Here’s everything you need to know about the United Nations. What does the United Nations do? How did it get created? Why did it get created? Etc.
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Once upon a time there was a horrible war called World War One. It was devastating. It was horrible. All of the world’s superpowers were at it, and it was supposed to be the “war to end all wars.” After Germany was defeated, the side that won, known as the Allied Powers, got together and came up with an organization called the League of Nations. It was the first international organization to have a main goal of creating world peace.
In order to do achieve world peace, the League agreed to avoid war at all costs, create open and respectable relations between nations, establish international law, and strictly honor treaties. At its peak, 58 countries had joined the League of Nations. However, it ended up epically failing at preventing some of its own members from trying to take over the entire world. You know, countries like Germany, Italy, and Japan. When countries like Britain and France called them out on it, they got all offended, basically saying “well YOU did it, so why can’t we?” Soon after, the three countries and several others left the League. And the League crumbled as it ultimately failed to prevent what became known as World War II. So much for world peace!
And that, ladies and gentleman, was the worst war in history. It’s estimated that between 60 million and 70 million people died because of it. Basically, 12 percent of all human beings to ever die in a war, died in that one. But Germany, Italy, and Japan, more commonly known as the Axis Powers, would go down in World War II, and a big reason why is because a bunch of countries united to stop them, known as the Allies.
Two of the Allies, the United States and the United Kingdom, led the way. In August 1941, the American President Franklin Roosevelt and the British Prime Minister Winston Churchill met up in Newfoundland to create the Atlantic Charter. It stated new, idealistic, goals for the world after the war was over, such has an end to countries conquering for new territory, self-determination, or the rights for countries to govern themselves, a reduction of trade restrictions, freedom of the oceans, and taking away weapons from aggressive nations.
On New Year’s Day, 1942, at the Arcadia Conference in Washington, D.C., 26 different countries from around the world agreed to sign the Declaration by United Nations. The document pledged that the 26 countries, led by the “Big Four,” the United States, United Kingdom, Soviet Union, and China, would join forces to defeat totalitarianism, specifically “Hitlerism.” The document stated that victory over the Axis Powers was necessary to defend human rights everywhere, and it helped turn World War II into a war of ideals.
By the end of the war, 21 other countries had agreed to the declaration. Even countries who were formerly friends of the Axis Powers wished to sign the declaration, but were not allowed to. And while the violence raged on across Europe and the Pacific, heads of states, diplomats, generals, and government officials met several times with the goal of creating another international organization to keep the peace. At the Dumbarton Oaks Conference in 1944, leaders from the Big Four met again to lay out the plans for such an organization. In February of 1945, the Big Three (China was not represented this time), met to solidify plans on how the organization would vote. At the UN Conference on International Organization in San Francisco in April 1945, representatives from 50 countries came together to create the United Nations Charter, which officially created the United Nations. It was signed on June 26, 1945, and went into effect October 24, 1945. Unfortunately, Franklin Roosevelt never lived to see this happen. He had died in April, but the new President, Harry Truman, had pushed forward with making it happen, and he Truman appointed Eleanor Roosevelt, Franklin’s wife, as a delegate to the United Nations General Assembly, which I will explain more about in a moment.
I will now read the entirety of the United Nations Charter. Just kidding. That would take awhile.