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Portal:United Nations

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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 (24 October 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 Security Council 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 states. 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 António Guterres of Portugal, who took office on 1 January 2017. The newest Member State is South Sudan, admitted in July 2011.

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UNFCCC map of parties

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC or FCCC) is an international environmental treaty negotiated at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), informally known as the Earth Summit, held in Rio de Janeiro from 3 to 14 June 1992. The objective of the treaty is to "stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system".

The treaty itself set no binding limits on greenhouse gas emissions for individual countries and contains no enforcement mechanisms. In that sense, the treaty is considered legally non-binding. Instead, the treaty provides a framework for negotiating specific international treaties (called "protocols") that may set binding limits on greenhouse gases.

The UNFCCC was opened for signature on 9 May 1992, after an Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee produced the text of the Framework Convention as a report following its meeting in New York from 30 April to 9 May 1992. It entered into force on 21 March 1994. As of May 2011, UNFCCC has 195 parties.

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Susan Rice, US Ambassador to the UN

Susan Rice (born 17 November 1964) is an American foreign policy advisor and the permanent United States Ambassador to the United Nations. Rice was as a foreign policy aide to Michael Dukakis during the 1988 presidential election. She served at various posts in the Clinton administration before being appointed Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs in 1997, a post she held until the end of Clinton's presidency in 2001. Rice joined the Brookings Institution in 2002, and focused on U.S. foreign policy, weak and failing states, the implications of global poverty, and transnational threats to security. During the 2008 presidential campaign, she served as a foreign policy advisor to Barack Obama, and was nominated by him to be the United States Ambassador to the United Nations after his election win.

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The UN flag in New York
The flag of the United Nations flying outside the United Nations Headquarters in New York.

Photo credit: Sam Moorhouse

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Adlai Stevenson
The whole basis of the United Nations is the right of all nations – great or small – to have weight, to have a vote, to be attended to.

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