In 1945, the world had just endured the bloodiest war in history. World leaders were determined to not repeat the mistakes of the past. They wanted to build a better future, one free from the "scourge of war" so they signed the UN Charter — creating a global organization of nations that could deter and repel aggressors, mediate conflicts and broker armistices, and ensure collective progress.
Over the following 75 years, the UN played an essential role in preventing, mitigating or resolving conflicts all over the world. It faced new challenges and new threats — including the spread of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, a Cold War and brutal civil wars, transnational terrorism and genocides. Today, the UN faces new tensions: shifting and more hostile geopolitics, digital weaponization, a global pandemic, and more.
This slideshow shows how the UN has worked to build peace and security around the world:
On March 26, 2020, UN Secretary-General António Guterres made an appeal for a global ceasefire and for a focus on "the true fight of our lives." COVID-19 has fueled nationalist policies and authoritarians' tightening grip, which threatens to intensify existing conflicts. It is also stressing fragile countries already tackling multiple challenges, including conflict and climate change. An active and effective UN has never been more important as we work to recover from COVID-19.
Photo credit: UN Photo/Evan Schneider