Fast Facts: United Nations

The following is information about the world body:


— There are 191 member states in the United Nations.

— The United Nations had a general budget of $1.48 billion last year. That did not include the costs of peacekeeping missions or tribunals.


— The United Nations was created in 1945. It will be 59 years old in October.

— The organization formed after some 50 nations met in San Francisco to draw up the charter.

— That charter was officially adopted on October 24, 1945 when China, France, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, the United States and a majority of other signatories ratified it.


— The United Nations has five stated purposes. They are:

— to maintain international peace and security.

— to develop friendly relations among nations.

— to cooperate in solving international economic, social, cultural and humanitarian problems.

— to promote respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.

— to be a center for harmonizing the actions of nations in attaining these ends.


— The U.N. is divided into six principal structures: the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, the Trusteeship Council, the International Court of Justice and the Secretariat. Explanations of each are below.

— The U.N. also runs 15 different agencies and several other programs.


— Kofi Annan of Ghana is the seventh U.N. secretary-general.

— He has served since January 1, 1997. His second term ends December 31, 2006.

— Annan is the first secretary-general to be elected from the ranks of U.N. staff.

— He is fluent in French, English and several African languages.

— He is married to a Swedish lawyer and artist. The two have three children.


— The General Assembly is the main deliberative body of the United Nations.

— Each member state has one vote in the assembly.

— Major decisions,such as new members or on peace and security, require a 2/3 majority.

— The presidency of the General Assembly rotates each year among five groups of states: 1) Africa 2) Asia, 3) Eastern Europe, 4) Latin American and Caribbean and 5) Western European and other States.

— This is the 59th session of the General Assembly.

— The current president is Jean Ping, a career diplomat and native of the African country of Gabon.

— The current session's Web site is:


— Is the principal U.N. body responsible for peace and security in the world.

— It has 15 members — 5 permanent member states and 10 states elected for 2-year terms.

— Permanent members are: China, France, Russia, United Kingdom and the United States.

— Current elected members are: Algeria (thru 12/05), Angola (thru 12/04), Benin (thru 12/05), Brazil (thru 12/05), Chile (thru 12/04), Germany (thru 12/04), Pakistan (thru 12/04), Philippines (thru 12/05), Romania (thru 12/05), Spain (thru 12/04),

— A representative of each member nation must be present at the U.N. at all times.

— The presidency of the security council rotates each month among members by alphabetical order of their nation's English name.

— Each member state gets one vote on the Security Council.

— Substantive matters must get nine of fifteen votes and the concurring votes of all five permanent members of the council.


— Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) coordinates three dozen agencies, commissions and programs that deal with health, education and social conditions around the world.

— Trusteeship Council actually has been suspended and will meet only when called together. It was created to oversee territories placed under U.N. trusteeship. It suspended operations when Palau (the last such territory) became independent in 1994.

— International Court of Justice is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations. Its seat is at the Peace Palace in The Hague (Netherlands).

— The Secretariat is the staff working around the world carrying out the day-to-day duties of the U.N.