United Nations Public Service Day

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2024 Date23 June 2024
2025 Date23 June 2025

United Nations Public Service Day

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United Nations Public Service Day History

United Nations Public Service Day is an observance aimed at recognizing the contributions of public servants across the globe. It was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 2003 to celebrate the value and virtue of public service to the community and recognize the work of public servants in addressing sustainable development goals. The day offers an opportunity for public institutions to showcase their work, experience and values.

The day is meant to inspire young people to join the public service, recognize the contributions of public service to national development, and encourage professionalism in the sector. In South Africa, the day holds a special significance given its history of apartheid and the legacy of inequality that still afflicts the country. The South African government has a key role to play in addressing the country's social and economic challenges, and the UN Public Service Day provides an opportunity for people in South Africa to see the impact of public service.

In South Africa, the day is observed with various activities that showcase the positive impacts of the public sector on people's lives. Celebrations in South Africa can include speeches, debates, seminars, and exhibitions that highlight the work of public servants. This is also an opportunity for the government to identify gaps in public service delivery and find ways to improve service delivery. Observed annually on June 23rd, the United Nations Public Service Day is a day for South Africans to celebrate the work of public servants who bring about change in their communities.

Facts about United Nations Public Service Day

  • Every year the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) organizes a world forum with a host country. The forum operates as a space for world leaders, ministers, and other senior decision-makers to debate emerging issues and trends. It allows them to discuss good practices, strategies, actions, and innovative approaches that will improve and benefit the public sector.
  • Today, as we honor these essential workers and so many more, we must also reflect on how to better protect, recognize and invest in their well-being as we build back better, together. And I say directly to these inspiring public servants: We are all deeply indebted to you for your remarkable acts of service to humankind - UN Secretary-General António Guterres, UN Public Service Day, 2020
  • According to the World Bank, the percentage of people with access to electricity in South Africa increased from 69.7% in 1994 to 91.2% in 2018.
  • As of 2019, women constituted around 41% of the members of the South African National Assembly.

Top things to do in South Africa for this observance

  • Learn more about the role of public service workers. The Covid-19 pandemic has put a lot more responsbility and burden on public workers. The UN highlights their efforts and continued contributions.
  • Listen to the UN Symphony Orchestra's tribute to public service.
  • Some iconic places in South Africa are directly connected to public service, such as the Constitution Hill in Johannesburg, where the Constitutional Court is housed. It is a symbol of South Africa's commitment to justice and human rights.
  • Explore institutions connected to public service, like the Nelson Mandela Foundation, which is a non-profit organization focused on promoting the legacy of the late South African president and his contributions to public service.

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