The United Nations is the largest and most consequential inter-governmental organization. It was established by the UN Charter in 1945 and replaced the earlier League of Nations. It currently has 193 member states. In addition to its primary mandate of maintaining international peace and security, the UN also promotes economic and social development, protects human rights, provides humanitarian aid and disaster relief, and facilitates the development of international law.
The UN is comprised of five principal organs: the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, the Secretariat, and the International Court of Justice. Historically, a sixth principal organ, the Trusteeship Council, played a significant role in the process of decolonization, but it is no longer active. In addition, more than a dozen specialized agencies operate autonomously under the UN's umbrella.
If you need assistance with UN research, visit the Research Help page of the Georgetown University Law Library's website. Or contact the Law Library's International and Foreign Law Department by phone (202-662-4195) or by email (firstname.lastname@example.org). Georgetown Law Center students may schedule a one-on-one research consultation with a librarian.
For questions about treaties and international agreements drafted under the auspices of the UN and its affiliated entities, consult the Law Library's guide to Treaty Research. For questions about the universal system of human rights administered by the UN, consult the Law Library's Human Rights Law research guide.
U.N. Secretariat Building, New York (photo by Steve Cadman)
CC BY-SA 2.0 license via Wikimedia Commons
Public domain image via Wikimedia Commons
Revised 2007 (aeb)
Updated March 2010 (LAS)
Revised March 2014 (hec)