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Background guide The United

Nations is an effective
The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization established on 24 October
1945 to promote international co-operation. A replacement for the ineffective League of
Nations, the organization was created following the Second World War to prevent another
such conflict. At its founding, the UN had 51 member states; there are now 193.
During the Second World War, US President Franklin D. Roosevelt initiated talks on a
successor agency to the League of Nations, and the United Nations Charter was drafted at a
conference in AprilJune 1945; this charter took effect on 24 October 1945, and the UN
began operation since then. Existent for 69 years, the UN has come under much scrutiny for
its peace keeping policies. Some argue that the UN has done a fine job while others contend
that it has done a rather poor job in peace keeping.
Judging whether the UN has been successful depends on what the UN aims to achieve. Put
into broad categories, the UN has three main objectives: peace keeping and security,
protection of human rights and promotion of economic growth and humanitarian assistance

Peacekeeping and Security

The United Nations primary objective has been to maintain peace, and stop the spread of
conflict. The Security Council, the main deliberative body of the United Nations, passes
resolutions pertaining to global conflicts that all member nations must follow. If there is a
violent conflict, the Security Council may intervene and send peacekeeping forces to broker a
ceasefire. The UN may then promote political dialogue between the warring factions or in
some cases, impose economic and political sanctions on one country depending on who the
aggressor nation is. The Security Councils resolutions, however, have to be agreed
unanimously by the permanent five nations in the Security Council the United States,
Russia, the United Kingdom, France and China. Any one nation can veto a resolution and
thus it is not passed and no consequent action takes place.

Protection of Human Rights

In 1948, the United Nations adopted a Universal Declaration of Human Rights, drafted by a
committee headed by Franklin D. Roosevelt's widow, Eleanor. The document proclaims basic
civil, political, and economic rights common to all human beings. The Declaration serves as a
"common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations" rather than a legally
binding document, but it has become the basis of two binding treaties, the 1966 International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and International Covenant on Economic, Social and
Cultural Rights. In practice, the UN is unable to take significant action against human rights
abuses without a Security Council resolution, though it does substantial work in investigating

and reporting abuses. In general, protection of human rights includes protection of people
against genocide, rights of women and minorities, rights of workers and rights of children.

Economic growth and humanitarian assistance

Another primary purpose of the UN is "to achieve international co-operation in solving
international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian
character". Numerous bodies have been created to work towards this goal, primarily under
the authority of the General Assembly and ECOSOC. In 2000, the 192 United Nations
member states agreed to achieve eight Millennium Development Goals by 2015.
Millennium Development Goals
1. eradicate extreme poverty and hunger;
2. achieve universal primary education;
3. promote gender equality and empower women;
4. reduce child mortality;
5. improve maternal health;
6. combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases;
7. ensure environmental sustainability; and
8. develop a global partnership for development