UNITED NATIONS (AP) — More than 200 landmarks in 60 countries from the Pyramids in Egypt to the Eiffel Tower in Paris and the Empire State Building in New York will be lit up in blue — the official color of the United Nations— on Saturday to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the world body.
The global celebration will kick off in New Zealand and then at the Sydney Opera House in Australia. It will move across countries and continents to the Great Wall of China, the ancient city of Petra in Jordan, Russia's Hermitage Museum, the Alhambra in Spain, the statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro and many other sites.
New Yorkers actually got a sneak preview of the celebration because U.N. headquarters was lit up in blue Friday night as well.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed hope that "by turning the world U.N. blue for a day, we can light a way to a better tomorrow."
Oct. 24 is the anniversary of the entry into force of the U.N. Charter in 1945 and is celebrated as U.N. Day.
The General Assembly unanimously approved a declaration Friday reaffirming the faith of the 193 member states in the United Nations on its 70th anniversary and the U.N.'s determination "to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war."
It says the U.N. charter unites all member states "in diversity beyond our differences of language, culture or religion, today as 70 years ago."
The secretary-general told the assembly that the U.N. over seven decades has brought "freedom to millions, dismantling colonialism, defeating apartheid and defending human rights for all, regardless of race, religion, nationality, gender or sexual orientation."
But he said "violence, poverty, ill-health and abuse plague far too many people, especially women and girls," and more people have fled their homes than at any time since World War II because of conflict, oppression and fear.
Nonetheless, Ban said, "without the United Nations, our world would be a far bleaker place."