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Background Information:

 

Pertinent to recall that the 69th Session of the United Nations General Assembly adopted by acclamation draft Resolution A/Res/69/131 in December 2014, with a record number of 177 countries co-sponsoring it. The Resolution established the International Day of Yoga for observance by the United Nations on 21st June each year.

 

The idea for declaring an International Day of Yoga at the United Nations was formally proposed by the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi, in his maiden address to the 69th UNGA on 27 September 2014. The Prime Minister 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.”

 

The Hon’ble 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 the Hon’ble 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 co-sponsors on 7th November 2014. Subsequently, , another 47 member states have joined as co-sponsors, bringing the number to 177 out of the 193 member states of the United Nations.

 

The Resolution on International Day of Yoga was brought about in an unprecedented manner. It is for the first time that such an initiative was proposed and implemented by any country in the UN General Assembly in less than 75 days.

 

The Resolution (A/Res/69/131), 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 130 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 (with 177 co-sponsors till its adoption).

 

A noteworthy facet of this exercise was the sheer diversity of cross regional support that Prime Minister’s initiative 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.

 

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.

First Celebration of the International Day of Yoga at the United Nations

The First International Day of Yoga was celebrated at the United Nations on 21st June, 2015 ( Sunday ) at the UN Visitor’s Plaza.

The Function was presided over by the Hon’ble External Affairs Minister of India and attended by the UN Secretary General and the President of the 69th UN General Assembly. The event featured a special lecture cum demonstration by Founder of Art of Living Foundation, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. The function was broadcast live globally on UN TV, as well as to an audience of thousands at Times Square, New York, where another celebration of the Solstice Day was observed with thousands performing yoga exercises.