UNITED NATIONS (TIP): The 69th Session of the United Nations General Assembly adopted on December 11, by acclamation draft Resolution A/69/L.17 with a record number of 175 countries cosponsoring it. The Resolution establishes the International Day of Yoga for observance by the United Nations on 21st June each year. This was disclosed by the Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations Asoke Kumar Mukerji The idea for declaring an International Day of Yoga at the United Nations was formally proposed by Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi in his maiden address to the 69th UNGA on 27 September 2014.

The Prime Minister had said, “We need to change our lifestyles. Energy not consumed is the cleanest energy. We can achieve the same level of development, prosperity and well being without necessarily going down the path of reckless consumption. It doesn’t mean that economies will suffer; it will mean that our economies will take on a different character. For us in India, respect for nature is an integral part of spiritualism. We treat nature’s bounties as sacred. Yoga is an invaluable gift of our ancient tradition. Yoga embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfillment; harmony between man and nature; a holistic approach to health and well being.

It is not about exercise but to discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and the nature. By changing our lifestyle and creating consciousness, it can help us deal with climate change. Let us work towards adopting an International Yoga Day.” Prime Minister had indicated that 21st June, one of the two solstices, which is the longest day in the Northern Hemisphere, has special significance in many parts of the world, and could be considered for adoption as the International Day of Yoga by the United Nations each year. In order to implement Prime Minister’s initiative, the Permanent Mission of India in New York convened three rounds of informal consultations with all 193 member states of the United Nations.

A final text of the Resolution, on which all the participating countries agreed, was reached on 22nd October 2014. Following this, the proposed Resolution was circulated by the UN Secretariat as a “L” Document with 130 cosponsors on 7th November 2014. Subsequently, till 5 December 2014, another 45 member states have joined as co-sponsors, bringing the number to 175 out of the 193 member states of the United Nations. The Resolution on International Day of Yoga has been brought about in an unprecedented manner.

It is for the first time that such an initiative has been proposed and implemented by any country in the UN General Assembly in less than 90 days. The Resolution (A/69/L.17), adopted under agenda item 124: Global Health and Foreign Policy, has two unique “firsts” for a UN General Assembly Resolution of such a nature. While its initial official document circulated to the General Assembly (i.e. known as the L document) had the highest ever number of co-sponsors for a L Document (at 129 member states), when it was finally adopted on 11th December 2014 in the UNGA, the Resolution had the highest number of co-sponsors ever for any UNGA Resolution of such nature (with 175 cosponsors till 5th December 2014).

A noteworthy facet of this exercise has been the sheer diversity of cross regional support that Prime Minister’s initiative has garnered from across the world in a record time with record numbers. Co-sponsors of the proposal include all five permanent members of the UN Security Council, nearly all members from the African continent, Latin America, Europe, most from Asia, the Caribbean Community, and most of the Small Island Developing States including the Pacific island states, who interacted with the Prime Minister at the recent First Meeting of the Forum for India-Pacific Islands Cooperation.

Both the President of the 69th UN General Assembly H.E. Sam Kutesa and UN Secretary General H.E. Mr. Ban ki-moon issued congratulatory statements on the adoption of the Resolution in the General Assembly. This shows the convergence of views of the leaders of two of the major organs of the United Nations system, the General Assembly and the Secretariat. (Copies of PGA’s and UNSG’s messages are enclosed). Introducing the Resolution, the Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations, Ambassador Asoke Kumar Mukerji, thanked each and every member state cosponsoring the Prime Minister of India’s initiative.

He emphasized the significance of the Resolution adopted today in terms of its timing, coming so soon after the presentation of the Synthesis Report of the UN Secretary General, on which the negotiations of the post-2015 Development Agenda will commence in the United Nations from January 2015. The United Nations in its annual calendar has listed nearly 118 International Days/Years/Anniversaries for observance. The main significance of the UN declaring an International Day is to focus the attention of the international community on the topic of the Day, and to encourage activities among the member states of the United Nations to commemorate the Day. The adoption of the International Day of Yoga does not entail any additional budgetary implications for the UN system. Commemorative activities would be organized through voluntary contributions.

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