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United Nations Documentation

A guide to finding United Nations print and online documentation

United Nations Overview and Links to Resources

A brief outline of the United Nations structure

Originally composed of 51 countries committed to preserving peace, the United Nations was founded by Charter on 24 October 1945. Today, membership includes nearly every nation in the world, 192 countries.  The United Nations is not a world government and does not make laws. The stated purposes of the United Nations are:  To maintain international peace and security; to develop friendly relations among nations; to cooperate in solving international, economic, social, cultural, and humanitarian problems and in promoting respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms; and to be a center for harmonizing the actions of nations.  The United Nations family of organizations provide technical assistance and help in mostly all economic and social areas. 

Main Bodies of the United Nations

Antonio Guterres, Ninth Secretary-General of the United Nations

Equal parts diplomat and advocate, civil servant and CEO, the Secretary-General is a symbol of United Nations ideals and a spokesman for the interests of the world's peoples, in particular the poor and vulnerable among them. The current Secretary-General, and the ninth occupant of the post, is Mr. António Guterres of Portugal, who took office on 1 January 2017.