On this day in history, June 26, 1945, the United Nations was formally established with the signing of the U.N. Charter in San Francisco, California.
Article 111 of the charter indicated, “The present Charter, of which the Chinese, French, Russian, English, and Spanish texts are equally authentic, shall remain deposited in the archives of the Government of the United States of America. Duly certified copies thereof shall be transmitted by that Government to the Governments of the other signatory states,” according to the National Archives.
The U.N. Charter was signed by representatives of the 50 countries attending the United Nations Conference on International Organization in San Francisco, according to the United Nations official website.
Poland, which was not represented, signed it later — becoming one of the U.N.’s original 51 member states.
The forerunner to the United Nations was the League of Nations, an organization conceived under similar circumstances after World War I, multiple sources note.
As early as 1941, the Allies proposed establishing a new international body to maintain peace in the postwar world, noted History.com.
The name “United Nations” originated when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, in 1941, described the countries fighting against the Axis Powers (Germany, Italy and Japan) in World War II.
“The name was first used officially on Jan. 1, 1942, when 26 states joined in the Declaration by the United Nations, pledging to continue their joint war effort and not to make peace separately,” according to the National Archives.
In October 1943, the major Allied powers — Great Britain, the United States, the USSR, and China — assembled in Moscow for the Moscow Declaration.
This alliance officially stated the need for an international organization to replace the League of Nations, said History.com.
“That goal was reaffirmed at the Allied conference in Tehran in December 1943, and in August 1944 Great Britain, the United States, the USSR, and China met at the Dumbarton Oaks estate in Washington, D.C., to lay the groundwork for the United Nations,” that site also said.
The delegates “sketched out” the form of the world body over the course seven weeks, although disagreements occurred on the issues of membership and voting, it also said.
Compromise was reached by the “Big Three” — the U.S., Britain and the USSR — at the Yalta Conference in February 1945.
All countries that had adhered to the 1942 Declaration by the United Nations were invited to the United Nations founding conference, History.com noted.
As early as 1941, the Allies proposed establishing a new international body to maintain peace in the postwar world.
The goal of the San Francisco Conference, formally known as The United Nations Conference on International Organization, according to The National WWII Museum in New Orleans, was to set the foundations and establish a framework for the United Nations.
“There were 850 delegates from 50 countries at the Conference — 26 of which had signed the original 1942 Declaration of the United Nations. At the time of the conference, there was no internationally recognized Polish Government, therefore, despite being one of the original signatories of the Declaration of United Nations, Poland did not have a representative at the conference,” the same museum also said.
Poland was later admitted and allowed to be considered an original member, bringing the total number of founding member states to 51, it also notes.
At the end of the San Francisco Conference, on June 25, 1945, the Charter was unanimously adopted at the San Francisco Opera House.
The United Nations, however, did not come into existence until Oct. 24, 1945, when the governments of China, France, Great Britain, the Soviet Union, the United States and a majority of the other signatory states had ratified the charter, said the museum.
The date is annually observed as United Nations Day.
As President Truman said in 1945, the U.N. Charter is “proof that nations, like men, can state their differences, can face them, and then can find common ground on which to stand,” according to the White House’s website.
Today, nearly 200 nations are members of the United Nations General Assembly.
The main bodies of the United Nations are the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, the Trusteeship Council, the International Court of Justice and the UN Secretariat, according the U.N.’s official website.
All were established under the U.N. Charter when the organization was founded in 1945.
The work of the United Nations covers these main objectives: Maintain international peace and security, protect human rights and deliver humanitarian aid, according to United Nations official website.
The United Nations is headquartered in New York City.
The organization also has offices in Geneva, Switzerland; Nairobi, Kenya; Vienna, Austria; and The Hague in The Netherlands, where the International Court of Justice is headquartered.