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75 Years of the United Nations: How it all started

75 Years of the United Nations: How it all started


Ms Priyal Sepaha,

Co-Founder & Executive Editor


24th October 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of the United Nations. To commemorate the milestone achieved by this organization which has more legitimacy, convening power, and normative impact than any other organization, this blog explains how and why the United Nations was founded.

The word ‘United Nations’ (hereinafter, UN) was coined on 1 January 1942 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Prime Minister Churchill, Maxim Litvinov, of the USSR, and T. V. Soong, of China in the Declaration of The United Nations. But, the UN day is celebrated on the 24th of October when the UN Charter, the founding document was enforced, which officiated the existence of the organization.  The organization is a successor of the League of Nations which was founded post the First World War. The UN was a result of the Second World War to maintain international peace and security, develop friendly relations among nations, and promote social progress, better living standards, and human rights.

The first concrete step to form the UN was taken on 25 April 1945, when delegates of 50 allied nations gathered in San Francisco, the United States for the United Nations Conference on International Organization (UNCIO). The conference was aimed to establish an organization that would work towards world peace. The Dumbarton Oaks proposals of 1944 served as a foundation for the conference and formed on similar agendas, the members drafted the Charter, a document acceptable to all the countries.

The Charter provides a unique international character to the UN, empowering it to take action on various issues, and provide a forum for its 193 Member States to express their views, through the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, and other bodies and committees. The UN is popularly known for its peacekeeping, peacebuilding, conflict prevention, and humanitarian assistance, there is a lot more to that the organization does in maintaining peace and security in the rapidly changing world order. The scope of the UN is envisaged under Article 1, Chapter 1 of its Charter which says: the UN has four main purposes: (i) to keep peace throughout the world; (ii) to develop friendly relations among nations; (iii) to help nations work together to improve the lives of poor people and to conquer hunger, disease, and illiteracy and to encourage respect for each other’s rights and freedoms; and (iv) to be a center for harmonizing the actions of nations to achieve these goals.

With an aim to cater to all aspects of its mandate, the UN system comprises of many specialized agencies, funds, and programs, constantly working to favor equality and accessibility of basic necessities and rights. These areas include, but are not limited to sustainable development, environment and refugees protection, disaster relief, counter-terrorism, disarmament and non-proliferation, promoting democracy, human rights, gender equality and the advancement of women, governance, economic and social development, and international health, clearing landmines and expanding food production.

The UN has, in the past 75 years, worked commendably towards world peace and has played a major role in shaping the world. However, the role and responsibilities of the organization will continue to unfold into new horizons with time. Like Kofi Annan, the seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations once stated: “today’s United Nations does more than ever before, it does it better than ever before. Yet, our work is far from complete. Indeed, it will never be”.