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United Nations

Flag Emblem
Map showing the member states of the United NationsThis map does not represent the view of its members or the UN concerning the legal status of any country,<ref></ref> nor does it accurately reflect which areas' governments have UN representation.
Headquarters New York City
(International territory)
Official languages
Membership 193 member states
2 observer states
 -  Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
 -  Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson
 -  General Assembly President Sam Kutesa
 -  Economic and Social Council President Martin Sajdik
 -  Security Council President Gary Quinlan
 -  UN Charter signed 26 June 1945  (1945-06-26) 
 -  Charter entered into force 24 October 1945  (1945-10-24) 

The United Nations (UN) is an Second World War to prevent another such conflict. At its founding, the UN had 51 member states; there are now 193. The headquarters of the United Nations is situated in Manhattan, New York City, and enjoys extraterritoriality. Further main offices are situated in Geneva, Nairobi and Vienna. The organization is financed by assessed and voluntary contributions from its member states. Its objectives include maintaining international peace and security, promoting human rights, fostering social and economic development, protecting the environment, and providing humanitarian aid in cases of famine, natural disaster, and armed conflict.

During the Second World War, US President decolonization in the 1960s, and by the 1970s its budget for economic and social development programmes far outstripped its spending on peacekeeping. After the end of the Cold War, the UN took on major military and peacekeeping missions across the world with varying degrees of success.

The UN has six principal organs: the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001, and a number of its officers and agencies have also been awarded the prize. Other evaluations of the UN's effectiveness have been mixed. Some commentators believe the organization to be an important force for peace and human development, while others have called the organization ineffective, corrupt, or biased.


  • History 1
    • Background and creation 1.1
    • 1942 "Declaration of United Nations" by the Allies of World War II 1.2
    • Founding the UN 1945 1.3
    • Cold War era 1.4
    • Post-Cold War 1.5
  • Structure 2
    • General Assembly 2.1
    • Security Council 2.2
    • Secretariat 2.3
    • International Court of Justice 2.4
    • Economic and Social Council 2.5
    • Specialized agencies 2.6
  • Membership 3
    • Group of 77 3.1
  • Objectives 4
    • Peacekeeping and security 4.1
    • Human rights 4.2
    • Economic development and humanitarian assistance 4.3
    • Other 4.4
  • Funding 5
  • Evaluations, awards, and criticism 6
  • See also 7
  • Notes 8
  • References 9
    • Citations 9.1
    • Bibliography 9.2
  • Further reading 10
  • External links 11
    • Official websites 11.1
    • Other 11.2


The Chilean delegation signing the UN Charter in San Francisco, 1945

Background and creation

In the century prior to the UN's creation, several international treaty organizations and conferences had been formed to regulate conflicts between nations, such as the

  • Searchable archive of UN discussions and votes
  • United Nations Association of the UK – independent policy authority on the UN
  • Website of the Global Policy Forum, an independent think tank on the UN
  • UN Watch – NGO monitoring UN activities


  • Official website
  • The United Nations Regional Information Centre (UNRIC)
  • United Nations Volunteers

Official websites

External links

  • United Nations Intellectual History Project Book Series. Indiana University Press.
  • Lowe, Vaughan; Roberts, Adam; Welsh, Jennifer et al., eds. (6 June 2010). The United Nations Security Council and War: The Evolution of Thought and Practice since 1945. Oxford University Press.  
  • Roberts, Adam; Kingsbury, Benedict, eds. (27 January 1994). United Nations, Divided World: The UN's Roles in International Relations Oxford: Oxford University Press (2 ed.).  
  • Schlesinger, Stephen C. (16 September 2003). Act of Creation: The Founding of the United Nations: A Story of Super Powers, Secret Agents, Wartime Allies & Enemies and Their Quest for a Peaceful World. Westview Press.  

Further reading

  • Coulon, Jocelyn (21 November 1998). Soldiers of Diplomacy: The United Nations, Peacekeeping, and the New World Order. University of Toronto Press.  
  • Fasulo, Linda (2004). An Insider's Guide to the UN. Yale University Press.  
  • Fomerand, Jacques (16 September 2009). The A to Z of the United Nations. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press. (subscription required (help)). 
  • Grant, Thomas D. (2009). Admission to the United Nations: Charter Article 4 and the Rise of Universal Organization. Leiden: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers.  
  • Meisler, Stanley (October 1995). United Nations: The First Fifty Years. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press.  
  • Mires, Charlene (4 March 2013). Capital of the World: The Race to Host the United Nations. New York University Press.  
  • Schlesinger, Stephen C. (16 September 2003). Act of Creation: The Founding of the United Nations: A Story of Super Powers, Secret Agents, Wartime Allies & Enemies and Their Quest for a Peaceful World. Westview Press.  
  • Weiss, Thomas G.; Daws, Sam, eds. (15 January 2009). The Oxford Handbook on the United Nations. Oxford University Press.  


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  2. ^ "The World Today" (PDF). Retrieved 18 June 2009. The designations employed and the presentation of material on this map do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Secretariat of the United Nations concerning the legal status of any country 
  3. ^ "The World Today" (PDF). Retrieved 18 June 2009. The designations employed and the presentation of material on this map do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Secretariat of the United Nations concerning the legal status of any country 
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  60. ^ Fasulo, pp. 4–7
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  85. ^ Fasulo, pp. 100–01
  86. ^ "The Court". International Court of Justice. Retrieved 17 May 2007. 
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  88. ^ "About ECOSOC". ECOSOC. Retrieved 5 November 2013. 
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  90. ^ Fasulo, p. 156
  91. ^ a b "United Nations Charter: Chapter IX". United Nations. Retrieved 18 November 2013. 
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  93. ^ "UN welcomes South Sudan as 193rd Member State". United Nations. 28 June 2006. Retrieved 4 November 2011. 
  94. ^ "United Nations Member States". United Nations. Retrieved 22 November 2013. 
  95. ^ "Charter of the United Nations: Chapter II". United Nations. Retrieved 21 November 2013. 
  96. ^ "Non-member States". United Nations. Retrieved 23 November 2013. 
  97. ^ "Repertory of Practice" (PDF) (8). United Nations. p. 10. Retrieved 23 November 2013. 
  98. ^ "The Member States of the Group of 77". Retrieved 7 November 2013. 
  99. ^ "About the G77". Group of 77. Retrieved 5 November 2013. 
  100. ^ Fasulo, p. 52
  101. ^ Coulon, p. ix
  102. ^ Nobel Prize. "The Nobel Peace Prize 1988". Retrieved 3 April 2011. 
  103. ^ a b "United Nations Peacekeeping Operations". United Nations. 30 September 2013. Retrieved 9 November 2013. 
  104. ^ "The UN's Role in Nation Building: From the Congo to Iraq" (PDF). RAND Corporation. Retrieved 30 December 2008. 
  105. ^ "The Human Security Report 2005". Human Security Centre. Retrieved 8 February 2007. 
  106. ^ Kennedy, p. 56
  107. ^ Ball, Howard (2011). Genocide: A Reference Handbook. ABC Clio. p. 46.  
  108. ^ Kennedy, p. 187
  109. ^ Kennedy, pp. 102–05
  110. ^ Meisler, pp. 294–311
  111. ^ Lynch, Colum (16 December 2004). "U.N. Sexual Abuse Alleged in Congo".  
  112. ^ "UN troops face child abuse claims".  
  113. ^ "Aid workers in Liberia accused of sex abuse".  
  114. ^ Holt, Kate (4 January 2007). "UN staff accused of raping children in Sudan".  
  115. ^ "'"Peacekeepers 'abusing children. BBC News. 28 May 2007. Retrieved 21 November 2013. 
  116. ^ Watson, Ivan; Vaccarello, Joe (10 October 2013). "U.N. sued for 'bringing cholera to Haiti,' causing outbreak that killed thousands".  
  117. ^ "Resolutions Adopted by the General Assembly During its First Session". United Nations. Retrieved 24 March 2008. 
  118. ^ Fasulo, pp. 188–89
  119. ^ Fasulo, pp. 189–90
  120. ^ a b "United Nations Charter: Chapter I". United Nations. Retrieved 18 November 2013. 
  121. ^ Kennedy, pp. 178–182
  122. ^ Fomerand, p. 377
  123. ^ Kennedy, pp. 185, 188
  124. ^ Fomerand, pp. 70, 73
  125. ^ Kennedy, p. 192
  126. ^ Fomerand, p. 347
  127. ^ "UN creates new human rights body". BBC News. 15 March 2006. Retrieved 18 November 2013. 
  128. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions: Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples". United Nations. Retrieved 18 November 2013. 
  129. ^ Jordans, Frank (17 June 2011). "'"U.N. Gay Rights Protection Resolution Passes, Hailed As 'Historic Moment.  
  130. ^ Fomerand, pp. 57, 194, 341
  131. ^ "United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues". United Nations. Retrieved 18 November 2013. 
  132. ^ "We Can End Poverty". United Nations. Retrieved 18 November 2013. 
  133. ^ Kennedy, pp. 143–44
  134. ^ "The UN Millennium Development Goals". United Nations. Retrieved 4 May 2007. 
  135. ^ Fasulo, pp. 169–170, 172
  136. ^ Fomerand, pp. 341–42
  137. ^ Fomerand, p. 126
  138. ^ "About UNICEF: Who we are: Our History". UNICEF. Retrieved 21 November 2013. 
  139. ^ "About UNICEF: Who We Are". UNICEF. Retrieved 21 November 2013. 
  140. ^ "About Us–United Nations". The World Bank. 30 June 2003. Retrieved 2 August 2007. 
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  142. ^ Fasulo, p. 176–77
  143. ^ Fomerand, pp. 199–200
  144. ^ Fomerand, p. 368
  145. ^ a b Fasulo, p. 183
  146. ^ "Our Work". World Food Programme. Retrieved 22 November 2013. 
  147. ^ "About Us". Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Retrieved 22 November 2013. 
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  155. ^ "Assessment of Member States' contributions to the United Nations regular budget for 2013" (PDF).  
  156. ^ a b "Fifth Committee Approves Assessment Scale for Regular, Peacekeeping Budgets, Texts on Common System, Pension Fund, as it Concludes Session (Press Release)". United Nations. 22 December 2006. Retrieved 8 November 2013. 
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  160. ^ Fasulo, p. 115
  161. ^ "Financing of UN Peacekeeping Operations". United Nations. Retrieved 9 November 2013. 
  162. ^ "Where Your Money Goes". World Food Programme. Retrieved 9 November 2013. 
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  166. ^ Gerbet, Pierre (1995). "Naissance des Nations Unies". Espoir (in French) (102). 
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  168. ^ Greene, David L. (14 February 2003). "'"Bush implores U.N. to show `backbone.  
  169. ^ Singh, Jasvir (2008). Problem of Ethicity: Role of United Nations in Kosovo Crisis. Unistar Books. p. 150. Retrieved 12 January 2014. 
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  172. ^
    • For Gold, see Gold, p. 20
    • For Wistrich, see Wistrich, p. 487
    • For Dershowitz, see Dershowitz, Alan. The Case for Peace: How the Arab-Israeli Conflict Can Be Resolved. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2005.
    • For Dreyfus, see "Don’t be lynch mob, lawyers urge U.N.." JTA. 8 July 2009.
    • For Anti-Defamation League, see "ADL: UN Human Rights Council Resolution Reveals 'Cancerous Bias' Against Israel." ADL. 7 July 2009.
  173. ^ Reddy, Shravanti (29 October 2002). "Watchdog Organization Struggles to Decrease UN Bureaucracy". Global Policy Forum. Retrieved 21 September 2006. 
  174. ^ "Q&A: Oil-for-food scandal". BBC News. 7 September 2005. Retrieved 27 November 2013. 
  175. ^ Fomerand, p. cviii
  176. ^ Meisler, p. 339
  177. ^ Kennedy, p. 290



  1. ^ This map does not represent the view of its members or the UN concerning the legal status of any country,[1] nor does it accurately reflect which areas' governments have UN representation.
  2. ^ This map does not represent the view of its members or the UN concerning the legal status of any country,[2] nor does it accurately reflect which areas' governments have UN representation.
  3. ^ This map does not represent the view of its members or the UN concerning the legal status of any country,[3] nor does it accurately reflect which areas' governments have UN representation.
  4. ^ Roosevelt suggested the name as an alternative to the name "Associated Powers." The British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, accepted it, noting that the phase was used by Lord Byron in the poem Childe Harold's Pilgrimage (Stanza 35).
  5. ^ Poland had not been represented among the fifty nations at the San Francisco conference due to the reluctance of the Western superpowers to recognize its post-war communist government. However, the Charter was later amended to list Poland as a founding member, and Poland ratified the Charter on 16 October 1945.[18][19]
  6. ^ As of November 2013
  7. ^ For details on Vatican City's status, see Holy See and the United Nations.


See also

In evaluating the UN as a whole, Jacques Fomerand writes that the "accomplishments of the United Nations in the last 60 years are impressive in their own terms. Progress in human development during the 20th century has been dramatic and the UN and its agencies have certainly helped the world become a more hospitable and livable place for millions."[175] Evaluating the first 50 years of the UN's history, the author Stanley Meisler writes that "the United Nations never fulfilled the hopes of its founders, but it accomplished a great deal nevertheless", citing its role in decolonization and its many successful peacekeeping efforts.[176] The British historian [177]

Critics have also accused the UN of bureaucratic inefficiency, waste, and corruption. In 1976, the General Assembly established the Joint Inspection Unit to seek out inefficiencies within the UN system. During the 1990s, the US withheld dues citing inefficiency and only started repayment on the condition that a major reforms initiative was introduced. In 1994, the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) was established by the General Assembly to serve as an efficiency watchdog.[173] In 2004, the UN faced accusations that its recently ended Oil-for-Food Programme—in which Iraq had been allowed to trade oil for basic needs to relieve the pressure of sanctions—had suffered from widespread corruption, including billions of dollars of kickbacks. An independent inquiry created by the UN found that many of its officials had been involved, as well as raising "significant" questions about the role of Kojo Annan, the son of Kofi Annan.[174]

After [168][169][170] In contrast, the French President, François Hollande, stated in 2012 that "France trusts the United Nations. She knows that no state, no matter how powerful, can solve urgent problems, fight for development and bring an end to all crises... France wants the UN to be the centre of global governance."[171] Critics such as Dore Gold, an Israeli diplomat, Robert S. Wistrich, a British scholar, Alan Dershowitz, an American legal scholar, Mark Dreyfus, an Australian politician, and the Anti-Defamation League consider UN attention to Israel's treatment of Palestinians to be excessive.[172]

Since its founding, there have been many calls for reform of the United Nations but little consensus on how to do so. Some want the UN to play a greater or more effective role in world affairs, while others want its role reduced to humanitarian work. There have also been numerous calls for the UN Security Council's membership to be increased, for different ways of electing the UN's Secretary-General, and for a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly. Jacques Fomerand states the most enduring divide in views of the UN is "the North–South split" between richer Northern nations and developing Southern nations. Southern nations tend to favour a more empowered UN with a stronger General Assembly, allowing them a greater voice in world affairs, while Northern nations prefer an economically laissez-faire UN that focuses on transnational threats such as terrorism.[165]

[164] A number of agencies and individuals associated with the UN have won the

Evaluations, awards, and criticism

Special UN programmes not included in the regular budget, such as UNICEF and the World Food Programme, are financed by voluntary contributions from member governments, corporations, and private individuals.[162][163]

A large share of the UN's expenditure addresses its core mission of peace and security, and this budget is assessed separately from the main organizational budget.[160] The peacekeeping budget for the 2013–14 fiscal year was $7.54 billion, supporting 82,318 troops deployed in 15 missions around the world.[103] UN peace operations are funded by assessments, using a formula derived from the regular funding scale that includes a weighted surcharge for the five permanent Security Council members, who must approve all peacekeeping operations. This surcharge serves to offset discounted peacekeeping assessment rates for less developed countries. In 2013, the top 10 providers of assessed financial contributions to United Nations peacekeeping operations were the United States (28.38%), Japan (10.83%), France (7.22%), Germany (7.14%), the United Kingdom (6.68%), China (6.64%), Italy (4.45%), the Russian Federation (3.15%), Canada (2.98%), and Spain (2.97%).[161]

The Assembly has established the principle that the UN should not be unduly dependent on any one member to finance its operations. Thus, there is a "ceiling" rate, setting the maximum amount that any member can be assessed for the regular budget. In December 2000, the Assembly revised the scale of assessments in response to pressure from the United States. As part of that revision, the regular budget ceiling was reduced from 25% to 22%.[158] For the least developed countries (LDCs), a ceiling rate of 0.01% is applied.[156] In addition to the ceiling rates, the minimum amount assessed to any member nation (or "floor" rate) is set at 0.001% of the UN budget.[159]

The UN is financed from assessed and voluntary contributions from member states. The General Assembly approves the regular budget and determines the assessment for each member. This is broadly based on the relative capacity of each country to pay, as measured by its gross national income (GNI), with adjustments for external debt and low per capita income.[156] The two-year budget for 2012–13 was $5.512 billion in total.[157]

Top 17 contributors to the UN budget, 2013[155]
Member state Contribution
(% of UN budget)
 United States
 United Kingdom
 South Korea
Other member states


The UN also declares and co-ordinates international observances, periods of time to observe issues of international interest or concern. Examples include World Tuberculosis Day, Earth Day, and the International Year of Deserts and Desertification.[154]

Beginning with the formation of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which assesses and reports on research on global warming.[152] The UN-sponsored Kyoto Protocol, signed in 1997, set legally-binding emissions reduction targets for ratifying states.[153]

Since the UN's creation, over 80 colonies have attained independence. The General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples in 1960 with no votes against but abstentions from all major colonial powers. The UN works toward decolonization through groups including the UN Committee on Decolonization, created in 1962.[149] The committee lists seventeen remaining "Non-Self-Governing Territories", the largest and most populous of which is Western Sahara.[150]


[148] UNHCR and WFP programmes are funded by voluntary contributions from governments, corporations, and individuals, though the UNHCR's administrative costs are paid for by the UN's primary budget.[147] (UNHCR), established in 1950, works to protect the rights of refugees, asylum seekers, and stateless people.Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees The [146][145] Along with the

[144] planning and reproductive health, which also dedicates part of its resources to combating HIV, is the world's largest source of funding for UN Population Fund The [143] The

Three former directors of the Global Smallpox Eradication Programme read the news that smallpox had been globally eradicated, 1980

The World Bank Group and International Monetary Fund (IMF) are independent, specialized agencies and observers within the UN framework, according to a 1947 agreement. They were initially formed separately from the UN through the Bretton Woods Agreement in 1944.[140] The World Bank provides loans for international development, while the IMF promotes international economic co-operation and gives emergency loans to indebted countries.[141]

[139][138] (the United Nations Children's Fund) was created in 1946 to aid European children after the Second World War and expanded its mission to provides aid around the world and to uphold the Convention on the Rights of the Child.UNICEF [137] The

Another primary purpose of the UN is "to achieve international co-operation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character".[120] Numerous bodies have been created to work towards this goal, primarily under the authority of the General Assembly and ECOSOC.[133] In 2000, the 192 United Nations member states agreed to achieve eight Millennium Development Goals by 2015.[134]

Millennium Development Goals[132]

  1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
  2. Achieve universal primary education
  3. Promote gender equality and empower women
  4. Reduce child mortality
  5. Improve maternal health
  6. Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases
  7. Ensure environmental sustainability
  8. Develop a global partnership for development

Economic development and humanitarian assistance

Other UN bodies responsible for women's rights issues include United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, a commission of ECOSOC founded in 1946; the United Nations Development Fund for Women, created in 1976; and the United Nations International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women, founded in 1979.[130] The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, one of three bodies with a mandate to oversee issues related to indigenous peoples, held its first session in 2002.[131]

In 1979, the General Assembly adopted the [126] In 2006, it was replaced by a Human Rights Council consisting of 47 nations.[127] Also in 2006, the General Assembly passed a Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples,[128] and in 2011 it passed its first resolution recognizing the rights of LGBT people.[129]

In 1948, the General Assembly adopted a Universal Declaration of Human Rights, drafted by a committee headed by Franklin D. Roosevelt's widow, Eleanor, and including the French lawyer René Cassin. The document proclaims basic civil, political, and economic rights common to all human beings, though its effectiveness toward achieving these ends has been disputed since its drafting.[121] The Declaration serves as a "common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations" rather than a legally binding document, but it has become the basis of two binding treaties, the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.[122] In practice, the UN is unable to take significant action against human rights abuses without a Security Council resolution, though it does substantial work in investigating and reporting abuses.[123]

One of the UN's primary purposes is "promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion", and member states pledge to undertake "joint and separate action" to protect these rights.[91][120]

Human rights

[119] In addition to peacekeeping, the UN is also active in encouraging

The UN has also drawn criticism for perceived failures. In many cases, member states have shown reluctance to achieve or enforce Security Council resolutions. Disagreements in the Security Council about military action and intervention are seen as having failed to prevent the Bangladesh genocide in 1971,[107] the Cambodian genocide in the 1970s,[108] and the Rwandan genocide in 1994.[109] Similarly, UN inaction is blamed for failing to either prevent the Srebrenica massacre in 1995 or complete the peacekeeping operations in 1992–93 during the Somali Civil War.[110] UN peacekeepers have also been accused of child rape, soliciting prostitutes, and sexual abuse during various peacekeeping missions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo,[111] Haiti,[112] Liberia,[113] Sudan and what is now South Sudan,[114] Burundi, and Ivory Coast.[115] Scientists cited UN peacekeepers from Nepal as the likely source of the 2010–13 Haiti cholera outbreak, which killed more than 8,000 Haitians following the 2010 Haiti earthquake.[116]

UN Buffer Zone in Cyprus was established in 1974 following the Turkish invasion of Cyprus.

A study by the RAND Corporation in 2005 found the UN to be successful in two out of three peacekeeping efforts. It compared efforts at nation-building by the United Nations to those of the United States, and found that seven out of eight UN cases are at peace, as compared with four out of eight US cases at peace.[104] Also in 2005, the Human Security Report documented a decline in the number of wars, genocides, and human rights abuses since the end of the Cold War, and presented evidence, albeit circumstantial, that international activism—mostly spearheaded by the UN—has been the main cause of the decline in armed conflict in that period.[105] Situations in which the UN has not only acted to keep the peace but also intervened include the Korean War (1950–53) and the authorization of intervention in Iraq after the Gulf War (1990–91).[106]

[103] In September 2013, the UN had peacekeeping soldiers deployed on 15 missions. The largest was the

The UN, after approval by the Security Council, sends peacekeepers to regions where armed conflict has recently ceased or paused to enforce the terms of peace agreements and to discourage combatants from resuming hostilities. Since the UN does not maintain its own military, peacekeeping forces are voluntarily provided by member states. These soldiers are sometimes nicknamed "Blue Helmets" for their distinctive gear.[100][101] The peacekeeping force as a whole received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1988.[102]

Bolivian "Blue Helmet" at an exercise in Chile

Peacekeeping and security


The Group of 77 at the UN is a loose coalition of developing nations, designed to promote its members' collective economic interests and create an enhanced joint negotiating capacity in the United Nations. Seventy-seven nations founded the organization, but by November 2013 the organization had since expanded to 133 member countries.[98] The group was founded 15 June 1964 by the "Joint Declaration of the Seventy-Seven Countries" issued at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). The group held its first major meeting in Algiers in 1967, where it adopted the Charter of Algiers and established the basis for permanent institutional structures.[99]

Group of 77

In addition, there are two non-member observer states of the United Nations General Assembly: the Holy See (which holds sovereignty over Vatican City) and the State of Palestine.[96] The Cook Islands and Niue, both states in free association with New Zealand, are full members of several UN specialized agencies and have had their "full treaty-making capacity" recognised by the Secretariat.[97]

  1. Membership in the United Nations is open to all other peace-loving states that accept the obligations contained in the present Charter and, in the judgment of the Organization, are able and willing to carry out these obligations.
  2. The admission of any such state to membership in the United Nations will be effected by a decision of the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council. Chapter II, Article 4[95]

With the addition of South Sudan 14 July 2011,[93] there are 193 United Nations member states, including all undisputed independent states apart from Vatican City.[94][7] The UN Charter outlines the rules for membership:

An animation showing the timeline of accession of UN member states, according to the UN. Antarctica has no government; political control of Western Sahara is in dispute; and the territories administered by Taiwan and Kosovo are considered by the UN to be provinces of China and Serbia, respectively.


Organizations and specialized agencies of the United Nations
No. Acronym Agency Headquarters Head[6] Established in
1 FAO Food and Agriculture Organization Rome, Italy José Graziano da Silva 1945
2 IAEA International Atomic Energy Agency Vienna, Austria Yukiya Amano 1957
3 ICAO International Civil Aviation Organization Montreal, Canada Raymond Benjamin 1947
4 IFAD International Fund for Agricultural Development Rome, Italy Kanayo F. Nwanze 1977
5 ILO International Labour Organization Geneva, Switzerland Guy Ryder 1946 (1919)
6 IMO International Maritime Organization London, United Kingdom Koji Sekimizu 1948
7 IMF International Monetary Fund Washington, D.C., United States Christine Lagarde 1945 (1944)
8 ITU International Telecommunication Union Geneva, Switzerland Hamadoun Touré 1947 (1865)
9 UNESCO United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization Paris, France Irina Bokova 1946
10 UNIDO United Nations Industrial Development Organization Vienna, Austria Li Yong 1967
11 UNWTO World Tourism Organization Madrid, Spain Taleb Rifai 1974
12 UPU Universal Postal Union Bern, Switzerland Bishar Abdirahman Hussein 1947 (1874)
13 WBG World Bank Group Washington, D.C., United States Jim Yong Kim 1945 (1944)
14 WFP World Food Programme Rome, Italy Ertharin Cousin 1963
15 WHO World Health Organization Geneva, Switzerland Margaret Chan 1948
16 WIPO World Intellectual Property Organization Geneva, Switzerland Francis Gurry 1974
17 WMO World Meteorological Organization Geneva, Switzerland David Grimes / Michel Jarraud 1950 (1873)

The UN Charter stipulates that each primary organ of the UN can establish various specialized agencies to fulfill its duties.[91] Some of the best-known agencies are the UNHCR).[92]

Specialized agencies

[90] ECOSOC's subsidiary bodies include the

The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) assists the General Assembly in promoting international economic and social co-operation and development. ECOSOC has 54 members, which are elected by the General Assembly for a three-year term. The president is elected for a one-year term and chosen amongst the small or middle powers represented on ECOSOC. The council has one annual meeting in July, held in either New York or Geneva. Viewed as separate from the specialized bodies it co-ordinates, ECOSOC's functions include information gathering, advising member nations, and making recommendations.[87][88] Owing to its broad mandate of co-ordinating many agencies, ECOSOC has at times been criticized as unfocused or irrelevant.[87][89]

Economic and Social Council

[84] It is based in the

The International Court of Justice (ICJ), located in The Hague, in the Netherlands, is the primary judicial organ of the UN. Established in 1945 by the UN Charter, the Court began work in 1946 as the successor to the Permanent Court of International Justice. The ICJ is composed of 15 judges who serve 9-year terms and are appointed by the General Assembly; every sitting judge must be from a different nation.[84][85]

The court had ruled that Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence from Serbia in 2008 did not violate international law

International Court of Justice

Secretaries-General of the United Nations[83]
No. Name Country of origin Took office Left office Note
1 Trygve Lie  Norway 2 February 1946 10 November 1952 Resigned
2 Dag Hammarskjöld  Sweden 10 April 1953 18 September 1961 Died in office
3 U Thant  Myanmar 30 November 1961 31 December 1971
4 Kurt Waldheim  Austria 1 January 1972 31 December 1981
5 Javier Pérez de Cuéllar  Peru 1 January 1982 31 December 1991
6 Boutros Boutros-Ghali  Egypt 1 January 1992 31 December 1996
7 Kofi Annan  Ghana 1 January 1997 31 December 2006
8 Ban Ki-moon  South Korea 1 January 2007 Incumbent

The Secretary-General is appointed by the General Assembly, after being recommended by the Security Council, where the permanent members have veto power.[80] There are no specific criteria for the post, but over the years it has become accepted that the post shall be held for one or two terms of five years, that the post shall be appointed on the basis of geographical rotation, and that the Secretary-General shall not originate from one of the five permanent Security Council member states.[81] The current Secretary-General is Ban Ki-moon, who replaced Kofi Annan in 2007 and was elected for a second term to conclude at the end of 2016.[82]

[79] Article 99 of the charter states that the Secretary-General can bring to the Security Council's attention "any matter which in his opinion may threaten the maintenance of international peace and security", a phrase that Secretaries-General since [77] spokesperson and leader of the UN. The position is defined in the UN Charter as the organization's "chief administrative officer".de facto The Secretary-General acts as the

The UN Secretariat is headed by the Secretary-General, assisted by a staff of international civil servants worldwide.[75] It provides studies, information, and facilities needed by United Nations bodies for their meetings. It also carries out tasks as directed by the Security Council, the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council, and other UN bodies.[76]


The Security Council is made up of fifteen member states, consisting of five permanent members—China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States—and ten non-permanent members—Argentina (term ends 2014), Australia (2014), Chad (2015), Chile (2015), Jordan (2015), Lithuania (2015), Luxembourg (2014), Nigeria (2015), Republic of Korea (2014), and Rwanda (2014).[72] The five permanent members hold veto power over UN resolutions, allowing a permanent member to block adoption of a resolution, though not debate. The ten temporary seats are held for two-year terms, with member states voted in by the General Assembly on a regional basis.[73] The presidency of the Security Council rotates alphabetically each month.[74]

The Security Council is charged with maintaining peace and security among countries. While other organs of the United Nations can only make "recommendations" to member states, the Security Council has the power to make binding decisions that member states have agreed to carry out, under the terms of Charter Article 25.[70] The decisions of the Council are known as United Nations Security Council resolutions.[71]

Colin Powell, the US Secretary of State, demonstrates a vial with alleged Iraqi chemical weapon probes to the UN Security Council on Iraq war hearings, 5 February 2003

Security Council

Draft resolutions can be forwarded to the General Assembly by eight committees:[69]

When the General Assembly votes on important questions, a two-thirds majority of those present and voting is required. Examples of important questions include recommendations on peace and security; election of members to organs; admission, suspension, and expulsion of members; and budgetary matters.[68] All other questions are decided by a majority vote. Each member country has one vote. Apart from approval of budgetary matters, resolutions are not binding on the members. The Assembly may make recommendations on any matters within the scope of the UN, except matters of peace and security that are under consideration by the Security Council.[66]

The General Assembly is the main deliberative assembly of the United Nations. Composed of all United Nations member states, the assembly meets in regular yearly sessions, but emergency sessions can also be called.[66] The assembly is led by a president, elected from among the member states on a rotating regional basis, and 21 vice-presidents.[67] The first session convened 10 January 1946 in the Methodist Central Hall Westminster in London and included representatives of 51 nations.[17]

Mikhail Gorbachev, Soviet general secretary, addresses the UN General Assembly in December 1988.

General Assembly

UN General Assembly
— Deliberative assembly of all UN member states —
UN Secretariat
— Administrative organ of the UN —
International Court of Justice
— Universal court for international law —
UN General Assembly hall
Headquarters of the UN in New York City
International Court of Justice
  • May resolve non-compulsory recommendations to states or suggestions to the Security Council (UNSC);
  • Decides on the admission of new members, following proposal by the UNSC;
  • Adopts the budget;
  • Elects the non-permanent members of the UNSC; all members of ECOSOC; the UN Secretary General (following his/her proposal by the UNSC); and the fifteen judges of the International Court of Justice (ICJ). Each country has one vote.
  • Supports the other UN bodies administratively (for example, in the organization of conferences, the writing of reports and studies and the preparation of the budget);
  • Its chairperson – the UN Secretary General – is elected by the General Assembly for a five-year mandate and is the UN's foremost representative.
  • Decides disputes between states that recognize its jurisdiction;
  • Issues legal opinions;
  • Renders judgement by relative majority. Its fifteen judges are elected by the UN General Assembly for nine-year terms.
UN Security Council
— For international security issues —
UN Economic and Social Council
— For global economical and social affairs —
UN Trusteeship Council
— For administering trust territories (currently inactive) —
UN security council
UN Economic and Social Council
UN Trusteeship Council
  • Responsible for co-operation between states as regards economic and social matters;
  • Co-ordinates co-operation between the UN's numerous specialized agencies;
  • Has 54 members, elected by the General Assembly to serve staggered three-year mandates.
  • Was originally designed to manage colonial possessions that were former League of Nations mandates;
  • Has been inactive since 1994, when Palau, the last trust territory, attained independence.
Principal organs of the United Nations [65]

The United Nations obey the Noblemaire principle, which is binding on any organisation that belongs to the united nations system. This principle calls for salaries that will draw and keep citizens of countries where salaries are highest, and also calls for equal pay for work of equal value independent of the employee's nationality.[61][62] Staff salaries are subject to an internal tax that is administered by the UN organizations.[61][63][64]

Below the six organs sit, in the words of the author Linda Fasulo, "an amazing collection of entities and organizations, some of which are actually older than the UN itself and operate with almost complete independence from it".[59] These include specialized agencies, research and training institutions, programmes and funds, and other UN entities.[60]

Four of the five principal organs are located at the main UN Headquarters in New York City.[53] The International Court of Justice is located in The Hague, while other major agencies are based in the UN offices at Geneva,[54] Vienna,[55] and Nairobi.[56] Other UN institutions are located throughout the world. The six official languages of the United Nations, used in intergovernmental meetings and documents, are Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish.[57] On the basis of the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations, the UN and its agencies are immune from the laws of the countries where they operate, safeguarding the UN's impartiality with regard to the host and member countries.[58]

The United Nations' system is based on five principal organs: the Trusteeship Council, suspended operations in 1994, upon the independence of Palau, the last remaining UN trustee territory.[52]


[17] In the late 1990s and 2000s, international interventions authorized by the UN took a wider variety of forms. The

[46] (1997–2006), initiated further management reforms in the face of threats from the United States to withhold its UN dues.Kofi Annan His successor, [46][45] In 1984, the US President, [42] Beginning in the last decades of the Cold War, American and European critics of the UN condemned the organization for perceived mismanagement and corruption.

Though the UN Charter had been written primarily to prevent aggression by one nation against another, in the early 1990s the UN faced a number of simultaneous, serious crises within nations such as Somalia, Haiti, Mozambique, and the former Yugoslavia.[39] The UN mission in Somalia was widely viewed as a failure after the US withdrawal following casualties in the Battle of Mogadishu, and the UN mission to Bosnia faced "worldwide ridicule" for its indecisive and confused mission in the face of ethnic cleansing.[40] In 1994, the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda failed to intervene in the Rwandan Genocide amid indecision in the Security Council.[41]

[38] The UN negotiated an end to the [35][34] Between 1988 and 2000, the number of adopted Security Council resolutions more than doubled, and the peacekeeping budget increased more than tenfold.[33] After the Cold War, the UN saw a radical expansion in its peacekeeping duties, taking on more missions in ten years than it had in the previous four decades.

Kofi Annan, Secretary-General from 1997 to 2006

Post-Cold War

With an increasing Third World presence and the failure of UN mediation in conflicts in the Middle East, Vietnam, and Kashmir, the UN increasingly shifted its attention to its ostensibly secondary goals of economic development and cultural exchange.[32] By the 1970s, the UN budget for social and economic development was far greater than its peacekeeping budget.

With the spread of Group of 77 coalition under the leadership of Algeria, which briefly became a dominant power at the UN.[30] In 1975, a bloc comprising the USSR and Third World nations passed a resolution, over strenuous US and Israeli opposition, declaring Zionism to be racism; the resolution was repealed in 1991, shortly after the end of the Cold War.[31]

In 1960, the UN deployed United Nations Operation in the Congo (UNOC), the largest military force of its early decades, to bring order to the breakaway State of Katanga, restoring it to the control of the Democratic Republic of the Congo by 1964.[25] While travelling to meet with rebel leader Moise Tshombe during the conflict, Dag Hammarskjöld, often named as one of the UN's most effective Secretaries-General,[26] died in a plane crash; months later he was posthumously awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.[27] In 1964, Hammarskjöld's successor, U Thant, deployed the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus, which would become one of the UN's longest-running peacekeeping missions.[28]

Though the UN's primary mandate was Cold War.[21] (A notable exception was a Security Council resolution in 1950 authorizing a US-led coalition to repel the North Korean invasion of South Korea, passed in the absence of the USSR.)[17][22] In 1947, the General Assembly approved a resolution to partition Palestine, approving the creation of the state of Israel. Two years later, Ralph Bunche, a UN official, negotiated an armistice to the resulting conflict.[23] In 1956, the first UN peacekeeping force was established to end the Suez Crisis;[17] however, the UN was unable to intervene against the USSR's simultaneous invasion of Hungary following that country's revolution.[24]

Dag Hammarskjöld was a particularly active Secretary-General from 1953 until his death in 1961.

Cold War era

The first meetings of the General Assembly, with 51 nations represented,[5] and the Security Council took place in Methodist Central Hall Westminster in London beginning 6 January 1946.[17] The General Assembly selected New York City as the site for the headquarters of the United Nations, and the facility was completed in 1952. Its site—like UN headquarters buildings in Geneva, Vienna, and Nairobi—is designated as international territory.[20] The Norwegian Foreign Minister, Trygve Lie, was elected as the first UN Secretary-General.[17]

The United Nations was formulated and negotiated among the delegations from the United Nations Charter. The UN officially came into existence 24 October 1945, upon ratification of the Charter by the five permanent members of the Security Council—France, the Republic of China, the Soviet Union, the UK and the US—and by a majority of the other 46 signatories.[17]

Founding the UN 1945

During the war, the United Nations became the official term for the Allies. To join countries had to sign the Declaration and declare war on the Axis.[14]

The Governments signatory hereto,
Having subscribed to a common program of purposes and principles embodied in the Joint Declaration of the President of the United States of America and the Prime Minister of Great Britain dated August 14, 1941, known as the Atlantic Charter,
Being convinced that complete victory over their enemies is essential to defend life, liberty, independence and religious freedom, and to preserve human rights and justice in their own lands as well as in other lands, and that they are now engaged in a common struggle against savage and brutal forces seeking to subjugate the world,
(1) Each Government pledges itself to employ its full resources, military or economic, against those members of the Tripartite Pact and its adherents with which such government is at war.
(2) Each Government pledges itself to cooperate with the Governments signatory hereto and not to make a separate armistice or peace with the enemies.
The foregoing declaration may be adhered to by other nations which are, or which may be, rendering material assistance and contributions in the struggle for victory over Hitlerism.[13]

The earliest concrete plan for a new world organization began under the aegis of the US State Department in 1939.[9] The text of the "Declaration by United Nations" was drafted by President Franklin Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and Roosevelt aide Harry Hopkins, while meeting at the White House, 29 December 1941. It incorporated Soviet suggestions, but left no role for France. Roosevelt first coined the term United Nations to describe the Allied countries.[4] The term was first officially used 1–2 January 1942, when 26 governments signed the Declaration. One major change from the Atlantic Charter was the addition of a provision for religious freedom, which Stalin approved after Roosevelt insisted.[10][11] By 1 March 1945, 21 additional states had signed.[12]

1942 "Declaration of United Nations" by the Allies of World War II

[8].Second World War that culminated in the Adolf Hitler in 1937, and German expansions under Japanese invasion of China in 1935, the Second Italo-Ethiopian War in 1931, the Japanese invasion of Manchuria However, the League lacked representation for colonial peoples (then half the world's population) and significant participation from several major powers, including the US, USSR, Germany, and Japan; it failed to act against the [7]

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