The United Nations (UN), the largest intergovernmental organization in the world, currently has 193 member states. Every member state has equal representation in the UN General Assembly.
The United Nations was created in 1945 following World War II. Its mission is to maintain international peace and security by preventing conflict, mediating for nations in conflict, and creating the conditions to hold peace. Additionally, the UN also protects human rights, delivers humanitarian aid, upholds international law, and promotes sustainable development.
Founding Members of the United Nations
The UN was established by the Charter of the United Nations and Statute of the International Court of Justice. The Charter of the United Nations was signed on June 26, 1945, by 50 countries, with Poland being the 51st country, signing on October 15, 1946. The Statute of the International Court of Justice was signed on October 24, 1945.
Since 1945, some of the founding members have been dissolved, and new states have succeeded them, and others have changed their names. The founding members included the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Argentina, Brazil, New Zealand, Belarus, Turkey, Australia, Belgium, Mexico, the Netherlands, Panama, South Africa, Panama, and Norway, among many others.
Since its founding, the United Nations has added 142 member countries.
Countries Not in the United Nations
The United States recognizes 195 countries, 193 of which are part of the United Nations.
The two countries that are not UN members are Vatican City (Holy See) and Palestine. Both are considered non-member states of the United Nations, allow them to participate as permanent observers of the General Assembly, and are provided access to UN documents.
Permanent observers of the United Nations often join the United Nations eventually as full members. This happens when member states recognize their independence and their governments and economies are stable enough to support the initiatives set forth by the UN.
The Holy See, known as Vatican City, is the only independent nation to choose not to be a member of the United Nations despite being an independent state since 1929. The Holy See does not get to cast a vote in the General Assembly, mostly because the Pope prefers not to directly affect international policy. The Holy See, however, has access to all parts of the United Nations.
Palestine is also a permanent observer of the United Nations because of the Israeli-Palestine conflict and its subsequent fight for independence. The UN will not allow Palestine to become a member until its conflict with Israel is resolved peacefully, preferably under a two-state resolution or pact. Should Israel and Palestine peacefully come to an agreement, then the United Nations would accept Palestine as a member state as long as the other members vote in favor during General Assembly.
States Without Non-Member Observer Status
The Holy See and Palestine are recognized as independent states by the UN and its members; however, some states are not recognized by the UN, although some members recognize them as independent states.
These states are: