Wednesday, 24 October 2012


“Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” - Matthew 5:9, New Testament, KJV

The United Nations (UN), the largest international social and political organisation of the world was established on October 24, 1945. The United Nations was the second multipurpose international organisation established in the 20th century that was worldwide in scope and membership. Its predecessor, the League of Nations, was created by the Treaty of Versailles in 1919 and disbanded in 1946.

Headquartered in New York City, the UN also has offices in Geneva, Vienna, and other important cities around the world. Its official languages are Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish. According to its Charter, the UN aims:
“To save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, …to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, …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.”

In addition to maintaining peace and security, its other important objectives include developing friendly relations among countries based on respect for the principles of equal rights and self-determination of peoples; achieving worldwide cooperation to solve international economic, social, cultural, and humanitarian problems; respecting and promoting human rights; and serving as a centre where countries can coordinate their actions and activities toward these various ends.

The UN continued the work of the League of Nations, having essentially a similar general purpose, structure, and functions; many of the UN’s principal organs and related agencies were adopted from similar structures established earlier in the century. In some respects, however, the UN constituted a very different organisation, especially with regard to its objective of maintaining international peace and security and its commitment to economic and social development. Changes in the nature of international relations resulted in modifications in the responsibilities of the UN and its decision-making processes and committees.

Cold War tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union deeply affected the UN’s security functions during its first 45 years. Extensive post-World War II decolonisation in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East increased the volume and nature of political, economic, and social issues that confronted the organisation. The Cold War’s end in 1991 brought renewed attention and appeals to the UN. Amid an increasingly volatile geopolitical climate, there were new challenges to established practices and functions, especially in the areas of conflict resolution and humanitarian assistance.

At the beginning of the 21st century, the UN and its programs and affiliated agencies struggled to address humanitarian crises and civil wars, unprecedented refugee flows, the devastation caused by the spread of AIDS, global financial disruptions, international terrorism, and the disparities in wealth between the world’s richest and poorest peoples. The UN’s power and influence has been under much scrutiny in the early 21st century, with many countries and groups maintaining that the UN is a spent force. However, its varied activities and worldwide programs with their multiplicity of benefits would be sorely missed and many millions of people around the world would be greatly disadvantaged if it were to cease its activities.

October 24 is observed internationally as a day that makes known to peoples of the world the aims and achievements of the United Nations Organisation. United Nations Day is part of United Nations Week, which runs from 20 to 26 October.

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