UN60: UN milestones
United Nations Dag Hammarskjöld Library

1945 – During the closing days of the Second World War, representatives of 50 nations attended the UN Conference on International Organization in San Francisco, leading to the signing of the UN Charter on 25 June 1945.  The Charter came into force on 24 October 1945 and UN Day has been celebrated every year on that date.
Major UN commitments
Highlights of UN milestones

(1945 – 2005)

Nobel Peace Prizes
awarded to the UN System and representatives 

(1945 - 2001)

1 Promoting human rights
10 December 1948

General Assembly adopts Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Paris
on this day which is now observed worldwide as the International Human Rights Day.

Cordell Hull -
USA, ex-Secretary of State, 1871-1955.  For his leadership in establishing the UN.
2 Maintaining peace and security
1 November 1956

First Emergency Special Session of the General Assembly meets on the Suez Canal crisis and, on 5 November, decides to establish the first UN peacekeeping force – the UN Emergency Force (UNEF).

Lord John Boyd Orr
- United Kingdom, 1880-1971. First Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
3Promoting decolonization
September 1960

17 newly independent States, 16 from Africa
, join the UN - the biggest increase in membership in any one year.

Ralph Bunche
- USA, 1904-1971. Professor at Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass., Director of the UN Division of Trusteeship, mediator in Palestine in 1948 for his leadership in the armistice agreements signed in 1949 by Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.
4 Promoting disarmament
12 June 1968

General Assembly approves Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and calls for its ratification.  The non-nuclear-weapon states agree never to acquire nuclear weapons and, in exchange are promised access to assistance in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy; nuclear-weapon states pledge to carry out negotiations relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race and to nuclear disarmament.

Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
- for its assistance to refugees.
5 Promoting women's rights
June-July 1975

International Women's Year
marks the first UN conference on women, held in Mexico City, which sets an agenda for the advancement of women and women's rights.

Lester Bowles Pearson
- Canada, 1897-1972.  President of the 7th UN General Assembly (1952). Prize awarded for a lifetime of work for peace and for leading UN efforts to resolve the Suez Canal crisis.
6 Strengthening international law
10 December 1982

UN Convention on the Law of the Sea
is signed by 117 States and two entities.  The Convention lays down rules for the determination of national maritime jurisdiction, navigation on the high seas, rights and duties of coastal and other states, obligation to protect and preserve the marine environment, cooperation in the conduct of marine scientific research and preservation of living resources.

Dag Hammarskjöld
- Sweden, 1905-1961.  UN Secretary-General. The Prize was awarded posthumously for his work in helping settle the Congo crisis.
7 Supporting the rights of the child
02 September 1990

Through UNICEF's efforts, the Convention on the Rights of the Child enters into force as international law in 1990 and becomes law in 166 countries by the end of September 1994.  More than 150 governments commit to reaching over 20 specific measurable goals to radically improve children's lives by the year 2000.

United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF)
- Prize awarded for its work in helping save lives of the world's children.
8 Protecting the environment
June 1992

UN Conference on Environment and Development, the "Earth Summit" in Rio de Janeiro adopts Agenda 21, a plan of action for sustainable development.  The Earth Summit was a major success in raising public awareness about the need to fully integrate environmental and social considerations into economic development policy.

International Labour Organisation (ILO)
- Prize awarded for its progress in establishing workers' rights and protections.
9 Promoting democracy and fighting to eliminate racial discrimination
23 June 1994

By imposing measures ranging from an arms embargo to a convention against segregated sporting events, the United Nations was a major factor in bringing about the downfall of the apartheid system.  Elections, observed by 2,527 staff of the United Nations Observer Mission in South Africa (UNOMSA), were held in South Africa in April 1994.  All South Africans were allowed to participate on an equal basis.  On 23 June, after 24 years, South Africa took its place once again in the General Assembly.

Sean MacBride
- Ireland, 1904-1988.  President of the International Peace Bureau, Geneva and UN Commissioner for Namibia.  The prize, awarded for his work of promoting the cause of human rights, was divided equally with the Prime Minister of Japan, Eisaku Sato.
10 Eradicating poverty

International Decade for the Eradication of Poverty.  The objective is to eradicate absolute poverty and substantially reduce overall global poverty through decisive national action and international cooperation.

Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
- Prize awarded for its assistance to Asian refugees.
11 Combating HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases
September 2000

UN Millennium Development Goals (MDG).  By the year 2015, UN Member States have pledged to halt and begin to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS, incidence of malaria, and other diseases, one of the targets of the millennium development.

United Nations Peacekeeping Operations
- Prize awarded for its peacekeeping operations.
12 Providing relief to victims of natural disasters

A Flash Appeal for Tsunami 2005.  The UN coordinates a relief effort in response to the need of some 5 million people and calls for US$ 977 million to fund the critical work of some forty UN agencies and NGOs.  Programmes focus on keeping people alive and supporting their efforts to recover in agriculture, education, health, food, shelter, water and sanitation sectors.

United Nations and Kofi Annan
- Prize awarded “for their work for a better organized and more peaceful world”.


On 7 Oct 2005 the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2005 to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and to its Director General, Mohamed ElBaradei, "for their efforts to prevent nuclear energy from being used for military purposes and to ensure that nuclear energy for peaceful purposes is used in the safest possible way".

Prepared by Dag Hammarskjöld Library/OD/DPI for the "Exhibition in a box" project,
as part of the celebration of the 60th Anniversary of the United Nations