The history of the UN (and of the World)

in the most beautiful images of the United Nations Photo Library

Composed of about 62 images, the photo exhibition “Human Rights. The history of the UN (and the world) in the most beautiful images of the United Nations Photo Library " traces the events and the evolution of the international organization from its birth in 1945 until today through the most beautiful images preserved in its historical photographic archive. The exhibition focuses in particular on the most important missions, both civil and military, of which the United Nations have been protagonists, taking them as a starting point to tell the story of the world since the end of the Second World War. At the same time, the selection of photographs wants to tell how the sensitivity of the planet, towards some of the fundamental issues that animate or besiege (depending on the point of view) contemporary societies - the extreme poverty of some countries, education, health care, the spread of human rights, the population explosion, the issue of women, the growing number of elderly, the environmental sustainability of development, the spread of drugs, the migratory phenomena, the thirst of justice, the need of democracy, etc - has changed over time. Finally, the exhibition aims to induce a reflection on the structure of the UN and its contradictions, both political and ideological, deriving from the fact that many of the countries that adhere to the United Nations Organization do not share its founding principles.


The United Nations Organization is founded in San Francisco, during the still ongoing Second World War, with an international conference, held from April 25th to June 26th 1945, which concluded with the signing of the statute by the first 50 member states.The United Nations Statute comes into force only on 24 October 1945: it must await ratification by the majority of the other signatory States and, above all, by the 5 permanent members of the Security Council - that is, the main winners of the Second War World: China (until 1971 Taiwan), France, United Kingdom, Russia (ie the USSR at the time) and the United States. The October 24th date is therefore chosen as United Nations Day. The first general assembly, with the presence of 51 States, is held on 10 January 1946 in London. Headquarters, at the request of the United States, the main creators and financiers of the organization, subsequently becomes New York. In 1946 the League of Nations was dissolved. The loser states are allowed to enter the United Nations only several years after the end of the Second World War - Italy in 1955, Japan in 1956, the two Germanys in 1973. In 1988 the Nobel Peace Prize was assigned to the peacekeeping forces of the UN. In 2001 the same award was given directly to the UN. Currently, 193 States out of a total of 206 in the world are members of the International Organization.


Curated by:

Alessandro Luigi Perna


A production of:

Eff&Ci - Facciamo Cose (We Do Things)


Pictures of:

United Nations Photo Library


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background photo of the page ©Courtesy UN Photo