On this day: the UN General Assembly

January 10 1946: Gathering of a new international body

By Jennifer Lipman, January 10, 2011

Fifty-one nations were represented in the inaugural session of the UN General Assembly, held in London.

In the more than six decades since the UN has grown and developed to a membership of almost four times that, with countless funds, programmes and special agencies to its name.

In that time it has celebrated triumphs like approval of the partition plan in 1947, but also fallen short of its initial aspirations with resolutions such as “Zionism is racism”.

Founded in 1945, the UN was intended to “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war” and to ”reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small”.

The preamble of the charter also called for countries to “practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbours and to strive to maintain international peace and security.

Israel was given membership of the UN on 11 May 1949, just over a year after it proclaimed its independence, and eighteen months after a UN majority voted in favour of the partition plan for Palestine.

What the JC said: The decisions of the new collective organisation, backed by the resources of the “Big Three”, would possess an authority and power which the old League of Nations, far less any single Mandatory, could never command…It would be mere idle chatter to prate of peace, if what has been proved to be the one universally potent instrument in the hands of the war-makers were left available for future aggressors

See more from the JC archives here

Last updated: 10:04am, January 10 2011