Module 1: History of the United Nations

A brief history of the UN – is it set up to succeed or fail? 

Little people of the United Nations, children of United Nations Secretariat members, prepare for Charter Day, 26 June, anniversary of the signing of the United Nations Charter in San Francisco in 1945, by studying the Preamble.

In this module you will learn about the origins of the United Nations and its predecessor the League of Nations, as well as the circumstances under which they were founded. 


This knowledge will be valuable to you as you progress through the course and gain a deeper understanding of the UN system, its key players, the issues the UN champions, and start to decide for yourself whether the UN is doing the job it set out to do.


You will also be introduced to the role of New Zealand, the Pacific and small states on the UN.


After completing this module you will be able to:

  • critically discuss why the League of Nations was established and why it failed
  • describe the origins of the United Nations, its Charter, and why it matters 
  • discuss New Zealand’s relationship to the UN and the role of small states and the Pacific 
  • discuss the role of the UN Association of NZ in promoting the UN to the people of New Zealand

Key Questions

Key questions for you to consider while you work through this module:

  • What is the League of Nations, why did it fail? 
  • Given the failure of the League of Nations, is the UN also set up to fail? Why or why not?
  • Why is the UN important to small states like New Zealand and can they make a difference? 
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