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The Story of the United Nations

Anish Chandy Feb 15, 2019
Why was the United Nations created? How does it function? What were the consequences? What is its relevance today? All these questions, and more, answered here.
The name 'United Nations' was coined by the United States' President Franklin D. Roosevelt. It was first used in the 'Declaration by United Nations' of 1 January 1942, during the Second World War, when representatives of 26 nations pledged their governments to continue fighting together against the Axis Powers.
By the end of World War I, global antagonisms between countries were at an all time high. American President Woodrow Wilson suggested that a world forum be instituted where nations could peacefully resolve any lingering disputes.
The League of Nations was an organization conceived during the First World War, and established in 1919 under the Treaty of Versailles, 'to promote international cooperation and to achieve peace and security'.
But most of the world leaders were convinced that the world was too devastated and demoralized to instigate another war, and the league was dissolved. Then World War II happened. The International Labor Organization was also created under the Treaty of Versailles as an affiliated agency of the League.
In 1945, representatives of 50 countries met in San Francisco at the United Nations Conference on International Organization to draw up the United Nations Charter. The delegates deliberated on the proposals worked out by the representatives of China, Soviet Union, United Kingdom, and the US, at Dumbarton Oaks, United States, in August-October 1944.
The charter was signed on 26 June, 1945 by the representatives of these 50 countries. Poland, which was not represented at the conference, signed it and became one of the original 51 member states. UN Day is celebrated on 24 October each year. The charter that was signed on 26th June, 1945, comprises a preamble and 19 chapters divided into 111 articles.
It sets forth the purposes of the UN as: the maintenance of international peace and security; the development of friendly relations among states; and the achievement of cooperation in solving international economic, social, cultural, and humanitarian problems. It expresses a strong hope for the equality of all people and the expansion of basic freedoms.
Since its inception, the number of members has grown from 51 to 185. Any nation is permitted to join the United Nations as long as it agrees by the principles through which the organization operates. Each nation has an equal vote in the UN's deliberative body, the General Assembly. And each nation must pay dues to maintain the operations of the organization.
The International Telecommunication Union was founded in 1865 as the International Telegraph Union, and the Universal Postal Union was established in 1874. These are now recognized as agencies of the United Nations.
To reduce the factors that can lead to war, the International Court of Justice was developed under UN auspices. The International Court of Justice acts as the organizations judicial organ, and is the forum in which legal disputes are settled between countries.
Each nation has the right to refuse compulsory jurisdiction of the International Court Justice, meaning, they are not bound by the decisions made by the court. The international influence the court yields, however, remains significant.
The UN is divided into five organs, each addresses one or several of the organization's objectives. The Economic and Social Council encourages cooperation among nations by formulating studies and reports on various social and economic aspects of various countries. The data used for these reports is gathered from a variety of sub-organizations within the UN.
For example, the United Nations Children Fund, the World Food Program, and the United Nations Development Program. These sub-organizations are financed voluntarily by a variety of individual member donors, and also through outside support. The final UN organ is the Secretariat.
The Secretariat is the office of the Secretariat General of the UN, who is elected by UN members. The Secretariat's duties include the day-to-day administration of the UN functions. The Secretary General spends much of his time representing the UN abroad, and is frequently at the forefront of negotiations with warring countries.
The most visible aspect of the United Nations remains the soldiers of UN Peacekeeping efforts. More than 50 operations have been authorized since 1948. The missions are by far one of the most expensive aspects of the UN's budget.
In 1994, peacekeeping expenses reached $3.5 billion. Peacekeeping missions have certain objectives such as implementing peace agreements, monitoring ceasefires, and creating buffer zones.