR), joined the United Nations. In a solemn ceremony in front of the United Nations Headquarters in New York, then UN Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim welcomed both states as the 133rd and 134th members and raised the flags of both member states. 

Bonn an international location and a United Nations City

United Nations Day commemorates the entry into force of the UN Charter on October 24, 1945. Bonn is Germany's United Nations City and in recent decades has also established itself as a globally recognized center for sustainable development and a venue for high-level conferences. International activities in Bonn focus on global issues of the future such as sustainability, voluntary engagement, development cooperation and disaster risk reduction.

The Federal Republic is committed to Bonn as the German city of the United Nations. In 1996, the establishment of the UN Volunteers Program and the UN Climate Secretariat laid the foundation for a strong UN presence in Bonn. Today, the Bonn UN Campus is home to 26 UN agencies with around 1,000 staff. Together with a network of numerous international and global organizations also based in Bonn, they work to promote sustainable development worldwide.

The City of Bonn supports the work of the United Nations in Bonn, among other things, by providing services for staff, accompanying international conferences, joint events and receptions, and press and public relations measures. On the occasion of United Nations Day, the City organizes a colorful festival on Market Square every year, which brings the people of Bonn closer to the work of the UN Bonn. The event took place this year on Saturday, October 21.