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PHOTO/ January 10: League of Nations (1920) and United Nations (1946)

The League of Nations was formed on January 10, 1920, during the devastation of World War I, and the United Nations had its first meeting on the same day in 1946. See the photo gallery here

UN Building, flags of the member states UN Building, flags of the member states

On January 10, 1920, the League of Nations, an intergovernmental organization to promote world peace and the cooperation of nations, came into effect, after being ratified the previous July.  On the same day in 1946, the first General Assembly of the United Nations took place in London.   

After the beginning of World War I, as more and more people died in the trenches, people began speaking out about the need for a permanent international body that would maintain peace.  One important proponent of this project was U.S. President Woodrow Wilson, who proposed this as one of his points in his proposal to end the war in 1918.  In the aftermath of the war, after the peace proceedings were decided, the League of Nations was approved and ratified.    

The league was successful in the 1920s, but it finally approved ineffectual against the Axis powers in the 1930s and eventually failed to prevent World War II.  Japan left the League when it criticized the country for its invasion of China.  The League was unable to stop the armament of Germany, and Germany, Italy, Spain and other countries all left the organization.  Countries were wary of imposing sanctions that could hurt their own interests and even more wary of actually using force to combat an aggressive nation. The Palace of Nations, in Geneva, was unoccupied during the War.       

After World War II, assets and archives from the League were given to the United Nations, established in 1945, and the League was officially dissolved.  The UN also does not have a standing army, but it asks its member states, which are more numerous than under the League, to contribute soldiers to armed interventions. The UN also has increased international support and many more regulations to help it avoid the mistakes of its predecessor.           

The first meeting of the UN General Assembly took place on January 10, 1946 and was attended by 51 nations. On January 24, their first resolution was passed, calling for peaceful uses of atomic energy and an end to atomic bombs. The UN currently has a total of 193 member states from around the world, and its current Secretary-General is Ban Ki-moon from South Korea.     

See photos commemorating the two events starting on the next page.