In these times of world tension, we hear a great deal about the United Nations. What is it? Why was it established? What is it supposed to do? We can give only a brief description of the United Nations here, but here are some things you should know about it.

The United Nations is an organization of governments. It was set up to prevent war and to build a better world for all by dealing with problems which can best be solved through international action. The UN constitution, known as the Charter, was signed at San Francisco on June 26, 1945, by representatives of 50 nations.


According to the Charter, the UN has four chief purposes. The first is to maintain peace by settling disputes peacefully or by taking steps to stop aggression, that is, armed attack. The second is to develop friendly relations among nations based on the equal rights of peoples and their own choices of government. The third is to achieve international cooperation in solving economic, social, cultural, and humanitarian problems. And the fourth is to serve as a center where the actions of nations can be combined in trying to attain these aims.


The UN is divided into six main working groups. The first is the General Assembly. Made up of all the members, each with one vote, it is the policy-making body of the UN.


The second is the Security Council, which is responsible for the maintenance of peace. China, France, Great Britain, the Soviet Union, and the United States have permanent seats and special voting privileges. The other six members are elected by the General Assembly for terms of two years.


The third is the Economic and Social Council with eighteen members. Its job is to promote the welfare of peoples and to further human rights and fundamental freedoms.


The fourth is the Trusteeship Council which supervises the welfare of dependent peoples under the UN and helps them towards self-government.


The fifth is the International Court of Justice which settles legal disputes.


The sixth is the Secretariat, the administrative and office staffs the UN. Its chief officer is secretary-general of the United Nations.

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