[[caption-width-right:350:The UN emblem.]]

->''"The UN is the accepted forum for the expression of international hatred."''\\
--'''Sir Humphrey''', ''Series/YesPrimeMinister''

Those dudes in UsefulNotes/NewYorkCity who try to solve the world's problems. They were set up to prevent WorldWarIII; heck, it's worked so far! At the very least, the UN has been more successful than their predecessor, the UsefulNotes/LeagueOfNations, who were created to prevent ''UsefulNotes/WorldWarII'' - and we all know how successful they were at that. The organization was founded on October 24, 1945, as the official replacement for the League of Nations; it was known as UNO (United Nations Organization) in its early years, partly because the term "United Nations" had previously been used for the Allies in UsefulNotes/WorldWarII. They've always been based in New York City, but didn't start moving into their permanent headquarters at Turtle Bay until 1950.

Actually, they're ambassadors from all the UN member states, plus the many, many interpreters. Since every nation can join (and almost all have, although UsefulNotes/{{Switzerland}} didn't join until 2002!) that means every nation can stand up in front of the world and air their grievances.

The UN is funded based on the idea that the richer you are, the more you pay.

The UN consists of many parts. The General Assembly and the Security Council are the most well known. The General Assembly is much like the U.S. Congress, specifically the Senate: every nation gets one vote (unless you were the Soviet Union, then you got three [[note]]One vote for the Soviet Union, one vote for the Ukraine and one for Byelorussia (now Belarus). Stalin originally wanted all sixteen of the Soviet Republics to get a vote on the theory that the Soviet constitution was a treaty between sovereign states. UsefulNotes/HarryTruman more or less said, "Well, the US Constitution was originally a treaty between sovereign states, so each one of the 48 (at the time) should get a vote." Stalin shut up after that, but the Ukrainian and Byelorussian [=SSRs=] got votes because the US was feeling nice and didn't want the USSR to feel that it was getting short shrift (the US had way more allies at the time than did the Soviet Union).[[/note]] due to the agreements made when joining the U.N. (And yes, they always voted the same way.)) The Security Council is where the real power is. Since 1966, the Security Council has had 15 members made up of five permanent members (commonly called the Permanent Five or [=P5=] for short) and ten rotating countries elected for two-year terms by the General Assembly. Only the Security Council can take military action. Much of the "weakness" of the UN is due to the fact that any permanent member ([[UsefulNotes/{{UnitedStates}} US]], [[UsefulNotes/{{UnitedKingdom}} UK]], UsefulNotes/{{Russia}}, UsefulNotes/{{China}}, UsefulNotes/{{France}}) can veto any Security Council resolution simply by voting against it. The theory was that because Security Council resolutions are (theoretically) binding, it would not be reasonable for one of the Big Five to be forced, by law, to act against its interests. Permanent members which wish to express displeasure with a resolution but don't see much use in pissing everyone off by vetoing it tend to abstain; that way, they don't vote ''for'' the resolution, but they also didn't vote ''against'' it (which would be a veto). This wasn't written into the Charter, but became generally accepted as a solution to a common problem (a [=P5=] not wanting to destroy a resolution because it didn't care about it ''that'' much, but also reticent to be seen to support it).

Thus you can see some of the problems. During the UsefulNotes/ColdWar, the [[UsefulNotes/SovietRussiaUkraineAndSoOn Soviet Union]] (and later [[RedChina China]], when the vote was switched from the Republic of China to the People's Republic of China) would use the veto against the Western nations. Today, it is the United States which most often uses the veto, typically striking down resolutions it sees to be taking the Arab/Palestinian side in the UsefulNotes/ArabIsraeliConflict. The veto power sometimes gets wielded by China (and less regularly, Russia) to strike down resolutions regarding human rights, even if it doesn't affect human rights in that country.

Other criticisms of the UN are that it hasn't agreed on a definition on terrorism over a decade since 9/11, and how one of its programs, "Oil for Food," proved to be a big scam where they failed to investigate or punish the people responsible. The Human Rights Council had Libya on it at the same time the General Assembly and Security Council enforced a no-fly zone on the country. Some people give the UN the derisive nickname of "the clubhouse of dictators, thugs, and tyrants."

Another criticism is the focus on the UsefulNotes/ArabIsraeliConflict as measured by the number of (proposed) UN Security Council Resolutions - other conflicts that have lasted longer, caused more harm in terms of lives lost or affect far more people (India-Pakistan to give one example) have gotten far less attention than this one conflict. What the reasons for that are and whose side the bias is on is best not discussed here, though.

The General Assembly developed the LoopholeAbuse in the form of Resolution 377(A), better known as "Uniting for Peace", which empowered it to send in peacekeepers if the Security Council was in a deadlock, but it's only been used from time to time.

Often overlooked is the many successes of the UN; The World Health Organization, Food and Agriculture Organization, International Civil Aviation Organization, UNICEF, and many more. Bickering and corruption is there, but so is cooperation and, at least, a place nations can try to settle things without shooting each other. Between the UN and UsefulNotes/NuclearWeapons, the second half of the 20th century and the 21st century have been remarkably low on bloodletting.

!!! '''The Secretaries-General'''

The administrative head of the UN, as mentioned, is the Secretary-General. As such, he (or theoretically she, but this hasn't happened yet) is responsible for handling the day-to-day work of overseeing the UN's agencies and generally heading up the International Civil Service (as it is known). He also acts as a sort of Chief Diplomat of the World, responsible for advocating level-headed, reasoned solutions to problems between countries. These calls generally get ignored, but there you go.

The Secretary-General is elected by the General Assembly for a term of five years, and can theoretically be re-elected indefinitely and be from any country. In practice, nobody has had more than two terms, and all Secretaries-General have been from middle powers (neither unstable tin-pot countries nor the Great Powers). This is because the Security Council must make a recommendation to the General Assembly, and it usually just recommends one person on whom they all agree thanks to the Security Council veto. There is also an informal practice of rotating the post among the continents of the world; this came about largely by accident (see below), but it's worked well.

Interesting historical note: The Secretary-General of the original conference to draw up the UN Charter was none other than [[RedScare Alger Hiss]].

There have been eight Secretaries-General:

# Trygve Lie (1946-1952): Formerly [[UsefulNotes/{{Norway}} Norwegian]] foreign minister, he pissed off the Soviets shortly before the end of his first term; it didn't help that Norway joined UsefulNotes/{{NATO}} when it was founded in 1949. He got his second term partly out of confusion about the rules, and resigned under Soviet pressure.
# [[AwesomeMcCoolname Dag Hammarskjöld]] which translates as "Day Hammershield" (1952-1961): A minor [[UsefulNotes/{{Sweden}} Swedish]] diplomat and public intellectual before his election, he earned universal acclaim for his diplomatic skills and calls for calm in some of the scariest years of the UsefulNotes/ColdWar. He drew flak from the USSR in his second term for his deep involvement in trying to solve a major political crisis in the [[UsefulNotes/DemocraticRepublicOfTheCongo Belgian Congo]]; the Soviets were later forced to eat crow, however, as he [[NeverSpeakIllOfTheDead died in a plane crash]] in Northern Rhodesia (now UsefulNotes/{{Zambia}}) while on a peacekeeping mission in Congo. UsefulNotes/JohnFKennedy called him "the greatest statesman of the century."
# U Thant (1961-1971): A noted [[UsefulNotes/{{ThatSouthEastAsianCountry}} Burmese]] diplomat, U Thant fascinated everyone who isn't Burmese by having a name like "U". (It's not his name; it's an honorific title. "Thant" is his ''only'' name.) He was originally elected to fill out the remaining few months of Hammarskjöld's term, but as it turns out, everyone liked him; he had a hand in defusing the UsefulNotes/{{Cuban Missile Crisis}} (often overlooked), and in handling the end of the aforementioned civil war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and made a good (if behind-closed-doors) run at trying to get [[UsefulNotes/TheVietnamWar North Vietnam and the US]] to the table (although eventually the [[UsefulNotes/LyndonJohnson Johnson Administration]] decided not to go through with it). Also, being from a non-aligned and (at the time) democratic and relatively prosperous Asian country helped his popularity. The only real blight on his record was his agreement to withdraw the UN peacekeeping forces from the Sinai in the leadup to the [[UsefulNotes/ArabIsraeliConflict Six-Day War]]; however, that wasn't entirely his fault, and in any case that entire war was [[FawltyTowersPlot an embarrassing farce for nearly everyone involved]]. He got two full terms, and could have had a third but [[{{Cincinnatus}} declined]].
# Kurt Waldheim (1971-1981): An [[UsefulNotes/{{Austria}} Austrian]] diplomat, he campaigned for the position and got it despite initial Chinese and British reservations. Sought a third term, but the Chinese put the kibosh on that. Largely unremarked, but later accused of having committed war crimes while in [[UsefulNotes/NazisWithGnarlyWeapons the Wehrmacht]]. Went on to become the (ceremonial) President of Austria all the same.
# Javier Pérez de Cuéllar (1981-1991): A [[UsefulNotes/{{Peru}} Peruvian]] diplomat. Competent, but again, not very much to say.
# Boutros Boutros-Ghali (1991-1996): Formerly [[UsefulNotes/{{Egypt}} Egyptian]] Foreign Minister. Noted for his funny name, love of French culture (he was later Secretary-General of ''La Francophonie'') and [[BreadEggsMilkSquick ignoring the Rwandan Genocide]]. Oops. A failure to do fix dysfunction in the UN anything even ''after'' the Genocide was over and everyone had taken their lumps earned him the ire of the United States, which led an effort to "do him in," in the unfortunate wording of one of the American diplomats responsible. Others claim that he was too critical of the US tendancy of wanting the UN to always agree with them [[ScrewTheRulesIHaveMoney because they donate the most money]], who subsequently got rid of him. So far the only one-term Secretary-General. Noted in the UK for being suckered into a fake interview with Creator/SachaBaronCohen on ''Series/DaAliGShow'', where Ali kept referring to him as Boutros Boutros Boutros Boutros-Ghali.
# Kofi Annan (1997-2006): A [[UsefulNotes/{{Ghana}} Ghanaian]] UN civil servant before his election. Probably the highest-profile Secretary-General since Hammarskjöld, elected in the wake of the removal of the disgraced Boutros-Ghali. Annan was at first expected to complete the "African" term (to 2001) started by Boutros-Ghali, but despite some snafus (like the aforementioned Oil-for-Food thing), Annan was well-liked and effective enough to win a second term. He made wide use of the Secretary-General's power of the "bully pulpit", drawing attention to neglected issues.
# Ban Ki-moon (2007-2017): Foreign Minister of UsefulNotes/{{South Korea}} prior to his election. More or less hand-picked by Annan, he is otherwise quite unlike his predecessor, being much less forceful and more of a mediator. However, he has such a sterling reputation for integrity and competence that nobody cares...except for the Japanese, who were "vehemently opposed" to his election[[note]]or the election of any Korean, really[[/note]] and abstained[[note]]what a very Japanese way to express displeasure...[[/note]] in the Security Council vote[[note]]They happened to be serving an elected term at the time[[/note]] on his first candidacy.
# António Guterres (2017-present): Former Prime Minister of UsefulNotes/{{Portugal}} from 1995-2002, and in between that and his election to Secretary-General, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. While little can be definitively said about his time in office, since he's just getting started, he seems poised to continue his prior work of advocating for refugees and encouraging peace.


'''The UN in fiction'''

Many, many examples, as well as those with a FictionalCounterpart (which now has its own trope, FictionalUnitedNations). The United Nations name and logo is subject to legal restrictions. Some works upgrade the UN to [[UnitedNationsIsASuperpower a virtual world power with actual might to back its authority]], while others go further and claim that it is or will become an actual OneWorldOrder. Usually this is accompanied by boatloads of artistic license.


[[folder: Anime ]]

* Plays a rather important role in ''[[Anime/TheAnimatrix The Second Renaissance]]'' as world leaders, and emblematic of mankind's evil and stupidity. First they vote to comit genocide on machines, then ''reject their ambassadors when they offer to find a peaceful solution'' (by physical force on the part of the human ambassadors themselves, no less), then applaud a plan to block out the sun. With the Machine War unfolding as it did, they finally can do nothing except accept a robotic ambassador for the second time, to sign all citizens as slavery batteries to the Machines, before being finally blown up.
* Controls all the armed forces seen in ''Anime/NeonGenesisEvangelion''. Obvious from the first scene, where the line of tanks seen along the waterfront all have UN painted in large white letters on the turrets.
* Likewise, in ''Anime/{{Macross}}'', Earth is defended by the UN [[SpaceNavy "Spacy"]], or in [[Anime/MacrossFrontier later sequels]], the ''New'' UN Spacy. The ''Anime/{{Robotech}}'' adaptation of ''Anime/SuperDimensionFortressMacross'' has a similar organization, usually called the "United Earth Government" or the "United World Government" in spinoff fiction even though they write "UN Spacy" on all their mecha.
* The main characters of ''LightNovel/HumanityHasDeclined'' are all employed by the UN. Presumably the UN has taken over as the government thanks to the whole "[[JustBeforeTheEnd humanity dying out]]" thing.
* The World Conference in ''Webcomic/AxisPowersHetalia'' seems to be based on the General Assembly of the UN: A lot of countries meeting to discuss the worlds problems with the results being [[WeAreStrugglingTogether not]] [[NotSoOmniscientCouncilOfBickering so]] [[BloodOnTheDebateFloor impressive]]. In World Series, we also get to see a [[AnthropomorphicPersonification Mister UN]].


[[folder: Comic Books ]]

* Appeared in the (in)famous Franchise/{{Batman}} story arc "ComicBook/ADeathInTheFamily", where SelfDemonstrating/TheJoker, hired by Iran as its ambassador, plots to kill all the delegates with Laughing Gas... and almost succeeds! He also managed to plant bombs inside the General Assembly Chamber and sneak Iranian gunmen inside.
* ''CaptainCarrotAndHisAmazingZooCrew'' sees Captain Carrot (just after discovering his powers) and {{Franchise/Superman}} visit Earth-C's version of the UN (the "United Nature"), which is holding an emergency meeting to discuss who or what is causing Earth's citizens to mysteriously de-evolve into non-sentient animals.
* 1974's ''Limited Collector's Edition #C-31'' shows the United Nations honored Superman by granting him honorary citizenship in all member nations.


[[folder: Comic Strips ]]

* There are mentions of U Thant in ''ComicStrip/{{Mafalda}}''. Justified, considering the time the strips were published in and how political the title character could be.


[[folder: Film ]]

* ''Film/TheInterpreter''- the only thing ever filmed in the real UN building. Someone dies.
* The Creator/AlfredHitchcock film ''Film/NorthByNorthwest''. Someone dies.
* The Film/JamesBond film ''Film/LiveAndLetDie''. Someone dies.
* ''Film/BatmanTheMovie'' has the "United World Council" which consists of a handful of delegates constantly shouting over each other.
* ''VideoGame/LeftBehind''.
* The documentary "U.N. Me" shows some of the more negative aspects of the U.N., especially in comparison to its founding ideals.
* ''Film/TheArtOfWar'': Wesley Snipes as a U.N. spy.
* ''Film/ThirteenDays'': The showdown between U.S. ambassador Adlai Stevenson and Soviet ambassador Valerian Zorin at the UN Security Council over the Soviet placement of missiles in Cuba is a large of part of what helps rally world opinion on the side of the U.S. in the crisis.


[[folder: Literature ]]

* In a plot-swinging United Security debate on UsefulNotes/NorthKorea's invasion of UsefulNotes/SouthKorea in ''Literature/RedPhoenix'', the US Ambassador provides evidence of Soviet pilots flying against the US on North Korea's side, with Soviet backing. In the vote that follows, the US and USSR can't vote (they're parties to the dispute) and the Chinese, who were expected to veto a resolution on the matter as they're also arming North Korea, ''abstain''. [[spoiler: China eventually engineers a coup in the DPRK and a cease-fire]].
* In ''Literature/LeftBehind'', the United Nations (now headed by the Antichrist) is portrayed as an organization that pretty much rules the world already.
** And they enjoy really boring speeches.


[[folder: Live Action TV ]]

* UNIT in ''Series/DoctorWho''. Originally stood for "'''U'''nited '''N'''ations '''I'''ntelligence '''T'''askforce", but when it was reintroduced in the new series the UN complained; as a result the acronym now means "'''Un'''ified '''I'''ntelligence '''T'''askforce". It is said that they still receive some money from the UN though.
* The United Network Command for Law and Enforcement from ''Series/TheManFromUNCLE'' and ''Series/TheGirlFromUNCLE'' was called this in significant part to avoid legal problems with the United Nations. However, both {{Canon}} and {{Fanon}} have it that UNCLE is the go-to organization for problems that the United Nations itself isn't able to handle, or can't handle because of the restrictions imposed by its charter. One FanFic (published in, of all places, the UN Secretariat's internal newsletter) even had a UN employee meeting Napoleon Solo in the tunnels beneath Manhattan!
* In ''Series/TheTwilightZone1959'' episode "[[Recap/TheTwilightZoneS3E89ToServeMan To Serve Man]]", the spokesman for the Kanamit aliens addresses the UN. [[spoiler:He also leaves behind a book titled [[TitleDrop ''To Serve Man'']], which the story's famous TwistEnding reveals as [[ImAHumanitarian a cookbook]]]].
* In ''Series/TheChampions'', the eponymous heroes are agents of Nemesis, a FictionalCounterpart of Interpol run by the UN.
* ''Series/{{MASH}}'': Frank says he has nothing against the U.N. except that it's [[ShapedLikeItself full of foreigners]].
* In ''Series/SpaceAboveAndBeyond'', the United Nations serve as the government of a unified Earth, with the armed forces of the member nations serving as it's military arm. This setup serves nicely to explain why the crew of a starship and embarked fighter squadron fighting an interstellar war on behalf of Earth are [[WeAllLiveInAmerica all American,]] though we do see forces from other nations from time to time.


[[folder: Music ]]

* "Preamble for a Solemn Occasion" by Music/AaronCopland commemorates and includes optional spoken excerpts from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted by the General Assembly in 1948.


[[folder: Tabletop Games ]]

* In ''TabletopGame/{{GURPS}}'', at least two alternate Earths are led (in all but name) by their United Nations: The main one from ''TabletopGame/InfiniteWorlds'' and the one from ''TabletopGame/GURPSSupers''. In both there are still sovereign states that must be dealt with diplomatically, but the UN still has actual military power (but both are still mainly benevolent.)


[[folder: Web Original ]]

* AlternateHistory scenarios often include an alternate version of the UN. For example ''Monarchy World'' has the Assembly of Nations in Rosario, Argentina, while ''Gurkani Alam'' has the Oikoumene Council in Oranjeburg in the country that in our world is South Africa.


[[folder: Western Animation ]]

* ''WesternAnimation/{{Animaniacs}}'' has the EducationalSong [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mvi3ew2i34M U.N. Me.]] Not to be confused with the anti-U.N. exposee documentary of the same name.


[[folder: Video Games ]]

* The United Nations in the ''VideoGame/GuiltyGear'' games, who host the original fighting tournament and place the bounty on Dizzy.
* The [[BigAppleSauce Liberty City]]-based Civilization Committee (CC) in ''VideoGame/GrandTheftAutoIV'', a FictionalCounterpart of the UN, exists to indirectly make fun of the UN's shortcomings, being lambasted for its inefficiency in influencing international affairs, [[{{Hypocrite}} its organization of lavish banquets]] while parts of the world suffer from food shortages, and the [[ArsonMurderAndJaywalking failure of its members to pay parking tickets]] in the city. For that, the CC is "wisely" ignored by the American government, and the tourist-drawing view of the CC's Liberty City headquarters is described as more important than the organization based inside.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Civilization}} IV'' the UN is a buildable World Wonder that opens up a Diplomatic Victory, and more: all civs get to vote for the Secretary-General, who periodically can propose resolutions for ceasefires, adopting a global currency, open borders, mandatory civic choices, or a freeze on nuclear weapons manufacturing. In contrast with RealLife, these resolutions are totally binding even if you voted against them.
** The ''Beyond The Sword'' expansion revised this - players can now choose to defy resolutions at the cost of suffering relationship damage to other civilizations. The expansion also introduces the Apostolic Palace, which appears much earlier in the game (buildable with Theology, a tech that can usher in the Medieval Era - the UN is available with Mass Media, in the middle of the Modern Age) but only applies to those with a certain state religion (and the builder if they change or abandon the state religion).
* In the main ''VideoGame/CommandAndConquerTiberium'' timeline, the United Nations founded the Global Defense Initiative, an international army, to protect the free world from international terrorism. After the arrival of [[GreenRocks Tiberium]] and the rise of the Brotherhood of Nod destroyed much of the planet, the GDI has pretty much become a OneWorldOrder.
** Prior to GDI's establishment, the UN had a black-ops unit to solve problems. Part of the impetus for GDI's formation was said black-ops unit being revealed to the public due to a bungled operation (it apparently wasn't dissolved, however -- a black-ops unit by the same name shows up operating under GDI aegis in ''[[VideoGame/CommandAndConquerRenegade Renegade]]'').
* ''VideoGame/DeusEx'': The player works for UNATCO, a anti-terrorism organization and standing army for a future United Nations. [[spoiler: It, and the rest of the UN are later revealed to be a front for [[AncientConspiracy MJ12]] forcing the player to fight his former allies halfway through the game.]]
* In the ''Franchise/{{Halo}}'' series, the United Nations has expanded into the United Nations Space Command when humanity invented the [[FasterThanLightTravel Shaw-Fujikawa Translight Engine.]]
* In ''VideoGame/SidMeiersAlphaCentauri'', the Peacekeepers are a combination of the remnants of the United Nations personnel and others devoted to democratic and humanitarian ideals on the starship ''Unity'', united under one group when the population of the ship broke up into different ideological factions. They effectively form a new UN on Planet after landing, though they are effectively just one of the seven factions with no official control over the others. The Peacekeepers do, however, have serious political capital, giving them an edge in elections when an international council is eventually established (i.e. each other faction gets one vote per unit of population, while the Peacekeepers get two per unit of population).
* The United Nations was also briefly mentioned in ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid4GunsOfThePatriots'' as being partially responsible for the development of the War Economy. mostly due to the Patriots' machinations from ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid2SonsOfLiberty''. They were also revealed to have basically garnered world control after the destruction of the Patriots and SOP, namely because the world ended up broke with a debt so huge that, like Germany after World War I, not even PMC regulatory laws could come close to paying off the debt. It's also implied that this came with a negative: That the UN would basically become the Patriots' successor for world domination and control, and the process will happen all over again.


[[folder: Online Roleplaying Games ]]

* ''Website/NationStates'' had a global organization called the United Nations, using the logo. The UN sent a cease-and-desist letter to Max Barry in 2008. Barry complied, changing the name to the World Assembly. He announced the change on 1 April 2008, in the process subverting the April Fools' Joke.


'''Juvenile Diplomats- Model UN'''

Since the creation of the United Nations (before that in fact- there were Model League of Nations simulations -- which started, ironically, at Harvard, in the United States, which never joined the League), high school and university organisations have been running simulations of parts of the United Nations, generally called LARP/ModelUnitedNations. These are designed to improve understanding of international affairs, build up public speaking skills and look good on a CV/resume.

Theoretically, at least. Most participants regard it as something fun to do: {{LARP}} in suits that you can put on your resume.

''In fiction''

[[folder: Live Action TV ]]

* Greendale had a Model United United Nations in one episode of ''Series/{{Community}}'' the (il)logical result of a competition between two Model [=UNs=]. A few weeks later, ''Series/ParksAndRecreation'' (part of the same Creator/{{NBC}} block) followed suit with a Model UN that ([[AdultsAreUseless among the few participating adults]]) dissolved into in-fighting, absurd treaties and personal vendettas, and South Africa/The Moon withholding gravity exportation.


[[folder: Western Animation ]]

* Springfield Elementary had a Model UN in one episode of ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons''. When the meeting dissolves into in-fighting and TheDitz singing "O Canada", Skinner tries to bring everyone to order:
-->'''Skinner:''' [[HistoricalInJoke (Bangs his shoe on the table)]] [[DontExplainTheJoke Do you kids wanna be like the real UN, or do you just wanna squabble and waste time?]]
* The Rescue Aid Society in ''Disney/TheRescuers'' is an international organisation of heroic mice that meets somewhere in the basement of the human United Nations and seems to model itself on the UN.