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The United Nations (UN)
The UN developed from block of states, which was fighting against the fascistic Axis Powers during the
Second World War. The UN was officially established on 24th October 1945 in San Francisco. There
were 51 members to this date, including the Czechoslovak Republic.
Today the UN has 191 members; there are only few states, which aren’t UN members, for example
Vatican City.
It takes care of peace and security in the world. It develops friendly relations between nations and
promotes respect for human rights.
The United Nations has three councils. The most important is the Security Council and the International
Court of Justice, which has its seat in the Hague (the Netherlands). The Security Council is responsible
for international peace. It has 15 members, there are 5 permanent members: China, France, the
Confederation of Independent States, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Its office building has been in New York since 1976. The Secretary General has been Kofi Annan since
1997. (before him it was Butrus Butrus Ghali)
Its official languages are Chinese, French, Russian, English, Spanish and Arabic.
There are many other international organizations, which belong to the UN. For example:
- WHO (World Health Organization)
- UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural
- IMF (International Monetary Fund)
- UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund)
Red Cross
The terms Red Cross and Red Crescent are often used as short names for the International Red Cross
and Red Crescent Movement. Originally only the Red Cross was to be used as a symbol of the Geneva
conventions, but in Muslim countries it was replaced by red crescent.
The founder of the Red Cross movement is Jean Henri Dunant, a Swiss businessman and
humanitarian. He was awarded the first Nobel Peace Prize in 1901. While he was in Italy in 1859, he
visited the site of the Battle of Solferino, where saw thousands of wounded soldiers left on the battlefield
to die without any medicinal help.
It is an international voluntary health organization. It helps wounded, diseased persons, war prisoners in
armed conflicts and also victims of natural disasters all over the world.
The European Union
The historical roots of the European Union lie in the Second World War. There were an idea of
European integration to prevent killing and destruction. It was first proposed by the French Foreign
Minister Robert Schuman in his speech on 9th May 1950, but by the way this idea was first promoted by
Czech King Jirik z Podebrad in the 15th century.
The start of the EU (in fact it wasn’t EU, but European Communities) was with the Treaty of Rome in
1957. There were only six members in the beginning – Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg
and the Netherlands. It has 25 members now, including Czech Republic, which joined on 1st May 2004.
But there will be an enlargement in 2007, when Bulgaria and Romania will join EU.
In the early years the co-operation between EU countries was about trade and economy, but now the
EU takes care of many other subjects such as citizen’s right; ensuring freedom, security and justice; job
creation; regional development and enviromental protection.
There are five EU institutions. The most important are European Parliament, Council of the European
union or European Commission.
The seats of the European Union are in Brussel and Strasbourg.