Background Note: United Nations

PA Source: Office of Public Communication, Bureau of Public Affairs Description: Historical, Political and Economic Overviews of the Countries of the World Date: Oct, 15 199210/15/92 Category: Country Data Region: Whole World Country: Ashmore and Cartier Islands Subject: Travel, Human Rights, Arms Control, Security Assistance and Sales, History, International Organizations, Trade/Economics, Military Affairs, Cultural Exchange [TEXT]

Official Name:

United Nations


By charter signed in San Francisco, California, on June 26, 1945; effective October 24, 1945.
To maintain international peace and security; to develop friendly relations among nations; to achieve international cooperation in solving economic, social, cultural, and humanitarian problems and in promoting respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms; to be a center for harmonizing the actions of nations in attaining these common ends.
Official languages:
Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, Spanish.
Principal organs:
General Assembly, Security Council, Economic and Social Council, Trusteeship Council, International Court of Justice, Secretariat.
UN assessed budget (calendar year 1991)--$1.2 billion. US share--$298 million. In calendar 1991, the United States paid its full assessment of $1.1 billion to the United Nations, its agencies, and other international organizations, including UN peace-keeping operations, voluntary contributions for other UN organizations such as UNICEF, and $25 million for UN refugee programs.
Chief Administrative Officer:
Secretary General of the United Nations, appointed to a 5-yr. term by the General Assembly on the recommendation of the Security Council. Secretary General: Boutros Boutros-Ghali.
A worldwide staff of 23,000, including more than 2,800 US citizens. The staff is appointed by the Secretary General according to UN regulations.
General Assembly
All UN members. President: Elected at the beginning of each General Assembly session.
Main committees:
First--Political and Security, primarily disarmament; Special Political Committee. Second--Economic and Financial. Third--Social, Humanitarian, and Cultural. Fourth-- Trusteeship. Fifth--Administrative and Budgetary. Sixth--Legal. Many other committees address specific issues, including peace- keeping, outer space, crime prevention, status of women, and UN Charter reform.
Security Council
Five permanent members (China, France, Russia, UK, US), each with the right to veto, and 10 non-permanent members elected by the General Assembly for 2-year terms. (In December 1991, Russia assumed the permanent Security Council seat previously held by the USSR.) Five non-permanent members are elected from Africa and Asia combined; one from Eastern Europe; two from Latin America; and two from Western Europe and other areas. Non-permanent members are not eligible for immediate reelection. The 1992 non-permanent members are Austria, Belgium, Cape Verde, Hungary, Japan, Morocco, Venezuela , Ecuador, India, and Zimbabwe.
Rotates monthly in English alphabetical order of members.
Economic and Social Council
54; 18 elected each year by the General Assembly for 3-year terms. President: Elected each year.
Trusteeship Council
China, France, Russia, UK, US.
Elected each year.
International Court of Justice
15, elected for 9-year terms by the General Assembly and the Security Council from nominees of national groups under provisions of the International Court of Justice Statute.


The immediate antecedent of the United Nations was the League of Nations. It was created under US leadership following World War I (although the United States never became a member). The League existed from 1919 until its reduced organization and functions were replaced by the United Nations in 1945. The idea for the United Nations found expression in declarations signed at conferences in Moscow and Tehran in October and December 1943. In the summer of 1944, representatives of the USSR, the UK, and the United States met at Dumbarton Oaks, a mansion in Washington, DC. Later, discussions among China, the UK, and the United States resulted in proposals concerning the purposes and principles of an international organization, its membership and principal organs, as well as arrangements to maintain international peace and security and international economic and social cooperation. These proposals were discussed and debated by governments and private citizens worldwide. On March 5, 1945, invitations to a conference to be held in San Francisco in April were issued by the United States on behalf of itself, China, the USSR, and the UK to 42 other governments that had signed the January 1, 1942, "Declaration by United Nations" and that had declared war on Germany or Japan no later than March 1, 1945. The conference added Argentina, Denmark, and the two republics of Belarus and the Ukraine, bringing the total to 50. The 50 nations represented at San Francisco signed the Charter of the United Nations on June 26, 1945. Poland, which was not represented at the conference but for which a place among the original signatories had been reserved, added its name later, bringing the total of original signatories to 51. The United Nations came into existence 4 months later, on October 24, 1945, when the Charter had been ratified by the five permanent members of the Security Council--China, France, the USSR, the UK, and the United States--and by a majority of the other signatories. UN membership is open to all "peace-loving states" that accept the obligations of the UN Charter and, in the judgment of the organization, are able and willing to fulfill these obligations. Admission to membership is determined by the General Assembly upon recommendation of the Security Council. In September 1991, there were 166 members. By August 1992, 179 countries were members of the UN. In September 1992, however, the General Assembly, by a vote of 127 to 6 with 26 abstentions, revoked Yugoslavia's membership, reducing the total to 178. In New York City, the UN owns its headquarters site , which is international territory. The UN headquarters building was constructed between January 1, 1949, and August 21, 1950, beside the East River on donated land. Under special agreement with the United States, certain diplomatic privileges and immunities have been granted, but generally the laws of New York City, New York State, and the United States apply.


Under the UN Charter, the Security Council has "primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security," and all UN members "agree to accept and carry out the decisions of the Security Council in accordance with the present Charter." Other organs of the United Nations make recommendations to member governments. The Security Council, however, has the power to make decisions, which member governments must carry out under the Charter. A representative of each Security Council member must always be present at UN headquarters so that the Council can meet at any time. Decisions in the Security Council on all substantive matters--for example, a decision calling for direct measures related to the settlement of a dispute--require the affirmative votes of nine members, including the support of all five permanent members. A negative vote--a veto--by a permanent member prevents adoption of a proposal that has received the required number of affirmative votes. Abstention is not regarded as a veto. A permanent member usually abstains when it does not wish to vote in favor of a decision or to block it with a veto. A state that is a member of the UN but not of the Security Council may participate in Security Council discussions in which the Council agrees that the country's interests are particularly affected. In recent years, the Council has interpreted this loosely, enabling many countries to take part in its discussions. Non-members routinely are invited to take part when they are parties to disputes being considered by the Council. Although the UN Charter gives the Security Council primary responsibility for international peace and security, it recommends that states first make every effort to settle their disputes peacefully, either bilaterally or through regional organizations. Under Chapter Six of the Charter, "Pacific Settlement of Disputes," the Security Council "may investigate any dispute, or any situation which might lead to international friction or give rise to a dispute." The Council may "recommend appropriate procedures or methods of adjustment" if it determines that the situation might endanger international peace and security. These recommendations are not binding on UN members. Under Chapter Seven, the Council has broader power to decide what measures to be taken in situations involving "threats to the peace, breaches of the peace, or acts of aggression." In such situations, the Council is not limited to recommendations but may take action, including the use of armed force, "to maintain or restore international peace and security." This was the basis for UN armed action in Korea in 1950 and the use of coalition forces in Iraq and Kuwait in 1991. In the case of Iraq, the Security Council adopted 12 resolutions in 1990 that clearly laid out the path of peace for that country to follow. Those resolutions demanded that Iraq withdraw immediately and unconditionally from Kuwait, established an economic embargo against Iraq backed by force, and authorized the use of "all means necessary" to expel Iraqi armed forces from Kuwait if the Iraqis did not withdraw by January 15, 1991. When the Iraqis did not withdraw, the international coalition of forces launched Operation Desert Storm at 4:50 pm Eastern Standard Time on January 16 to force Iraq into complying with the 12 UN Security Council resolutions. As a result of that joint military operation, the Iraqi armed forces were expelled from Kuwait.


The General Assembly is made up of all 178 UN members. Member countries are seated in English alphabetical order. Each year, seating begins at a point in the alphabet determined through a drawing. The Assembly meets in regular session once a year under a president elected from among the representatives. The regular session usually begins on the third Tuesday in September and ends in mid-December. Special sessions can be convened at the request of the Security Council, of a majority of UN members, or, if the majority concurs, of a single member. There have been 14 special sessions of the General Assembly. The 10th special session, in 1978, constituted the largest inter-governmental conference on disarmament in history. Voting in the General Assembly on important questions-- recommendations on peace and security; election of members to organs; admission, suspension, and expulsion of members; trusteeship questions; budgetary matters--is by a two-thirds majority of those present and voting "yes" or "no." Abstentions are not counted. Other questions are decided by a simple majority vote. Each member country has one vote. Apart from approval of budgetary matters, including adoption of a scale of assessment, Assembly resolutions are not binding on the members. It may make recommendations on any questions or matters within the scope of the UN except matters of peace and security under Security Council consideration. As the only UN organ in which all members are represented, the Assembly has been the forum in which members have launched major initiatives on international questions of peace, economic progress, and human rights. It may initiate studies and make recommen- dations to promote international political cooperation; develop and codify international law; realize human rights and fundamental freedoms; and further international economic, social, cultural, educational, and health programs. The Assembly may take action if the Security Council is unable-- usually due to disagreement among the five permanent members--to exercise its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace in a case involving an apparent threat to the peace, breach of peace, or act of aggression. The "Uniting for Peace" resolutions, adopted in 1950, empower the Assembly, if not already in session, to convene in emergency special session on 24-hour notice and to recommend collective measures--including the use of armed force in the case of a breach of the peace or act of aggression. Two-thirds of the members must approve any such recommendation. Emergency special sessions under this procedure have been held on nine occasions. The eighth emergency special session, in September 1981, considered the situation in Namibia. The situation in the occupied Arab territories, following Israel's unilateral extension of its laws, jurisdiction, and administration to the Golan Heights, was the subject of the ninth emergency session in January and February 1982. Recently, the Assembly has become a forum for the North-South dialogue--the discussion of issues between industrialized nations and developing countries. These issues have come to the fore because of the phenomenal growth and changing makeup of the UN membership. Smaller countries that achieved independence after the UN's creation have caused a massive shift in the Assembly. In 1945, the United Nations had 51 members: now more than two-thirds of its 178 members are developing countries. There are many differences in wealth, size, and outlook among the developing countries. Nevertheless, this large group (some 120 countries in the General Assembly), known as "the Third World," the "non-aligned," and the "Group of 77," has generally voted and acted in concert. Because of their numbers, they tend to determine the agenda of the Assembly, the character of its debates, and the nature of its decisions. For many developing countries, the United Nations is particularly important. It is the collective source of much of their diplomatic influence and the basic outlet for their foreign relations initiatives. Increasingly, they seek inclusion in the councils of power, and the UN provides such a policy forum. The UN has devoted significant attention to the problems of the developing countries, in response to their growing political importance in multilateral arenas. The General Assembly has guided, and in many cases created, special programs to help developing nations acquire the skills, knowledge, and organization they need for more productive economies. These programs complement the work of the various specialized agencies in the UN system. Through its economic committee, the Assembly remains concerned with the question of economic development. Economic and Social Council The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) assists the General Assembly in promoting international economic and social cooperation and development. ECOSOC has 54 members, 18 of whom are selected each year by the General Assembly for a 3-year term. A retiring member is eligible for immediate reelection--the United States, France, the UK, and the USSR have been members since the UN was founded. ECOSOC has held two major sessions each year: a spring meeting, usually in New York, and a summer meeting, usually in Geneva, but now is merging the two sessions into one 7-week session, alternating locations between New York and Geneva. The president is elected for a 1-year term. Voting is by simple majority. ECOSOC undertakes studies and makes recommendations on development, world trade, industrialization, natural resources, human rights, the status of women, population, narcotics, social welfare, science and technology, crime prevention, and other issues. Trusteeship Council. The UN trusteeship system was established to help ensure that non- self-governing territories were administered in the best interests of the inhabitants and of international peace and security. The Trusteeship Council operates under the authority of the General Assembly or, in the case of strategic trusts, the Security Council. It assists those bodies in carrying out their responsibilities under the UN Charter. A UN member administering a trust territory is pledged to promote the political, economic, and educational advancement of the territory's people. It also promotes "progressive development towards self-government or independence as may be appropriate to the particular circumstances of each territory and its people and the freely expressed wishes of the peoples concerned." As recently as 1957, 11 territories--most of them former mandates of the League of Nations or territories taken from enemy states at the end of World War II--were part of the UN trusteeship system. All but one have attained self-government or independence, either as separate nations or by joining neighboring independent countries. The only one remaining is the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands (TTPI), designated as a strategic area and administered by the United States under a 1947 agreement with the Security Council. On May 28, 1986, the Trusteeship Council determined that the United States had fulfilled its obligations as trustee and asked it to make arrangements for trusteeship termination by September 30, 1986, according to the new status arrangements negotiated with TTPI governments and ratified by their peoples in UN-observed acts of self-determination. As a result of these arrangements, the Republic of the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia became sovereign, self-governing states in free association with the United States. A third TTPI entity, the Northern Mariana Islands, had become a self- governing US commonwealth in 1986. On December 22, 1990, the Security Council confirmed the Trusteeship Council's action in Resolution 683. A fourth TTPI entity, the Republic of Palau, remains subject to the Trusteeship Agreement. The United States and Palau have negotiated a Compact of Free Association, under which Palau would have a status comparable to that of the Marshall Islands and Micronesia. Efforts to bring the compact into effect have been thwarted, however, by failure to obtain the approval of 75% of Palau's voters in order to reconcile nuclear provisions of the compact with non-nuclear provisions of the Palauan Constitution. Membership of the Trusteeship Council consists of the United States--the only country now administering a trust territory--and the other permanent members of the Security Council--China, France, the UK, and Russia.International Court of Justice The International Court of Justice is the principal judicial organ of the UN. The Court was established under the Charter in 1945 as the successor to the Permanent Court of International Justice. Its main functions are to decide cases submitted to it by states and to give advisory opinions on legal questions submitted to it by the General Assembly or Security Council, or by such specialized agencies as may be authorized to do so by the General Assembly in accordance with the UN Charter. The seat of the Court is in The Hague, Netherlands. It is composed of 15 judges elected by the General Assembly and the Security Council from a list of persons nominated by the national groups in the Permanent Court of Arbitration. Electors are mandated to bear in mind the qualifications of the candidates and the need for the Court as a whole to represent the main cultural groups and principal legal systems. No two judges may be nationals of the same country. Judges serve for 9 years and may be reelected. One-third of the Court (five judges) is elected every 3 years. Questions before the Court are decided by a majority of judges present. Nine judges constitute a quorum. In case of a tie, the president of the Court casts the deciding vote. In certain circumstances, parties may be entitled to request a specific judge for a specific case. Only states may be parties in cases before the International Court of Justice. This does not preclude private interests from being the subject of proceedings if one state brings the case against another. Jurisdiction of the Court is based on the consent of the parties. The United States accepted the Court's compulsory jurisdiction in 1946 but withdrew its acceptance following the Court's decision in the Nicaragua case in 1986. In the event of a dispute concerning the Court's jurisdiction, the matter is settled by the Court. Judgments are binding upon the parties. The Security Council can be called upon by a party to determine measures to be taken to give effect to a judgment if the other party fails to perform its obligations under that judgment. Examples of cases include: -- A dispute between Greece and Turkey over the boundary of the continental shelf in the Aegean Sea; -- A complaint by the United States in 1980 that Iran was detaining American diplomats in Tehran in violation of international law; -- A dispute between Tunisia and Libya over the delimitation of the continental shelf between them; -- A dispute over the course of the maritime boundary dividing the United States and Canada in the Gulf of Maine area; and -- A complaint brought by Nicaragua against the United States concerning military and paramilitary activities.
The Secretariat is headed by the Secretary General, assisted by a staff of about 10,000 international civil servants worldwide. It provides studies, information, and facilities needed by UN bodies for their meetings. It also carries out tasks as directed by the Security Council, the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council, and other authorized UN bodies. The Charter provides that the staff be chosen by application of the "highest standards of efficiency, competence, and integrity," with due regard for the importance of recruiting the staff on as wide a geo-graphical basis as possible. The Charter also provides that the Secretary General and staff shall not seek or receive instructions from any government or authority other than the United Nations. Each UN member is enjoined to respect the international character of the Secretariat and not seek to influence its staff. The Secretary General alone is responsible for the staff selection. The Secretary General's duties include helping resolve international disputes, administering peace-keeping operations, organizing international conferences, gathering information on the implementation of Security Council decisions, and consulting with member governments regarding various international relations initiatives. The Secretary General may bring to the attention of the Security Council any matter that, in his or her opinion, may threaten international peace and security. In 1977, the General Assembly created a new position in the Secretariat--a Director General for Development and Economic Cooperation. The incumbent, second only to the Secretary General, works to obtain better efficiency and coordination of the many economic and developmental programs operating within the UN system.


In addition to the 6 principal UN organs, the UN family includes nearly 30 major programs or agencies. Some were in existence before the UN was created and are related to it by agreement. Others were established by the General Assembly. Each specialized agency provides expertise in a specific area. Some of the important agencies are discussed below.
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Headquartered in Vienna, Austria, the IAEA seeks both to promote the peaceful application of nuclear energy and to inhibit its use for military purposes. The IAEA's programs encourage the development and transfer of the peaceful application of nuclear technology, provide international safeguards against its misuse, facilitate the application of safety measures in its use, and help to ensure the environmentally safe disposal of nuclear waste.
International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
Headquartered in Montreal, Canada, ICAO develops the principles and techniques of international air navigation and fosters the planning and development of international air transport to ensure safe and orderly growth. The ICAO Council adopts standards and recommended practices concerning air navigation, prevention of unlawful interference, and facilitation of border-crossing procedures for international civil aviation. Currently, the United States is actively involved in the adoption and bringing into force of an ICAO-sponsored multilateral convention to ensure that manufacturers of plastic explosives insert chemical additives to make the explosives detectable by screening devices at airports.
International Labor Organization (ILO).
Headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, ILO is unique among international organizations because of its tripartite character: National delegations consist of representatives from government, management, and labor. US delegations are comprised of representatives from the federal government, the AFL-CIO, and the US Council for International Business. ILO seeks to strengthen worker rights, improve working and living conditions, create employment, and provide information and training opportunities. ILO programs of direct benefit to the United States include the occupational safety and health-hazard-alert system and the labor standards and human rights programs.
International Maritime Organization (IMO).
Headquartered in London, England, IMO promotes cooperation among governments and the shipping industry to improve maritime safety and to prevent marine pollution. A significant IMO accomplishment was the adoption in 1986 of a set of measures, drafted by the United States following the 1985 hijacking of the Achille Lauro, to protect passengers and crews on board ships. IMO has also played a major role in coordinating global response to major oil spills. In November 1990, in reaction to the Exxon Valdez oil spill and in response to the 1989 Group of Seven economic summit in Paris, a new international convention on oil pollution preparedness and response was completed and opened for signature.
Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
Headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, UNHCR protects and supports refugees at the request of a government or the UN and assists in their return or resettlement. UNHCR was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1954 and 1982.
UN Children's Fund (UNICEF).
Headquartered in New York City, UNICEF is headed by a US executive director and provides long-term humanitarian and developmental assistance to children and mothers in developing countries. A voluntarily funded agency, UNICEF relies on contributions from governments and private donors. Its programs emphasize developing community-level services to promote the health and well-being of children. UNICEF was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1965. In September 1990, it hosted a World Summit for Children to address problems and opportunities for children and to rally the political will and resources to meet their needs. President Bush headed the US delegation.
UN Development Program (UNDP).
Headquartered in New York City, UNDP has a US administrator and is the largest multilateral source of grant technical assistance in the world. Voluntarily funded, it provides expert advice, training, and limited equipment to developing countries, with increasing emphasis on assistance to the poorest countries.
UN Environmental Program (UNEP).
Headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya, UNEP leads and coordinates UN environmental activities, calling attention to global and regional environmental problems and stimulating programs to address the problems. UNEP assists developing countries in implementing environmentally sound development policies and has produced a worldwide environmental monitoring system to standardize international data. UNEP also has developed guidelines and treaties on issues such as the international transport of potentially harmful chemicals, trans-boundary air pollution, and contamination of international waterways. UNEP is implementing two important new agreements aimed at protecting the earth's ozone layer. The United States helped establish, through UNEP and the World Meteorological Organization, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which provides a forum to analyze the climate changes in the atmosphere resulting from natural and man-made chemicals (the so-called greenhouse effect).
World Food Program (WFP).
Headquartered in Rome, Italy, the WFP distributes food commodities to support development projects, for protracted refugee and displaced persons projects, and as emergency food assistance in situations of natural and manmade disasters. Development projects, traditionally about two-thirds of WFP programs, now constitute about 55%, as emergency and protracted refugee situations worldwide result in increasing demands for WFP programs and resources. WFP operates exclusively from voluntary contributions of both commodities and cash donated by governments.
World Health Organization (WHO).
Headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, WHO acts as a coordinating authority on international public health. After years of fighting smallpox, WHO declared in 1979 that the disease had been eradicated. It is nearing success in developing vaccines against malaria and schistosomiasis and aims to eradicate polio by the year 2000. WHO also is coordinating global research into the causes, cures, and potential vaccines against acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). Overall, the agency is working toward the goal of "health for all by the year 2000" by seeking a level of health for all the world's people that will enable them to lead productive lives.


The UN system is financed in two ways: assessed and voluntary contributions from member states. The regular 2-year budgets of the United Nations and its specialized agencies are funded by assessments. In the case of the UN, the General Assembly approves the regular budget and determines the assessment for each member. This is broadly based on the relative capacity of each country to pay, as measured by national income statistics, although there are some variations. The Assembly has established the principle that no member should pay more than 25% of the regular budget, which for the 1992-93 period is over $2 billion. The United States is the only nation affected by this limitation. If the standard criterion of "capacity to pay" were applied in the same manner to the United States as to other major industrial powers, the United States would be assessed at about 28%. Under the scale of assessments adopted for period 1992-93, other major contributors to the regular UN budget are Japan (12%), Russia (9%), Germany (9%), France (6%), and the UK (5%). For 1992-93, assessment against members is $1.2 billion per year; the net US share, after adjustments, is $298.6 million. The 41st UN General Assembly agreed in 1986 on the need to institute far-reaching reform measures designed to restore and strengthen the capability of the United Nations to serve the interests of its member states. An acceptable program-budget- approval mechanism was found that contains the following essential elements: -- A consensus decision-making process; -- A budget ceiling; -- An indication of program priorities; and -- A contingency fund that protects the integrity of the budget from constant add-ons. As a result of what was achieved, member states, through good- faith negotiation, now act by consensus on important program- budget issues that previously proved so divisive. This is essential to the long-term operational viability of the UN and helped restore a sense of negotiation and cooperation in UN deliberations beyond budgetary issues. UN peace-keeping operations have been financed by a combination of assessments, voluntary contributions, and the sale of UN bonds. The UN Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) has been financed solely by voluntary contributions. Some member nations, in addition to providing monetary support, have supplied troops, equipment, or services without subsequent reimbursement. The United States has airlifted personnel from nations contributing troops to a number of peace- keeping operations. Special UN programs not included in the regular budget--such as UNICEF and UNDP--are financed by voluntary contributions from member governments. Some private-sector funds also are provided. Some nations use the UN system extensively to contribute to developmental assistance programs in other nations. The United States contributes varying percentages of the costs of the different agencies and programs in the UN system. In FY 1990, its combined assessed and voluntary contributions amounted to about $1.3 billion.


The UN Charter gives the Security Council the power to: -- Investigate any situation threatening international peace; -- Recommend procedures for peaceful resolution of a dispute; -- Call upon other member nations to completely or partially interrupt economic relations as well as sea, air, postal, and radio communications, or to sever diplomatic relations; and -- Enforce its decisions militarily, if necessary. Since the United Nations was created, there have been many outbreaks of international violence in which the United Nations has helped to reduce the danger of wider conflict. It has opened the way to negotiated settlements through its service as a center of debate and negotiation, as well as through fact-finding missions, mediators, and truce observers. The United States and other like- minded nations seek to enhance the effectiveness of the Security Council in dealing with international conflicts. Comprised of troops and equipment supplied by a broad range of nations, UN peace- keeping forces sometimes have been able to limit or prevent conflict. With experience in the operation of such forces over many years, this UN activity has become increasingly prominent as cooperation has increased in recent years among permanent members of the Security Council. The UN cannot impose peace, however. Some conflicts never have been discussed by the Security Council, and others have proved to be beyond the capacity of the UN to influence. Linkage of UN peace-keeping efforts to a viable political process has been key to their success. The most extensive use of UN troops was in Korea, where, in 1950, the Security Council mobilized forces under US leadership for the defense of South Korea against an attack from North Korea. UN forces there reached a peak strength of 500,000. In 1960-64, 20,000 peace-keepers helped restore order following independence in the Congo (now Zaire). In 1964, a UN Peace-keeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) was created to prevent fighting between Greek and Turkish Cypriots. This mission was given new urgency when Turkish troops landed on Cyprus in 1974. In the search for a peaceful solution in the Middle East, the United Nations has been involved in various ways over the past 43 years. Its efforts have ranged from UN-sponsored negotiations to the actual deployment of UN troops. For example, the fighting that broke out when the State of Israel was established in 1948 was halted by a UN cease-fire. UN mediators helped bring about armistice agreements between Israel and Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria. Those agreements provided for implementation by mixed armistice commissions and the UN Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO). The UN Relief and Works Agency (UNWRA) was established to assist Arab refugees from the conflict. In 1956, the Suez Canal crisis was resolved by the withdrawal of British, French, and Israeli forces from Egyptian territory in compliance with a UN resolution and by the establishment of the UN Emergency Force (UNEF I) to preserve the peace. The UN was active again in achieving a cease-fire and installing UN observers after the June 1967 war between Israel and its neighbors. Following the outbreak of hostilities in October 1973, a new UN Emergency Force (UNEF II) was created to interpose itself between the forces of Israel and Egypt. It fulfilled its mandate and was dissolved in 1979 with the conclusion of the Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty. After Israel and Syria reached agreement on disengaging their forces on the Golan Heights in 1974, the Security Council established a UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF). The mandate of UNDOF has been extended periodically by the Council. The UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) was created in early 1978, following an Israeli reprisal attack on Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) bases in southern Lebanon. It permitted an Israeli withdrawal and restored order under the control of Lebanese authorities. After Israel's invasion of June 1982 drastically transformed conditions in southern Lebanon, UNIFIL played a significant role in efforts to bring stability to southern Lebanon. Its mandate has been extended periodically by the Security Council, with humanitarian and other temporary tasks added to its functions. Efforts by the United States and other countries over the years to enhance the effectiveness of the Security Council in dealing with international conflicts led to an effective worldwide coalition in 1990. For only the second time in UN history, and for the first time with the USSR's support, the UN formally authorized the use of force against an aggressor country. Twelve UN Security Council resolutions demanded that Iraq withdraw from Kuwait. When Iraq did not do so by the January 15, 1991, deadline, the US-led forces expelled Iraq from Kuwait. Seven new peace-keeping activities in the Mideast (UNIKOM), Africa (UNAVEM II and MINURSO), Central America (ONUCA), Cambodia (UNAMIC and UNTAC), and the former Yugoslavia (UNPROFOR) were established in the year following the conclusion of the Gulf war. The proliferation of these operations reflected a new climate of international cooperation and growing consensus that, in the post- Cold War era, the UN had a central role to play in helping defuse regional conflicts. These new UN under-takings represented also an emerging synthesis of peace-keeping and peace-making, adding to the traditional peace-keeping mandates such responsibilities as supervising elections, monitoring human rights, and overseeing civil administration. With its new, higher profile, however, the UN has had to make difficult choices. Limited funds and the UN's own limited capacity to plan and implement peace-keeping operations required that priorities be established. At the recent UN Security Council summit, 12 other heads of government joined President Bush in reiterating their support for collective security. They encouraged the Secretary General to increase his efforts not only to resolve conflicts but to head them off. It was recognized, however, that fundamental to the success of any UN peace-keeping operation is the full cooperation of the parties. It was further acknowledged that regional organizations could play a constructive peace-keeping role and might be better situated, on a case-by-case basis, to intercede and mediate the peaceful resolution of conflicts.


The UN Charter, adopted in 1945, gave no immediate priority to disarmament, but envisaged a system of regulation that would ensure "the least diversion for armaments of the world's human and economic resources." The advent of nuclear weapons came only weeks after the signing of the Charter and provided immediate impetus to concepts of arms limitation and disarmament. In fact, the first resolution of the first meeting of the General Assembly (January 24, 1946) was entitled "The Establishment of a Commission to Deal with the Problems Raised by the Discovery of Atomic Energy" and called upon the commission to make specific proposals for "the elimination from national armaments of atomic weapons and of all other major weapons adaptable to mass destruction." The UN has established a few forums to address multilateral disarmament issues. The principal ones are the First Committee of the UN General Assembly, the UN Disarmament Commission, and the Geneva-based Conference on Disarmament. Items on the agenda include consideration of the possible merits of a nuclear test ban, outer-space arms control, efforts to ban chemical weapons, nuclear and conventional disarmament, nuclear-weapon-free zones, reduction of military budgets, and measures to strengthen international security. The Conference on Disarmament is the sole forum established by the international community for the negotiation of multilateral arms control and disarmament agreements. Evolving from earlier multilateral forums dating back to 1959, it has 40 members representing all areas of the world, including the five major nuclear-weapon states (China, France, Russia, UK, and US). The conference is an autonomous body and is not formally a UN organization. It is linked, however, to the UN system through a personal representative of the Secretary General who serves as the secretary general of the conference. Resolutions adopted by the General Assembly often request the conference to consider specific disarmament matters. In turn, the conference reports on its activities to the General Assembly annually.


The pursuit of human rights was one of the central reasons for creation of the United Nations. World War II atrocities, including the execution of millions of Jews, led to a ready consensus that the new organization must work to prevent any similar tragedies in the future. An early objective was the creation of a framework of legal obligations as the basis for consideration of and action on complaints about human rights violations. The UN Charter obliges all member nations to promote "universal respect for, and observance of, human rights" and to take "joint and separate action" to that end. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, though not legally binding, was adopted by the General Assembly in 1948. Treaties and conventions followed, many of them drawing upon the Universal Declaration. These included the: -- International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; -- International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights; -- International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination; -- Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women; and -- American Convention on Human Rights. Although each of these treaties has been signed by the United States, consent to their ratification has not been given by the Senate. The Senate has granted its advice and consent to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. Congress has passed the necessary implementing legislation, and the convention has been formally ratified by the United States. In addition to the preparation of legal documents, various organs of the UN system undertake consideration of human rights issues. The General Assembly regularly takes up human rights questions originating in the Assembly or referred to it by subordinate bodies. The UN Human Rights Commission (UNHRC), under ECOSOC, is charged specifically with promoting human rights. To carry out this mandate, the UNHRC drafts international instruments, conducts expert studies, and investigates situations in countries where human rights violations are believed to occur. Investigations can be proposed by any member government and are decided upon by vote of the entire commission. The 43 UNHRC members (including the United States) are elected by ECOSOC on the basis of equitable geographic distribution. The number of members of the Commission grew to 53 beginning with the 1992 session, the additional 10 seats being divided among the Latin American, African, and Asian groups. The UNHRC Subcommission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities is composed of experts serving as individuals rather than as government representatives. Among its various activities, the subcommission may, under procedures set up by ECOSOC, make a confidential review of private communications sent to the UN containing allegations of human rights abuses. Situations that appear to reveal a consistent pattern of gross human rights violations may be referred to the commission in closed session. That body may then make a thorough study of the situation or may undertake an investigation with the consent of the accused government. Other UN agencies also act on human rights concerns. The ILO was one of the first agencies to set high standards and reporting requirements on human rights situations in the labor field. A special committee of UNESCO, of which the United States is not a member, examines human rights complaints from individuals, groups, and non-governmental organizations within the fields of education, science, culture, and communication. The Organization of American States (OAS) has written an American Convention on Human Rights that gives jurisdiction to an Inter- American Human Rights Commission and creates a new court on human rights. The convention entered into force in July 1978. The United States has signed but not ratified the convention. The United Nations is expanding its work on behalf of women, not only to ensure their rights as individuals but also to stress the need for them to use their talents and abilities for progress on social issues. These efforts are reflected in the agendas of the Commission on the Status of Women, ECOSOC, the General Assembly, the UNHRC, and the UNDP Governing Council and in discussions of the rights and problems of elderly women at the World Assembly on Aging. UN efforts led to the celebration of International Women's Year in 1975 and to the declaration of a UN Decade for Women, 1976-85. Although the UN system has created a legal framework for action on human rights, efforts to implement the established standards have been uneven. Some observers have suggested that UN forums have been characterized by "selective morality" as criticism has been focused primarily on the state of human rights in Chile, El Salvador, Guatemala, South Africa, and the Israeli-occupied territories simply because such criticism was acceptable to a majority of UN members, while criticism of other nations' abuses was not. The 1982 and 1983 sessions of the UNHRC marked a departure in this regard, by taking public action on an East European country, Poland, for the first time in the commission's history. At its 1988 session, the commission took a major step toward investigating the human rights situation in Cuba, primarily as a result of efforts on the part of the United States. At that session, the United States proposed a resolution which would inscribe Cuba on the commission's 1989 agenda. This US initiative prompted negotiations that resulted in an agreement to send an investigatory team to Cuba under UNHRC auspices and according to UN rules and regulations regarding special rapporteurs. As a result of that investigation, conducted in Cuba in September 1988, the 1989 session of the UNHRC was presented with a 400-page report on the human rights situation in Cuba. At the 1992 session, the commission, noting no improvement in the human rights situation there, decided to appoint an individual as special rapporteur to keep Cuban human rights under scrutiny.


One of the benefits of the UN system is the opportunity it provides for government officials to meet, share ideas, and consult on international problems. This helps them to understand the views of other governments while avoiding confrontations that might otherwise result from misunderstandings of national intentions and interests. Each year in September, the General Assembly's annual regular session brings together not only the official representatives of all member countries but also, in many cases, the foreign ministers and chiefs of state. The US Secretary of State traditionally spends 2-3 weeks at the General Assembly each year consulting with other governments on both bilateral questions and on issues coming before the United Nations. President Bush, a former UN ambassador, follows the tradition set by many US presidents of addressing the General Assembly annually. The United Nations and its affiliated international organizations are especially important to member nations of the Third World who conduct much of their foreign policy there and rely heavily on these forums to advance their national interests and interact with other nations, including the United States. Thus, the United States cannot afford to rely solely on its bilateral relations with Third World countries for advancing US foreign policy objectives but must take advantage of its participation in the UN system to influence the opinions and policies of Third World governments and their peoples.
General Benefits.
Participation in the United Nations and its affiliated programs and agencies helps the United States in many ways: It provides important mechanisms for the advancement of US foreign policy objectives; it can serve as a powerful platform for the advancement of Western values and ideals; it facilitates large- scale humanitarian operations and multilateral efforts to deal with global problems, such as famine and pestilence; and it can serve the cause of peace. In foreign policy, the United Nations clearly accomplishes tasks that neither the United States nor any nation could accomplish alone. These tasks include coordinated efforts to reduce regional and global environmental problems; to control human and animal diseases that threaten to reach epidemic proportions; to monitor, report, and predict global weather patterns; and, most important, to establish conditions conducive to the peaceful resolution of disputes between nations. In particular, UN peace-keeping forces often have provided a "buffer" (helpful to the maintenance of cease-fires in the Middle East and Cyprus) by establishing an atmosphere in which conflicts can be contained and peace negotiations can take place. The United States hopes that involving the UN will reduce the likelihood of open conflict and promote a more stable international order. History warns that disputes can get out of control, drawing large nations and small into a vortex from which they cannot escape. The UN can provide an internationally acceptable setting in which nations can move away from rigid negotiating positions and begin to seek solutions to their problems. Achievement of US international goals in human rights depends on its ability to mobilize world opinion on behalf of human rights issues. If only one nation urges an end to genocide, torture, terrorism, illegal detention, or political persecutions, the offending nation can procrastinate without penalty. If, however, the UN takes a strong stand on behalf of human rights, pressures for reform are more effective and the likelihood of corrective action correspondingly greater. UN programs also can serve US objectives for the developing world by promoting economic development. Concerned about global poverty, the United States attempts through various means to help developing nations meet basic human needs--clean water, food, shelter, and health care--and other development goals. This objective is pursued on a bilateral basis, through regional approaches, and by actively employing the UN system to persuade other countries to share the burden of global development. The United States and other major Western donors encourage the UN system to promote private-sector approaches to development in the Third World and to loosen the bonds of government-controlled markets and commodity-pricing arrangements. Today, UN technical assistance and financing systems are supplying needed experience, skills, equipment, resources, and support programs that encourage self-reliance in developing-country societies, that encourage change in government policies that are not conducive to development, and that allow Third World populations to better cope with difficult circumstances. UN programs also try to meet humanitarian needs for those disadvantaged by circumstances beyond their control. Even private charitable agencies must rely on the multiple capacities of the United Nations and its family of international organizations to develop the infra-structure and political climate without which those in need would be outside the reach of our compassion. Providing opportunities for dialogue between the industrialized countries and the developing nations is another important role played by the United Nations, which is particularly important to the United States because many developing nations regard the UN system as the most important arena for their foreign relations. Moreover, these nations constitute more than two-thirds of the UN's membership and purchase more than one-third of US exports. In the specialized UN agencies dealing with trade, commodities, and investment, the United States seeks to expand the world economy in a way compatible with its own free economic system and values. In the Economic and Social Council, the regional commissions, and the UN Conference on Trade and Development, the United States has promoted an open international trading-and-investment system and has insisted on maintaining a strong role for the private sector in meeting the development needs of all countries. The UN and its family of international organizations is a success story for the West. It embodies in its charter the same liberal democratic values and principles that are found in the US Constitution and makes them applicable to every UN member. The UN system can be viewed as a vehicle for putting those values and principles into practice on a global scale. As President Bush said in his State of the Union address on January 29, 1991, "The leadership of the United Nations, once only a hoped-for ideal, is now confirming its founders' vision."
Direct Benefits.
Beyond benefits gained for US foreign policy interests, the United States also gains direct economic, social, and humanitarian benefits. Large parts of US financial assistance to the UN and its related agencies are returned to US companies through equipment and supply sales and consulting services. US support of the UN Development Program encourages the growth of self-reliance and helps to expand the markets for US goods and services. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) efforts to eliminate the Mediterranean fruit fly from the Caribbean and Central America directly benefit the US citrus industry. Likewise, US cattle raisers have a direct stake in FAO efforts to eliminate the bont tick, the carrier of a threatening cattle disease, from the Caribbean. FAO's voluntary, non-binding Code of Conduct on the Distribution and Use of Pesticides benefits the US pesticide industry by encouraging other countries to adopt pesticide-safety standards comparable to those in force in the United States and thereby limit competitive advantages otherwise gained by producers who reduce their costs by failing to observe adequate labeling and safety standards. In 1985, UNICEF spent a total of $107 million on goods and services in the United States. UNICEF also furthers US humanitarian interests in the developing world by mobilizing assistance from public and private sources throughout the world for programs benefiting children and mothers. As the world's most advanced nation, the United States has extensive needs for immediate and reliable worldwide communication and, therefore, relies on the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). It facilitates international cooperation between member states and promotes the development of efficient technical facilities in order to improve international telecommunication services. As the largest producer and supplier of telecommunications equipment, the United States benefits from the technical assistance extended to developing countries from agencies such as the ITU. US maritime interests benefit directly from the International Maritime Organization's work on standardization, safety-of-life-at- sea measures, and ocean-anti-pollution programs. Other US environmental interests are supported by the UN Environmental Program, which serves as a catalyst in bringing international attention to global and regional environmental problems and helping countries develop their economies in environmentally responsible ways. The World Meteorological Organization provides weather information to persons from all spheres of US life--farmers, mariners, aviators, and travelers. Its work has significant economic and social impact on the United States. Standards and recommended practices developed by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) directly affect US commercial air travel and favorably influence the US economic community, which supplies the greatest share of aircraft and equipment world wide. ICAO develops the principles and techniques of international air navigation and fosters the planning and development of international air transport to ensure the safe and orderly growth of civil aviation. It also promotes standards for the control of noise and pollution from aircraft. US travelers by air and sea benefit from improved safety and security standards developed by ICAO and the International Maritime Organization. The United States also benefits significantly from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which serves major US national security and non-proliferation interests. IAEA is charged under its statute with two primary objectives: through its program of technical cooperation, it encourages the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, especially in the fields of medicine, agriculture, and basic industry, and its program of international safeguards inhibits the use of nuclear material for non-peaceful purposes, thus helping to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons. IAEA also plays an active role in promoting international cooperation in nuclear safety; it expanded its work in this area in response to the nuclear disaster in Chernobyl in April 1986. The UN also serves important US interests through the development and enforcement of international treaties and conventions, such as those designed to control drug abuse. Given the high importance placed by the United States on control of drug abuse and drug trafficking, the United Nations provides a valuable forum to discuss and coordinate relevant international actions.


The US Government recognizes the value of the United Nations for the conduct of US foreign relations and for the direct benefits it provides the United States and its people. The United States was a major force in the creation of the United Nations in 1945. The Senate, by a vote of 89 to 2, gave its consent to the ratification of the UN Charter on July 28, 1945. In December 1945, the Senate and the House of Representatives, by unanimous votes, requested that the United Nations make its headquarters in the United States. Since then, the United States has been a major participant; however, the changing political makeup of the world following World War II, particularly with the dismantling of the major European empires, produced changes in the United Nations and in US approaches to UN issues. As the United States has reasserted its leadership in multilateral affairs and strengthened its influence in the United Nations and its related agencies, it has promoted fiscal responsibility in the budgetary process, increased the number of US nationals on staffs of international organizations, and augmented private-sector involvement in UN programs and activities. This initiative culminated in the UN approval of a package of sweeping reforms in administrative and financial procedures in December 1986. Those reforms enable the United Nations to perform its functions more effectively and efficiently and give the major donors, including the United States, a greater voice in determining how money is spent. The United States, through these structural reforms, has been able to strengthen its influence within the UN system. The United States, in order to achieve its objectives at the United Nations, has developed a number of closely related strategies. The first strategy recognizes that the UN system offers an excellent opportunity to explain US views on important issues while spotlighting unacceptable behavior by other countries. Through speeches, frequent rights of reply, and resolutions, the United States has gained increased understanding for its policies on such issues as the role of the entrepreneur, the right to private property, and human rights. The United States has partially succeeded in reducing bloc voting in the United Nations and moderating the rhetoric and unreasonable demands of bloc members. If left unchecked, bloc voting tends to place policy decisions in the hands of the most radical members of the bloc and intensifies the immoderation of UN debates. The US aims to appeal to the individual interests of each bloc member as opposed to the often imaginary benefits of bloc solidarity in support of radical and impracticable demands. In addition, this strategy attempts to link US interests with those of other countries, thereby increasing the US leverage. The United States also has pursued the universality principle with respect to UN membership, stating that the United States would cease participation in, and support for, any UN body that excluded Israel or denied Israel the full privileges of membership. This affirmation is supported by congressional legislation that outlines the same principle and calls for the same action by the United States if Israel is denied full membership privileges in any of the UN bodies, agencies, or their subsidiary components. In 1991, the UN took a decisive step long sought by the United States when it repealed the determination appearing in UN resolution 3379 of 1975 that Zionism is a form of racism. The assertion equating Zionism with racism challenged the right of the State of Israel to exist and undermined the integrity and even-handedness of the UN as an international organization. On December 12, 1991, the United States and 85 co-sponsors tabled a draft resolution which sought to revoke the determination. On December 16, 1991, this resolution was adopted by a vote of 111 (US)-25-13 (with 15 absences). This action by the General Assembly was an extremely important step in restoring credibility to the UN. Apart from approval of budgetary matters, General Assembly resolutions are recommendatory and not binding on the members. Binding decisions concerning action with respect to threats to the peace and acts of aggression can only be made by the Security Council, as in the case of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. In that case, the UN Charter gives the United States and the four other permanent members the right of veto. The United States is thus the beneficiary of an important voting privilege. US proposals for enhancing UN effectiveness include: -- Strengthening the role of the Security Council in the settlement of disputes, particularly through more automatic referral to the Council in situations of international tension; -- Strengthening the UN's peace-keeping capability, including the development by member nations of trained national troop contingents for quick deployment; -- Addressing disarmament and arms-control questions more effectively; -- Addressing human rights issues more effectively and equitably; -- Exploring ways to supplement the financing of international programs with funds from international commerce, services, or resources; -- Improving the effectiveness of the United Nations through the unitary UN concept which would eliminate overlap and duplication; -- Coordinating the technical assistance programs in various UN agencies more effectively, including better delivery of humanitarian aid and expanded efforts for evaluation, monitoring, and quality control; -- Improving the UN Secretariat, both in operations and quality of personnel; and, -- Coordinating the participation in the UN system of various branches of the US Government more effectively.
US Representation
The US Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York is headed by the US Representative to the United Nations, with the rank of ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary. The mission serves as the channel of communication for the US Government with the UN organs, agencies, and commissions at the UN headquarters and with the other permanent missions accredited to the UN and the non- member observer missions. The US mission has a professional staff made up largely of career Foreign Service officers, including specialists in public affairs and in political, economic, social, financial, legal, and military issues. The United States also maintains missions in Geneva, Montreal, Nairobi, Rome, and Vienna as well as offices in other cities where various UN agencies are based. All of these missions report to the Department of State and receive guidance on all questions of policy from the President through the Secretary of State. Relations with the UN and its family of agencies are coordinated by the Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs. US delegations to the annual regular sessions of the General Assembly include two members of the US Congress--one Democrat and one Republican, selected in alternate years from the Senate and the House of Representatives. Delegations also include prominent US citizens from fields outside the government. The US Mission to the United Nations is located at 799 United Nations Plaza, New York, NY 10017 (tel. 212-415-4000).
Preamble to Charter of the United Nations:
We the Peoples of the United Nations Determined To Save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and To Reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women of nations large and small, and To establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, and To promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom, And for these ends To practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbors, and To Unite our strength to maintain international peace and security, and To Ensure, by the acceptance of principles and the institution of methods, that armed force shall not be used, save in the common interest, and To employ international machinery for the promotion of the economic and social advancement of all peoples, Have resolved to combine our efforts to accomplish these aims. Accordingly, our respective Governments, through representatives assembled in the city of San Francisco, who have exhibited their full powers found to be in good and due form, have agreed to the present Charter of the United Nations and do hereby establish an international organization to be known as the United Nations.
178 Members of the United Nations1
Afghanistan (1946) Albania (1955) Algeria (1962) Angola (1976) Antigua and Barbuda (1981) Argentina Armenia (1992) Australia Austria (1955) Azerbaijan (1992) The Bahamas (1973) Bahrain (1971) Bangladesh (1974) Barbados (1966) Belarus (formerly Byelorussian SSR) Belgium Belize (1981) Benin (1960) Bhutan (1971) Bolivia Bosnia-Hercegovina (1992) Botswana (1966) Brazil Brunei Darussalam (1984) Bulgaria (1955) Burkina Faso (1960) Burma (1948) Burundi (1962) Cambodia (1955) Cameroon (1960) Canada Cape Verde (1975) Central African Republic (1960) Chad (1960) Chile China2 Colombia Comoros (1975) Congo (1960) Costa Rica Cote d'Ivoire (1960) Croatia (1992) Cuba Cyprus (1960) Czechoslovakia Denmark Djibouti (1977) Dominica (1978) Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea (1968) Estonia (1991) Ethiopia Fiji (1970) Finland (1955) France Gabon (1960) The Gambia (1965) Georgia (1992) Germany (1973) Ghana (1957) Greece Grenada (1974) Guatemala Guinea (1958) Guinea-Bissau (1974) Guyana (1966) Haiti Honduras Hungary (1955) Iceland (1946) India Indonesia (1950) Iran Iraq Ireland (1955) Israel (1949) Italy (1955) Jamaica (1962) Japan (1956) Jordan (1955) Kazakhstan (1992) Kenya (1963) Korea, North (1991) Korea, South (1991) Kuwait (1963) Kyrgystan (1992) Laos (1955) Latvia (1991) Lebanon Lesotho (1966) Liberia Libya (1955) Liechtenstein (1990) Lithuania (1991) Luxembourg Madagascar (1960) Malawi (1964) Malaysia (1957) Maldives (1965) Mali (1960) Malta (1964) Marshall Islands (1991) Mauritania (1961) Mauritius (1968) Mexico Micronesia (1991) Moldova (1992) Mongolia (1961) Morocco (1956) Mozambique (1975) Namibia (1990) Nepal (1955) Netherlands New Zealand Nicaragua Niger (1960) Nigeria (1960) Norway Oman (1971) Pakistan (1947) Panama Papua New Guinea (1975) Paraguay Peru Philippines Poland Portugal (1955) Qatar (1971) Romania (1955) Russia3 Rwanda (1962) St. Kitts and Nevis (1983) St. Lucia (1979 St. Vincent and the Grenadines (1980) Samoa (1976) San Marino (1992) Sao Tome and Principe (1975) Saudi Arabia Senegal (1960) Seychelles (1976) Sierra Leone (1961) Singapore (1965) Slovenia (1992) Solomon Islands (1978) Somalia (1960) South Africa Spain (1955) Sri Lanka (1955) Sudan (1956) Suriname (1975) Swaziland (1968) Sweden (1946) Syria Tanzania (1961) Tajikistan (1992) Thailand (1946) Togo (1960) Trinidad and Tobago (1962) Tunisia (1956) Turkey Turkmenistan (1992) Uganda (1962) Ukraine (formerly Ukrainian SSR) United Arab Emirates (1971) United Kingdom United States of America Uruguay Uzbekistan (1992) Vanuatu (1981) Venezuela Vietnam (1977) Yemen (1947) Zaire (1960) Zambia (1964) Zimbabwe (1980) 1Year in parentheses indicates date of admission; countries with no date were original members in 1945. 2By Resolution 2758 (XXVI) of Oct. 25, 1971, the General Assembly decided "to restore all its rights to the People's Republic of China and to recognize the representative of its Government as the only legitimate representative of China to the United Nations." 3In December 1991, Russia assumed the permanent Security Council seat previously held by the USSR. o
UN Secretaries General
Trygve Lie (Norway) Feb. 1, 1946-April 10, 1953 Dag Hammarskjold(Sweden) April 10, 1953-Sept. 18, 1961 U Thant (Burma) Nov. 3, 1961-Dec. 31, 1971 (Initially appointed acting Secretary General; formally appointed Secretary General Nov. 30, 1962.) Kurt Waldheim (Austria) Jan. 1, 1972-Dec. 31, 1981 Javier Perez de Cuellar (Peru) Jan. 1, 1982-Dec. 31, 1991 Boutros Boutros-Ghali (Egypt) Jan. 1, 1992-present US Representatives to the United Nations: Edward R. Stettinius, Jr.- March 1946-June 1946 Hershel V. Johnson (acting) - June 1946-Jan. 1947 Warren R. Austin - Jan. 1947-Jan. 1953 Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. - Jan. 1953-Sept. 1960 James J. Wadsworth - Sept. 1960-Jan. 1961 Adlai E. Stevenson-Jan. 1961-July 1965 Arthur J. Goldberg-July 1965-June 1968 George W. Ball-June 1968-Sept. 1968 James Russell Wiggins-Oct. 1968-Jan. 1969 Charles W. Yost- Jan. 1969-Feb. 1971 George Bush - Feb. 1971-Jan. 1973 John A. Scali - Feb. 1973-June 1975 Daniel P. Moynihan- June 1975-Feb. 1976 William W. Scranton - March 1976-Jan. 1977 Andrew Young - Jan. 1977-April 1979 Donald McHenry - April 1979-Jan. 1981 Jeane J. Kirkpatrick -Feb. 1981-April 1985 Vernon Walters -May 1985-Jan. 1989 Thomas R. Pickering -March 1989-May 1992 Edward J. Perkins-May 1992-present - In 1992, UN membership increased to 178 with the addition of 13 new countries: Armenia (March) Azerbaijan (March) Bosnia-Hercegovina (May) Croatia (May) Georgia (July) Kazakhstan (March) Kyrgyzstan (March) Moldova (March) San Marino (March) Slovenia (May) Tajikistan (March) Turkmenistan (March) Uzbekistan (March)


Published by the US Department of State Bureau of Public Affairs -- Office of Public Communication -- Washington, DC October 1992 -- Editor: Joan Bigge -- Department of State Publication 8874 -- Background Notes Series This material is in the public domain and may be reprinted without permission; citation of this source is appreciated. For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, US Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402. (###)