76 years ago, great leaders came together to establish a global organization aimed at achieving world peace. October 24, 2022, marks the 76th anniversary of the United Nations and is now honored with the celebration of United Nations Day.
Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill advanced the naming of this global body and since that time the organization has earned the gravity the naming holds as the United Nations. In 1942, The declaration by the United Nations provided a platform and approach that formalized the alliance of victors in World War II. The term, United Nations became the name of the entities that cooperated as allies during the war, which included Great Britain, the US, the Soviet Union and 22 others during WWII. Nations had to sign the declaration and declare war on the axis powers to join. Soon after, those nations sought the creation of a new international organization to replace the predecessor organization, the League of Nations, which had failed to keep global peace. Stalin, Churchill, and Roosevelt further led efforts to create this organization by meeting in Tehran to discuss the idea further.
By 1945, twenty-one additional nations signed the Declaration by United Nations. During the war and after much planning, the idea finally came to fruition as a total of fifty governments met to draft the original Charter of the United Nations. In 1945, the UN became formalized after the ratification of the Charter by most of the signatories. It was agreed that headquarters and operations would be set in New York City.
The UN’s principles are based on saving future generations from war, protecting human rights, and establishing equal rights for everyone. The organization advocates for principles and forward progress related to justice, freedom, and social progress.
During the Cold War era, the UN played a critical role of keeping peace between the Soviet Union and the United States. However, while playing peacekeeper the UN failed to mediate all global conflicts including these world powers as is evidenced by conflicts in the Middle East and Vietnam. This failure caused a shift in the priorities from peacekeeping to economic development and cultural exchange. Simultaneously, the world was experiencing rapid decolonization creating many nations who would go on to join the UN.
It wasn’t until the end of the Cold War that the UN began to take peacekeeping missions on again. This shift back to peacekeeping was substantial and it had more peacekeeping missions in five years than it had in the previous four years. Missions in places like Namibia, Somalia and Bosnia began to pop up as well as various conflicts around the globe where the UN decided to take a role. The UN has also begun to provide relief missions for global humanitarian crises like during the earthquake that decimated Haiti.
As the world goes through the modern age, the UN continues to take on new problems and challenges that arise. These issues vary broadly from areas like artificial intelligence security to pandemics, which are issues front and center at the UN public policy discussions. The UN has expanded into 22 other areas such as fighting AIDS, regulating atomic energy, saving the planet from climate change and advocating water rights. Children and education have been an important part of the UN. In 1959, the Declaration of the Rights of the Child was ratified to protect children’s rights to combat issues such as nutrition or child labor. Ending child participation in armed conflicts has been a goal for the UN for the last 20 years. In 2019, over 1 billion children were living in countries affected by a conflict, and over 400 million children are living inside those actual conflict zones. The UN continues to try to find solutions to mediate these realities and be able to give a life full of opportunities to these children. That’s why the UN works in so many areas. There’s so much work to be done.
The UN encourages all its members to develop concrete solutions to problem solving and achieving peace and safety for all its members while contemplating opportunities for individuals around the globe. Today, the United Nations has 193 permanent member states. It continues to enforce international law, security, and human rights while advancing important conversations about global policy and geopolitics. It will no doubt continue its fight for justice while it holds an important substantive and symbolic place at the center of the world peace discussion.
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