The atrocities of World War II must never again be allowed to occur! This was the basic premise to the formation of the United Nations. Without going into lots of details, the United Nations was established on 24 October 1945, a replacement to the League of Nations, which did not work as well as intended. Initially 51 member states signed up to join the UN. These days that number has risen to 193.
The official headquarters of the UN is located in Manhattan, New York City with three further offices in Geneva, Nairobi, and Vienna. Its objectives have outgrown its initial premise somewhat. It strives to maintain international peace and security, and it seeks to promote human rights through things like humanitarian aid during times of crisis such as famine, natural disaster, and war. The UN also works to protect our natural environment.
In order to run effectively, the UN mechanism has six main components (from Wikipedia):
- General Assembly (the main deliberative assembly)
- Security Council (for deciding certain resolutions for peace and security)
- Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC; for promoting international economic and social co-operation and development)
- Secretariat (for providing studies, information, and facilities needed by the UN)
- International Court of Justice (the primary judicial organ)
- UN Trusteeship Council (inactive since 1994)
For this blog post our main focus is the General Assembly. The first session of the UN General Assembly was convened on 10 January 1946 in the Methodist Central Hall in London and included representatives of 51 nations. But since an official headquarters had as yet been created, the next five sessions of the Assembly were held in different locations. Two such sessions were held in Paris. The first Paris session was in 1948. The second Paris session began on 6 November 1951. This session was held at the Palais de Challiot.
The Palais de Challiot was built for the Exposition Internationale of 1937, on the site where the old Palais du Trocadéro had stood before being demolished. It is perhaps worth noting that Adolf Hitler was pictured on the front terrace of the palace with the Eiffel Tower in the background during his tour of Paris in 1940. This photo became an iconic image of World War II.
On 6 November 1951 France issued a set of two stamps bearing the same design for the opening of the UN General Assembly in Paris. This issue was designed and engraved by Albert Decaris. The design features the Palais de Challiot in the foreground with the Eiffel Tower standing proudly in the centre background. This design was issued in two values, each with its own colour.
One thing I find interesting about this issue is the 18f red. The ink seems to be quite thick, which blurs much of the fine detail. This is reminiscent of the 1948 Luxembourg Palace 12f issue printed in carmine. In the Luxembourg Issue a lot of details are blotted out. This is perhaps a reflection of the consistency of the red pigmented ink of this vintage.
Until next time...