October 24th is United Nations Day. On this day, in 1945, the UN officially came into being.

Many people in Kosovo are familiar with the UN. They recognize the light blue flag. They see the UN logo on cars driving through their cities and villages. But what does the UN really mean to the average person in Kosovo?


INTERVIEWER: What do you think of when you hear “UN?”


“My mind immediately imagines a crisis, some major epidemic.”

“What I think of first are states where unrest is taking place. The UN is always there to resolve political issues.”

“I have a positive opinion of the UN as an organization but I also have a lot of criticism about ITS work.”

“I see the UN as a big family, which at the moment is in a state of conflict.”

“I think of 1999. The conflict. The UN helped Kosovo, and wherever there are crises, it’s there to intervene and save the population.”

INTERVIEWER: What does the UN do?


“I don’t know. I’m not sure.”

“The UN is an organization which brings together independent states… It protects human rights.”

“It deals with epidemics… conflict resolution.”

“Humanitarian aid.”

INTERVIEWER: What values does the UN stand for?


“For help; it helps the people.”

“Equality….Everybody should have an equal chance for development and progress.”

“The UN stands for unity in the world and economic prosperity.”

“The Earth is our house, and in that house are many nations and religions… but there must also be order, there must be some rules. That’s what the UN is all about.”


Farid Zarif is the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative in Kosovo.


The United Nations was founded nearly seven decades ago. But it wasn’t just meant to be an institution. It was a solemn promise to the world’s people. The UN was created to save future generations from the scourge of war, to advance human rights, and to promote justice.

We’ve faced many diverse setbacks – from genocide and terrorism – to climate change and disease. It isn’t easy for one organization to tackle everything from human trafficking and corruption, to floods and droughts. But we must keep trying. Because that’s why we’re here.

I am proud of what the UN has achieved across the globe. Our Millennium Development Goals have led to the most successful anti-poverty campaign ever. Torture and racism have been legally banned thanks to UN treaties.

Nearly 120,000 UN peacekeepers – including military, civilians, and police – are deployed in 16 operations on 4 continents. And more than 3,000 UN personnel – including one Secretary-General and several senior UN officials – have died in the service of peace.

The UN provides food to 90 million people in 80 countries. We vaccinate nearly 60 per cent of the world’s children and promote maternal health, thus saving more than 30 million lives a year.

The UN helps almost 40 million refugees and people fleeing war, famine and persecution. We assist some 60 countries a year with their elections. And our mediators have permanently settled disputes. And UN environmental agreements safeguard our oceans, air and land.


The UN works to address challenges across the globe – and that includes Kosovo. The UN Kosovo Team is made up of twenty-one UN and international entities. They provide support to Kosovo, so that it can better meet its development needs. The Team specializes in a number of crucial areas, including health, education, human rights, women’s empowerment, agriculture, and employment.

The UN Kosovo Team is chaired by its Development Coordinator, Andrew Russell.


We really are focused on what we call human development, and human development ultimately is about making sure that all Kosovars, regardless of their background, where they come from, who they are, what language they speak, what religion they profess, have equal opportunities to share in the generation of wealth and to have long healthy, and hopefully happy lives.

We focus on three main priority areas. One is growth that is inclusive, that is sustainable, that generates jobs, employment for Kosovars, especially for the most vulnerable: women, young people...

A second focus is governance and rule of law. It's still a work in progress here in Kosovo. And thirdly, I think all of us are increasingly aware of the negative impact of the environment here on health. There is still work to be done in terms of strengthening the capacities of the health system.

And finally, you've got a lot of really great laws in place. The challenge now in Kosovo is the capacity to implement. And so, a lot of our programmes in the future will be much more focused on helping Kosovo to develop systems of accountability, checks and balances, for example civil society monitoring of laws and their implementation - other ways of ensuring that the wonderful legal framework that now exists in Kosovo really starts to serve the needs of all Kosovars.


The UN is engaging on the ground in Kosovo. But UN Day is also a time to remember that Kosovo is a part of a larger society, a global community.


We’re not in the United Nations just for a job. We’re here to serve a cause, a cause that has to do with the destiny of all mankind. On United Nations Day, we reaffirm our commitment to empowering the marginalized and vulnerable. And we resolve to realize our vision of a life of dignity for all.