United Nations

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The United Nations (UN) is an international organization that was founded in 1945 in San Francisco, California in the United States, when 50 nations signed the United Nations Charter. As stated in the charter, the UN's mission is to prevent international war, protect human rights, support social progress and justice, and help with economic progress.[1] The United Nations supplanted the failed League of Nations, which had been established in the 1920s.

Together with then-Secretary General Kofi Annan they were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2001 "for their work for a better organized and more peaceful world".[2] There are currently 192 member states within the United Nations. Every internationally recognized sovereign state is represented, with the exception of the Holy See. The newest member - Montenegro - joined in June 2006.[3]


In 1944 delegates from China, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom and the United States met in Washington, D.C. to work out proposals for a United Nations Charter - UK and US representatives were present throughout the talks and met with the USSR from August 28 to September 28, and between September 29 and October 7 met with Chinese representatives.[4]

On April 25 1945 the United Nations Conference on International Organization began in San Francisco, attended by representatives of 50 nations who formulated the Charter which they signed on June 26 1945, creating the United Nations. Poland, still in the process of forming it's Polish Provisional Government of National Unity, were unrepresented at the conference, however space was left for them to sign the Charter. Poland did so on October 15 1945, becoming one of the original 51 states that made up the UN.[5]

The term 'United Nations' was created by US President Franklin D. Roosevelt[6] and first used in the January 1 1942 Declaration by United Nations when 26 Allied countries affirmed their willingness to continue fighting "for victory over Hitlerism".[7]


The United Nations is composed of 6 main bodies:[8]

General Assembly

There are currently 192 member states within the United Nations which together comprise the General Assembly. The head of each member nation's delegation to the United Nations is titled Ambassador, and each state is entitled to one vote.

Security Council

The Security Council has 15 members, including 5 permanent members: Russia, China, the United States, the United Kingdom, and France.

Economic and Social Council

Trusteeship Council

International Court of Justice


Secretary General

Secretaries General of the UN

Departments and agencies

National representatives to these organizations may also have the rank and title of Ambassador.


The main source of funding for the United Nations is in contributions from it's member states, the size of which is determined both by their economic size and ability to pay. However many countries are in arrears - as of November 2007 the UN was owed over 4 billion dollars by member states with it's principal debtor being the United States of America.

Major UN roles in history


  1. United Nations - The UN Charter
  2. Nobel Prize - The Nobel Peace Prize 2001
  3. BBC - Profile:United Nations
  4. The Statesman's Yearbook 1955, Macmillan and Company
  5. The Statesman's Yearbook 1955, Macmillan and Company
  6. The Statesman's Yearbook 2009, Macmillan Publishers, ISBN-13: 978-1-4039-9278-9
  7. United Nations - Declaration by United Nations
  8. United Nations - Main Bodies