Portal:United Nations

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The flag of the United Nations

The United Nations (UN) is an international organization whose stated aims are to facilitate cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, and human rights issues. It was founded in 1945 with the signing of the United Nations Charter by 51 countries.

The UN was founded after the end of World War II (October 24,1945) by the victorious Allied Powers in the hope that it would act to intervene in conflicts between nations and thereby avoid war. The organization's structure still reflects in some ways the political power-structure of when it was founded. The five permanent members of the UN Security Council, each of which has veto power on any UN resolution, are the main victors of World War II or their successor states: the People's Republic of China (formerly the Republic of China), France, Russia (formerly the Soviet Union), the United Kingdom, and the United States.

There are currently 193 United Nations member states, including the majority of internationally recognized independent state. From its headquarters in New York City, the UN and its specialized agencies decide on substantive and administrative issues in regular meetings held throughout each year. The United Nations is divided into five major administrative organs - the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Secretariat, the International Court of Justice, and the Economic and Social Council. Additional bodies deal with the governance of all other United Nations system organizations, such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). The UN's most visible public figure is the Secretary-General, currently Ban Ki-moon of South Korea, who attained the post on 1 January 2007. The newest Member State is South Sudan, added on July 2011.

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Selected article

Logo of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee

A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a place (such as a forest, mountain, lake, island, desert, monument, building, complex, or city) that is listed by the UNESCO as of special cultural or physical significance. The list is maintained by the international World Heritage Programme administered by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, composed of 21 states' parties which are elected by their General Assembly.

The programme catalogues, names, and conserves sites of outstanding cultural or natural importance to the common heritage of humanity. Under certain conditions, listed sites can obtain funds from the World Heritage Fund. The programme was founded with the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, which was adopted by the General Conference of UNESCO on 16 November 1972. Since then, 190 states parties have ratified the Convention, making it one of the most adhered to international instruments. As of 2013, 981 sites are listed: 759 cultural, 193 natural, and 29 mixed properties, in 160 states parties.

Selected biography

Javier Pérez de Cuéllar

Javier Pérez de Cuéllar (born 19 January 1920) is a Peruvian diplomat who served as the fifth Secretary-General of the United Nations from 1982 to 1991. He studied in Colegio San Agustín of Lima, and then at Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú.

Pérez de Cuéllar joined the Peruvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1940, and in 1944 began serving as Secretary, then Ambassador, at seven countries' Embassies. He was a member of the Peruvian delegation to the first UN General Assembly session in 1946, as well as the 25th through 30th sessions. In 1971, he was appointed the UN's Permanent Representative of Peru, and was appointed as United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Special Political Affairs in 1979.

Pérez de Cuéllar succeeded Kurt Waldheim as Secretary-General in 1981. During his two terms, he led mediations between Britain and Argentina in the aftermath of the Falklands War and promoted efforts to bring peace and stability to Central America. He also interceded in the negotiations for the independence of Namibia, conflict in Western Sahara, and the Cyprus issue. After serving at the UN, Pérez de Cuéllar returned to Peruvian politics, eventually retiring in France in 2004.

Selected image

Vienna International Centre
The Vienna International Centre is the campus and building complex hosting the United Nations Office at Vienna.

Photo credit: BambooBeast

Selected quote

Kofi Annan
In the 21st century, I believe the mission of the United Nations will be defined by a new, more profound awareness of the sanctity and dignity of every human life, regardless of race or religion.
Kofi Annan, Secretary-General from 1997 to 2006

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Headquarters of the International Criminal Court in the Hague

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