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Portal:United Nations

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The flag of the United Nations

The United Nations (UN) is an international organization whose stated aims are to facilitate cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, and human rights issues. It was founded in 1945 with the signing of the United Nations Charter by 51 countries.

The UN was founded after the end of World War II (24 October 1945) by the victorious Allied Powers in the hope that it would act to intervene in conflicts between nations and thereby avoid war. The organization's structure still reflects in some ways the political power-structure of when it was founded. The five permanent members of the UN Security Council, each of which has veto power on any Security Council resolution, are the main victors of World War II or their successor states: the People's Republic of China (formerly the Republic of China), France, Russia (formerly the Soviet Union), the United Kingdom, and the United States.

There are currently 193 United Nations member states, including the majority of internationally recognized independent states. From its headquarters in New York City, the UN and its specialized agencies decide on substantive and administrative issues in regular meetings held throughout each year. The United Nations is divided into five major administrative organs: the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Secretariat, the International Court of Justice, and the Economic and Social Council. Additional bodies deal with the governance of all other United Nations system organizations, such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). The UN's most visible public figure is the Secretary-General, currently António Guterres of Portugal, who took office on 1 January 2017. The newest Member State is South Sudan, admitted in July 2011.

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The UN headquarters in New York

The United Nations Headquarters is a distinctive complex in New York City that has served as the headquarters of the United Nations since its completion in 1950. It is located in the Turtle Bay neighborhood, on the east side of Midtown Manhattan, on spacious grounds overlooking the East River. Though it is in New York City, the land occupied by the United Nations Headquarters is considered international territory, and its borders are First Avenue west, East 42nd Street south, East 48th Street north and the East River east.

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Ban Ki-moon

Ban Ki-moon (born 13 June 1944) is a South Korean diplomat and the current Secretary-General of the United Nations. Ban was the Foreign Minister of the Republic of Korea from January 2004 to November 2006. On 13 October 2006, he was elected to be the eighth Secretary-General by the United Nations General Assembly. On 1 January 2007, he succeeded Kofi Annan, and passed several major reforms regarding peacekeeping and UN employment practices.

Diplomatically, Ban has taken particularly strong views on global warming, pressing the issue repeatedly with U.S. President George W. Bush, and Darfur, where he helped persuade Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to allow peacekeeping troops to enter Sudan.

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The 62nd General Assembly
President of Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, gives the inaugural speech at the 62nd General Assembly of the United Nations in 2007.

Photo credit: United States Federal Government

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"The UN was not created to take mankind to heaven, but to save humanity from hell."
Dag Hammarskjöld, Secretary-General from 1953 to 1961

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