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Overview: The evolution of the United Nations

Apr. 08, 2024   •   Suhasni Sharma

Student's Pen  

The United Nations: A Chronicle of Triumphs and Tragedies

"It has been said that the United Nations was not created in order to bring us to heaven, but in order to save us from hell." -Dag Hammarskjöld

Dag Hammarskjöld gave this statement when he was addressing the convocation ceremony of the University of California in Berkeley, California on May 13, 1954. He was then serving as the Secretary General of the United Nations, an international organization which was supposedly created to maintain world peace in a rapidly changing world.

The UN describes itself as "one place where the world's nations can gather together, discuss common problems and find shared solutions" that benefit all of humanity. The United Nations was founded in 1945 to bring all the countries to the same table to discuss various global problems that couldn't be solved in isolation by a single country. The developed countries, the developing countries and the least developed countries (LDCs) all got an opportunity to come together to discuss their issues and come up with solutions. The UN currently has 193 member states and these member states are bound by the UN Charter, which states the powers which are vested in the UN.

After the horrifying events of World War II, world leaders suggested establishing a new worldwide organization to uphold peace and prevent the atrocities of war. This proposal led to the official founding of the United Nations in 1945.

The League of Nations was established by an international organization to settle international conflicts following World War I. The initiative failed at the outset of World War II, but it did serve as a stark reminder of the need for a new, reformed organization capable of advancing world peace.

Atlantic Charter- Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill explored the prospect of launching an international peace campaign at a covert meeting in August 1941. They created the Atlantic Charter, a document that set forth the ideal objectives of war and cleared the path for the creation of the United Nations.

San Francisco Conference-Several meetings were held over the following few years to write a post-war charter that would clearly define the functions of the United Nations. At the United Nations Conference on International Organisation (UNCIO), which took place in San Francisco on April 25, 1945, leaders decided on the fundamental ideas and format of the United Nations Charter. On October 24, 1945, 51 members of the UN ratified the official charter following the end of the war.

United Nations Charter- On June 26, 1945, at the United Nations Conference on International Organization in San Francisco, delegates of the fifty participating nations signed the UN Charter. Poland, which was not represented, signed it afterwards and joined the UN's founding group of 51 members. The concepts presented in the Atlantic Charter in August 1941 served as a foundation for the UN Charter's notion of international peace and security.

The UN aimed at ensuring global peace and security, fostering amicable ties between states, establishing global collaboration to tackle global issues and serving as a hub for coordinating national efforts to achieve these shared objectives. But despite these commitments, we see that two major wars are going on in the world right now:

●Russia-Ukraine War
●Israel-Gaza War

These wars witnessed blatant violations of the human rights of the civilians as well as the soldiers in combat. There was widespread bloodshed and flagrant transgression of human rights. Despite its claims to protect peace between the countries, the UN has failed multiple times to contain wars and protect innocent civilians from getting trapped in these gruesome situations.


Material Support: Millions of people worldwide depend on the United Nations for their survival. For more than 80 million individuals, the World Food Programme offers food and financial support. Nearly 69 million individuals who have been forced to flee their homes due to persecution, violence, or breaches of human rights are receiving relief from the United Nations. In addition, 45% of children worldwide receive vaccinations from UN organizations, which is expected to save two to three million lives annually from diseases that may be prevented.

Decolonization: 750 million people were living in areas under the control of a colonial power in 1945, the year the UN was established. Today, less than 2 million people are subject to colonial control. The UN's human rights framework places a strong emphasis on each country's right to sovereignty and self-determination. The General Assembly adopted four resolutions commemorating the International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism and its historic Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, among other resolutions pertaining to decolonization. The list of non-self-governing territories is periodically reviewed by the Special Committee on Decolonization, which also asks representatives from these areas to make statements during its yearly sessions. After World War II, the UN was instrumental in the decolonization process and continues to serve as a platform for discussing various international objectives.

Human Rights: The first all-encompassing framework for human rights law was created by the United Nations. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights were used by the organization to define human rights. Collectively, these texts delineated numerous more rights, including those to equality, asylum, freedom of movement, education, and religion.


Rwanda Mission 1994: The 1994 Rwanda Mission saw the Hutus massacre almost a million members of the Tutsi minority while the United Nations attempted to halt the Rwandan genocide.
Oil for Food Programme: The goal of the Oil for Food Programme is to enable Iraq to sell oil to the United Nations in return for food and medical supplies. However, it was alleged that a large portion of the funds were given to U.N. representatives and the Iraqi government.
Allegations of sexual abuse: At the beginning of 2005, there were claims that U.N. forces in the Republic of Congo had paid for sex or committed acts of rape. Similar claims of sexual mis-behaviour were made in Haiti, Cambodia, and other nations.

As we saw, the UN needs to be more effective in things they claim. Being an international organization that aims to keep world peace, UNO's involvement in the current world problems requires more efficacious and judicious actions. But the thing is, without many of the UN's operations and programs, the world would be a worse place. As implied by the quote given in the beginning, the UN helps the world be a better place. Sure there are some challenges of the UN programs, but we have to see the positive side as well.

(1)United Nations, (last visited Feb 24, 2024).
(2)The Alliance For Citizen Engagement, (last visited Feb 25, 2024).
(3)HISTORY, (last visited Feb 25, 2024)


The author affirms that this article is an entirely original work, never before submitted for publication at any journal, blog or other publication avenue. Any unintentional resemblance to previously published material is purely coincidental. This article is intended solely for academic and scholarly discussion. The author takes personal responsibility for any potential infringement of intellectual property rights belonging to any individuals, organizations, governments, or institutions.


The author of this blog is Suhasni Sharma. She is currently a 2nd year student pursuing her B.A.LL.B. degree from The Law School, University of Jammu.

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