As of 2003, The United Nations (UN) is an organization of 191 states that strives to attain international peace and security, promotes fundamental HUMAN RIGHTS and equal rights for men and women, and encourages social progress. The successor to the LEAGUE OF NATIONS, the United Nations stems from the 1941 Inter-Allied Declaration signed by representatives of 14 countries (not including the United States) and the Atlantic Charter signed by President FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT and Prime Minister Winston Churchill of the United Kingdom. In 1942, 26 countries met in Washington, D.C., and signed the Declaration by United Nations in a cooperative effort to triumph over German dictator ADOLF HITLER during WORLD WAR II. In addition, wartime conferences in Moscow, Tehran, Yalta, and Washington, D.C. (at the Dumbarton Oaks estate in Georgetown), laid the foundation of the future organization. On June 25, 1945, delegates from 50 nations met in San Francisco and unanimously adopted the Charter of the United Nations. By October 24, 1945, China, France, the United States, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and a majority of the charter's other signatories had ratified it, and the United Nations was officially established. Shortly thereafter the U.S. Congress unanimously invited the United Nations to set up headquarters in the United States, and the organization chose New York City as its permanent home.
The United Nations is open to all "peaceloving" states, a requirement construed liberally over the years. The United Nations consists of six major organs: the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, the Secretariat, the INTERNATIONAL COURT OF JUSTICE (World Court), and the
Trusteeship Council. The Trusteeship Council, which was established to encourage governments to prepare trust territories for self-government or independence, has largely completed its original task of supervising 11 non-self-governing territories. In 1994 the Security Council terminated the Trusteeship Agreement of Belau, a trust territory in the western Pacific that had been administered by the United States. As all other trust territories had previously obtained independence or self-government, the Trustee-ship Council amended its rules and as of 2003 meets only as situations requiring action arise.
The main deliberative body of the United Nations, the General Assembly, somewhat resembles a parliament; each nation has one vote. The General Assembly has no power to compel any action by a member state, however. It only has the right to discuss and make recommendations on matters within the...