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International Day of Light 2024 – May 16

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International Day of Light - May 16 2024The International Day of Light (IDL) is a global initiative annually observed across the globe on 16 May to acknowledge the pivotal role of light in science, culture, art, education, and sustainable development and impact diverse fields including medicine, communications, and energy.

Administrative Body:

IDL is administered from the International Basic Science Programme (IBSP) of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) by a Steering Committee that includes representatives from a broad range of international partners.

  • 16th May 2024 marks the 7th edition of the UNESCO’s International Day of Light.

Why May 16?

16th May commemorates the anniversary of the first successful laser operation in 1960 by American physicist and engineer, Theodore Harold Maiman.


i.On 20th December 2013, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) proclaimed 2015 as the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies (IYL 2015).

ii.Following the successful observance of IYL 2015, a resolution supporting IDL was prepared and adopted by the UNESCO Executive Board at its 200th session on 19 September 2016, held in Paris, France.

  • The proposal, submitted by Ghana, Mexico, New Zealand, and the Russian Federation, gained support from 15 other countries.

iii.On 7th November 2017, the UNESCO General Conference adopted a resolution (39 C/Resolution 16) officially proclaimed the 16th May of each year as International Day of Light.

iv.The first-ever International Day of Light was observed on 16 May 2018.


i.The observance of IDL demonstrates how light contributes to UNESCO’s goals of education, equality, and peace.

ii.IDL promotes scientific cooperation and highlights the role of light and its potential in fostering peace and sustainable development.

iii.IDL also serves to continue the achievements of IYL 2015 in:

  • Raising the profile of science and technology worldwide.
  • Highlighting applications that stimulate education and improve quality of life.
  • Supporting the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

About United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO):
The Constitution of UNESCO was signed on 16 November 1945 and came into force on 4 November 1946.
Director-General– Audrey Azoulay
Headquarters– Paris, France