Members of the United Nations
The world's largest diplomatic organization
The United Nations, founded in the aftermath of World War II, comprises an overwhelming majority of the world's nations. The organization was founded by representatives of 51 countries in 1945, and today counts 193 member states. The most recent state to join is South Sudan, which was recognized as an independent nation in 2011.
The main body of the U.N. is the general assembly, where representatives from all of the nations discuss matters of global importance. The general assembly can pass resolutions, or agreements between countries on certain policies or goals, but these aren't considered legally binding on the member states.
List of Member States
This table provides information about the member countries of the United Nations, including the date of admission
The structure of the United Nations
The U.N. includes other parts (or organs). There are five that actively meet, including the General Assembly, and one that is mostly defunct.
TheSecretariatis the actual administration of the U.N., led by the elected Secretary General. They handle U.N. operations aside from political decision making.
There is also theEconomic and Social Councilwhich oversees matters of economic and cultural significance. A lot of their work is advised or accomplished throughIndependent U.N. Agencies, like the World Health Organization, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund. The Council itself is smaller than the General Assembly.
TheSecurity Councilis responsible for coordinating matters of global safety. The Security Council includes a rotating list of nations from each continent, as well as five permanent members. These five (The United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia, and China) were the main Allied nations in WWII, and they have retained their roles since then. The permanent members have a special power to veto resolutions. This is especially important as, unlike General Assembly resolutions, Security Council resolutions are usually legally binding. Violating them will result in being tried in court for breaking international law.
Which brings us to the last organ, theInternational Court of Justice. The ICJ, based in the Netherlands, is responsible for trying people who break international law. Most significantly, they try war criminals. Their rulings are considered binding before the eyes of the international community, despite being a supranational organization.
There is a sixth organ, the Trusteeship Council, but it no longer has a role. Trusteeship was a system where the U.N. organized territories that weren't self-governing, with a goal of establishing governments. They succeeded in this goal, and there are no longer any U.N. Trust territories. The council still exists, in case there were to be another trust in the future, but now they meet only as needed.