Time of Remembrance and Reconciliation for Those Who Lost Their Lives during the Second World War
May 8 - May 9
The historic event that established the conditions for the creation of the United Nations
By resolution 59/26 of 22 November 2004, the UN General Assembly declared 8–9 May as a time of remembrance and reconciliation and, while recognizing that Member States may have individual days of victory, liberation and commemoration, invited all Member States, organizations of the United Nations System, non-governmental organizations and individuals to observe annually either one or both of these days in an appropriate manner to pay tribute to all victims of the Second World War.
The Assembly stressed that this historic event established the conditions for the creation of the United Nations, designed to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, and called upon the Member States of the United Nations to unite their efforts in dealing with new challenges and threats, with the United Nations playing a central role, and to make every effort to settle all disputes by peaceful means in conformity with the Charter of the United Nations and in such a manner that international peace and security are not endangered.
On 2 March 2010, by resolution 64/257, the General Assembly invited all Member States, organizations of the United Nations system, non-governmental organizations and individuals to observe 8-9 May in an appropriate manner to pay tribute to all victims of the Second World War. A special solemn meeting of the General Assembly in commemoration of all victims of the war was held in the second week of May 2010, marking the sixty-fifth anniversary of the end of the Second World War.
During the commemoration, the Secretary-General called the Second World War “one of the most epic struggles for freedom and liberation in history,” adding that “its cost was beyond calculation, beyond comprehension: 40 million civilians dead; 20 million soldiers, nearly half of those in the Soviet Union alone.”
In resolution 69/267, the General Assembly recalled that the Second World War “brought untold sorrow to humankind, particularly in Europe, Asia, Africa, the Pacific and other parts of the world.” It underlined “the progress made since the end of the Second World War in overcoming its legacy and promoting reconciliation, international and regional cooperation and democratic values, human rights and fundamental freedoms, in particular through the United Nations, and the establishment of regional and subregional organizations and other appropriate frameworks.”
A special solemn meeting, marking seventieth anniversary of the Second World War, was held on 5 May 2015.
Secretary-General’s Message for 2020
At this time of remembrance and reconciliation, we pay tribute to the millions of people who lost their lives in the Second World War, and remember their sacrifices.
We must never forget the Holocaust and the other grave and horrendous crimes committed by the Nazis.
The victory over fascism and tyranny in May 1945 marked the beginning of a new era.
An appreciation for international solidarity and our shared humanity led to the birth of the United Nations, with the overriding mission of saving succeeding generations from the scourge of war.
Our world is still suffering the impact of conflict. Even during the current COVID-19 crisis, we see new efforts to divide people and spread hatred.
As we mark this 75th anniversary, let’s remember the lessons of 1945 and work together to end the pandemic and build a future of peace, safety and dignity for all.
— António Guterres