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United Nations Day Lessons

On October 24, parts of the world will celebrate United Nations Day, the anniversary 1945 signing of the UN Charter. According to its official website, October 24 has been celebrated as UN Day since 1948. 

"In 1971, the United Nations General Assembly recommended that the day be observed by Member States as a public holiday," said the website. 

This United Nations Day, high school teachers can utilize this lesson plan, "The United Nations and Reform", provided by PBS to teach about the United Nations and its mission to promote peace throughout the world.

The lesson, PBS said, should take two class periods, and can be taught in any social studies or history class:


  • Understand how the U.N. was a product of the 20th century, built to address international issues of that time.
  • Understand the function of the six bodies of the U.N. and their main functions.
  • Understand some of the major accomplishments of the U.N. over the past 60 years.
  • Examine some of the past and current criticisms of the U.N. and analyze the basis for the criticism.
  • Analyze the purpose of the United Nations and evaluate some of the proposals to address concerns and criticisms surrounding it.


In this activity, students will gather an overview on the history, structure, and accomplishments of the United Nations and learn about past and future reforms and then present on their findings through brief, group presentations. 



Part One: Background on the United Nations

  1. Students will begin by reading "Background on the United Nations before class. 
  2. The class will divide into three groups, and then teachers will hand out the discussion questions relevant to each group. The discussion questions are divided into three groups for each team. 
  3. Students will then discuss the questions, form answers, and then construct a brief presentation for the class. 
  4. Students will then present in front of the class. 

Part Two: Reform at the United Nations:

  1. Students will read the handout "A Call for Reform" before beginning the activity. 
  2. Teachers will start to number of students by 5's, and arrange the room so the first group is sitting facing each other in the middle of the room. The rest of the students will sit around them. 
  3. The first group will discuss the first focus question on the worksheet provided, and teachers explain that the only students who can answer the question are those in the inner circle. If a student wants to join the discussion, they must move to the inner group and tap a person to move to the outer circle. 
  4. Continue to switch in the rest of the groups to the inner circle and follow the same procedure with the second question. 

The lesson plan also has Extension Activities for students to participate in:

  1. Have students write an essay on the question: "How can the proposed reforms discussed at the September World Summit help address some of the criticisms faced by the U.N.?"
  2. Students can conduct a debate on any of the discussions during the group forum. Some topics can include:
  • merits of the veto power
  • broadening the number of Security Council members
  • whether the U.S. should continue to participate in the U.N.
  1. Divide students into four groups to examine three different proposals on restructuring the Security Council. Students can make visual aids in explaining the changes, etc. The fourth group can provide questions or challenges from the article to ask presenters. 

Extra Resources for Teachers:


Resources for Lesson Plan:

Article by Kassondra Granata, EducationWorld Contributor