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Humshehri: Thinking Pakistan's History

Thinking Pakistan's History

United Nations

Initially established by 51 countries in 1945, today UN today membership totals 153. These states have committed themselves to following the various peacekeeping and security obligations listed in the UN Charter.

Last Updated: 19 Dec. 2014


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United Nations Flag
(Wilfried Huss)

The United Nations (UN) is an international institution founded post-World War II on 24 October 1945. According to the UN Charter, its primary aims are to:

  • Maintain international peace and security
  • Develop friendly relations among member nations
  • Mediate in solving international problems and in promoting respect for human rights
  • Serve as a center for harmonizing the actions of member nations

Initially established by 51 countries, today its membership totals 153. By becoming members of the UN, states commit to follow the different peacekeeping and security obligations provided in the UN Charter.

Main organs of the UN

The UN has six main organs as follows:

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UN General Assembly
(Wikimedia Commons)
  • General Assembly: All member states have representation in the General Assembly, with one vote per member state. Hence, it is also known as a Parliament of Nations. It cannot force any member state to follow its collective decisions. However, such decisions serve as important recommendations that reflect world opinion and are hence, worthy of consideration.
  • Security Council: The total membership of the Security Council is made up of 15 countries, of which 5 are permanent members (namely China, France, Russian Federation, United Kingdom and United States) while the other 10 members are elected by the General Assembly for a term of two years. According to the UN Charter, member states are bound to follow the Security Council’s decisions.
  • Economic and Social Council: This a 54 member body that falls under the authority of the General Assembly and coordinates activities pertaining to economic and social matters as discussed within the UN.
  • Trusteeship Council: This was formed in 1945 to supervise the decolonization of 11 dependent territories. All 11 territories gained autonomy or independence by 1994, with Palau being the last one. Since then its operation has suspended.
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Seat of the ICJ, Netherlands
(Wikimedia Commons)
  • Secretariat: This is headed by the Secretary General and conducts the day-to-day work of the UN under the directions received from other organs.
  • International Court of Justice (ICJ): Also known as the World Court, the ICJ carries out the judicial functions of the UN. It comprises 15 judges, elected by the General Assembly and the Security Council, and resolves any disputes between countries who voluntarily submit their matters to this court.

Find out more


United Nations: The UN in Brief

United Nations: UN at a Glance