The United Nations was founded by “peace-loving states” in 1945. The UN now has 193 member nations.
United Nations Day has been observed on October 24 since 1948 and celebrates the objectives and accomplishments of the organization. The UN engages in peacekeeping and humanitarian missions across the globe. Though some say its influence has declined in recent decades, the United Nations still plays a tremendous role in world politics.
Since 1948 there have been 63 UN peacekeeping operations; 17 are currently under way. So far, close to 130 nations have contributed personnel at various times; 119 are currently providing peacekeepers. The top contributors of military and civilian personnel to missions as of March 2007 were Pakistan (10,173), Bangladesh (9,675), India (9,471), and Nepal (3,628). The small island nation of Fiji has taken part in virtually every UN peacekeeping operation, as has Canada.
Charter and Principal Organs
The UN Charter comprises a preamble and 19 chapters divided into 111 articles. The Charter defines the purposes of the United Nations as: the maintenance of international peace and security, the development of friendly relations between 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.
The principal organs of the United Nations, as specified in the Charter, are the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, the Trusteeship Council, the International Court of Justice, and the Secretariat. The UN also included many other specialized agencies not set forth in the charter.
The Secretariat and the Secretary General
All UN administrative functions are handled by the Secretariat, with the secretary general at its head. Also strengthening the office of secretary general is the large Secretariat staff, which is recruited on a wide geographic basis and is required to work exclusively in the interests of the organization.