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Portal:United Nations

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Welcome to the United Nations portal

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 (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.

More about the United Nations...

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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.

Selected biography

U Thant

U Thant (22 January 1909 – 25 November 1974) was a Burmese diplomat and the third Secretary-General of the United Nations, from 1961 to 1971. His participation in international relations started when he was secretary of the first Asian-African summit in 1955 at Bandung, Indonesia, which gave birth to the Non-Aligned Movement. In 1957, Thant became Burma's Permanent Representative to the UN., and in 1960 the Burmese government awarded him the title Maha Thray Sithu as a commander in the Pyidaungsu Sithu Thingaha Order.

Thant was unanimously appointed UN Secretary-General on 30 November 1962, after serving as Acting Secretary-General after Dag Hammarskjöld's death. During his time in office, he was noted for his role in defusing the Cuban Missile Crisis and ending the Congo civil war, he oversaw the UN entry of dozens of new Asian and African states and was a firm opponent of apartheid in South Africa. He also established many of the UN's development and environmental agencies, funds and programmes, including the UN Development Programme, the UN University and the UN Environmental Programme.

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UN bombing victims
At Baghdad International Airport in 2003, cases containing the bodies of victims of a truck bombing of the UN Office of Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, and draped in the UN flag, are carried onto an aircraft to be airlifted to their respective home countries.

Photo credit: United States Federal Government

Selected quote

Norman Cousins
If the United Nations is to survive, those who represent it must bolster it, those who advocate it must submit to it, and those who believe in it must fight for it.
Norman Cousins, political journalist, author, professor, and world peace advocate

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Headquarters of the International Criminal Court in the Hague

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