Formation of the United Nations
The formation of the United Nations was a lengthy and difficult political process, particularly for the United States. It began as The League of Nations in 1919 after World War One and was a key component in the Treaty of Versailles. Although the intention of peacekeeping was present, the involved countries ultimately decided to eliminate the organization as it was ineffectual once World War Two broke out. It was clear at this point that the League's actions could do little to curb the war, and that a new organisation would have to be formed.
After the failure of the League of Nations, the great political leaders of the time, including Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill, convened to develop The Declaration of the United Nations on January 1, 1942. The Declaration was an accord between all nations fighting against the Axis Powers (Germany, Italy, and the Soviet Union), promising not to form any other entangling alliances and that once the war was won, a formal peacekeeping organization, to be called the United Nations, would be officially established to actively take measures that would prevent hostile relations between its member countries.
Once the UN was formed, it was separated into subdivisions that would include The General Assembly, The Security Council, The Economic and Social Council, The Secretariat, and The International Court of Justice. Each sector of the UN serves a specific purpose, but all work in conjunction to promote the goals of the UN charter.
The General Assembly is the sole body of the United Nations in which all members are permitted to deliberate and make recommendations regarding everything from budgetary concerns to political upheaval in a particular region.
The Security Council is responsible for quelling actions that are in direct opposition to the peaceful intentions set forth in the charter. This has left room for many a grey area as The Security Council is allowed to enforce military action even though such powers are in conflict with other governing documents, such as the U.S. Constitution, in which it states that only the Senate can approve of a president's decision to go to war.
The Economic and Social Council's role is to gather data and information that will assist in the economic development of a particular country. Its primary duty is to facilitate growth in countries with fledgling economies, with a heavy focus on Africa.
The role of the Secretariat serves to report on the goings-on of its member countries and to report on these incidents at meetings of The General Assembly and other bodies of the UN.
The International Court of Justice comes into play if a member country submits a formal legal complaint or query to the ICJ. More often than not, the ICJ has been one of the lesser aspects of the UN's importance and authority as most nations are wont to resolve domestic conflicts independently
The United Nations has long been regarded with varying points of view in terms of what is expected of the institution and how far it should go to intervene in the actions of the countries it represents. In the official UN Charter, it states its primary goals as: "To save succeeding generations from the scourges of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, and to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom."
Whether or not certain of these objectives have been accomplished remains discretionary. All members and non-members of the UN are technically required to settle potentially threatening disputes in a peaceful manner, however there have been several instances in which this tenet has been blatantly violated. The second war between the United States and Iraq is one of the most glaring examples of UN violations. One of the charter's governing principles states that even non-members must act in accordance with the charter if the actions of the non-member country will adversely affect the global infrastructure. So when a member country contradicts the articles of the charter, the betrayal is slightly more egregious. With regard to U.S.-Iraq relations, the U.S. is in breach of the charter in that the use of violent force is permissible only after the UN Security Council has approved military action and/or if the country in question is acting in self-defense.
Ultimately, the function of the UN, while concisely and simplistically stated, is not always easy to enforce.
* A * Afghanistan * 19-11-1946 * Albania * 14-12-1955 * Algeria * 08-10-1962 * Andorra * 28-07-1993 * Angola * 01-12-1976 * Antigua and Barbuda * 11-11-1981 * Argentina * 24-10-1945 * Armenia * 02-03-1992 * Australia * 01-11-1945 * Austria * 14-12-1955 * Azerbaijan * 02-03-1992
* Bahamas * 18-09-1973 * Bahrain * 21-09-1971 * Bangladesh * 17-09-1974 * Barbados * 09-12-1966 * Belarus* * 24-10-1945 * Belgium * 27-12-1945 * Belize * 25-09-1981 * Benin * 20-09-1960 * Bhutan * 21-09-1971 * Bolivia (Plurinational State of) * 14-11-1945 * Bosnia and Herzegovina* * 22-05-1992 * Botswana * 17-10-1966 * Brazil * 24-10-1945 * Brunei Darussalam * 21-09-1984 * Bulgaria * 14-12-1955 * Burkina Faso * 20-09-1960 * Burundi * 18-09-1962
* C * Cambodia * 14-12-1955 * Cameroon * 20-09-1960 * Canada * 09-11-1945 * Cape Verde * 16-09-1975 * Central African Republic * 20-09-1960 * Chad * 20-09-1960 * Chile * 24-10-1945 * China * 24-10-1945 * Colombia * 05-11-1945 * Comoros * 12-11-1975 * Congo * 20-09-1960 * Costa Rica * 02-11-1945 * Côte D'Ivoire * 20-09-1960 * Croatia* * 22-05-1992 * Cuba * 24-10-1945 * Cyprus * 20-09-1960 * Czech Republic* * 19-01-1993
* D * Democratic People's Republic of Korea * 17-09-1991 * Democratic Republic of the Congo * * 20-09-1960 * Denmark * 24-10-1945 * Djibouti * 20-09-1977 * Dominica * 18-12-1978 * Dominican Republic * 24-10-1945
* Ecuador * 21-12-1945 * Egypt* * 24-10-1945 * El Salvador * 24-10-1945 * Equatoral Guinea * 12-11-1968 * Eritrea * 28-05-1993 * Estonia * 17-09-1991 * Ethiopia * 13-11-1945
* F * Fiji * 13-10-1970 * Finland * 14-12-1955 * France * 24-10-1945
* Gabon * 20-09-1960 * Gambia * 21-09-1965 * Georgia * 31-07-1992 * Germany* * 18-09-1973 * Ghana * 08-03-1957 * Greece * 25-10-1945 * Grenada * 17-09-1974 * Guatemala * 21-11-1945 * Guinea * 12-12-1958 * Guinea Bissau * 17-09-1974 * Guyana * 20-09-1966 * * H
* Haiti * 24-10-1945 * Honduras * 17-12-1945 * Hungary * 14-12-1955
* Iceland * 19-11-1946 * India * 30-10-1945 * Indonesia* * 28-09-1950 * Iran (Islamic Republic of) * 24-10-1945 * Iraq * 21-12-1945 * Ireland * 14-12-1955 * Israel * 11-05-1949 * Italy * 14-12-1955 * * J
* Jamaica * 18-09-1962 * Japan * 18-12-1956 * Jordan * 14-12-1955
* Kazakhstan * 02-03-1992 * Kenya * 16-12-1963 * Kiribati * 14-09-1999 * Kuwait * 14-05-1963 * Kyrgyzstan * 02-03-1992
* Lao People’s Democratic Republic * 14-12-1955 * Latvia * 17-09-1991 * Lebanon * 24-10-1945 * Lesotho * 17-10-1966 * Liberia * 02-11-1945 * Libyan Arab Jamahiriya * 14-12-1955 * Liechtenstein * 18-09-1990 * Lithuania * 17-09-1991 * Luxembourg * 24-10-1945
* Madagascar * 20-09-1960 * Malawi * 01-12-1964 * Malaysia* * 17-09-1957 * Maldives * 21-09-1965 * Mali * 28-09-1960 * Malta * 01-12-1964 * Marshall Islands * 17-09-1991 * Mauritania * 27-10-1961 * Mauritius * 24-04-1968 * Mexico * 07-11-1945 * Micronesia, Federated States of * 17-09-1991 * Monaco * 28-05-1993 * Mongolia * 27-10-1961 * Montenegro* * 28-06-2006 * Morocco * 12-11-1956 * Mozambique * 16-09-1975 * Myanmar * 19-04-1948
* Namibia * 23-04-1990 * Nauru * 14-09-1999 * Nepal * 14-12-1955 * Netherlands * 10-12-1945 * New Zealand * 24-10-1945 * Nicaragua * 24-10-1945 * Niger * 20-09-1960 * Nigeria * 07-10-1960 * Norway * 27-11-1945
* Oman * 07-10-1971
* Pakistan * 30-09-1947 * Palau * 15-12-1994 * Panama * 13-11-1945 * Papua New Guinea * 10-10-1975 * Paraguay * 24-10-1945 * Peru * 31-10-1945 * Philippines * 24-10-1945 * Poland * 24-10-1945 * Portugal * 14-12-1955
* Qatar * 21-09-1971
* Republic of Korea * 17-09-1991 * Republic of Moldova * 02-03-1992 * Romania * 14-12-1955 * Russian Federation* * 24-10-1945 * Rwanda * 18-09-1962 * S
* Saint Kitts and Nevis * 23-09-1983 * Saint Lucia * 18-09-1979 * Saint Vincent and the Grenadines * 16-09-1980 * Samoa * 15-12-1976 * San Marino * 02-03-1992 * Sao Tome and Principe * 16-09-1975 * Saudi Arabia * 24-10-1945 * Senegal * 28-09-1960 * Serbia* * 01-11-2000 * Seychelles * 21-09-1976 * Sierra Leone * 27-09-1961 * Singapore* * 21-09-1965 * Slovakia* * 19-01-1993 * Slovenia* * 22-05-1992 * Solomon Islands * 19-09-1978 * Somalia * 20-09-1960 * South Africa * 07-11-1945 * Spain * 14-12-1955 * Sri Lanka * 14-12-1955 * Sudan * 12-11-1956 * Suriname * 04-12-1975 * Swaziland * 24-09-1968 * Sweden * 19-11-1946 * Switzerland * 10-09-2002 * Syrian Arab Republic* * 24-10-1945
* Tajikistan * 02-03-1992 * Thailand * 16-12-1946 * The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia* * 08-04-1993 * Timor-Leste * 27-09-2002 * Togo * 20-09-1960 * Tonga * 14-09-1999 * Trinidad and Tobago * 18-09-1962 * Tunisia * 12-11-1956 * Turkey * 24-10-1945 * Turkmenistan * 02-03-1992 * Tuvalu * 05-09-2000
* Uganda * 25-10-1962 * Ukraine * 24-10-1945 * United Arab Emirates * 09-12-1971 * United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland * 24-10-1945 * United Republic of Tanzania* * 14-12-1961 * United States of America * 24-10-1945 * Uruguay * 18-12-1945 * Uzbekistan * 02-03-1992
* Vanuatu * 15-09-1981 * Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of * 15-11-1945 * Viet Nam * 20-09-1977
* Yemen* * 30-09-1947
* Z * Zambia * 01-12-1964 * Zimbabwe * 25-08-1980
The UN System
The basic structure of the United Nations is outlined in an organizational chart. What the structure does not show is that decision-making within the UN system is not as easy as in many other organizations. The UN is not an independent, homogeneous organization; it is made up of sovereign states, so actions by the UN depend on the will of Member States, to accept, fund or carry them out. Especially in matters of peace-keeping and international politics, it requires a complex, often slow, process of consensus-building that must take into account national sovereignty as well as global needs. The Specialized Agencies, while part of the UN system, are separate, autonomous intergovernmental organizations which work with the UN and with each other. The agencies carry out work relating to specific fields such as trade, communications, air and maritime transport, agriculture and development. Although they have more autonomy, their work within a country or between countries is always carried out in partnership with those countries. They also depend on funds from Member States to achieve their goals. Recently, international conferences organised by the UN have gained significance. UN conferences have been held since the 1960s, but with the Conference on Environment and Development, known as the Earth Summit, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1992, they turned into real fora for deciding on national and international policy regarding issues that affect everyone such as the environment, human rights and economic development. Since the Earth Summit, UN conferences have turned into forums in which non-governmental organizations (NGOs) can voice their concerns alongside those of governments. Such conferences focus world attention on these issues and place them squarely on the global agenda. Yet, once the international agreements produced by these conferences are signed, it is still up to each individual country to carry them out. With the moral weight of international conferences and the pressures of media and NGOs, Member States are more likely to endorse the agreements and put them into effect.