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United Nations
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United Nations
I.INTRODUCTION United Nations (UN), international organization of countries created to promote world peace and cooperation. The UN was founded after World War II ended in 1945. Its mission is to maintain world peace, develop good relations between countries, promote cooperation in solving the world’s problems, and encourage respect for human rights.
The UN is an alliance of countries that agree to cooperate with one another. It brings together countries that are rich and poor, large and small, and have different social and political systems. Member nations pledge to settle their disputes peacefully, to refrain from using force or the threat of force against other countries, and to refuse help to any country that opposes UN actions.
UN membership is open to any country willing to further the UN mission and abide by its rules. Each country, no matter how large or small, has an equal voice and vote. Each country is also expected to pay dues to support the UN. As of 1998, the UN had 185 members, including nearly every country in the world.
The UN’s influence in world affairs has fluctuated over the years, but the organization has gained new prominence in the 1990s. Still, the UN faces many challenges. It must overcome the worst financial crisis in its history. In addition, the UN must continually secure the cooperation of its member nations because the organization has little independent power or authority. But getting that support is not always easy. Many nations are reluctant to defer their own authority and follow the dictates of the UN.
The UN today has the same basic purpose and structure as it did when it was founded in 1945. Its primary purpose—and greatest benefit to its members—is to maintain world peace. That, in turn, helps encourage business and international trade. In addition to that primary mission, the UN serves its member countries in a variety of other ways. The UN provides a forum for countries to promote their views and settle conflicts without violence. It allows countries to cooperate to solve world problems, such as poverty, disease, and environmental degradation. It serves as a symbol of international order and global identity. It promotes and coordinates economic and social progress in developing countries, with the idea that such problems create sources of conflict that can lead to war. The UN helps coordinate the work of hundreds of agencies and programs, both within its own organization and outside it. It also collects and publishes international data.
The UN is the result of a long history of efforts to promote international cooperation. In the late 18th century, German philosopher Immanuel Kant proposed a federation or "league" of the world’s nations. Kant believed that such a federation would allow countries to unite and punish any nation that committed an act of aggression. This type of union by nations to protect each other against an aggressor is sometimes referred to as collective security. Kant also felt that the federation would protect the rights of small nations that often become pawns in power struggles between larger countries.
Kant’s idea came to life after World War I (1914-1918). Horrified by the devastation of the war, countries were inspired to come together and work toward peace. They formed a new organization, the League of Nations, to achieve that goal. The League would last from 1920 to 1946 and have a total of 63 member nations through its history, including some of the world’s greatest powers: France, the United Kingdom, Italy, Japan, Germany, and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. But the League had two major flaws. First, several of the world’s most powerful countries were not members, most notably, the United States. Second, League members proved unwilling to oppose aggression by Japan, Italy, and Germany in the 1930s. This aggression ultimately led to World War II (1939-1945). In the end, the League failed in its most basic mission, to prevent another world war.
Despite this failure, the idea of a league did not die. The first commitment to create a new organization came in 1941, when U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill signed the Atlantic Charter, in which they pledged to work towards a more effective system to keep world peace and promote cooperation. In 1942 representatives of the Allies—the World War II coalition of 26 nations fighting against Germany and Japan—signed a Declaration of United Nations accepting the principles of the Atlantic Charter. The declaration included the first formal use of the term United Nations, a name coined by President Roosevelt. A year later, four of the Allies—the United States, the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union, and China—agreed to establish a general international organization. The four countries met in 1944 at the Dumbarton Oaks estate in Washington, D.C. and drafted a charter for the new organization. They called the new league the United Nations. But they still could not agree to certain details, such as membership and voting rights.
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