The United Nations (UN) is a global organisation tasked with maintaining international peace and security while fostering friendly relations among nations. It is the largest, most recognized and most powerful intergovernmental organisation in the world. The United Nations Organisation is an important topic in the IAS exam.


  • UN History
  • Objectives
  • UN & India


  • The UN Charter was signed on 26 June 1945 by representatives of the 50 countries attending the United Nations Conference on International Organization in San Francisco. Poland, which was not represented, signed it later and became one of the UN's original 51 Member States. The concept of international peace and security in the UN Charter began to develop with the ideas expressed in the Atlantic Charter in August 1941. But two months earlier, in London, a Declaration spoke of the need for global cooperation.
  • The United Nations did not come into existence at the signing of the Charter. In many countries the Charter had to be approved by their congresses or parliaments. It had therefore been provided that the Charter would come into force when the Governments of China, France, Great Britain, the Soviet Union and the United States and a majority of the other signatory states had ratified it and deposited notification to this effect with the State Department of the United States. On 24 October 1945 (now observed annually as United Nations Day) this condition was fulfilled and the United Nations came into existence. Four years of planning and the hope of many years had materialized in an international organization designed to end war and promote peace, justice and better living for all mankind


  • The main objectives of the United Nations are the maintenance of international peace and security, the promotion of the well-being of the peoples of the world, and international cooperation to these ends.
  • The United Nations, which started with 51 founding members, today has 149 members and has developed into the most universal of international organizations. With this growth, the United Nations has developed into a form different from that of its original design.
  • For example, the U.N. now conducts peace-keeping activities despite the absence of any explicit provisions for them in its Charter, the U.N. serves to prevent the recurrence or expansion of disputes in the Middle East and on Cyprus, and the U.N. has come to play an increasingly important economic and social role as the North-South problem has acquired greater importance as an international issue.
  • All of this illustrates that the United Nations is a living organization which directly reflects the political, economic, and social realities of the world and which can develop and act.
  • Yet since the United Nations is a collective organization of sovereign nations, its ability to act is largely determined by the will and cooperation of its members.
  • After what may be termed a period of idealizing the United Nations immediately after its formation and a period of disillusionment when it was found that it could not be dominated by any single country, there has now emerged among member nations a feeling that the United Nations should be utilized as much as possible within its limitations.
  • This tendency is reflected in the fact that deliberations in the General Assembly are increasingly of a practical nature.
  • Today, the United Nations forms the U.N. system together with other specialized agencies and affiliated agencies. As a result of the large increase in the number of member nations, the increased interdependence among nations, and the complexity and diversity of the problems handled, the United Nations system provides a very useful framework for international cooperation in a wide range of fields, including the maintenance of peace and security, disarmament, trade, economic assistance, social affairs, human rights, labor, improved status for women, population, culture, education, environmental problems, science and technology, nuclear energy, the search for a new maritime order, transportation, communications, and other administrative and financial fields.


India’s Role in Reforming UN System 

While the UNSC was dysfunctional, India developed a multilateral agenda of its own — from decolonisation and disarmament to a new international economic order — and mobilised considerable political support for it. This underlines the possibilities for shaping the global discourse in the present.

  • Reforming UNSC: As former UN secretary general noted that “No reform of the UN would be complete without reform of the Security Council”. Therefore, equitable representation as well as expansion of the UNSC is the desired reform that India envisages.
    • However, this would be the most challenging aspect of UN reforms, as the most permanent five are generally opposed to strengthening the institution and use their power to stop any significant change.
  • Engaging With Other Multilateral Forums For UN Reforms: Possible solutions to reform UN finances can be establishing a ‘reserve fund’ or even a ‘world tax’.
    • Also, in order to make UNGA more effective, India can propose a bicameral parliamentary assembly framework for UNGA.
  • Balancing National Interest and Multilateralism: The primary objective of India’s present multilateralism should be to ensure its territorial integrity, especially at a time when China has adopted aggressive posture on the border.
    • Here, India can leverage multilateralism to serve India’s interests. Like aligning with Quad countries or working with mechanisms like FATF to mount pressure on Pakistan to stop supporting cross-border terrorism in India.
    • Further, while reclaiming its role in the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), India must engage with other multilateral institutions as new rule-making as India is not at disadvantage if rule making takes place outside the UN.