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Basic Facts of the United Nations

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This comprehensive handbook designed for the general public, sets forth the structure of the United Nations, how the Organization works, the main issues it deals with and its importance for people everywhere. Along with explaining the role played by its principal organs and the family of UN organizations, individual chapters explore UN contributions to international peace and security, economic and social development, human rights; humanitarian action, international law; and decolonization. A series of appendices documents UN membership, peacekeeping operations, budget, and contact information for UN information centers, services and offices. This new edition of the work has been substantially revised featuring significant developments worldwide and in the United Nations itself since the last edition (previously titled The UN Today) in 2008.

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UN Charter, structure and system

The struggle for peace is an enduring one. More than a century ago, in 1899, the first International Peace Conference was held in The Hague to elaborate multilateral instruments for settling crises peacefully, preventing wars and codifying rules of warfare. It adopted the Convention for the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes and established the Permanent Court of Arbitration, which began its work in 1902. Subsequently, in 1919, the League of Nations, conceived during the First World War, was established under the Treaty of Versailles “to promote international cooperation and to achieve peace and security”. While the League of Nations ceased activities after failing to prevent the Second World War, the need for peaceful resolution of conflicts through international collaboration and dialogue continued to grow.

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