United Nations for All The UN is Even More Essential to World
By: John Shepler
What amazing 77 year old has a staff of 52,000, commands troops
of a hundred nations, intervenes to make peace when fighting
breaks out anywhere in the world, is working to eradicate poverty
and disease for a billion people, is largely responsible for
keeping mankind from annihilating itself since World War II...and
sends children out on Halloween to raise money?
24 is the birthday of that amazing 71 year old: The United Nations.
It was a necessary child of a world that very nearly did reach
the brink of annihilation in World War II. On August 14, 1941,
on board the ship HMS Prince of Wales, "somewhere at sea,"
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt of the United States and
Prime Minister Winston Churchill of the United Kingdom both realized
that even the most powerful nations on earth could no longer
feel that their future was secure. The nations of the world needed
something larger than themselves. Not a world government, but
a council of sovereign nations that would vote to act as one
to intervene as needed to keep the peace. President Roosevelt
suggested the term "United Nations."
The "Declaration by United Nations" was signed on
New Year's Day, 1942. By then the leaders of 24 other nations
had joined with Roosevelt and Churchill to pledge their unity
in fighting the Axis powers. There were further conferences in
Moscow and Tehran in 1943. Finally the pivotal one in Yalta in
1945, where Roosevelt, Churchill and Premier Joseph Stalin of
the USSR declared their resolve to establish "a general
international organization to maintain peace and security."
World War II was nearly over, but the leaders of the Allied
nations knew better than to just go back to minding their own
affairs. The world had changed and matters of global importance
had to be managed by a global organization, with as many countries
as possible actively participating. Representatives of 51 countries
signed the original Charter of the United Nations on June 26,
1945. The United Nations was officially born on October 24, 1945
after the Charter was ratified by the five permanent members
of the Security Council and the majority of the other signing
nations. That day is celebrated each year as United Nations Day.
Perhaps United Nations Day should be a world holiday. Consider
what the United Nations does for us. The most obvious role is
that of peacekeeper. Not an evening newscast goes by without
some mention of United Nations troops policing a recent war zone
or area of conflict. East Timor, Kosovo, Bosnia and Iraq are
some of the most current examples. There have been 49 peacekeeping
operations since 1948, with 118 countries voluntarily providing
750,000 personnel. Some 12,500 military and civilian police are
on duty for the UN right now.
you hear less about and may quickly forget is that the United
Nations steps in, sometimes very quietly, to prevent imminent
wars and to broker peace settlements in regional conflicts. Over
the years, the UN has been credited with negotiating 172 such
peaceful settlements. United Nations representatives have provided
assistance for holding free elections in over 45 countries.
Even more surprising may be that the primary activity of the
United Nations is not policing the world, but improving the standard
of life for all peoples. This has included adopting a Universal
Declaration of Human Rights, helping to end apartheid in South
Africa, reducing child mortality rates in developing countries
through sanitation and nutrition, promoting the rights of women,
establishing food safety standards, cleaning up pollution, clearing
land mines and distributing two million tons of food to needy
people each year. The Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded five
times to the United Nations and its organizations, and an additional
six time to individuals associated with the UN.
The General Assembly and Security Council are probably the
most recognized organs of the United Nations and the ones we've
studied in school. So, too, are the United Nations Headquarters
buildings in New York City. The International Court of Justice,
also known as the World Court, is part of the United Nations
and is located at The Hague, Netherlands. There are UN offices
in Geneva, Vienna and Nairobi. Leaders of the United Nations
have come from around the world. The current Secretary-General,
António Guterres, is from Portugal.
So why does the United Nations have children raising funds
on Halloween? The tradition was actually started in Philadelphia
in 1950, when a youth group collected $17 in decorated milk cartons
for the United Nations Children's Fund, UNICEF, to help other
children overseas. The idea caught on, and "Trick or Treat
for UNICEF" became a nationwide tradition. In fact, October
31 was declared National UNICEF Day by presidential proclamation
in 1967 and has expanded to be a month long fund drive. How much
can a bunch of kids going door to door on Halloween with their
orange UNICEF boxes possibly collect? Would you believe $100
million since 1950? Truly, everyone can both benefit and participate
in our United Nations.
Books of Interest:
The United Nations and Changing World Politics by Thomas
George Weiss; David P. Forsythe; Roger A. Coate
Basic Facts about the United Nations by United Nations
The United Nations for Beginners by Ian Williams, Christian
Clark (Illustrator). Thoroughly exploring the role of the U.N.
in world events and the true dimensions of its power, Williams
clearly explains the General Assembly and Security Council and
examines the leadership of secretary generals. He discusses the
World Bank and UNESCO and traces the U.N.'s mediation attempts
in long-standing conflicts such as that between the Arabs and
the Israelis. Illustrations.
United Nations; The First Fifty Years by Stanley Meisler.
On the eve of the 50th anniversary of the United Nations, Meisler
has written a compelling popular history, exploring the U.N.'s
culture, its adventures in war, and its evolution into a key
international player. From Roosevelt, Stalin, and Truman, who
set the stage at the birth of the U.N., to Daniel Moynihan, who
walked out of the General Assembly over the Third World's anti-Zion
resolution, this is a story filled with action and heartbreak.
My Wish for Tomorrow: Words and Pictures from Children
Around the World In Celebration of the Fiftieth Anniversary of
the United Nations by Jim Henson Publishing (Compiler). With
The United Nations, Foreword by Nelson Mandela, Boutros Boutros-Ghali
(Introduction). Children from around the world express with words
and pictures their wishes to make the world a better place. Published
on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the United Nations.
Also visit these related
United Nations - This is
the basic site for the United Nations, and a good place to begin.
With Global Volunteers - Make a difference in one, two or
three weeks. No special skills are needed. Here's a unique opportunity
to combine meaningful service with unmatched cultural learning
Borders - This organization delivers emergency aid to victims
of armed conflict, epidemics, and natural and man-made disasters,
and to others who lack health care due to social or geographical