Eastbourne’s association with the United Nations extends back to 1945, when in that year the Eastbourne branch of the League of Nations Union (LNU) applied to be member of the newly formed UNA.
Our branch has been fortunate to have had the patronage of four generations of the Dukes of Devonshire, whose links with the former League of Nations and the United Nations are well established – most notably through the leading role played by Lord Robert Cecil in founding the League of Nations.
The Beachy Head Peace Path long view
The Beachy Head Peace Path
The Eastbourne branch of the LNU was established in 1919 under the presidency of the 9th Duke of Devonshire. On the death of his father in 1938 the 10th Duke of Devonshire assumed the Presidency of the branch.
On the 26th October 1945 the branch Committee agreed unanimously to apply for recognition as a member of the newly founded United Nations Association, and this was subsequently confirmed by a public meeting. With the formation of the UNA Eastbourne the Duke of Devonshire kindly continued his support by becoming our Patron. In 1950 the 11th Duke assumed this role until his death in 2004.
On several visits to Eastbourne the Duke showed especial interest in the aspirations of our student members and was keen to remind us of the role his relative had played in founding the League of Nations, and his ardent work as a peace activist. During the Duke’s period as Patron a special Duke of Devonshire Fund was established which has helped numerous student members travel overseas to give voluntary service. Since 2004 the 12th Duke of Devonshire has continued this long tradition of support.
In 1987 the Eastbourne Borough Council joined with the UNA Eastbourne Branch to create a fitting and lasting tribute to commemorate the UN International Year of Peace, with a plaque (see image) at the start of the ‘The Beachy Head Peace Path’ (see image above).
On a fine day, sitting on the oak benches in this beautiful area, flanked on one side by the tranquil Sussex Downs, and on the other by the pacific waters of the Channel, one needs to reflect on our good fortune surrounded by peace and security and the plight of those less fortunate in distant lands. Our links with the UNA are meant to remind us of our constant duty to actively work for the noble goals of the UN Charter.
(Details on the history of the Eastbourne branch from 1946 to 1996 are in the booklet: ‘Fifty years of the United Nations Association in Eastbourne. Forward by His Grace the Duke of Devonshire’ by Jean Barzanti).
The UN International Year of Peace