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There are currently 192 United Nations (UN) member states, and each of them is a member of the United Nations General Assembly.

According to the United Nations Charter, Chapter II, Article 4:


In principle, only sovereign states can become UN members, and all current members are fully sovereign states (although a few members were not fully sovereign when they joined the UN). Vatican Citymarker is currently the only sovereign state with general international recognition that is not a UN member (the Holy See, which holds sovereignty over the state of Vatican City and maintains diplomatic relations with other states, is a UN permanent observer). Because a state can only be admitted to the UN by the approval of the Security Council and the General Assembly, a number of states which may be considered sovereign states according to the Montevideo Convention criteria are not members because the UN does not consider them to possess sovereignty, mainly due to the lack of international recognition or opposition from certain members.

In addition to the member states, the UN also invites non-member states, intergovernmental organizations, and other international organizations and entities whose statehood or sovereignty are not precisely defined, to become observers at the General Assembly, allowing them to participate and speak, but not vote, in General Assembly meetings.

Original members



The UN was founded in 1945, with 51 original members which joined that year. Of those, 49 are either still UN members or had their memberships in the UN continued by a successor state. For example, the membership of the USSRmarker was continued by the Russian Federationmarker after its dissolution (see the section Former members: USSR). The other two original members, Czechoslovakiamarker and Yugoslaviamarker (i.e., the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia), had been dissolved, and since all independent states established were admitted to the UN as new members, their memberships were not continued (see the sections Former members: Czechoslovakia and Former members: Yugoslavia).

At the time of UN's founding, the seat of Chinamarker in the UN was held by the Republic of Chinamarker, but as a result of United Nations General Assembly Resolution 2758, it is now held by the People's Republic of Chinamarker (see the section Former members: Republic of China).

Four of the original members were not fully sovereign when they joined the UN, and only gained full independence later:

Current members

The current members are listed below with their official designations currently used by the UN and their dates of admission (original members listed with blue background):

The members can be sorted by their dates of admission by clicking on the button in the header of the column 'Date of admission. See related sections on former members by clicking on the links in the column See also.

Member state Date of admission See also
Former members: USSR
Former members: USSR
Former members: USSR
Former members: Yugoslavia
Former members: Republic of China
Former members: Yugoslavia
Former members: Czechoslovakia
Former members: United Arab Republic
Former members: USSR
Former members: USSR
Former members: Federal Republic of Germany and German Democratic Republic
Withdrawal of Indonesia
Former members: USSR
Former members: USSR
Former members: USSR
Former members: USSR
Former members: Yugoslavia and Former members: Serbia and Montenegro
Former members: USSR
Former members: USSR
Former members: Yugoslavia and Former members: Serbia and Montenegro
Former members: Czechoslovakia
Former members: Yugoslavia
Former members: United Arab Republic
Former members: USSR
Former members: Yugoslavia
Former members: USSR
Former members: USSR
Former members: Tanganyika and Zanzibar
Former members: USSR
Former members: Yemen and Democratic Yemen


Notes on name changes and variations


Former members

Five former members, either after their dissolution or merging with other members, did not have their memberships in the UN continued by any state:

On the other hand, the USSRmarker and Serbia and Montenegro (previously the Federal Republic of Yugoslaviamarker) had their memberships continued by a successor state after their dissolution, while the two states which formed the short-lived United Arab Republic resumed their separate memberships after its dissolution.

The Republic of Chinamarker, currently a de facto sovereign state with limited international recognition, was previously recognized as the legitimate representative of China in the UN.

Czechoslovakia

Czechoslovakiamarker joined the UN as an original member on 24 October 1945, with its name changed to the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic on 20 April 1990. Upon the imminent dissolution of Czechoslovakia, in a letter dated 10 December 1992, its Permanent Representative informed the United Nations Secretary-General that the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic would cease to exist on 31 December 1992 and that the Czech Republicmarker and Slovakiamarker, as successor states, would apply for membership in the UN. Both states were admitted to the UN on 19 January 1993.

Federal Republic of Germany and German Democratic Republic

Both the Federal Republic of Germanymarker (i.e., West Germany) and the German Democratic Republicmarker (i.e., East Germany) were admitted to the UN on 18 September 1973. Through the accession of the German Democratic Republic to the Federal Republic of Germany, effective from 3 October 1990, the two states united to form one sovereign state, which continued as a single member under the name Germanymarker.

Republic of China

Chinamarker, under the jurisdiction of the Republic of Chinamarker (ROC) at that time, joined the UN as an original member on 24 October 1945, and as set out by the United Nations Charter, Chapter V, Article 23, became one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council. In 1949, as a result of the Chinese Civil War, the Kuomintang-led ROC government lost effective control of mainland China and relocated to Taiwanmarker, and the Communist Party-led government of the People's Republic of Chinamarker (PRC), declared on 1 October 1949, took control of mainland China. The UN was notified on 18 November 1949 of the formation of the Central People's Government of the People's Republic of China; however, the Government of the Republic of China continued to represent China at the UN, despite the small size of the ROC's jurisdiction of Taiwan and a number of smaller islands compared to the PRC's jurisdiction of mainland China. As both governments claimed to be the sole legitimate representative of China, proposals to effect a change in the representation of China in the UN were not approved for the next two decades, as the ROC was still recognized as the sole legitimate representative of China by a majority of UN members.

By the 1970s, a shift had occurred in international diplomatic circles and the PRC had gained the upper hand in international diplomatic relations and recognition count. On 25 October 1971, the 21st time the United Nations General Assembly debated on the PRC's admission into the UN, United Nations General Assembly Resolution 2758 was adopted, by which it recognized that "the representatives of the Government of the People's Republic of China are the only lawful representatives of China to the United Nations and that the People's Republic of China is one of the five permanent members of the Security Council," and decided "to restore all its rights to the People's Republic of China and to recognize the representatives of its Government as the only legitimate representatives of China to the United Nations, and to expel forthwith the representatives of Chiang Kai-shek from the place which they unlawfully occupy at the United Nations and in all the organizations related to it." This effectively transferred the seat of China in the UN, including its permanent seat on the Security Council, from the ROC to the PRC, and expelled the ROC from the UN.

Bids for readmission as the representative of Taiwan

Between 1993 and 2007, the ROC repeatedly petitioned to rejoin the UN as the representative of Taiwan, instead of as the representative of China, using the designation "Republic of China on Taiwan" (used by the Kuomintang-led administration under Lee Teng-hui), "Republic of China (Taiwan)" (used by the Democratic Progressive Party-led administration under Chen Shui-bian), or "Taiwan" (used by the administration under Chen Shui-bian for the first time in 2007). In its application, the ROC government has called on the international community to "recognize the right of the 23 million people of Taiwan to representation in the United Nations system". However, all fifteen attempts were denied, either because the petition failed to get sufficient votes to get on the formal agenda, or because the application was rejected by the UN, due primarily to the opposition of the PRC.

Responding to the ROC's application in 2007, which was rejected by the United Nations Office of Legal Affairs citing General Assembly Resolution 2758, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon stated that:

Responding to the UN's rejection of its application, the ROC government has stated that Taiwan is not now nor has it ever been under the jurisdiction of the PRC, and that since General Assembly Resolution 2758 did not clarify the issue of Taiwan's representation in the UN, it does not prevent Taiwan's participation in the UN as an independent sovereign nation. The ROC government also criticized Ban for asserting that Taiwan is part of China and returning the application without passing it to the Security Council or the General Assembly, contrary to UN's standard procedure (Provisional Rules of Procedure of the Security Council, Chapter X, Rule 59). On the other hand, the PRC government, which has stated that Taiwan is part of China and firmly opposes the application of any Taiwan authorities to join the UN either as a member or an observer, praised that UN's decision "was made in accordance with the UN Charter and Resolution 2758 of the UN General Assembly, and showed the UN and its member states' universal adherence to the one-China principle".

In May 2009, the Department of Health of the Republic of China was invited by the World Health Organization to attend the 62nd World Health Assembly as an observer under the name "Chinese Taipei". This was the ROC's first participation in an event organized by a UN-affiliated agency since 1971, as a result of the improved cross-strait relations since Ma Ying-jeou became the President of the Republic of China a year before.

The ROC is currently .

Serbia and Montenegro (Federal Republic of Yugoslavia)

By 1992, the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslaviamarker had been effectively dissolved after the declaration of independence by the former Yugoslav republics of Bosnia and Herzegovinamarker, Croatiamarker, Macedoniamarker, and Sloveniamarker. A new state, the Federal Republic of Yugoslaviamarker, was established on 28 April 1992 by the remaining Yugoslav republics of Montenegro and Serbia. The government of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia claimed itself as the legal successor state of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia; however, on 30 May 1992, United Nations Security Council Resolution 757 was adopted, by which it imposed international sanctions on the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia due to its role in the Yugoslav Wars, and noted that "the claim by the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) to continue automatically the membership of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in the United Nations has not been generally accepted," and on 22 September 1992, United Nations General Assembly Resolution A/RES/47/1 was adopted, by which it considered that "the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) cannot continue automatically the membership of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in the United Nations," and therefore decided that "the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) should apply for membership in the United Nations and that it shall not participate in the work of the General Assembly". The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia refused to comply with the resolution for many years, but following the ousting of President Slobodan Milošević from office, it applied for membership, and was admitted to the UN on 1 November 2000. (For more information on the membership of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, see the section Former members: Yugoslavia)

On 4 February 2003, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia had its official name changed to Serbia and Montenegro, following the adoption and promulgation of the Constitutional Charter of Serbia and Montenegro by the Assembly of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. On the basis of a referendum held on 21 May 2006, Montenegromarker declared itself independent from Serbiamarker on 3 June 2006. In a letter dated on the same day, the President of Serbia informed the United Nations Secretary-General that the membership of Serbia and Montenegro in the UN was being continued by Serbia, following Montenegro's declaration of independence, in accordance with the Constitutional Charter of Serbia and Montenegro. Montenegro was admitted to the UN on 28 June 2006.

On 17 February 2008, Kosovomarker, an autonomous province of Serbia which had been under the interim administration of the United Nations Mission in Kosovo since 1999, declared its independence, but this has not been recognized by Serbia. Kosovo is not expected to be admitted to the UN in the near future due to the resistance of Russiamarker and Chinamarker to recognizing Kosovo, as admission to the UN requires approval from the United Nations Security Council, and the two countries, as its permanent members, have veto power. Kosovo is currently , and is a member of the International Monetary Fundmarker and the World Bank Group, both specialized agencies in the United Nations System.

Tanganyika and Zanzibar

Tanganyika was admitted to the UN on 14 December 1961, and Zanzibarmarker was admitted to the UN on 16 December 1963. Following the ratification on 26 April 1964 of the Articles of Union between Tanganyika and Zanzibar, the two states merged to form the United Republic of Tanganyika and Zanzibar, which continued as a single member, with its name changed to the United Republic of Tanzania on 1 November 1964.

United Arab Republic

Both Egyptmarker and Syriamarker joined the UN as original members on 24 October 1945. Following a plebiscite on 21 February 1958, the United Arab Republic was established by a union of Egypt and Syria and continued as a single member. On 13 October 1961, Syria, having resumed its status as an independent state, resumed its separate membership in the UN. Egypt continued as a UN member under the name of the United Arab Republic, until it reverted to its original name on 2 September 1971. Syria changed its name to the Syrian Arab Republic on 14 September 1971.

USSR

The Union of Soviet Socialist Republicsmarker (USSR) joined the UN as an original member on 24 October 1945, and as set out by the United Nations Charter, Chapter V, Article 23, became one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council. Upon the imminent dissolution of the USSR, in a letter dated 24 December 1991, Boris Yeltsin, the President of the Russian Federation, informed the United Nations Secretary-General that the membership of the USSR in the Security Council and all other UN organs was being continued by the Russian Federationmarker with the support of the 11 member countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States.

The other fourteen independent states which were established from the former Soviet Republics were all admitted to the UN:

Yemen and Democratic Yemen

Yemenmarker (i.e., North Yemen) was admitted to the UN on 30 September 1947; Southern Yemen (i.e., South Yemen) was admitted to the UN on 14 December 1967, with its name changed to the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen on 30 November 1970, and was later referred to as Democratic Yemen. On 22 May 1990, the two states merged to form the Republic of Yemen, which continued as a single member under the name Yemenmarker.

Yugoslavia

Yugoslaviamarker (i.e., the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia) joined the UN as an original member on 24 October 1945. By 1992, it had been effectively dissolved into five independent states, which were all subsequently admitted to the UN:

Due to the dispute over its legal successor states, the member state "Yugoslavia" (referring to the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia) remained on the official roster of UN members for many years after its effective dissolution. Following the admission of all five states as new UN members, "Yugoslavia" was removed from the official roster of UN members.

Suspension, expulsion, and withdrawal of members

A member state may be suspended or expelled from the UN, according to the United Nations Charter. From Chapter II, Article 5:

From Article 6:

Since its inception, no member state has been suspended or expelled from the UN under Articles 5 and 6. In the viewpoint of the UN, United Nations General Assembly Resolution 2758, which recognized the People's Republic of Chinamarker instead of the Republic of Chinamarker as the legitimate representative of Chinamarker in the UN and effectively expelled the Republic of China from the UN in 1971, did not constitute as the expulsion of a member state under Article 6 (this would have required Security Council approval and been subjected to vetoes by its permanent members, which included the Republic of China itself and the United Statesmarker, which at that time still recognized the Republic of China).

In October 1974, the Security Council considered a draft resolution which would have recommended to the General Assembly the immediate expulsion of South Africa from the UN in compliance with Article 6 of the United Nations Charter due to its apartheid policies. However, the resolution was not adopted because of the vetoes of three permanent members of the Security Council: Francemarker, the United Kingdommarker, and the United States. In response, the General Assembly decided to suspend South Africa from participation in the work of the Assembly's 29th session on 12 November 1974; however, South Africa was not formally suspended under Article 5. The suspension lasted until the General Assembly welcomed South Africa back to full participation in the UN on 23 June 1994, following its successful democratic elections earlier that year.

Withdrawal of Indonesia (1965–1966)

Since its inception, only one member state (excluding those which were dissolved or merged with other member states) has unilaterally withdrawn from the UN. During the Indonesia-Malaysia confrontation, and in response to the election of Malaysiamarker as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, in a letter dated 20 January 1965, Indonesiamarker informed the United Nations Secretary-General that it had decided "at this stage and under the present circumstances" to withdraw from the UN. However, following the overthrow of the Indonesian regime led by President Sukarno, in a telegram dated 19 September 1966, Indonesia notified the Secretary-General of its decision "to resume full cooperation with the United Nations and to resume participation in its activities starting with the twenty-first session of the General Assembly". On 28 September 1966, the United Nations General Assembly took note of the decision of the Government of Indonesia and the President invited the representatives of that country to take their seats in the Assembly.

Unlike suspension and expulsion, no express provision is made in the United Nations Charter of whether or how a member can legally withdraw from the UN (largely to prevent the threat of withdrawal from being used as a form of political blackmail, or to evade obligations under the Charter, similar to withdrawals that weakened the UN's predecessor, the League of Nations), or on whether a request for readmission by a withdrawn member should be treated the same as an application for membership, i.e., requiring Security Council as well as General Assembly approval. Indonesia's return to the UN would suggest that this is not required; however, scholars have argued that the course of action taken by the General Assembly was not in accordance with the Charter from a legal point of view.

Observers and non-members

In addition to the member states, there is currently one non-member permanent observer state: the Holy See (which holds sovereignty over the state of Vatican Citymarker and maintains diplomatic relations with other states). It has been an observer state since 6 April 1964, and gained all the rights of full membership except voting on 1 July 2004. Several current or former members were also granted observer status before being admitted to the UN, such as:

The Palestine Liberation Organization was granted observer status on 22 November 1974. Acknowledging the proclamation of the State of Palestine by the Palestine National Council on 15 November 1988, the United Nations General Assembly decided that, effective as of 15 December 1988, the designation "Palestine" should be used in place of the designation "Palestine Liberation Organization" in the United Nations System. The current status of Palestine in the UN is a "non-member entity". The Palestinian territories of the West Bankmarker and the Gaza Stripmarker, occupied by Israelmarker with parts of them governed by the Palestinian National Authority, are referred to by the UN as "Occupied Palestinian Territorymarker".

The sovereignty status of Western Saharamarker is in dispute between Moroccomarker and the Polisario Front. Most of the territory is controlled by Morocco, the remainder (the Free Zone) by the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, proclaimed by the Polisario Front. The Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic is neither a member nor an observer of the UN, and Western Sahara is listed by the UN as a "non-self-governing territory".

The Cook Islandsmarker and Niuemarker, which are both associated states of New Zealandmarker, are neither members nor observers of the UN, but are members of specialized agencies of the UN such as WHO and UNESCOmarker, and signatories of international treaties such as the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. While self-governing in their domestic affairs, most of their foreign affairs are represented by New Zealand on their behalf. They are recognized by the UN as "non-member states".

References

  1. Benin: Name was changed from Dahomey on 1 December 1975.
  2. Bolivia (Plurinational State of): Previously referred to as Bolivia.
  3. Burkina Faso: Name was changed from Upper Volta on 6 August 1984.
  4. Cambodia: Name was changed to the Khmer Republic on 7 October 1970, and back to Cambodia on 30 April 1975. Name was changed again to Democratic Kampuchea on 6 April 1976, and back to Cambodia on 3 February 1990.
  5. Cameroon: Previously referred to as Cameroun (before merging with Southern Cameroons in 1961). By a letter of 4 January 1974, the Secretary-General was informed that Cameroon had changed its name to the United Republic of Cameroon. Name was changed back to Cameroon on 4 February 1984.
  6. Central African Republic: By a letter of 20 December 1976, the Central African Republic advised that it had changed its name to the Central African Empire. Name was changed back to the Central African Republic on 20 September 1979.
  7. Congo: Previously referred to as Congo (Brazzaville) (to differentiate it from Congo (Leopoldville)) and the People's Republic of the Congo. Name was changed to Congo on 15 November 1971 (after the Democratic Republic of the Congo changed its name to Zaire).
  8. Côte d'Ivoire: Previously referred to as Ivory Coast. On 6 November 1985, Côte d’lvoire requested that its name no longer be translated into different languages; this became fully effective on 1 January 1986.
  9. Democratic Republic of the Congo: Previously referred to as Congo (to differentiate it from Congo (Brazzaville)). Name was changed from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to Zaire on 27 October 1971, and back to the Democratic Republic of the Congo on 17 May 1997.
  10. Gambia: Previously referred to as The Gambia.
  11. Iran (Islamic Republic of): Previously referred to as Iran. By a communication of 5 March 1981, Iran informed the Secretary-General that it should be referred to by its complete name of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
  12. Kazakhstan: Spelling was changed from Kazakstan on 20 June 1997.
  13. Lao People's Democratic Republic: Name was changed from Laos on 2 December 1975.
  14. Libyan Arab Jamahiriya: Previously referred to as Libya and the Libyan Arab Republic. By notes verbales of 1 and 21 April 1977, the Libyan Arab Republic advised that it had changed its name to the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.
  15. Madagascar: Previously referred to as the Malagasy Republic.
  16. Malaysia: Name was changed from the Federation of Malaya on 16 September 1963, after the admission of Singapore, Sabah (formerly North Borneo), and Sarawak to the federation. Singapore became an independent state on 9 August 1965 and a UN member on 21 September 1965.
  17. Maldives: Previously referred to as the Maldive Islands.
  18. Myanmar: Name was changed from Burma on 18 June 1989.
  19. Philippines: Previously referred to as the Philippine Commonwealth (before becoming a republic in 1946) and the Philippine Republic.
  20. Republic of Moldova: Previously referred to as Moldova.
  21. Saint Kitts and Nevis: Name was changed officially from Saint Christopher and Nevis on 26 November 1986; the UN, however, continued to use the former name throughout the year.
  22. South Africa: Previously referred to as the Union of South Africa (before becoming a republic in 1961).
  23. Sri Lanka: Name was changed from Ceylon on 22 May 1972.
  24. Suriname: Name was changed from Surinam on 23 January 1978.
  25. Thailand: Previously referred to as Siam.
  26. United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland: Also referred to as the United Kingdom.
  27. United States of America: Also referred to as the United States.
  28. Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of): Previously referred to as Venezuela.


See also



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