The United Nations Organization is central to global efforts to solve problems which challenge humanity. Cooperating in this effort are more than 30 affiliated organizations, known together as the UN system. Day in and day out the UN and its family of organizations work to promote respect for human rights, protect the environment, fight disease, foster development and reduce poverty. UN agencies define the standards for sale and efficient transport by air and sea, help improve telecommunications and enhance consumer protection, work to ensure respect for intellectual property rights and coordinate allocation of radio frequencies. The United Nations leads the international campaigns against drug trafficking and terrorism. Throughout the world, the UN and its agencies assist refugees and set up programs to clear landmines, help improve the quality of drinking water and expand food production, make loans to developing countries and help stabilize financial markets.
The United Nations was established on 24 October 1945 by 51 countries committed to preserving peace through international cooperation and collective security. Today, nearly every nation in the world belongs to the UN: membership now totals 191 countries. The headquarters of the UNO are located in New York. All the documents are worked out and submitted for discussion and resolution in 5 languages: English, Russian, Spanish, French and Chinese.
When states become Members of the United Nations, they agree to accept the obligations of the UN Charter, an international treaty which sets out basic principles of international relations. According to the Charter, the UN has four main purposes:
- to maintain international peace and security,
- to develop friendly relations among nations,
- to cooperate in solving international problems and in promoting respect for human rights,
- to be a center for harmonizing the actions of nations.
UN Members are sovereign countries. The United Nations is not a world government, and it does not make laws. It does, however, provide the means to help resolve international conflict and formulate policies on matters affecting all of us. At the UN, all the Member States - large and small, rich and poor, with differing political views and social systems - have a voice and vote in this process.
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