United Nations Law and Legal Definition

The United Nations was established on 24 October 1945 by 51 countries in an effort to promote peace through international cooperation and collective security. The United Nations works to foster international peace and security, human rights, and friendly relations between nations. Today, nearly every nation in the world belongs to the UN: membership totals 191 countries.

Members of the United Nations are obligated to follow the obligations of the UN Charter, an international treaty that sets out basic principles of international relations. The United Nations is not a world government and it does not make laws. It does, however, provide the means to help resolve international conflicts and formulate policies on global issues.

The United Nations has six main divisions. Five of them — the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, the Trusteeship Council and the Secretariat — are based at UN Headquarters in New York. The sixth, the International Court of Justice, is located at The Hague in the Netherlands.

The International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and 12 other independent organizations known as "specialized agencies" are linked to the UN through cooperative agreements. These agencies, among them the World Health Organization and the International Civil Aviation Organization, are autonomous bodies created by intergovernmental agreement.