UN Members

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan of Ghana (UN/DPI/M. Grant)

The membership of the United Nations originally included only the signers of the charter. But new member nations are admitted on recommendation of the Security Council and by decision of the General Assembly. Article 4 of the charter says that membership "is open to all other peace-loving states which accept the obligations contained in the present charter and, in the judgment of the organization, are able and willing to carry out these obligations."

Until 1955, only nine countries were admitted, though a much larger number applied. The General Assembly can admit a new member only if the Security Council recommends the admission. The Security Council cannot recommend a nation for membership unless the five permanent members of the council agree. Until 1955 the permanent members failed to agree on a large number of applicants. Since then, most applications for membership have been accepted. Because of this, the number of member nations has increased greatly.

Leland Goodrich
Author, The United Nations