The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization to promote international co-operation. A replacement for the ineffective League of Nations, the organization was established on 24 October 1945 after World War II in order to prevent another such conflict. At its founding, the UN had 51 member states; there are now 193. The headquarters of the United Nations is in Manhattan, New York City, and experiences extraterritoriality. Further main offices are situated in Geneva, Nairobi and Vienna. The organization is financed by assessed and voluntary contributions from its member states. Its objectives include maintaining international peace and security, promoting human rights, fostering social and economic development, protecting the environment, and providing humanitarian aid in cases of famine, natural disaster, and armed conflict.
- Eagerly, musician,
Sweep your string,
So we may sing,
Our several voices
For all within
The cincture of the sound
Is holy ground,
Where all are Brothers,
None faceless Others.
Let mortals beware
Of words, for
With words we lie,
Can say peace
When we mean war,
Foul thought speak fair
And promise falsely,
But song is true:
Let music for peace
Be the paradigm,
For peace means to change
At the right time,
As the World-Clock,
Goes Tick and Tock.
So may the story
Of our human city
Like music, when
New notes beget,
Making the flowing
Of time a growing,
Till what it could be,
At last it is,
Where even sadness
Is a form of gladness,
Where Fate is Freedom,
Grace and Surprise.
- W. H. Auden, "Hymn to the United Nations", music by Pablo Casals; reported in The New York Times (October 25, 1971), p. 40.
- Since the creation of the United Nations in 1945, over 100 major conflicts around the world have left some 20 million dead.
- To make peace in the world secure, the United Nations must have readily at its disposal, as a result of firm commitments undertaken by all of its members, military strength of sufficient dimensions to make it certain that it can meet aggressive military force with international military force, speedily and conclusively. If that kind of strength is made available to the United Nations [...] in my view that strength will never again be challenged in war and therefore need never be employed. But military strength will not be enough. The moral position of the United Nations must ever be strong and unassailable; it must stand steadfastly, always, for the right.
- The international problems with which the United Nations is concerned are the problems of the interrelations of the peoples of the world. They are human problems. The United Nations is entitled to believe, and it does believe, that there are no insoluble problems of human relations and that there is none which cannot be solved by peaceful means. The United Nations - in Indonesia, Palestine, and Kashmir - has demonstrated convincingly that parties to the most severe conflict may be induced to abandon war as the method of settlement in favour of mediation and conciliation, at a merciful saving of untold lives and acute suffering. Unfortunately, there may yet be some in the world who have not learned that today war can settle nothing, that aggressive force can never be enough, nor will it be tolerated. If this should be so, the pitiless wrath of the organized world must fall upon those who would endanger the peace for selfish ends. For in this advanced day, there is no excuse, no justification, for nations resorting to force except to repel armed attack.
- There can be peace and a better life for all men. Given adequate authority and support, the United Nations can ensure this. But the decision really rests with the peoples of the world. The United Nations belongs to the people, but it is not yet as close to them, as much a part of their conscious interest, as it must come to be. The United Nations must always be on the people's side. Where their fundamental rights and interests are involved, it must never act from mere expediency. At times, perhaps, it has done so, but never to its own advantage nor to that of the sacred causes of peace and freedom. If the peoples of the world are strong in their resolve and if they speak through the United Nations, they need never be confronted with the tragic alternatives of war or dishonourable appeasement, death, or enslavement.
- It is worthy of emphasis that the United Nations exists not merely to preserve the peace but also to make change - even radical change - possible without violent upheaval. The United Nations has no vested interest in the status quo. It seeks a more secure world, a better world, a world of progress for all peoples. In the dynamic world society which is the objective of the United Nations, all peoples must have equality and equal rights. The rights of those who at any given time may be in the minority - whether for reasons of race, religion, or ideology - are as important as those of the majority, and the minorities must enjoy the same respect and protection. The United Nations does not seek a world cut after a single pattern, nor does it consider this desirable. The United Nations seeks only unity, not uniformity, out of the world's diversity.
- For the first time since World War II the international community is united. The leadership of the United Nations, once only a hoped-for ideal, is now confirming its founders’ vision. . . . The world can therefore seize this opportunity to fulfill the long-held promise of a new world order.
- George H. W. Bush, the President of the United States in his State of the Union message to that nation, January 29, 1991.
- War! Huh? What is it good for? Well, for start? It sorts out who is the strongest out of the two countries. Also, you get to see some amazing explosions. But, there is some people out there who not only don't enjoy the war, but they try to spoil the fun for everyone else. And those chickens is called the 'U.N.' Me went to New York to meet these player-haters.
- I is here standing outside the United Nations of Benetton. Which is where representatives from the three corners of the world come to end wars, international drug trafficking, and everything else that is a bit of a laugh.
- It's at times like this, isn't it, when you realize just how much we need the United Nations - about as much as we need an ear infection...
Freedom of thought, freedom of speech, freedom of identity. This is my Holy Trinity, each one an intrinsic aspect of my god: Freedom, the Holiest of Holies. Yes it bloody well is. It is absolutely sacred and inviolable, beyond any negotiation or compromise, now and forever. Amen.
- The United Nations represents not a final stage in the development of world order, but only a primitive stage. Therefore its primary task is to create the conditions which will make possible a more highly developed organization.
- John Foster Dulles in War on Peace (1949).
- It is not the Soviet Union or indeed any other big Powers who need the United Nations for their protection. It is all the others. In this sense, the Organization is first of all their Organization and I deeply believe in the wisdom with which they will be able to use it and guide it. I shall remain in my post during the term of my office as a servant of the Organization in the interests of all those other nations, as long as they wish me to do so.
- Dag Hammarskjold, statement to the General Assembly of the United Nations (October 3, 1960); in Official Records of the United Nations, General Assembly, vol. 1, p. 332.
- The plain truth is the day is coming when no single nation, however powerful, can undertake by itself to keep the peace outside its own borders. Regional and international organizations for peace-keeping purposes are as yet rudimentary; but they must grow in experience and be strengthened by deliberate and practical cooperative action.
- Robert McNamara, U.S. Secretary of Defense, address before the American Society of Newspaper Editors, Montreal, Canada (May 19, 1966), Congressional Record (May 19, 1966), vol. 112, p. 11114.
- And our enduring strength is also reflected in our respect for an international system that protects the rights of both nations and people -- a United Nations and a Universal Declaration of Human Rights; international law and the means to enforce those laws. But we also know that those rules are not self-executing; they depend on people and nations of goodwill continually affirming them.
- Even perfect decisions of the Organization cannot yield expected practical results unless and until they have the response and support in the political will of Member States. I trust that mankind will succeed in halting and reversing the course towards the precipice.
- Stefan Olszowski, Polish Minister for Foreign Affairs, stated in a letter dated May 9, 1985.
- I hope the United Nations will ever remain the supreme forum of peace and justice, the authentic seat of freedom.
- Pope John Paul II, October 1979, addressed the UN General Assembly.
- We have been determined . . . to so organize the peace-loving nations that they may through unity of desire, unity of will, and unity of strength be in position to assure that no other would-be aggressor or conqueror shall even get started. That is why from the very beginning of the war, and paralleling our military plans, we have begun to lay the foundations for the general organization for the maintenance of peace and security.
- The idea that the UN system could provide real leadership on the great development challenges will strain credulity in some quarters.
- Protocol, alcohol, and Geritol.
- Adlai Stevenson, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, defining diplomatic life, in Herbert J. Muller, Adlai Stevenson (1967), p. 274.
- You must not expect the United Nations to accomplish miracles. We are made up of sovereign nations. We can only accomplish what our member nations allow us to accomplish.
- I am convinced that the United Nations provides the best road to the future for those who have confidence in our capacity to shape our own fate on this planet.
- That conviction was expressed by former Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim in his book The Challenge of Peace. While admitting the UN’s shortcomings, he also explained: "One should realize that the United Nations is, after all, the world in microcosm. Its weaknesses must consequently be ascribed primarily to the contradictions that characterize the world community itself"; and "I should point out that it [the UN] is no more than a mirror of the world it serves. That world is a conglomerate of extremely varied, often intractable, passionate, and antagonistic nations".