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Monday, 24 October 2005, 13:59 GMT 14:59 UK
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Sixty years of the United Nations
1 January, 1942
First use of the term united nations
The first recorded public use of the phrase "united nations" comes in a New Year's Day address by US President Franklin D Roosevelt. Thereafter the term was used to describe the coalition of allies fighting Germany and Japan in World War II.
24 April, 1945
United Nations charter drawn up
Fifty countries meet in San Francisco and draw up the United Nations charter. The charter was signed on 26 June. Poland signed shortly afterwards becoming one of the original 51 member states.
24 October, 1945
UN officially comes into existence
With the ratification of the charter by five permanent members of the Security Council the United States USSR Britain France and Republic of China the UN becomes official. Initially it is known as the United Nations Organisation or "UNO" but this had been simplified to simply "UN" by the 1950s.
10 January, 1946
First General Assembly held in London
17 January, 1946
Security Council meets for the first time
The five permanent members of the Security Council the United States USSR France Britain and Republic of China meet for the first time and agree their rules of procedure.
24 January, 1946
General Assembly agrees first resolution
The General Assembly passes its first resolution that nuclear power should be restricted to peaceful purposes and to work towards the elimination of atomic weapons.
1 February, 1946
Trygve Lie of Norway appointed first secretary general
First UN observer mission set up in Palestine
10 October, 1948
General Assembly adopts the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
7 January, 1949
UN envoy Ralph Bunche secures a ceasefire between Israel and Arab states
27 June, 1950
Security Council backs military intervention in in Korea
The UN faces its most serious crisis yet when North Korea invades South Korea on 25 June 1950. At the Security Council the US calls for Northern forces to withdraw to the 38th parallel. The proposal is backed by nine of the 11 Council members. Two days later the US calls on the UN to use force to repel the North Korean forces. This is also endorsed by the Security Council and it is decided that 16 countries will contribute soldiers to fight under a UN joint command.
10 November, 1952
Trygve Lie resigns as secretary general
10 April, 1953
Dag Hammarskjold appointed secretary general
27 July, 1953
Armistice agreed between North and South Korea
7 November, 1956
Suez crisis prompts emergency Security Council meeting
Britain France and Israel react to Egypt's "nationalisation" of the Suez canal a vital trade route by launching an invasion to capture and place it back under their control. But when Russia threatens to intervene the United States fearing a wider war forces Britain and France to pull out. The UN responds by deploying its first peacekeeping force UNEF to the region.
12 October, 1960
Nikita Khruschev ús his shoe on a table during a UN debate
In an infamous episode the Russian leader removes his shoe and ús it on a nearby table to get his point across during a General Assembly debate examining Russia's policies in Eastern Europe.
18 September, 1961
Dag Hammarskjold killed in a plane crash in Congo
30 November, 1962
U Thant appointed secretary general
4 March, 1964
UN approves deployment of a peacekeeping force to Cyprus
10 November, 1966
UN endorses sanctions against Rhodesia now Zimbabwe
22 November, 1967
UN adopts Resolution 242 as basis for Middle East peace
Security Council Resolution 242 is delivered in response to the Six Day War between Israel and Egypt Syria and Jordan. It calls for the withdrawal of Israeli forces "from territories occupied in the recent armed conflict". The phrasing of the resolution provokes intense debate with Israel claiming that the absence of a definitive "the" before "territories" means that it can withdraw from some territory and therefore be in compliance.
12 June, 1968
General Assembly approves the Treaty on the NonProliferation of Nuclear Weapons NPT
25 October, 1971
UN recognises the Peoples Republic of China as the official Chinese government
In 1949 China's communists seized power on the mainland and formed the People's Republic of China PRC. However the UN continued to recognise the former government led by Chiang KaiShek from exile in Taiwan. Throughout the 1950s and 60s the US vetoed PRC membership. But by 1971 a majority of countries in the General Assembly favour the PRC's admission while the US itself is keen to improve relations with Beijing.
1 January, 1972
Kurt Waldheim appointed secretary general
5 June, 1972
First UN Environment Summit Stockholm
Yasser Arafat makes olive branch speech at the UN
The UN recognises the Palestine Liberation Organisation PLO as "the sole legitimate voice of the Palestinian people". In a speech PLO leader Yasser Arafat tells the General Assembly "I come bearing an olive branch and a freedom fighter's gun. Do not let the olive branch fall from my hand." Images from the day reveal that Mr Arafat was wearing a holster as he made his address though it is not known whether it contained a gun.
4 November, 1977
Security Council imposes mandatory arms embargo against South Africa
8 May, 1980
Unicef declares smallpox eradicated three years after the last recorded case
1 January, 1982
Javier Perez de Cuellar appointed secretary general
UN sets up emergency office to coordinate African famine relief
16 September, 1987
UNbacked Montreal Protocol on the environment agreed
The UN Environment Programme UNEP oversees a landmark agreement to phase out the ozonelayer depleting substances by the year 2000. The treaty comes into force on 1 January 1989. Due to its widespread acceptance it would later be described by future Secretary General Kofi Annan as "perhaps the single most successful international agreement to date".
UN deployed to monitor South Africas withdrawal from Namibia
6 August, 1990
Economic sanctions imposed on Iraq
On 2 August 1990 Iraq invaded neighbouring Kuwait and installed a puppet regime loyal to Saddam Hussein. Within hours the Security Council meets and issues Resolution 660 condemning the invasion and demanding Iraq withdraw its troops. This is ignored and on 6 August Resolution 661 is passed imposing economic sanctions.
2 September, 1990
Convention on the Rights of the Child comes into force
29 November, 1990
UN gives Iraq a deadline to withdraw from Kuwait
The Security Council passes Resolution 678 requesting that Iraq withdraw from Kuwait by 15 January 1991 and authorising the use of "all necessary means to uphold and implement Resolution 660".
17 January, 1991
USled coalition launches military campaign against Iraq
3 April, 1991
Unscom set up to supervise destruction of Iraqs WMD programme
31 May, 1991
UN negotiates a ceasefire in Angolas 16year civil war
1 January, 1992
Boutros Boutros Ghali appointed secretary general
3 June, 1992
UN Earth Summit Rio de Janeiro
In the largest and perhaps most ambitious UN summit to date 172 governments including 108 heads of state or government meet in Brazil to discuss climate change and other environmental issues. The meeting concludes with the agreement of the Framework Convention on Climate Change aimed at reducing emissions of greenhouse gases.
UN supervises elections in Cambodia ending 15 years of war and instability
UN fails to act over Rwanda genocide
Over 100 days from AprilJune 1994 some 800000 Rwandans were killed after severe ethnic tension between the country's Hutu and Tutsi population erupted into mass killing. Despite prior warnings and clear evidence of what was going on the UN and international community failed to redetrce the small UN force in the country.
26 April, 1994
UN observers monitor South Africas first multiracial election
13 July, 1995
UN fails to prevent mass killings in Srebrenica
At the height of the Bosnian war Dutch UN peacekeeping troops fail to prevent Serbian forces overrunning a Muslim enclave declared by the Security Council to be a safe haven and killing some 7000 people.
10 September, 1996
General Assembly adopts the Comprehensive TestBan Treaty
1 January, 1997
Kofi Annan appointed secretary general
UNadministered Iraq oilforfood programme begins
Agreed in 1996 the oilforfood programme was intended as a measure by which food and other humanitarian supplies could be delivered to the Iraqi people circumventing economic sanctions yet preventing Saddam Hussein's regime profiting from oil exports.
Security Council fails to deliver resolution on Kosovo conflict
24 March, 1999
UN failure to invervene in Kosovo prompts Nato military action
In the wake of President Slobodan Milosevic deploying troops to quell a rebellion led by the Kosovo Liberation Army Nato launches airstrikes against Yugoslavia in the absence of UNled intervention.
UN takes over administration of Kosovo
With the withdrawal of Serb troops at the end of the conflict the UN sets up a Kosovo Peace Implementation Force Kfor under the auspices of the UN Mission in Kosovo UNMIK. Its mandate includes the provision of food and shelter to returning refugees ensuring security and setting up a new system of law and order.
20 September, 1999
UN peacekeeping force deployed to East Timor
20 March, 2003
USled coalition launches military action against Iraq without UN support
A USled coalition including Britain and Australia invade Iraq with the aim of removing Saddam Hussein. In the runup to war the coalition try and fail to gain Security Council backing with military force opposed by Russia France and China.
19 August, 2003
Car bomb at UNs Baghdad headquarters kills 17 including envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello
Independent inquiry into oilfor food programme
The UN sets up a highlevel inquiry into allegations that UN companies officials and politicians profited from illegal oil sales during the OFF programme. Former US Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker is appointed to head the panel.
7 September, 2005
UN severely criticised over oilforfood corruption
The Volcker panel delivers a damning report finding instances of "illicit unethical and corrupt" behaviour during the oilforfood programme and blaming the secretary general for mismanagement. The inquiry concludes that the UN is in urgent need of reform.
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Bruised but intact, the UN is 60
23 Oct 05 | Americas
Profile: United Nations
24 Aug 05 | Country profiles
Profile: The UN Security Council
24 Aug 05 | Country profiles
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