Flags raised at the United Nations

The United Nations recently raised the flags of its only two non-member observer states for the first time. The Holy See (Vatican City) and Palestine’s flags were raised (on different days) alongside the flags of the United Nations member states at its headquarters in New York, USA. The Holy See became a non-member observer state of the United Nations in 1964, and Palestine in 2012.

Vatican City is considered to be the world’s smallest independent state. It is surrounded by Rome, the capital of Italy, on all sides. The pope is the head of the Catholic Church, and lives in the Vatican City. Pope Francis is the current pope. One of the world’s most famous churches is the St. Peter’s Basilica located within the Vatican City.


Most countries around the globe recognize Palestine to be two areas called the Gaza Strip and West Bank, both of which are occupied territories under the country Israel. If you look at a map, you’ll see that the Gaza Strip and the West Bank don’t border each other. The Palestinians want these regions to be recognized as their independent country, with its own government and its own land.

United Nations (UN) is an international organization with a goal to promote peace and security around the globe, encourage nations to be friends, help countries with issues of poverty, hunger, disease, and education, and support human rights. The UN was founded in 1945 after the Second World War with 51 member countries. Today, 193 countries are part of it. The UN has six official languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish.

The UN has various organizations focused on different agendas. The Peacekeeping force goes into areas with conflict to help create peace and maintain it. UNICEF focuses on needs of children. The FAO deals with food and hunger issues. WHO watches out for global health issues. UNHCR looks out for the safety and well-being of refugees. The International Court of Justice resolves legal arguments between nations. There are several more organizations.

The Secretary-General is the head of the United Nations. The current Secretary-General is Ban Ki-moon (image), from South Korea. The Security Council of the UN is made up of five permanent members (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) and ten non-permanent members. Its job is to make sure that international peace is maintained. The General Assembly is composed of all the 193 member states, and it is the main body for presenting and discussing issues. The non-member observer states attend and follow events at the UN.

Here is a video about the Vatican City and another about the United Nations.

Image Credits: http://www.un.org/ for Ban Ki-moon’s image
Sources: http://www.holyseemission.org/, http://www.un.org/, http://www.nytimes.com