United Nations


Basic course 1
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United Nations

"We the peoples of the United Nations determined - to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and to establish conditions (...), and to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom, and for these ends to (...) to unite our strength to maintain international peace and security, and to ensure, by the acceptance of principles and the institution of methods, that armed force shall not be used, save in the common interest, and to employ international machinery for the promotion of the economic and social advancement of all peoples, have resolved to combine our efforts to accomplish these aims ..."
[...the complete UN Charter can be found on a separate page].

These are the introductory lines to the charter of the world organisation, the covenant commemorating its foundation, which 51 states signed to form the United Nations Organisation in 1945 in San Francisco. In the meantime, the organisation now constitutes 191 members, in fact, nearly all the nations of the world [...Information on the prehistory and the development of the United Nations can be found in Basic Course 2].

[Sculpture in front of the UN building in in New York]

The introductory lines of the Charter make immediate reference to the central objective of the United Nations: the prevention of war. Further aims in the sense of a comprehensive understanding of peace are assigned to this objective. The mention of "fundamental human rights" refers to human rights, the promotion of economic and social development is mentioned explicitly [...Basic Course 1 deals with the task and aims of the United Nations].

The Charter set up six principal organs – the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Secretariat, the Economic and Social Council, the Trusteeship Council and the International Court of Justice-, all of which still exist today [...information on the structure of the United Nations can be found in Basic Course 3].

Since its foundation, the organisation has differentiated out into a close to impenetrable network of programmes, commissions, special organs and specialist institutions [...information on the system underlying the United Nations can be found in Basic Course 4].

Coordinating the fill of activities and ensuring the efficiency of its work forms one of the problems which the world organisation sees itself faced with. Added to this is the accusation that the organisation reflects the (power) relations at the time of its foundation, at the end of the Second World War, and that this is no longer contemporary [...Basic Course 5 deals with selected problems faced by the United Nations].

[Author: Ragnar Müller]

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SubjectsHuman Rights  I  Examples  I  Democracy  I  Parties  I  Europe  I  Globalisation  I  United Nations  I  Sustainability

Methods:    Teaching Politics    II    Peace Education    II    Methods



This online service on the subject of political education was developed by agora-wissen, the Stuttgart-based Gesellschaft für Wissensvermittlung über neue Medien und politische Bildung (GbR) (Partnership for the Exchange of Information Using New Media and Political Education). Please contact us with your questions or comments. Translation from German into English by twigg's übersetzung deutsch englisch.