United Nations | U.N. | New York Attractions
A concave row of flags representing the U.N.’s 192 member nations, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, spans much of this six-block-long international organization and independent territory. In October 1945, after two world wars and the failure of the League of Nations, 50 countries ratified the United Nations Charter, committing themselves to the lofty aims of international peace, security, cooperation and respect for human rights.
Wondering how these goals are hashed out in the present? Set out on an hour-long tour of the headquarters, with one of the U.N.'s poised, uniformed, and multilingual guides. Visitors pass through select chambers, view special exhibitions, and hear an overview of how the U.N. system functions [see "tours" below]. Though unable to create laws, the U.N. has played an influential and often controversial role in international relations and debates over international law.
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Most infamous would be the Security Council, authorized to respond to security threats by issuing policy recommendations, economic sanctions, arms embargos or even collective military action. Other councils, programs and partner organizations include the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council, the International Court of Justice (located in The Hague), the U.N. Children’s Fund and the World Health Organization (in Washington D.C.).
Those waiting in line to enter the New York headquarters are greeted by a sculpture of a gun with the barrel knotted and a brass sphere reflecting the lawn and plaza. On one side of the U.N. lies the East River and on the other, delegate offices and a stairway leading up to Tudor City, a quiet, quaint enclave which diplomats and employees have been known to call home.
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