TOEFL Listening Exercise 1




Professor – The United Nations as an international organization has its origins in World War II. Since then, its aim and activities have expanded to make it the archetypal international body that it is in the early twenty-first century. The name United Nations, coined by United States president, Franklin D. Roosevelt, was first used in the Declaration by United Nations of the first of January 1942 during the Second World War when representatives of 26 nations pledged their governments to continue fighting together against the Axis Powers. States first established international organizations to cooperate on specific matters. The International Telecommunication Union was formed in 1865 as the International Telegraph Union, and the Universal Postal Union was established in 1874. Both are now United Nations specialized agencies. In 1899, the International Peace Conference was held in The Hague to elaborate instruments for settling crises peacefully, preventing wars, and codifying rules of warfare. It adopted the Convention for the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes and established the Permanent Court of Arbitration which began work in 1902. The forerunner of the United Nations was the League of Nations, an organization conceived in similar circumstances during the First World War and established in 1919 under the Treaty of Versailles to promote international cooperation and to achieve peace and security. The International Labor Organization was also created under the Treaty of Versailles as an affiliated agency of the League. The League of Nations ceased its activities after failing to prevent the Second World War. In 1945, representatives of 50 countries met in San Francisco at the United Nations Conference on International Organization to draw up the United Nations Charter. Those delegates deliberated on the basis of proposals worked out by the representatives of China, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States at Dumbarton Oaks, United States in August-October 1944. The Charter was signed on the 26th of June, 1945, by the representatives of the 50 countries. Poland, which was not represented at the Conference, signed it later and became one of the original 51 member states. The United Nations officially came into existence on October 24, 1945, when the Charter had been ratified by China, France, The United States, and by a majority of other signatories. United Nations Day is celebrated on 24th of October each year. The United Nations has achieved considerable prominence in the social arena fostering human rights, economic development, decolonization, health, and education for example, and interesting itself in refugees and trade. The leaders of the UN had high hopes that it would act to prevent conflicts between nations and make future wars impossible. Those hopes have obviously not fully come to pass. From about 1947 until 1991 the division of the world into hostile camps during the Cold War made agreement on peacekeeping matters extremely difficult. Following the end of the Cold War, renewed calls arose for the UN to become the agency for achieving world peace and cooperation as several dozen active military conflicts continued to rage across the globe. The breakup of the Soviet Union had also left the United States in a unique position of global dominance, creating a variety of new problems for the UN.