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1945: United Nations Organisation is born

AUDIO : US Edward Stettinius: "This is only the beginning"

The United Nations Organisation has been formally inaugurated during a short ceremony at the US State Department in Washington.

A total of 29 countries ratified the United Nations Charter that was signed by 50 nations on 26 June in San Francisco. US Secretary of State James Byrnes signed the protocol and proclaimed the charter was "now a part of the law of nations".

He said it was a historic day for peace-loving nations of the world. But he warned peace was not based on documents but depended on the will of people to maintain it.

He added the USA would do its best to promote international co-operation.

Global security

The world security organisation aims to "save succeeding generations from the scourge of war" and maintain international peace and security.

The UN Charter upholds human rights and proposes that nations should work together to overcome social, economic, humanitarian and cultural challenges.

The name "United Nations" was coined by US President Franklin D Roosevelt, and was first used in the Declaration by United Nations of 1 January 1942 when representatives of 26 nations pledged to continue fighting together against the Axis Powers.

Further proposals for an international security organisation were discussed in August 1944 at Dumbarton Oaks, in the District of Columbia, USA. The final charter was then signed in June in San Francisco and ratified today.

The UN's predecessor, the League of Nations, was established after the 1914-18 World War. It aimed to prevent another global conflict, but it failed to prevent the devastating world war that has just ended.

Much of the league's structure and many of its aims have been adopted by its successor.

The organisation will consist of six organs:

A Military Staff Committee will be charged with security and may take control of weapons such as the atomic bomb.

The permanent headquarters of the UNO will be in the US although it has been revealed that France, the UK and the Netherlands voted against this decision.

No ostentatious entertaining

A preparatory commission will gather in London next month to prepare for the UNO's first General Assembly meeting in the British capital early next year expected to bring 2,000 people to the city.

Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin will lead the British delegation.

Colonel GR Codrington, who is leading the event's organisers at the Foreign Office, told the Times newspaper there would be "no ostentatious entertaining" and that visitors would be given emergency ration cards.

Bomb damage has restricted the amount of hotel rooms available and members of the public have responded to an appeal to take guests into their homes during the conference.

In Context
United Nations Day is celebrated on 24 October each year.

The United Nations Organisation became known simply as the United Nations and by 2005 comprised 191 member states.

Its numbers were swollen as colonies became independent and the Soviet Union disintegrated.

The Vatican and Taiwan remain non-members.

Most members have permanent missions at the UN's main headquarters in New York. This was built in 1952 on land beside the East River donated by US millionaire John D Rockefeller.

Fourteen independent agencies make up the "UN System" alongside many of the organisation's own programmes and agencies.

These include the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the World Health Organisation.

Frictions between the Western nations and the Soviet Bloc during the Cold War dominated much of the organisation's first four decades and hampered the functioning of the Security Council.

Since the 1990s the UN has taken on an increasingly interventionist approach.

Despite some successes in the peacekeeping arena, operations in Bosnia, Rwanda and Somalia were flawed, failing to prevent massacres and even genocide.

A 2000 report criticised the UN's insistence on neutrality in situations where one side resorted to violence, warning that this could render missions ineffective.

The share-out of power in the UN, particularly in the Security Council, is hotly debated. Critics say the over-riding influence of the council's five permanent members is unfair.

After years of financial crisis, the UN has come under pressure to cut spending and to slim down its bureaucracy. Member nations owe the organisation billions of dollars.


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