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What is the United Nations: The Important Things to Know


What is the United Nations? If you’re wondering, this article covers UN members, history, mission, charter, work, and the future of the United Nations.

In 1942, at the height of World War II, the charter of the United Nations was first signed. The United Nations was first formed by a mere 26 countries who signed the Declaration of The United Nations, along with 24 others who joined the famous San Francisco Conference in 1945. The first signatories were world leaders representing the United States, Britain, Russia, and China. 

People from dozens of countries are working for the UN every day. What is the United Nations, you ask? The United Nations is a collection of governments working together to prevent war and confront global issues.

flags in front of the United Nations building

That’s only the surface behind what the United Nations is for and does though. Let’s dive deeper into all the important things you should know about the United Nations.

What Is the United Nations? 

The United Nations is a multinational organization that has operated in its current form since 1945. The goal of the United Nations is to confront issues that impact more than a single or small group of countries.

The most common issues faced by the United Nations, or UN for short, are international issues that face humanity. These issues include human rights, terrorism, peace, how to fight climate change, and gender equality.

The United Nations works by bringing together all nations to discuss and solve problems faced by the world. You can read the original UN charter here.

The Work of the United Nations

What does the UN do? The United Nations brings together and employs assets from all over the world. Using these assets, the United Nations can help deal with major threats to stability and peace on a regional level.

One of the most famous things the United Nations does is form peacekeeping forces. These forces consist of multinational volunteers. 

Another famous thing the United Nations does is address issues such as famine and migration. The United Nations is also known to send observers to dangerous areas to make sure international law is being followed.

The United Nations is also responsible for forming the rules and practices governing embassies and consulates

Leadership of the UN

UN HQ in NYC United Nations headquarters in New York City
United Nations headquarters in New York City. Taken by D. Shamkhali via unsplash.com. [Public Domain].

Who runs the United Nations? The United Nations is not run by any single country. Instead, there is an elected Secretary-General that acts as the chief executive of the United Nations.

To be the Secretary-General, a candidate has to be voted in by 9 of the 15 security council members. A single permanent member can veto their nomination.

After the Security Council has approved a candidate, the entire General Assembly votes. The General Assembly consists of representatives from all 193 countries.

The Secretary-General acts as something akin to a diplomat and a CEO all rolled into one. Each Secretary-General has followed a different method of operating and held different priorities. 

There have been 9 Secretary-Generals since the founding of the United Nations. The current Secretary-General is Antonio Guterres from Portugal. 

United Nations logo on the UN flag
United Nations logo on the UN flag.

Where is the United Nations located? The UN holds international territory in New York City, where it also has its headquarters. Its other main main offices around the world are in Geneva, Nairobi, Vienna, and The Hague.

Who Is in the United Nations?

The United Nations consists of every country recognized as a sovereign authority on Earth. This totals 193 total countries that are currently represented. When someone asks how many countries are there, the UN’s count is usually the standard answer.

To join the United Nations, a country submits a letter agreeing to the charter of the United Nations. The Secretary-General reviews it and if accepting the membership, is voted on in the General Assembly. 

The United Nations is intended to represent the interests of all humanity. It doesn’t cater to the interests of a single nation over any others. Large and small nations alike are represented.

The United Nations also provides information and estimates on the safety of travel to various places like the nations in Africa, the countries of the Middle East, and other volatile regions.

The Charter of the United Nations

The Charter of the United Nations is the summation of the United Nations’ meaning. The document sets out objectives and goals for the organization. 

The charter lays the groundwork for how the United Nations operates. Membership, official departments and the codes of conduct are all listed there. 

Every nation that wishes to join the United Nations must agree to follow the charter and respect it. This includes abiding by decisions passed down by the United Nations Security Council. 

The charter lays out rules for international economic activity and social cooperation. The focus of the United Nations is to bring together humanity in a way never seen before. 

The UN Security Council

One of the major things the United Nations do is bring together all the global powers. This body is called the Security Council. The primary responsibility of the Security Council is the promotion of peace and stability.

There are five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council that have veto power. Every one of these nations must agree or abstain from a motion or resolution to be passed. 

The five countries represented permanently on the council are the United States, Russia, China, Britain, and France. There is also a rotating roster of other nations and leaders of the Security Council changes hands every month.

The Impact of the United Nations

The United Nations has changed the world and the behavior of nations. Since the inception of the United Nations, the organization has presided over the greatest period of peace and prosperity in world history.

There have been many bumps along the road, but in general, the world has been a better place. The world-shattering wars of the early 20th century have been replaced by diplomatic discussions and disagreements.

International trade and diplomacy have experienced a zenith that has never been matched in human history. The United Nations has helped make our world more open to travel, commerce, and sharing ideas.

What is the United Nations? The United Nations is the best hope and greatest attempt humanity has ever aimed for at bringing the world together. 

Without the United Nations, there is no telling how many more world wars might have already been fought. Nuclear war could have occurred. The United Nations played a critical role during the Cold War in preventing hostilities between the United States and Russia. 

Moving into the 21st century, the United Nations has adapted to every major shift in technology. The United Nations continues to adapt to address the security challenges of the new century.

We hope this article helped you better understand what the United Nations is and the role it plays in maintaining world order. Be sure to take a moment to browse Dauntless Jaunter for other great reads on traveling and learning about the world.

Written by
Christian Eilers
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