The idea of world peace is, in itself, a relatively recent idea. Not so long ago, all over the world, and in Europe in particular, every generation had had “its” war. A certain fatalism towards war was rooted in our mentalities. War was almost considered as inevitable and peace was only a vague utopian dream. The first 20th century peace movements were born between the two wars, that is in the twenties and thirties, and gave rise to the League of Nations. Unfortunately, the League failed in its quest because the member States had not succeeded in endowing the League with the instruments needed to establish peace, such as our modern-day peacekeepers. The rise in the nationalist movements of the 19th and 20th centuries that provoked the two world wars played, according to some, a major role in the idea of creating the conditions for world peace. World War I took the lives of more than 9 million people, killing between 20% to 25% of the male population of France and Germany. As for World War II, 55 million people died, including 6 million Jews in the Nazi concentration camps.

Faced with the largest catastrophes in human history, men and women around the planet began to dream of a better, peaceful world.

Thus, shortly after World War II, on October 24, 1945, 51 States ratified the United Nations Charter with the hope of freeing our world from the possibility of war. The UN was thus created and equipped with instruments that its predecessor lacked. The UN established several programs intended to reduce, as much as possible, all the factors leading to outbreaks in conflicts. These programs did not only focus on peace keepers, who intervene after a conflict has erupted, but also on economic and social development, human rights, and the struggle to end world poverty and hunger. Indeed, all of these United Nations programs contribute directly or indirectly to the prevention of conflicts and thus to peace on earth. It is certainly true that, in the last 50 years, not everyone in the world has known peace, but it is gradually gaining ground. The dream of peace in the world is becoming less and less utopian and more and more attainable.

The three preceding fact sheets presented the culture of peace in the context of our daily lives; this one discusses peace at the international level. It describes the role of United Nations agencies, programs and departments in the prevention and peaceful resolution of international conflicts. In addition to these institutions, other international organizations are contributing to peace on earth, such as non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and regional organizations.

The Preamble to the United Nations Charter clearly stipulates the mission of this organization.[1] The Preamble states that the United Nations was founded to prevent and resolve international conflicts and help build a culture of peace in the world. These intentions are reflected in the different agencies, departments and programs of the United Nations.


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