Since 1959 the UN has designated International years in order to draw attention to major issues and to encourage international action to address concerns which have global importance and ramifications.
The General Assembly has declared four international years for 2009: the International Year of Natural Fibres, the International Year of Reconciliation, the International Year for Human Rights Learning (beginning 10 December 2008), and the International Year of Astronomy. In addition, UNEP and UNESCO have declared 2009 as the International Year of the Gorilla. Please find below a brief description of the aims and purposes of these years. For more detailed information, please refer to the relevant resolutions in full (document numbers quoted) or the links to websites where available.