The United Nations was formed after the close of the Second World War as a successor to the League of Nations. At its start, there were fifty nine original members. Since that time the number has grown to one hundred and ninety three members.
The current members are listed below with their official designations currently used by the UN and their dates of admission. The original members are listed with.
The following alphabetical order is used to determine the seating arrangement of the United Nations General Assembly sessions, where a draw is held each year to select a member state as the starting point.
|Flag||Member State||Date of Membership||Notes|
|Antigua and Barbuda||November 1981|
|Armenia||March 1992||Previously USSR|
|Azerbaijan||March 1992||Previously USSR|
|Belarus||October 1945||Previously USSR|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||May 1992||Previously Yugoslavia|
|Burkina Faso||September 1960|
|Cape Verde||September 1975|
|Central African Republic||September 1960|
|China||October 1945||Previously Republic of China|
|Costa Rica||November 1945|
|Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast)||September 1960|
|Croatia||May 1992||Previously Yugoslavia|
|Czech Republic||January 1993||Previously Czechoslovakia|
|Democratic People's Republic of Korea||September 1991|
|Democratic Republic of Congo||September 1960|
|Dominican Republic||October 1945|
|Egypt||October 1945||Previously United Arab Republic|
|El Salvador||October 1945|
|Equatorial Guinea||November 1968|
|Estonia||September 1991||Previously USSR|
|Georgia||July 1992||Previously USSR|
|Germany||September 1973||Previously East Germany and West Germany|
|Indonesia||September 1950||Withdrawal of Indonesia (1965–1966)|
|Kazakhstan||March 1992||Previously USSR|
|Kyrgyzstan||March 1992||Previously USSR|
|Latvia||September 1991||Previously USSR|
|Marshall Islands||September 1991|
|Montenegro||June 2006||Previously Serbia and Montenegro|
|New Zealand||October 1945|
|Papua New Guinea||October 1975|
|Republic of Korea||September 1991|
|Republic of Moldova||March 1992||Previously USSR|
|Russian Federation||October 1945||Previously USSR|
|Saint Kitts and Nevis||September 1983|
|Saint Lucia||September 1979|
|Saint Vincent and the Grenadines||September 1980|
|San Marino||March 1992|
|Sao Tome and Principe||September 1975|
|Saudi Arabia||October 1945|
|Serbia||November 2000||Previously Serbia and Montenegro|
|Sierra Leone||September 1961|
|Slovakia||January 1993||Previously Czechoslovakia|
|Slovenia||May 1992||Previously Yugoslavia|
|Solomon Islands||September 1978|
|South Africa||November 1945|
|South Sudan||July 2011||Formerly a legislative district of Sudan|
|Sri Lanka||December 1955|
|Syria||October 1945||Previously United Arab Republic|
|Tajikistan||March 1992||Previously USSR|
|The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia||April 1993||Previously Yugoslavia|
|Timor-Leste (East Timor)||September 2002|
|Trinidad and Tobago||September 1962|
|Turkmenistan||March 1992||Previously USSR|
|Ukraine||October 1945||Previously USSR|
|United Arab Emirates||December 1971|
|United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland||October 1945|
|United Republic of Tanzania||1961 December||Previously Tanganyika and Zanzibar|
|United States of America||October 1945|
|Uzbekistan||March 1992||Previously USSR|
|Viet Nam||September 1977|
|Yemen||September 1947||Previously Yemen and Democratic Yemen|
Observers and non-membersEdit
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 City 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:
- North Korea: 1973–1991
- Federal Republic of Germany (West): 1955–1973
- German Democratic Republic (East): 1972–1973
- South Korea: 1953–1991
- Switzerland: 1948–2002
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. The current status of Palestine in the UN is a "non-member entity". The Palestinian territories of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, occupied by Israel with parts of them governed by the Palestinian National Authority, are referred to by the UN as "Occupied Palestinian Territory".
The sovereignty status of Western Sahara is in dispute between Morocco 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 Islands and Niue, which are both associated states of New Zealand, are neither members nor observers of the UN, but are members of specialized agencies of the UN such as World Health Organization While self-governing in their domestic affairs, most of their foreign affairs are represented by New Zealand on their behalf.
Five former members, either after their dissolution or merging with other members, did not have their memberships in the UN continued by any state:
- Czechoslovakia: dissolved
- Democratic Yemen (South): merged with Yemen North
- German Democratic Republic (East): merged with Federal Republic of Germany (West)
- Yugoslavia (i.e., the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia): dissolved
- Zanzibar: merged with Tanganyika
On the other hand, the USSR and Serbia and Montenegro (previously the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia) 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 China, currently a de facto sovereign state with limited international recognition, was previously recognized as the legitimate representative of China in the UN.
Czechoslovakia 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 Republic and Slovakia, 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 RepublicEdit
Both the Federal Republic of Germany (i.e., West Germany) and the German Democratic Republic were admitted to the UN on 18 September 1973. Through the German reunification, effective from 3 October 1990, the two states united to form one sovereign state, which continued as a single member under the name Germany.
Republic of ChinaEdit
China, under the jurisdiction of the Republic of China (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 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 Taiwan, and the Communist Party-led government of the People's Republic of China (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 General Assembly debated on the PRC's admission into the UN, 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.
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|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.
Serbia and Montenegro (Federal Republic of Yugoslavia)Edit
By 1992, the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia had been effectively dissolve] after the declaration of independence by the former Yugoslav republics of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, and Slovenia. A new state, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, was established on 28 April 1992 by the remaining Yugoslav republics of Montenegro and Serbia. However, on 30 May 1992, 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,"
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, Montenegro declared itself independent from Serbia 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.
On 17 February 2008, Kosovo, 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 Russia and China to recognizing Kosovo, as admission to the UN requires approval from the Security Council, and the two countries, as its permanent members, have veto power
Tanganyika and ZanzibarEdit
Tanganyika was admitted to the UN on 14 December 1961, and Zanzibar 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 RepublicEdit
Both Egypt and Syria 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.
The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (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 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 Federation 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:
- The Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic and the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic joined the UN as original members on 24 October 1945, together with the USSR. After declaring independence, the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic changed its name to Ukraine on 24 August 1991, and on 19 September 1991, the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic informed the UN that it had changed its name to Belarus.
- Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania were admitted to the UN on 17 September 1991, after regaining independence before the dissolution of the USSR.
- Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, the Republic of Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan were admitted to the UN on 2 March 1992.
- Georgia was admitted to the UN on 31 July 1992.
Yemen and Democratic YemenEdit
Yemen (i.e., North Yemen) was admitted to the UN on 30 September 1947; Southern 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 Yemen.
Suspension, expulsion, and withdrawal of membersEdit
A member state may be suspended or expelled from the UN, according to the United Nations Charter. From Chapter II, Article 5:
A Member of the United Nations against which preventive or enforcement action has been taken by the Security Council may be suspended from the exercise of the rights and privileges of membership by the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council. The exercise of these rights and privileges may be restored by the Security Council.
From Article 6:
A Member of the United Nations which has persistently violated the Principles contained in the present Charter may be expelled from the Organization by the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council.
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 China instead of the Republic of China as the legitimate representative of China 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 States, 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: France, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America. 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)Edit
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 Malaysia as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, in a letter dated 20 January 1965, Indonesia 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.