United Nations

   The UN is a worldwide organization that was established at the San Francisco Conference on 26 June 1945 to protect future generations from “the scourge of war,” safeguard “fundamental human rights,” and further economic and social welfare. The idea for the UN evolved in the course of World War II and became one of the fundamental aims of the Allies, who issued a Declaration of the United Nations at the Arcadia Conference on 1 January 1942 committing to the principles of the Atlantic Charter. The basic organization had been agreed upon by representatives of the United States, Great Britain, the Soviet Union, and Republic of China at the Dumbarton Oaks Conference in August 1944. The initial United Nations Charter, signed by 50 countries, was ratified by the U.S. Senate on 8 August 1945. It came into force after it had been ratified by the members of the Security Council on 24 October 1945. The UN effectively replaced the League of Nations. Its headquarters, built in 1949 and 1950, were established in New York City.
   The UN consisted of six principal elements: the Security Council, General Assembly, Secretariat, Economic and Social Council, International Court of Justice, and the Trusteeship Council and Secretariat. It was to be headed by the secretary-general, the first of whom was Trygve Lie of Norway from 1946 to 1952. He was succeeded by Dag Hammarskjöld of Sweden from 1953 to 1961. The organization also established specialized agencies with particular functions, like the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, World Health Organization, and Food and Agricultural Organization. The UN had some success in resolving such international disputes as bringing about the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Iran in 1946, settling the conflict in Indonesia in 1948, and bringing peace to Israel in 1948 and 1949. In 1950, it approved a “police action” led by the United States in Korea to repulse an invasion from North Korea (see Korean War). In 1956, the UN helped restore peace following the Suez Crisis, and in 1990 UN forces were successfully mobilized in response to the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq under the leadership of Saddam Hussein. However, the organization was often limited due to the conflict between the United States and USSR in the Cold War, and later it was less successful in Bosnia, Somalia, and Cambodia in the 1990s and was involved in controversy in the events leading up to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. Agreement in the UN became more difficult as its membership grew to 192 members by 2007, and relationships between the UN and United States have been strained at times.

Historical Dictionary of the Roosevelt–Truman Era . . 2015.

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