Chronology and Fact Book of the United Nations

The Chronology and Fact Book of the United Nations is a supplement to the series Annual Review of United Nations Affairs (ARUNA). It is the eighth edition of its kind, providing an up-to-date summary of the past 50 years of the United Nations’ history.

This edition is issued at an important point of time for the United Nations. The end of the Cold War era and the new, constructive dialogue between North and South have improved dramatically the climate in which the United Nations is operating. This has enabled the organization to become a key player in international affairs. The involvement of the United Nations in Namibia, Central America, Afghanistan, the Iran-Iraq war, Western Sahara, Cambodia, Kuwait and Yugoslavia are recent cases that highlight its new importance. It is therefore appropriate to update the previous edition of the Chronology and Fact Book of the United Nations in order to reflect these historic events and the new data of those recent years.

The publication contains three major parts: (i) a CHRONOLOGY (chapter I) of events for a period of 50 years, from 1941 to 1991; (ii) a number of TABLES (chapter II) containing basic information; and (iii) the main DOCUMENTS (chapter III) of the United Nations.

The CHRONOLOGY is based on the presentation as shown in the journal United Nations Chronicle issued by the United Nations Department for Public Information. When selecting the events for inclusion in the chronology, an attempt was made to strike a balance between the need to be comprehensive and concise, the anticipated interest of readers and, most of all, to reflect adequately the presentation of events as shown in the United Nations publication. As such, the chronology is also a mirror on how the United Nations presents itself to the public through the medium of its journal, the United Nations Chronicle. Changes over time in the presentation of the journal are, therefore, reflected in the presentation of the CHRONOLOGY. To provide for consistency, a number of general guidelines were followed in the compilation of events: (i) activities of specialized United Nations agencies are, in general, not reported; (ii) in particular during the recent years of the chronology, limited reference is made to decisions of United Nations expert groups, committees or commissions, in order to avoid duplication, since those decisions are in general approved by the General Assembly, at which stage they are reported in the chronology; (iii) prominence is given to the deliberation in the Security Council; (iv) related non-United Nations events and meetings have been recalled in case they are seen as important for United Nations activities; (v) the dates of the sessions of the General Assembly, ECOSOC and Trusteeship Council are noted; (vi) more details on events and the actual contents of decisions have been provided for the most recent years; and (vii) the identification of individuals has been kept to a minimum, with typically only then function being cited.

Chapter II presents TABLES on a wide variety of issues, including a listing of United Nations member states, membership in the United Nations organs, the terms of office of the Secretary-Generals, the Presidents of United Nations organs, information on United Nations peace-keeping operations, the observance of international events, and details on the regular budget of the United Nations. The chapter concludes with a listing of the specialized agencies of the United Nations and the World Bank Group.

Chapter III shows basic DOCUMENTS, including the Charter of the United Nations and the Statute of the International Court of Justice. The Rules of Procedure of the United Nations organs are included, followed by the Staff Regulations of the United Nations.

We hope that the Chronology and Fact Book of the United Nations provides easy access to basic information on the United Nations and contributes to a better understanding of its activities. Needless to say, this publication does not necessarily reflect the views of the institutions with which the editors are affiliated.


Vienna and New York

Joachim W. Müller

Kumiko Matsuura

Karl P. Sauvant