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The UK's stake in the United Nations

The Earl of Halifax, British Ambassador to the USA, signing the UN Charter on 26 June 1945
As a country with global foreign policy interests, an economy heavily dependent on international trade and investment and a commitment to democratic values, the UK has a major stake in the UN. We have an obvious interest in an open, stable and peaceful international order but recognise how fragile this is. We believe in the objectives of the Charter because we helped to write it. Almost sixty years after the creation of the UN, those objectives are still valid.

The United Kingdom's historical involvement in the United Nations

Churchill and Roosevelt agreed the common principles of the Atlantic Charter on a battleship in August 1941, and the British remained at the heart of the drafting which led via Dumbarton Oaks to the conclusion of the UN Charter at San Francisco. The first meetings of the UN Security Council and the General Assembly took place in London in 1946 in Church House and Central Hall, Westminster. Gladwyn Jebb, the leading British wartime thinker on the future organisation, was the first acting Secretary-General. His Reflections on San Francisco of July 1945 note that 12 Articles of the UN Charter owed their origins to British initiatives.

Other prominent British players in the UN cause include Gilbert Murray, John Maynard Keynes as principal begetter of the Bretton Woods institutions, Julian Huxley, the first Director-General of UNESCO, John Boyd Orr, the first Director-General of the FAO, Barbara Ward for her visionary contribution on environment and disarmament, Philip Noel-Baker in disarmament, David Ennals, Brian Urquhart, Marrack Goulding and many others. To list these names demonstrates that the UK's commitment to the UN is deeply-rooted, is not confined to governmental actors and reflects a lasting national instinct for the wider perspective in world affairs.

The United Kingdom's contribution to the United Nations

Not many other member states can match the combined political, military and financial contribution that the UK has made to the UN over the years. In military terms the UK has been a major contributor to UN peacekeeping. Politically, the UK plays a key role in working for peace as a Permanent Member of the Security Council. Our ability to contribute to the UN is enhanced by our simultaneous role in the G8, the North Atlantic Alliance, the European Union and, not least, the Commonwealth.

The UK is the fourth largest contributor to both the UN Regular Budget and the UN peacekeeping budgets; and one of the largest voluntary contributors to UN funds and programmes and Specialised Agencies. In 2003, the UK's total contribution to the UN exceeded £620 million. This has helped to support programmes which have increased the potential of individuals in every continent. For example, the UN has doubled the literacy rate among women in developing countries; helped immunise 80 per cent of the world's children; and has provided homes, food, education and healthcare to millions of refugees.

United Kingdom contributions to United Nations organisations and peacekeeping

Assessed contributions 2003 (£)

UN Regular Budget - 48,271,000
UN Peacekeeping Operations - 85,717,000
Other - 79,555,000
Total - 213,543,000

Voluntary contributions 2003 (£)
Total - 409,890,000

GRAND TOTAL - 623,433,000


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** News
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** The UK's Stake in the UN
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