After America joined the war in December 1941, the title "United Nations" was adopted – at the instigation of Roosevelt – by the Allies fighting the Axis forces. The title United Nations was adopted on January 1st 1942 and was used by all those nations who were at war with the Axis. This so-called United Nations Declaration stated that all signatories agreed with the principles of the Atlantic Charter. Twenty-six nations signed it in January 1942, including Britain, America, Soviet Russia and China. These four nations were essentially a ‘Big Four. In 1943, after meeting in Moscow, the so-called "Moscow Declaration" was issued which declared that a "general international organisation" would be established as quickly as possible and its task would be to maintain peace and security.
In 1945, at the Yalta Conference, Churchill, Stalin and Roosevelt agreed on the voting arrangements that would be used in the United Nations. At a general level, any nation in the United Nations would have one vote on issues. However, the USSR would have three votes as she represented three different republics – Russia, the Ukraine and Byelorussia – and each would have its own seat in the United Nations. Self-governing dominions in the British Empire – such as Canada and after 1947 India – also had one vote each. However, the ‘Big Four’ (USA, USSR, GB and China) could veto decision made by what was to be called the General Assembly. This meant that any one of the Big Four could stop the introduction of a decision by the General Assembly if that one country did not agree to it. It was in this Californian city that the United Nations’ Charter was decided upon. On June 25th 1945, the representatives of the 50 nations in San Francisco met in the city’s opera house. Here they signed the charter and it is this date that the United Nations is considered to have come into existence.
The structure of the United Nations: The structure of the United Nations is based around its charter. The United Nations Charter consists of 111 articles. These articles explain how the United Nations works. The charter established six parts of the United Nations; General Assembly, Security Council, Economic and Social Council, Trusteeship Council, International Court of Justice and Secretariat The General Assembly has the brief to discuss and decide on issues of international peace and security. All members of the United Nations are represented in the General Assembly. It can make recommendations to promote international peace; international economic and social co-operation and it can promote human rights. The General Assembly is expected to meet on a regular basis and when a vote is taken it needs a two-thirds majority for it to be passed.
The Security Council consists of eleven members. Five of these are permanent (USA, Russia, Great Briton, China and France). The General Assembly appoints another six members who are non-permanent members. The Security Council is given the primary task by the United Nations of maintaining peace and security at an international level. The Security Council can recommend the use of a blockade or other financial impositions for any nation that is deemed as breaking international law.
The main task of the Economic and Social Council is to promote and improve the economic and social well-being of those living in the member states. This council deals with human rights and seeks to develop a greater understanding of cultures throughout the world. Article 57 gives a clear indication of the areas this council covers: health, education, economic, social and cultural issues and the promotion of the position of women in the world.
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is the main judicial body of the United Nations. All members of the United Nations are party to the International Court. The ICJ consists of 15 members and only two members come from the same country at any one time. All members of the United Nations have to agree to abide by the decisions of the ICJ.
The Secretariat comprises of a Secretary-General and it is the body that runs the United Nations. The Secretary-General is appointed by the General Assembly which receives recommendations from the Security Council. The Secretary-General is the United Nations’ chief administrative officer.
Agencies of the United Nations: The four main agencies are the World Health Organisation (WHO), the International Labour Organisation (ILO), UNESCO and the International Atomic Energy Authority (IAEA). The ILO and UNESCO were established in 1944; the WHO was established in 1946 and the IAEA was established in 1957. In total there are 40 agencies/organisations that are part of the United Nations and each has a specialist role to play in advancing the standards of living for the world's population as a whole. Twenty non-United Nations agencies also work for the organisation. All these organisations cover what are considered to be the main targets to improve society as a whole.
The ILO has the task of ensuring that all people are entitled to equal opportunities and of economic security; UNESCO has the task of ensuring that education and the sharing of knowledge will lead to a universal respect amongst all people; the WHO strives to eradicate all diseases and the ensure that all people enjoy the highest attainable standards of health; the IAEA seeks to ensure that the development of atomic power will lead to a peaceful and prosperous world.
Regardless of the problems, the many agencies of the UN have done valuable work throughout the world.