About the United Nations

What does the United Nations do?

A Brief Overview

The United Nations is an international organization founded in 1945 after the Second World War by 51 countries committed to maintaining international peace and security, developing friendly relations among nations and promoting social progress, better living standards and human rights. Almost all of the questions that you might have about the work and scope of the United Nations can be found in its charter.

The UN has 4 main purposes:

  • To keep peace throughout the world
  • To develop friendly relations among nations
  • To help nations work together to improve the lives of poor people, to conquer hunger, disease and illiteracy, and to encourage respect for each other’s rights and freedoms
  • To be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations to achieve these goals


A really interesting history of the UN can be found here. The following video also gives a good run-through.


The UN has a pretty complicated organizational structure that includes many committees and bodies. The main bodies can be found here, and this chart outlines the UN system.


The official languages used at the United Nations are: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish.

The working languages at the UN Secretariat are English and French.

A delegate may speak in any of the official languages, and the speech is interpreted simultaneously into the other official languages. Most UN documents are also issued in all six official languages. At times, a delegate may choose to make a statement using a non-official language. In such cases, the delegation must provide either an interpretation or a written text of the statement in one of the official languages.

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