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UN Timeline: 1960s-1980s

1969: International Labor Organization wins Nobel Prize. Created under the Treaty of Versailles in 1919 to promote labor rights, the ILO won the prize on its 50th anniversary.


1971: General Assembly votes to recognize the communist regime of the People's Republic of China. For 21 years, the U.S. had managed to keep Communist China out of the UN, recognizing Chiang Kai-Shek's exiled government in Taiwan.


1972: Kurt Waldheim of Austria begins term as Secretary-General. In the 1980s and after his tenure as head of the UN, allegations began to appear that Waldheim had hidden Nazi affiliations in the past. Despite the revelations, he was elected President of Austria, but was shunned in the international community.


1972: The first UN conference on the environment is held in Sweden, leading to the establishment of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).


1974: General Assembly adopts the New International Economic Order. The Third World nations, acting with the support of the Soviet Union, manage to pass a powerful resolution -- "to correct inequalities and redress existing injustices [and] make it possible to eliminate the widening gap between the developing and developed countries." The industrialized countries lack the votes to block passage, but a worldwide recession in the 1970s takes the wind out of the movement.


1974: General Assembly recognizes the Palestinian Liberation Organization as "the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people."


1975: The first UN conference on women is held in Mexico City.


1975: The UN General Assembly passes a resolution declaring Zionism is a form of racism.




1977: Security Council adopts mandatory arms embargo against South Africa for its policy of apartheid, following up on the voluntary arms embargo that passed in 1963.


1979: General Assembly passes the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women.


1980: WHO declares smallpox eradicated from the planet. Three years after the last reported case of smallpox, the World Health Organization, the specialized agency established in 1948 to promote health for all the world's people, declares the disease eradicated. Polio is next . . .


1981: UNHCR wins its second Nobel Peace Prize -- this time, for assistance to Asian refugees.


1982: Javier Perez de Cuellar of Peru starts term as Secretary-General.


1984: Angered by big budgets and a perceived anti-Western bias, the US and Great Britain withdraw from UNESCO. The belief that ignorance and prejudice have played a major role in leading nations to war was key in the 1946 creation of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1946, the UN body dedicated to education and preservation of culture all over the world. Declaring the organization "reformed," George W. Bush announces in September 2002 that the US will rejoin.


1984: Emergency famine relief set up for Horn of Africa.


1987: The Montreal Protocol, the treaty to eliminate the production and use of ozone-depleting chemicals, is signed.


1988: UN Peacekeeping Forces sent in to monitor the cease-fire in the war between Iran and Iraq.


1988: UN Peacekeeping Forces win Nobel Peace Prize. At the time, there were seven peacekeeping or observer missions in existence. Over the next five years, the UN would begin a total of 14 new operations -- more than in the entire first four decades of the organization's history.


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