This Day in History (23-Oct-1946) – The United Nations General Assembly Convenes in New York for the First Time

As the world recovered from World War II, officials from all over the planet convened in Flushing in the New York City borough of Queens on October 23, 1946. The United Nations General Assembly, meeting for the first time in the metropolis that would later house its headquarters, has since become the primary international body for humanitarian aid — though it has fallen short of being the peacemaker many hoped it would be due to Cold War divisions and diverse political interests.

The idea for an organization to help mete out peace first arose during the Treaty of Versailles in 1919. With leadership in many nations reluctant to commit to the enforcement of League decisions, including the United States Congress, the organization quickly fell apart by the middle of the 1930s. As battles raged on multiple fronts during World War II, leaders from the United States, Soviet Union and Great Britain began a series of discussions about creating a more secure international organization in 1943 at meetings in Moscow and Tehran. The slow process for determining how the group would function, which would later grow to include a wide variety of governments and non-government organizations, came to a head when the United Nations Conference on International Organization met in San Francisco during April 1945.  With 51 founding members, the organization has grown to include 193 nations today.

Due to its unique international character, and the powers vested in its founding Charter, the Organization can take action on a wide range of issues, and provide a forum for its 193 Member States to express their views, through the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council and other bodies and committees. The work of the United Nations reaches every corner of the globe. UNO is best known for peacekeeping, peacebuilding, conflict prevention and humanitarian assistance, in order to achieve its goals and coordinate efforts for a safer world for this and future generations. There are currently more than 100,000 UN peacekeepers in 16 peace operations.