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The United Nations (UN) is an international organization whose stated aims are to facilitate cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, and human rights issues. It was founded in 1945 with the signing of the United Nations Charter by 51 countries.

The UN was founded after the end of World War II (24 October 1945) by the victorious Allied Powers in the hope that it would act to intervene in conflicts between nations and thereby avoid war. The organization's structure still reflects in some ways the political power-structure of when it was founded. The five permanent members of the UN Security Council, each of which has veto power on any Security Council resolution, are the main victors of World War II or their successor states: the People's Republic of China (formerly the Republic of China), France, Russia (formerly the Soviet Union), the United Kingdom, and the United States.

There are currently 193 United Nations member states, including the majority of internationally recognized independent states. From its headquarters in New York City, the UN and its specialized agencies decide on substantive and administrative issues in regular meetings held throughout each year. The United Nations is divided into five major administrative organs: the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Secretariat, the International Court of Justice, and the Economic and Social Council. Additional bodies deal with the governance of all other United Nations system organizations, such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). The UN's most visible public figure is the Secretary-General, currently António Guterres of Portugal, who took office on 1 January 2017. The newest Member State is South Sudan, admitted in July 2011.

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The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), also known as the UN Refugee Agency, is a United Nations agency mandated to protect and support refugees at the request of a government or the UN itself and assists in their voluntary repatriation, local integration or resettlement to a third country. Its headquarters are in Geneva, Switzerland and is a member of the United Nations Development Group. The UNHCR has won two Nobel Peace Prizes, once in 1954 and again in 1981.

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George McGovern

George McGovern (19 July 1922– 21 October 2012) was a former United States Representative, Senator, and Democratic presidential nominee. McGovern lost the 1972 presidential election in a landslide to incumbent Richard Nixon. As a decorated World War II combat veteran, McGovern was noted for his opposition to the Vietnam War.

During his time as Director of the US Food for Peace Programmes, McGovern proposed establishing a multilateral food aid programme, which resulted in the creation of the United Nations World Food Programme in 1960. A longtime leader in ensuring nutrition and food security and fighting hunger and poverty, McGovern was appointed United Nations Ambassador on World Hunger in 2001. In 2008, he and Senator Bob Dole were named the 2008 World Food Prize Laureates for their work to promote school-feeding programs globally.

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Refugee camp in Zaire
Rwandan refugees making camp in Kimbumba, Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo), in 1994 following the Rwandan Genocide.

Photo credit: United States Federal Government

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Dwight D. Eisenhower
If the United Nations once admits that international disputes can be settled by using force, then we will have destroyed the foundation of the organization and our best hope of establishing a world order.

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Dag Hammarskjöld

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