"We, the peoples" - Message from Dr. Gerrit Jan van Heuven Goedhart, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, on United Nations Day, 28 September 1951
"We, the Peoples" - those are the first three words of the Charter of the United Nations, which everyone should bear in mind on every October 24th. The decision to set up an international community of States for the preservation of peace and the safeguarding of basic human rights for every human creature was taken by "the peoples" and what came out of it is therefore not "the United Governments" but "the United Nations".
In a war governments have headaches but peoples have misery. Governments worry but people die. It is always the broad masses of the common man that bear the brunt of the burden in a war. That is why the peoples, as soon as peace has been restored, present to their Governments the bill for their sufferings. In 1918 they wrote "peace and security" on it, in 1945 they added "human rights".
They had learned a lesson in between. The lesson was that there can be no lasting peace and no real security unless every human being enjoys certain basic rights, of which a man, as some American constitutional laws put it, "cannot divest his posterity".
Therefore, the big difference between the old League of Nations and the present organization is that the latter has an "Economic and Social Council", concerning itself especially with all the problems relating to human rights, economic development and social stability. There can be no doubt that "We, the Peoples" consider the work of that Council essential for achievement of the aims of the United Nations.
The peoples of the world want the United Nations to safeguard peace by safeguarding human rights. Therefore they want the United Nations to protect all those who are unprotected and who have very few or none of the basic human rights which make a man feel that life is worth while living. And therefore, of all the people who "chose freedom" and who expect that the free world will receive them with open hearts and doors, the refugees should be remembered on United Nations Day.
The treatment of refugees by the United Nations is, in the eyes of "We, the Peoples", the yardstick to measure the sincerity of the community of States with regard to human rights. In that sense United Nations Day is Refugee Day. Care for refugees is application of the Charter and obedience to the will of "We, the Peoples".