UN General Assembly Current Affairs - 2019

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21 May: World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development observed

On 21 May, the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development was celebrated. The year 2019 has been declared ‘International Year of Indigenous Languages’ by UN General Assembly, so as to bring awareness to importance of linguistic diversity.

Key Highlights

Background: In 2001, The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) adopted ‘Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity’ as a result of the destruction of the Buddha statues of Bamiyan in Afghanistan in 2001. Then in December 2002, the UN General Assembly (UNGA) in its resolution 57/249, declared 21 May to be World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development.

Objective: To deepen our understanding of values of cultural diversity and to advance four goals of UNESCO ‘Convention on Protection and Promotion of Diversity of Cultural Expressions’, adopted in 2005-

  • To support sustainable systems and development of cultural governance.
  • To achieve balanced flow of cultural goods and services (G&S) and increase mobility of cultural professionals and artists.
  • To integrate culture in sustainable development frameworks.
  • To promote human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Importance of Cultural Diversity

  • About Three-quarters (77%) of world’s major conflicts have cultural dimension. Thus bridging gap between cultures is necessary and urgent for peace, development and stability.
  • Cultural diversity is not only a driving force of development with respect to economic growth, but it also act as means of leading more fulfilling intellectual, emotional, and spiritual life.
  • Cultural diversity is thus an asset that is indispensable for poverty reduction and achievement of global sustainable development.

UAE and World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development

  • UAE celebrated the day highlighting its efforts in promoting tolerance and cultural diversity.
  • The 2019 event coincided with the country’s declaration of 2019 as the ‘Year for Tolerance’.
  • The UAE has cultural relations with many countries and is also an active member of UNESCO.

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18 May: ‘Buddha Purnima’ celebrated

Buddha Purnima also known as Vaishak Purnima is the birth anniversary of Gautama Buddha (or Lord Buddha). 18 May 2019 witnessed the 2,563rd birth anniversary of the Buddha and is being celebrated across the world.

About Buddha Purnima

  • Background: Buddha Purnima festival is traditionally celebrated to commemorate birth of Siddhartha Gautama​, who later became Gautama Buddha and founded Buddhism. People celebrate Siddhartha’s (a king by birth) choice to embrace a spiritual quest when he witnessed the suffering of common people which inspired him to let go of his royal life. He then renounced all worldly pleasures and became a holy man.
  • It is celebrated every year on the full moon day (known as Purnima), in month of Vaishakha, according to Hindu Lunar calendar.
  • Reason: It is also celebrated as Vesak in South and Southeast Asia. The day commemorates birth, death as well as enlightenment of Lord Buddha, all of which is said to have taken place on same day. It is after this enlightenment that later Siddhartha earned the title Buddha which means ‘The Enlightened One’.
  • Significance: Celebrating Buddha Purnima is all about praying with purest of feelings, and adopting what Buddhism stand for which is peace, harmony and non-violence.

Celebrations Worldwide

  • Nepal: is considered as Buddha’s birth country. He was born in Lumbini (now in modern-day Nepal). There Buddha Purnima day is celebrated on full moon day of Vaisakha month in accordance to Buddhist calendar.
  • Southeast Asian Nations: celebrate day during Vaisakha month of Buddhist and Hindu calendar, which is generally the month of April or May according to Gregorian calendar.
  • Others:
  • On this day, Countries all over world such as Malaysia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, South Vietnam, Myanmar, China, Cambodia, Singapore, Indonesia, Taiwan, Australia,
  • Canada, United States (US) celebrate the essence of Buddhism. It is public holiday in many countries, and is celebrated by commemorating different ethnicities and cultures.

Celebrations India

  • It is celebrated by paying a visit to common Viharas (monastery for Buddhists), where Buddhists observe a longer than usual and full-length Buddhist sutra (or suttas), which is similar to a service.

17 May: Vesak Day

  • On 17 May 2019 United Nation (UN) observed “Vesak”, the Day of the Full Moon in month of May.
  • In 1999, the UN General Assembly (UNGA), by its resolution 54/115, recognized internationally Day of Vesak, to acknowledge contribution of Buddhism in world.

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