The United Nations (UN) is an international organisation founded in 1945 by 50 original member states who sought a mechanism for facilitating international cooperation in law, insecurity, economic development, social progress, human rights and achieving world peace.
|The UN has assisted in post-conflict and disaster relief in many countries since 1945 [EPA]
Some 63 years later, the UN is headquartered in New York and is home to 192 member states.
The world body provides an important platform for dialogue among nations and for feuding states to air their grievances.
Many of its critics maintain that it has failed or at best has been ineffectual in its aim of stopping armed conflicts between nations.
However, others who may agree that the effectiveness and power of the UN could be increased also say that the 60 years of peace and prosperity in the absence of a global war could not have happened without the United Nations.
The following is a brief history of some of the important dates in the UN's history
October 24, 1945: The UN charter is signed by 50 countries in San Francisco.
October 20, 1947: The UN flag is adopted.
November 29, 1947: UN committee agrees to partitioning Palestine into the State of Israel despite Arab anger.
|The UN has been headquartered in New York since 1950 [AFP]
1947-1949: The Security Council orders a cease-fire between Indonesia, who declared unilateral independence, and its erstwhile colonial masters – the Dutch. UN sponsors Indonesian independence, which comes to fruition in 1949.
December 10, 1948: The UN General Assembly adopts the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
July 18, 1949: India and Pakistan sign the UN-sponsored Karachi Agreement establishing a cease-fire line which the the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) is to monitor.
1950: The Security Council authorises the use of force under Chapter VII to defend South Korea.
1956: A Security Council draft resolution calls on the Soviets to withdraw from Hungary. Moscow vetoes the resolution.
October 19: War between Egypt and Israel, supported by UK forces, breaks out over the former's decision to nationalise the Suez Canal.
The Security Council orders Israel to withdraw from Egypt; UK and France exercise their veto for the first time and the UN Emergency Force is formed and remains on the Egypt-Israel borders till 1967.
1960: Seventeen newly-independent states join the UN.
1963: Cyprus gains independence from the UK in 1960. Civil war between Greeks and Turks in Cyprus breaks out. A UN peacekeeping force of 6000 is sent to act as a buffer and remains until 1970.
1965: The UN Children's Fund (Unicef), which works towards securing children's rights, is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize
1964: Peace-keepers are sent to Cyprus.
1966: Mandatory sanctions imposed against Rhodesia.
|Palestinian refugee school girls play on the beach at UNRWA camp [GALLO/GETTY]
1967: The Security Council calls for a cease-fire in the war between Israel and Arab states like Egypt, Jordan and Syria and under Resolution 242.
Though signed by all parties it fails to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
July 1, 1968: The Treaty of Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) is signed. Eventually, 189 countries sign the accord. India, Israel, North Korea and Pakistan have yet to sign.
1969: The UN's International Labour Organisation (ILO) receives the Nobel Peace Prize.
1971: China replaces Taiwan at the UN.
1972: The first UN environment conference is held in Stockholm.
1974: The UN recognises the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO).
1975: First UN conference on women.
1977: Mandatory arms embargo against South Africa.
1979: USSR vetoes Security Council resolution that demanded a Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan.
1980: Smallpox eradicted.
1982: Convention on the Law of the Sea.
1987: Treaty on protection of the ozone Layer.
1990: Convention on the right of the child, world summit on children.
August: Security Council condemns Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.
1992: The Security Council holds its first ever summit to look at reform and restructuring.
The UN holds the first Earth Summit.
1993: UN supervises elections in Cambodia.
The UN holds the World Conference on Human Rights.
1994: Security Council authorises Nato airstrikes on Serb forces in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
1995: UN convenes the first World Summit on Social Development.
April 14, 1995: The UN authorises the oil-for-food programme to allow Iraq to sell oil in exchange for food, medicine, and other humanitarian requirements of its citizens.
December 21, 1995: The Security Council passes Resolution 1035, which establishes the UN Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
September 10, 1996: The Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty is adopted by the UN General Assembly as a non-binding resolution.
December 11, 1997: The Kyoto Treaty is adopted to implement the UN Framework Convention for Climate Change.
March 13, 2002: The UN Security Council passes a resolution for the first time calling for a Palestinian state alongside Israel.
November 8, 2002: The UN Security Council unanimously adopts resolution 1441, drafted by the US and UK. Despite global criticism, the US would later say that resolution authorised its invasion and occupation of Iraq.
March 5, 2003: France, Russia and Germany declare their opposition to a new US-UK draft resolution authorising war on Iraq.
March 18, 2003: Bush issues an ultimatum for Saddam and his sons to leave Iraq within 48 hours. Iraq rejects the US ultimatum and the UN was obliged to pull its arms inspector out of the country.
May 22, 2003: The Security Council adopts resolution 1483, recognising the US and Britain's occupation of Iraq and lifting economic sanctions. The resolution assigned the UN only a limited role in a transition to democratic government.
August 19, 2003: A suicide attack on the UN headquarters in Baghdad kills Sergio Vieira de Mello, the top UN special envoy in Iraq.
September 15, 2005: Ariel Sharon, the Israeli prime minister, addresses the UN General Assembly and recognises Palestinian rights, but says Israel has a right to united Jerusalem, and will spare no effort to combat "terrorism".
October 20, 2005: A UN probe links Syria to the murder of Rafik al-Hariri, the late Lebanese prime minister, in Beirut on February 14, 2005; 22 other people are killed.
March 15, 2006: General Assembly establishes the Human Rights Council.
August 11, 2006: The Security Council unanimously approves a proposal aimed at ending the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah.
August 25, 2006: The Security Council establishes the UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) for an initial period of six months.
July 31, 2007: The UN establishes a peace-keeping mission in Darfur - UNAMID - in co-operation with the African Union.
March 31, 2008: A Security Council resolution removes the arms ban on the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo.