UN Basics

The United Nations is an international organization, now composed of 193 member states, founded in 1945, after the Second World War, by 51 countries with the purpose of:

  • maintaining international peace and security,
  • developing friendly relations among nations
  • promoting social progress, better living standards and human rights.

The work of the United Nations extends to the far reaches of the globe, with no people or country excluded from its attention. Although best known for peacekeeping, peace building, conflict prevention and humanitarian assistance, the UN also works on many important issues from sustainable development and protection of refugees to promoting democracy and gender equality.

Given its unique international character, and the powers given it by its founding Charter, the UN can address and act on issues of global and humanitarian concern. It also offers its 193 Member States a setting to express their views and discuss important topics, in the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council and other bodies and committees.

From the beginning, the UN has welcomed the presence and input from non-governmental organizations, also known as “civil society.” These groups support and communicate many UN initiatives on the one hand and bring grassroots wisdom to the UN table on the other.

For more information on the UN, visit their website:

http://www.un.org/