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.

27 January International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust

20 February World Day of Social Justice
21 February International Mother Language Day

8 March International Women’s Day
21-27 March Week of Solidarity with the Peoples Struggling against Racism and Racial Discrimination
21 March International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
22 March World Water Day
23 March World Meteorological Day
25 March International Day of Solidarity with Detained and Missing Staff Members
25 March International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade

2 April World Autism Awareness Day
4 April International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action
7 April World Health Day
23 April World Book and Copyright Day

3 May World Press Freedom Day
8-9 May Time of Remembrance and Reconciliation for Those Who Lost Their Lives during the Second World War
15 May International Day of Families
17 May World Telecommunication and Information Society Day
21 May World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development
22 May International Day for Biological Diversity
25-31 May Week of Solidarity with the Peoples of Non-Self-Governing Territories
29 May International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers
31 May World No-Tobacco Day

4 June International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression
5 June World Environment Day
17 June World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought
20 June World Refugee Day
23 June United Nations Public Service Day
26 June United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture
26 June International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking

4 July International Day of Cooperatives
11 July World Population Day

9 August International Day of the World’s Indigenous People
12 August International Youth Day
23 August International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition

8 September International Literacy Day
15 September International Day of Democracy
16 September International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer
21 September International Day of Peace
24 September World Maritime Day

1 October International Day of Older Persons
2 October International Day of Non-Violence
4-10 October World Space Week
5 October World Habitat Day
5 October World Teacher’s Day
9 October World Post Day
10 October World Mental Health Day
14 October International Day for Natural Disaster Reduction
15 October International Day of Rural Women
16 October World Food Day
17 October International Day for the Eradication of Poverty
24-30 October Disarmament Week
24 October United Nations Day
24 October World Development Information Day

6 November International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict
14 November World Diabetes Day
15 November World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims
16 November International Day for Tolerance
20 November Africa Industrialization Day
20 November Universal Children’s Day
21 November World Television Day
25 November International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women
29 November International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People

1 December World AIDS Day
2 December International Day for the Abolition of Slavery
3 December International Day of Persons with Disabilities
5 December International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development
7 December International Civil Aviation Day
9 December International Anti-Corruption Day
10 December Human Rights Day
11 December International Mountain Day
18 December International Migrants Day
19 December United Nations Day for South-South Cooperation
20 December International Human Solidarity Day

24 March World TB Day
7 April Anniversary of the Genocide in Rwanda
25 May Africa Day
19 August Anniversary of the Baghdad bombing