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nited Nations Charter Day was celebrated at the Indian Merchants' Chamber on Monday, 28 June, 2004. Among those present on the occasion were Pheroza J. Godrej, President, Maharashtra United Nations Association (MUNA), who chaired the event, K.M. Abraham, Vice President of MUNA, Hon'ble Justice G.D. Karnik, Judge, Mumbai High Court, Dr. Indu Shahani, Principal, H.R. College, Milind Sathe, Advocate, and Abhay Ahuja, of the Government Law College, Mumbai.
A.A. Syed, Secretary General, MUNA, read out the preamble to the United Nations Charter, which was signed on 26 June, 1945.
Welcoming the guests, Pheroza J. Godrej said: "Fifty-nine years ago, in 1945, a Charter was endorsed on 26 June by 189 sovereign states at the historic War Veterans Memorial Building in San Francisco, thus bringing together the United Nations, an international organisation committed to work towards maintaining and enhancing world peace and understanding, security, developing friendly relations among nations and the promotion of social progress, better living standards and equal human rights to all peoples of the world.
"Whilst through the peacekeeping efforts of the U.N., a third world war has indeed been averted, year in, year out and year round, small wars are being fought worldwide, killing and maiming — physically, mentally and emotionally — people of all ages, including innocent children, who will be haunted by unpleasant memories of a hostile world into which they were born, a world of 'thinking' people who spared nothing: neither their fellow men, plants, animals, water nor air.
"The ideals upon which the U.N. was built are worthy of being sustained and enhanced for the well-being of humanity. However, it is people like you and me who have to play an active role for this to succeed."
Abhay Ahuja emphasized the far-reaching consequences and impact of U.N. resolutions: "There are many unilateral human rights violations committed. The Universal Declaration of 1948 towards peacekeeping efforts has gone a long way in establishing harmony. All efforts of U.N. resolutions should be towards human rights and not otherwise."
Milind Sathe was of the view that: "There should be a reassessment and closer examination of the working of the U.N. The Allied Forces united together and established their veto power over the U.N. functioning. It failed to control the genocide in Uganda and also in Yugoslavia. It further failed to check and control the aggression committed and created more wars... There was a conflict between the U.N. and the U.S. The Allied Forces passed resolutions for war in Iraq in March 2003, in spite of the fact that Article 12 and Article 51 of the U.N. Security Council and Constitution stipulate that war is inevitable only for self-defence. There was a total failure of the U.N. to solve the ethnic problems in peacekeeping efforts in the world… There was a cold war between the capitalist and the communist countries. Therefore, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) was established under which a Dispute Settlement Body was created to grant economic sanctions. The U.N. continues to be a supreme body and should continue its efforts for peacekeeping in the world."
Indu Shahani focused on the modern education system: "Today's education needs to be 'student-centred, learning-monitored'. There should be networking or closer links. There is a great demand for globalisation of higher education. More power and more teeth need to be given to the WTO. UNESCO's mission is to strive for quality of education in the developing countries. There should be a policy dialogue. Education is a right. There should be wider access to higher education. The salary grant should be increased. There should be institutional renovation. There should be regular development projects. There should be an established NGO strategy and student participation and teacher-dominated programmes.
"I appeal to you to stimulate the student community by bringing such conferences and seminars to colleges where students can find an opportunity to interact with each other in pursuit of higher education for excellence and wider reforms. The question is whether the mountain should come to Mohammed or whether Mohammed should go to the mountain…"
Hon'ble Justice G.D. Karnik, in his concluding remarks, summarised the pros and cons of speeches by various speakers. He stressed the importance of observing United Nations Charter Day.
A.A. Syed delivered the Vote of Thanks.