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Member states of the United Nations

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

.mw-parser-output .legend{page-break-inside:avoid;break-inside:avoid-column}.mw-parser-output .legend-color{display:inline-block;min-width:1.25em;height:1.25em;line-height:1.25;margin:1px 0;text-align:center;border:1px solid black;background-color:transparent;color:black}.mw-parser-output .legend-text{}  193 UN Member States   2 UN Observer States (Palestine, Vatican)   2 eligible Non-Member States (Niue, Cook Islands)   17 Non-Self-Governing Territories   Antarctica (international territory)
  193 UN Member States
  2 eligible Non-Member States (Niue, Cook Islands)

A long row of flags
Flags of the member states of the United Nations, in front of the Palace of Nations (Geneva, Switzerland). Since 2015, the flags of the two non-member observer states are raised alongside those of the 193 member states.

The United Nations member states are the 193 sovereign states that are members of the United Nations (UN) and have equal representation in the UN General Assembly.[1] The UN is the world's largest intergovernmental organization.

The criteria for admission of new members to the UN are set out in Chapter II, Article 4 of the UN Charter:[2]

  1. Membership in the United Nations is open to all peace-loving states which accept the obligations contained in the present Charter and, in the judgement of the Organization, are able and willing to carry out these obligations.
  2. The admission of any such state to membership in the United Nations will be effected by a decision of the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council.

A recommendation for admission from the Security Council requires affirmative votes from at least nine of the council's fifteen members, with none of the five permanent members using their veto power. The Security Council's recommendation must then be approved in the General Assembly by a two-thirds majority vote.[3]

In principle, only sovereign states can become UN members,[citation needed] and currently, all UN members are sovereign states. Although five members were not sovereign when they joined the UN, they all subsequently became fully independent between 1946 and 1991. Because a state can only be admitted to membership in the UN by the approval of the Security Council and the General Assembly, a number of states that are considered sovereign according to the Montevideo Convention are not members of the UN. This is because the UN does not consider them to possess sovereignty, mainly due to the lack of international recognition or due to opposition from one of the permanent members.

In addition to the member states, the UN also invites non-member states to become observers at the UN General Assembly,[4] allowing them to participate and speak in General Assembly meetings, but not vote. Observers are generally intergovernmental organizations and international organizations and entities whose statehood or sovereignty is not precisely defined.

Original members

The United Nations in 1945, after World War II. In light blue, the founding members. In dark blue, protectorates and territories of the founding members.
The United Nations in 1945, after World War II. In light blue, the founding members. In dark blue, protectorates and territories of the founding members.

The UN officially came into existence on 24 October 1945, after ratification of the United Nations Charter by the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (the Republic of China, France, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States) and a majority of the other signatories.[5] A total of 51 original members (or founding members) joined that year; 50 of them signed the Charter at the United Nations Conference on International Organization in San Francisco on 26 June 1945, while Poland, which was not represented at the conference, signed it on 15 October 1945.[6][7]

The original members of the United Nations were: China (then the Republic of China), France (then the Provisional Government), Russia (then the Soviet Union), the United Kingdom, the United States (these first five forming the Security Council), Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil (then the Vargas Era Brazil), Belarus (then the Byelorussian SSR), Canada, Chile (then the 1925–73 Presidential Republic), Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba (then the 1902–59 Republic), Czechoslovakia (then the Third Republic), Denmark, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt (then the Kingdom of Egypt), El Salvador, Ethiopia (then the Ethiopian Empire), Greece (then the Glücksburg Kingdom), Guatemala, Haiti (then the 1859–1957 Republic), Honduras, India (then the British Raj), Iran (then the Pahlavi dynasty), Iraq (then the Kingdom of Iraq), Lebanon, Liberia, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand (then the Dominion of New Zealand), Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, the Philippines (then the Commonwealth), Poland (then the Provisional Government of National Unity), Saudi Arabia, South Africa (then the Union of South Africa), Syria (then the Mandatory Republic), Turkey, Ukraine (then the Ukrainian SSR), Uruguay, Venezuela and Yugoslavia (then the Democratic Federal Yugoslavia).[7]

Among the original members, 49 are either still UN members or had their memberships in the UN continued by a successor state (see table below); for example, the membership of the Soviet Union was continued by the Russian Federation after its dissolution (see the section Former members: Union of Soviet Socialist Republics). The other two original members, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia (i.e., the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia), had been dissolved and their memberships in the UN not continued from 1992 by any one successor state (see the sections Former members: Czechoslovakia and Former members: Yugoslavia).[7]

At the time of UN's founding, the seat of China in the UN was held by the Republic of China, but as a result of United Nations General Assembly Resolution 2758 in 1971, it is now held by the People's Republic of China (see the section Former members: Republic of China (Taiwan)).

A number of the original members were not sovereign when they joined the UN, and only gained full independence later:[8]

Current members

The current members and their dates of admission are listed below with their official designations used by the United Nations.[10][11]

The alphabetical order by the member states' official designations is used to determine the seating arrangement of the General Assembly sessions, where a draw is held each year to select a member state as the starting point.[12] Some member states use their full official names in their official designations and thus are sorted out of order from their common names: the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Republic of Korea, the Republic of Moldova, and the United Republic of Tanzania.[7][13][14]

The member states can be sorted by their official designations and dates of admission by clicking on the buttons in the header of the columns. See related sections on former members by clicking on the links in the column "See also". Original members are listed with a blue background.

UN member states
Member state Date of admission See also
 Afghanistan[note 1] 19 November 1946 On December 1, 2021, the nine-nation Credentials Committee of the General Assembly voted to defer a decision to allow the Taliban to represent Afghanistan at the UN.[15] On February 15, 2022, the UN released an updated list of member state officials with the names of Ghani administration officials removed.[16]
Albania Albania 14 December 1955
Algeria Algeria 8 October 1962
Andorra Andorra 28 July 1993
Angola Angola 1 December 1976
Antigua and Barbuda Antigua and Barbuda 11 November 1981
Argentina Argentina 24 October 1945
Armenia Armenia 2 March 1992 Former member: Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (original member) and Armenia and the United Nations
Australia Australia 1 November 1945 Australia and the United Nations
Austria Austria 14 December 1955
Azerbaijan Azerbaijan 2 March 1992 Former member: Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (original member), and Azerbaijan and the United Nations
The Bahamas Bahamas 18 September 1973
Bahrain Bahrain 21 September 1971
Bangladesh Bangladesh 17 September 1974 Bangladesh and the United Nations
Barbados Barbados 9 December 1966
Belarus Belarus 24 October 1945 Former member: Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic
Belgium Belgium 27 December 1945
Belize Belize 25 September 1981
Benin Benin[note 2] 20 September 1960
Bhutan Bhutan 21 September 1971
Bolivia Plurinational State of Bolivia[note 3] 14 November 1945
Bosnia and Herzegovina Bosnia and Herzegovina 22 May 1992 Former member: Yugoslavia (original member)
Botswana Botswana 17 October 1966
Brazil Brazil 24 October 1945 Brazil and the United Nations
Brunei Brunei Darussalam 21 September 1984
Bulgaria Bulgaria 14 December 1955
Burkina Faso Burkina Faso[note 4] 20 September 1960
Burundi Burundi 18 September 1962
Cape Verde Cabo Verde[note 5] 16 September 1975
Cambodia Cambodia[note 6] 14 December 1955
Cameroon Cameroon[note 7] 20 September 1960
Canada Canada 9 November 1945 Canada and the United Nations
Central African Republic Central African Republic[note 8] 20 September 1960
Chad Chad 20 September 1960
Chile Chile 24 October 1945
China China 24 October 1945 Former member: Republic of China and China and the United Nations
Colombia Colombia 5 November 1945
Comoros Comoros 12 November 1975
Republic of the Congo Congo[note 9] 20 September 1960
Costa Rica Costa Rica 2 November 1945 Costa Rica and the United Nations
Ivory Coast Côte d'Ivoire[note 10] 20 September 1960
Croatia Croatia 22 May 1992 Former member: Yugoslavia (original member)
Cuba Cuba 24 October 1945
Cyprus Cyprus 20 September 1960
Czech Republic Czech Republic[note 11] 19 January 1993 Former member: Czechoslovakia (original member)
North Korea Democratic People's Republic of Korea 17 September 1991 Korea and the United Nations
Democratic Republic of the Congo Democratic Republic of the Congo[note 12] 20 September 1960
Denmark Denmark[note 13] 24 October 1945
Djibouti Djibouti 20 September 1977
Dominica Dominica 18 December 1978
Dominican Republic Dominican Republic 24 October 1945
Ecuador Ecuador 21 December 1945
Egypt Egypt 24 October 1945 Former member: United Arab Republic
El Salvador El Salvador 24 October 1945
Equatorial Guinea Equatorial Guinea 12 November 1968
Eritrea Eritrea 28 May 1993
Estonia Estonia 17 September 1991
Eswatini Eswatini[note 14] 24 September 1968
Ethiopia Ethiopia 13 November 1945
Fiji Fiji 13 October 1970 Fiji and the United Nations
Finland Finland 14 December 1955
France France 24 October 1945 France and the United Nations
Gabon Gabon 20 September 1960
The Gambia Gambia 21 September 1965
Georgia (country) Georgia 31 July 1992 Former member: Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (original member)
Germany Germany 18 September 1973 Former member: German Democratic Republic and Germany and the United Nations
Ghana Ghana 8 March 1957
Greece Greece 25 October 1945
Grenada Grenada 17 September 1974
Guatemala Guatemala 21 November 1945
Guinea Guinea 12 December 1958
Guinea-Bissau Guinea-Bissau 17 September 1974
Guyana Guyana 20 September 1966
Haiti Haiti 24 October 1945
Honduras Honduras 17 December 1945
Hungary Hungary 14 December 1955
Iceland Iceland 19 November 1946
India India 30 October 1945 India and the United Nations
Indonesia Indonesia[note 15] 28 September 1950 Withdrawal of Indonesia (1965–1966) and Indonesia and the United Nations
Iran Islamic Republic of Iran[note 16] 24 October 1945
Iraq Iraq 21 December 1945
Republic of Ireland Ireland 14 December 1955
Israel Israel 11 May 1949 Israel and the United Nations
Italy Italy 14 December 1955
Jamaica Jamaica 18 September 1962
Japan Japan 18 December 1956 Japan and the United Nations
Jordan Jordan 14 December 1955
Kazakhstan Kazakhstan[note 17] 2 March 1992 Former member: Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (original member)
Kenya Kenya 16 December 1963
Kiribati Kiribati 14 September 1999
Kuwait Kuwait 14 May 1963
Kyrgyzstan Kyrgyzstan 2 March 1992 Former member: Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (original member)
Laos Lao People's Democratic Republic[note 18] 14 December 1955
Latvia Latvia 17 September 1991
Lebanon Lebanon 24 October 1945 Lebanon and the United Nations
Lesotho Lesotho 17 October 1966
Liberia Liberia 2 November 1945
Libya Libya[note 19] 14 December 1955
Liechtenstein Liechtenstein 18 September 1990
Lithuania Lithuania 17 September 1991
Luxembourg Luxembourg 24 October 1945 Luxembourg and the United Nations
Madagascar Madagascar 20 September 1960
Malawi Malawi 1 December 1964
Malaysia Malaysia 17 September 1957 Former member: Federation of Malaya and Malaysia and the United Nations
Maldives Maldives[note 20] 21 September 1965
Mali Mali 28 September 1960
Malta Malta 1 December 1964
Marshall Islands Marshall Islands 17 September 1991 Marshall Islands and the United Nations
Mauritania Mauritania 27 October 1961
Mauritius Mauritius 24 April 1968
Mexico Mexico 7 November 1945 Mexico and the United Nations
Federated States of Micronesia Federated States of Micronesia 17 September 1991 Federated States of Micronesia and the United Nations
Monaco Monaco 28 May 1993
Mongolia Mongolia 27 October 1961
Montenegro Montenegro 28 June 2006 Former member: Yugoslavia (original member), Serbia and Montenegro
Morocco Morocco 12 November 1956
Mozambique Mozambique 16 September 1975
Myanmar Myanmar[note 21] 19 April 1948 On December 1, 2021, the Credentials Committee of the General Assembly voted to defer a decision to allow Myanmar's ruling military junta to represent the country at the UN.[15]
Namibia Namibia 23 April 1990
Nauru Nauru 14 September 1999
Nepal Nepal 14 December 1955
Kingdom of the Netherlands Netherlands[note 13] 10 December 1945
New Zealand New Zealand[note 13] 24 October 1945 New Zealand and the United Nations
Nicaragua Nicaragua 24 October 1945
Niger Niger 20 September 1960
Nigeria Nigeria 7 October 1960
North Macedonia North Macedonia[note 22] 8 April 1993 Former member: Yugoslavia (original member)
Norway Norway 27 November 1945
Oman Oman 7 October 1971
Pakistan Pakistan 30 September 1947 Pakistan and the United Nations
Palau Palau 15 December 1994
Panama Panama 13 November 1945
Papua New Guinea Papua New Guinea 10 October 1975
Paraguay Paraguay 24 October 1945
Peru Peru 31 October 1945
Philippines Philippines 24 October 1945 Philippines and the United Nations
Poland Poland 24 October 1945 Poland and the United Nations
Portugal Portugal 14 December 1955
Qatar Qatar 21 September 1971
South Korea Republic of Korea 17 September 1991 Korea and the United Nations
Moldova Republic of Moldova[note 23] 2 March 1992 Former member: Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (original member)
Romania Romania 14 December 1955
Russia Russian Federation 24 October 1945 Former member: Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (Soviet Union and the United Nations) and Russia and the United Nations
Rwanda Rwanda 18 September 1962
Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Kitts and Nevis[note 24] 23 September 1983
Saint Lucia Saint Lucia 18 September 1979
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 16 September 1980
Samoa Samoa[note 25] 15 December 1976
San Marino San Marino 2 March 1992
São Tomé and Príncipe São Tomé and Príncipe 16 September 1975
Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia 24 October 1945
Senegal Senegal 28 September 1960
Serbia Serbia 1 November 2000 Former member: Yugoslavia (original member), Serbia and Montenegro, and Serbia and the United Nations
Seychelles Seychelles 21 September 1976
Sierra Leone Sierra Leone 27 September 1961
Singapore Singapore 21 September 1965 Former member: Malaysia and Singapore and the United Nations
Slovakia Slovakia 19 January 1993 Former member: Czechoslovakia (original member)
Slovenia Slovenia 22 May 1992 Former member: Yugoslavia (original member)
Solomon Islands Solomon Islands 19 September 1978
Somalia Somalia 20 September 1960
South Africa South Africa[note 26] 7 November 1945
South Sudan South Sudan 14 July 2011
Spain Spain 14 December 1955
Sri Lanka Sri Lanka[note 27] 14 December 1955
Sudan Sudan 12 November 1956
Suriname Suriname[note 28] 4 December 1975
Sweden Sweden 19 November 1946
Switzerland Switzerland 10 September 2002
Syria Syrian Arab Republic 24 October 1945 Former member: United Arab Republic
Tajikistan Tajikistan 2 March 1992 Former member: Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (original member)
Thailand Thailand 16 December 1946
East Timor Timor-Leste 27 September 2002
Togo Togo 20 September 1960
Tonga Tonga 14 September 1999
Trinidad and Tobago Trinidad and Tobago 18 September 1962 Trinidad and Tobago and the United Nations
Tunisia Tunisia 12 November 1956
Turkey Türkiye[note 29] 24 October 1945 Turkey and the United Nations
Turkmenistan Turkmenistan 2 March 1992 Former member: Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (original member)
Tuvalu Tuvalu 5 September 2000 Tuvalu and the United Nations
Uganda Uganda 25 October 1962
Ukraine Ukraine 24 October 1945 Former member: Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic
United Arab Emirates United Arab Emirates 9 December 1971
United Kingdom United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland 24 October 1945 United Kingdom and the United Nations
Tanzania United Republic of Tanzania[note 30] 14 December 1961 Former member: Zanzibar
United States United States of America 24 October 1945 United States and the United Nations
Uruguay Uruguay 18 December 1945
Uzbekistan Uzbekistan 2 March 1992 Former member: Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (original member)
Vanuatu Vanuatu 15 September 1981 Vanuatu and the United Nations
Venezuela Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela[note 31] 15 November 1945
Vietnam Viet Nam 20 September 1977
Yemen Yemen 30 September 1947 Former members: Yemen and People's Democratic Republic of Yemen
Zambia Zambia 1 December 1964
Zimbabwe Zimbabwe 25 August 1980

Former members

Republic of China (1945–1971)

A map of East Asia highlighting the Chinese states
Areas controlled by the People's Republic of China and the Republic of China

The Republic of China (ROC) 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.[18] In 1949, as a result of the Chinese Civil War, the Kuomintang-led ROC government lost effective control of mainland China and relocated to the island of 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 discussed but rejected for the next two decades, as the ROC was still recognized as the sole legitimate representative of China by a majority of UN members.[citation needed] Both sides rejected compromise proposals to allow both states to participate in the UN, based on the One-China policy.[19]

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,[20] 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."[21] 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.

In addition to losing its seat in the UN, the UN Secretary-General concluded from the resolution that the General Assembly considered Taiwan to be a province of "China", which refers to the Greater China region. Consequently, the Secretary-General decided that it was not permitted for the ROC to become a party to treaties deposited with it.[22]

Bids for readmission as the representative of Taiwan

Ma Ying-jeou stands behind a podium decked with flowers
The presidency of Ma Ying-jeou saw the first participation of the Republic of China on a United Nations body in almost 40 years.

In 1993 the ROC began campaigning to rejoin the UN separately from the People's Republic of China. A number of options were considered, including seeking membership in the specialized agencies, applying for observer status, applying for full membership, or having resolution 2758 revoked to reclaim the seat of China in the UN.[23]

Every year from 1993 to 2006, UN member states submitted a memorandum to the UN Secretary-General requesting that the UN General Assembly consider allowing the ROC to resume participating in the United Nations.[24][note 32] This approach was chosen, rather than a formal application for membership, because it could be enacted by the General Assembly, while a membership application would need Security Council approval, where the PRC held a veto.[23] Early proposals recommended admitting the ROC with parallel representation over China, along with the People's Republic of China, pending eventual reunification, citing examples of other divided countries which had become separate UN member states, such as East and West Germany and North and South Korea. Later proposals emphasized that the ROC was a separate state, over which the PRC had no effective sovereignty. These proposed resolutions referred to the ROC under a variety of names: "Republic of China in Taiwan" (1993–94), "Republic of China on Taiwan" (1995–97, 1999–2002), "Republic of China" (1998), "Republic of China (Taiwan)" (2003) and "Taiwan" (2004–06).

However, all fourteen attempts were unsuccessful as the General Assembly's General Committee declined to put the issue on the Assembly's agenda for debate, under strong opposition from the PRC.[25]

While all these proposals were vague, requesting the ROC be allowed to participate in UN activities without specifying any legal mechanism, in 2007 the ROC submitted a formal application under the name "Taiwan" for full membership in the UN.[26] However, the application was rejected by the United Nations Office of Legal Affairs citing General Assembly Resolution 2758,[27] without being forwarded to the Security Council. Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon stated that:

The position of the United Nations is that the People's Republic of China is representing the whole of China as the sole and legitimate representative Government of China. The decision until now about the wish of the people in Taiwan to join the United Nations has been decided on that basis. The resolution (General Assembly Resolution 2758) that you just mentioned is clearly mentioning that the Government of China is the sole and legitimate Government and the position of the United Nations is that Taiwan is part of China.[28]

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.[29] 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,[30] contrary to UN's standard procedure (Provisional Rules of Procedure of the Security Council, Chapter X, Rule 59).[31] 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".[32] A group of UN member states put forward a draft resolution for that fall's UN General Assembly calling on the Security Council to consider the application.[26]

The following year two referendums in Taiwan on the government's attempts to regain participation at the UN did not pass due to low turnout. That fall the ROC took a new approach, with its allies submitting a resolution requesting that the "Republic of China (Taiwan)" be allowed to have "meaningful participation" in the UN specialized agencies.[33] Again the issue was not put on the Assembly's agenda.[25] In 2009, the ROC chose not to bring the issue of its participation in the UN up for debate at the General Assembly for the first time since it began the campaign in 1993.[34]

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.[35]

The Republic of China is officially recognized by 13 UN member states and the Holy See. It maintains unofficial relations with around 100 nations, including the United States and Japan.

States that no longer exist

Czechoslovakia (1945–1992)

Czechoslovakia joined the UN as an original member on 24 October 1945. 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 Federative 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. Neither state sought sole successor state status. Both states were readmitted to the UN on 19 January 1993.[36]

German Democratic Republic (1973–1990)

Both the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) and the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) were admitted to the UN on 18 September 1973. Through the accession of the East German federal states to the Federal Republic of Germany, effective from 3 October 1990, the territory of the German Democratic Republic became part of the Federal Republic of Germany. In a letter to the general secretary, German Foreign Minister notified UN about this unification and stated that the Federal Republic of Germany would subsequently assume its membership under the name Germany. Consequently, the Federal Republic of Germany continued being a member of the UN while the German Democratic Republic ceased to exist.[36]

Federation of Malaya (1957–1963)

The Federation of Malaya joined the United Nations on 17 September 1957. On 16 September 1963, its name was changed to Malaysia, following the formation of Malaysia from Singapore, North Borneo (now Sabah), Sarawak and the existing states of the Federation of Malaya. Singapore became an independent State on 9 August 1965 and a Member of the United Nations on 21 September 1965.

Tanganyika (1961–1964) and Zanzibar (1964)

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 single member "United Republic of Tanganyika and Zanzibar", with its name changed to the United Republic of Tanzania on 1 November 1964.[36][37]

Soviet Union (1945–1991)

A map of Eurasia highlighting the USSR
The USSR as its borders and republics were configured upon entry to the UN. Border changes and the dissolution of various republics happened over the course of its membership.

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 United Nations Security Council.[18] 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 states of the Commonwealth of Independent States.[36]

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

United Arab Republic (1958–1971)

Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser (seated right) and Syrian president Shukri al-Quwatli sign the accord to form the United Arab Republic in 1958. The short-lived political union briefly represented both states and was used as the name of Egypt following Syria's withdrawal in 1961.
Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser (seated right) and Syrian president Shukri al-Quwatli sign the accord to form the United Arab Republic in 1958. The short-lived political union briefly represented both states and was used as the name of Egypt following Syria's withdrawal in 1961.

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.[36]

Yemen (1947–1990) and Democratic Yemen (1967–1990)

Yemen (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 Yemen.[36]

Yugoslavia / Serbia and Montenegro (1945–2006)

The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia disintegrated into several states starting in the early 1990s. By 2006, six UN member states existed in its former territory. Kosovo declared independence in 2008.
The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia disintegrated into several states starting in the early 1990s. By 2006, six UN member states existed in its former territory. Kosovo declared independence in 2008.

The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, referred to as 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.[36] Following the admission of all five states as new UN members, "Yugoslavia" was removed from the official roster of UN members.

The government of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, established on 28 April 1992 by the remaining Yugoslav republics of Montenegro and Serbia,[42] claimed itself as the legal successor state of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia;[43] 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,"[44] 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".[45][46] For many years the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia refused to comply with the resolution, arguing that it was the legitimate successor to the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and that the resolution and the sanctions were illegal and counted as a de facto expulsion of Yugoslavia from the UN (though the UN itself that the resolution was legal and de-jure not an expulsion of Yugoslavia since they weren't the legal successors of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and so the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was never a UN member). Following the ousting of President Slobodan Milošević from office, Yugoslavia applied for membership, and was admitted to the UN as Serbia and Montenegro on 1 November 2000.[41] 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.[47]

On the basis of a referendum held on 21 May 2006, Montenegro declared independence from Serbia and Montenegro 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.[48] Montenegro was admitted to the UN on 28 June 2006.[49]

In the aftermath of the Kosovo War, the territory of Kosovo, then an autonomous province of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, was put under the interim administration of the United Nations Mission in Kosovo on 10 June 1999. On 17 February 2008 it declared independence, but this has not been recognised by Serbia. The Republic of Kosovo is not a member of the UN, but is a member of the International Monetary Fund[50] and the World Bank Group,[51] both specialized agencies in the United Nations System. The Republic of Kosovo has been recognised by 112 UN member states, including three of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (France, the United Kingdom, and the United States); several states have suspended or withdrawn their recognition of Kosovo's independence, bringing down the total to 98. On 22 July 2010, the International Court of Justice, the primary judicial organ of the UN, issued an advisory opinion, ruling that Kosovo's declaration of independence was not in violation of international law.[52]

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:[2]

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:[2]

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 or 6. However, in a few cases, states were suspended or expelled from participating in UN activities by means other than Articles 5 or 6:

  • On 25 October 1971, United Nations General Assembly Resolution 2758 was adopted, which recognized the People's Republic of China instead of the Republic of China (since 1949 controlling only Taiwan) as the legitimate representative of China in the UN and effectively expelled the Republic of China from the UN in 1971 (see the section Former members: Republic of China). This act did not constitute as the expulsion of a member state under Article 6, as 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.[53]
  • In October 1974, the Security Council considered a draft resolution that would have recommended that the General Assembly immediately expel South Africa from the UN, in compliance with Article 6 of the United Nations Charter, due to its apartheid policies.[36] However, the resolution was not adopted because of vetoes by three permanent members of the Security Council: France, the United Kingdom, 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.[54]
  • On 28 April 1992, the new Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was established, by the remaining republics of Serbia and Montenegro of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. 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". It did not apply for membership until Slobodan Milošević was ousted from the presidency and was admitted on 1 November 2000 (see the section Former members: Yugoslavia).

Withdrawal of Indonesia (1965–1966)

A black-and-white three-quarters view of Sukarno's face
Indonesian president Sukarno's decision to withdraw from the United Nations in 1965 is the only instance of a withdrawal of membership in UN history. Indonesia rejoined the UN a year later.

Since the inception of the UN, only one member state (excluding those that 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 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 its President invited the representatives of that country to take their seats in the Assembly.[36]

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),[53] 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.[55]

Observers and non-members

A row of flags
Switzerland has been neutral in international conflicts since the early 19th century and joined the UN as a full member only in 2002. Despite this, the Palace of Nations in Geneva has hosted the United Nations Office at Geneva since 1946 and also previously served as the headquarters of the League of Nations.

In addition to the member states, there are two United Nations General Assembly non-member observer states: the Holy See and the State of Palestine.[56]

The Sovereign Military Order of Malta, which is not a sovereign state but an entity, has observer status at the UN and maintains diplomatic relations with 107 countries.[67][68]

A number of states were also granted observer status before being admitted to the UN as full members.[69][70][71] The most recent case of an observer state becoming a member state was Switzerland, which was admitted in 2002.[72]

A European Union institution, the European Commission, was granted observer status at the UNGA through Resolution 3208 in 1974. The Treaty of Lisbon in 2009 resulted in the delegates being accredited directly to the EU.[73] It was accorded full rights in the General Assembly, bar the right to vote and put forward candidates, via UNGA Resolution A/RES/65/276 on 10 May 2011.[74] It is the only non-state party to over 50 multilateral conventions, and has participated in every way except for having a vote in a number of UN conferences.[75]

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. Western Sahara is listed by the UN as a "non-self-governing territory".[76]

The Cook Islands and Niue, which are both associated states of New Zealand, are not members of the UN, but are members of specialized agencies of the UN such as WHO[77] and UNESCO,[78] and have had their "full treaty-making capacity" recognized by United Nations Secretariat in 1992 and 1994 respectively.[79][80] They have since become parties to a number of international treaties which the UN Secretariat acts as a depositary for, such as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change[81] and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea,[82] and are treated as non-member states.[83][79] Both the Cook Islands and Niue have expressed a desire to become a UN member state, but New Zealand has said that they would not support the application without a change in their constitutional relationship, in particular their right to New Zealand citizenship.[84][85]

The United Nations has not recognized Kosovo as an independent state. Per United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 and the ongoing dialogue on the political status of Kosovo, the Republic of Kosovo is not a member of the United Nations, despite having relations with half of member states. It is a member of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank and has applied for UNESCO membership but was narrowly rejected in 2015.[86]

See also


  1. ^ Afghanistan: The United Nations currently recognizes the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan as the government of Afghanistan instead of the de facto ruling government, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.
  2. ^ Benin: Name was changed from Dahomey on 2 December 1975.
  3. ^ Plurinational State of Bolivia: Name was changed from "Bolivia" on 9 April 2009.
  4. ^ Burkina Faso: Name was changed from Upper Volta on 6 August 1984.
  5. ^ Cabo Verde: Previously referred to as Cape Verde. On 24 October 2013, Cabo Verde requested that its name no longer be translated into different languages.[17]
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ Congo: Previously referred to as the People's Republic of the Congo. Name was changed to Congo on 15 November 1971.
  10. ^ Côte d'Ivoire: Until 31 December 1985 referred to as Ivory Coast.
  11. ^ : Name was changed from the Czech Republic on 17 May 2016.
  12. ^ 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 16 May 1997.
  13. ^ a b c The member states of the Realm of Denmark, Realm of New Zealand and Kingdom of the Netherlands represent their metropolitan countries as well as their other constituent countries: Faroe Islands and Greenland (Denmark); Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten (Netherlands); Niue and Cook Islands (New Zealand). Niue and the Cook Islands have full treaty-making capabilities and have the option of seeking membership.
  14. ^ Eswatini: Name was changed from Swaziland on 19 April 2018.
  15. ^ Withdrew from the UN on 20 January 1965. It rejoined on 28 September 1966.
  16. ^ Islamic Republic of Iran: Previously referred to as Iran. By a communication of 4 November 1982, Iran informed the Secretary-General that it should be referred to by its complete name of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
  17. ^ Kazakhstan: Spelling was changed from Kazakstan on 20 June 1997.
  18. ^ Lao People's Democratic Republic: Name was changed from Laos on 2 December 1975.
  19. ^ Libya: Formerly recognised as the Libyan Arab Republic from 1969 after originally being admitted as Libya. 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. On 16 September 2011, the UN General Assembly awarded the UN seat to the National Transitional Council, thereby restoring the original name of Libya.
  20. ^ Maldives: Name was changed from "Maldive Islands" on 14 April 1969.
  21. ^ Myanmar: Name was changed from Burma on 17 June 1989.
  22. ^ North Macedonia: Name was changed from The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia on 11 February 2019.
  23. ^ Republic of Moldova: Referred to as "Moldova" from 6 October 2006 to 10 September 2008.
  24. ^ Saint Kitts and Nevis: Referred to as "Saint Christopher and Nevis" until 28 December 1986.
  25. ^ Samoa: The country was formerly named "Western Samoa" until 4 July 1997, but nevertheless always referred to as just "Samoa".
  26. ^ South Africa: Referred to as the "Union of South Africa" until 13 May 1961.
  27. ^ Sri Lanka: Name was changed from "Ceylon" on 29 August 1972.
  28. ^ Suriname: Name was changed from "Surinam" on 23 January 1978.
  29. ^ Türkiye: Name was changed from "Turkey" on 31 May 2022.
  30. ^ United Republic of Tanzania: Name was changed from "United Republic of Tanganyika and Zanzibar" on 2 November 1964.
  31. ^ Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela: Previously referred to as "Venezuela" until 17 November 2004.
  32. ^ Specific items include:
    United Nations General Assembly Session 48 Agenda itemA/48/191 1993-08-09.
    United Nations General Assembly Session 49 Agenda itemA/49/144 1994-07-19.
    United Nations General Assembly Session 50 Agenda itemA/50/145 1995-07-19.
    United Nations General Assembly Session 51 Agenda itemA/51/142 1996-07-18.
    United Nations General Assembly Session 52 Agenda itemA/52/143 1997-07-16.
    United Nations General Assembly Session 53 Agenda itemA/53/145 1998-07-08.
    United Nations General Assembly Session 54 Agenda itemA/54/194 1999-08-12.
    United Nations General Assembly Session 55 Agenda itemA/55/227 2000-08-04.
    United Nations General Assembly Session 56 Agenda itemA/56/193 2001-08-08.
    United Nations General Assembly Session 57 Agenda itemA/57/191 2002-08-20.
    United Nations General Assembly Session 58 Agenda itemA/58/197 2003-08-05.
    United Nations General Assembly Session 59 Agenda itemA/59/194 2004-08-10.
    United Nations General Assembly Session 60 Agenda itemA/60/192 2005-08-11.
    United Nations General Assembly Session 61 Agenda itemA/61/194 2006-08-11.


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