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» Student Handout:

What is the United Nations?

The United Nations was created in 1945 at the end of World War II. Its goal, as stated in the U.N. Charter, was "to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war." There are 191 members in the U.N. today. According to the U.N. charter, membership is limited to "peace loving states" willing to accept the member obligations. The U.N. members decide if the applicants are able and willing to carry out these obligations. The Security Council screens applicants and makes recommendations to the General Assembly, which can choose by a two-thirds vote to accept or reject the candidate.

There are many different organizations or organs in the U.N., each with a different goal. Learn about the duties of the U.N. by going to the following Web site:

As you read, answer the following study questions:

1. One of the organs is not located in the United States. Which organ is this? Where is it located?

2. In the past, the General Assembly has made decisions based on a two-thirds vote. Today they tend to use a new method. What is this? Why do you think they made this change?

3. The General Assembly does not have the power to enforce its recommendations. What can they do to achieve change?

4. How does the power of the Security Council differ from that of the General Assembly?

5. Who are the permanent members of the Security Council?

6. What are four major steps taken by the Security Council to settle threats to international peace?

7. What are five major concerns of the Economic and Social Council?

8. How and why has the Trusteeship Council Changed?

9. What is the main mission of the International Court of Justice?

10. Who is the Secretary-General? Where is he from? What special prize did he win? Why was it given?

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