A History of the United Nations

Rising from the ashes of a broken, war-torn world, the United Nations represented a reach towards a new direction in international politics: the preservation of peace, security and human rights.

New Year’s Day in 1942 was not your typical start to a new year. 26 States, amongst them, the USA, Britain, China and the USSR, pledged their commitment to fight the Axis powers (i.e Germany, Italy and Japan). They did so by signing the Declaration by United Nations. The first clause of the Declaration states that it enshrines the principles and purposes set out in the Atlantic Charter (1941), which was a joint declaration made between the USA and Great Britain “of certain common principles in the national policies of their respective countries on which they based their hopes for a better future for the world.”

On 24 October 1945, 51 States met in San Francisco and ratified the United Nations Charter, and the United Nations officially came into existence. The United Nations Charter expands on the principles and purposes of the Atlantic Charter. In 1945, the world was in disarray following the end of the Second World War. Indeed, in the preamble of the Charter, it explicitly notes the need tosave succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind”. The basis of preserving peace and security was similar to its forerunner, the League of Nations which was founded in 1919, following the end of the First World War. The League of Nations dissolved as it failed to prevent the Second World War. In contrast, the UN has had significantly greater success and longevity.