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Reading: The United Nations

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In one very long sentence, the introduction to the U.N. Charter expresses the ideals and the common aims of all the peoples whose governments joined together to form the U.N.

The name "United Nations" is accredited to U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and the first group of representatives of member states met and signed a declaration of common intent on New Year's Day in 1942, completed at Dumbarton Oaks in 1944. These proposals, modified after deliberation at the conference on International Organization in San Fransisco which began in April 1945, were finally agreed on and signed as the U.N. Charter by 50 countries on 26 June 1945. Poland, not represented at the conference, signed the Charter later and was added to the list of original members. It was not until that autumn, however, after the Charter had been ratified by China, France, the U.S.S.R and the U.K. and the U.S. and by a majority of the other participants that the U.N. officially came into existence. The date was 24 October, now universally celebrated as United Nations Day.

The essential functions of the U.N. are to maintain international peace and security, to develop friendly relations among nations, to cooperate internationally in solving international economic, social, cultural and human problems, promoting respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and to be a centre for co-ordinating the actions of nations in attaining these common ends.

No country takes precedence over another in the U.N. Each member's rights and obligations are the same. All must contribute to the peaceful settlement of international disputes, and members have pledged to refrain from the threat and use of force against other states. Though the U.N. has no right to intervene in any state's internal affairs, it tries to ensure that non-member states act according to its principles of international peace and security. UN members must offer every assistance in an approved U.N. action and in no way assist states which the U.N. is taking preventive or enforcement action.



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