The first mention of an emblem for the new United Nations Organization was a report by secretary-general Trygve Lie on 15 October 1946. He stated that although the name 'United Nations' had been formally adopted for the Organization in the Preamble of the Charter, no such official sanction existed for the emblem and seal of the United Nations.
The symbol that was in use at the time was a modification of a designed created by members of the Presentation Branch of the US Office of Strategic Services in April 1945, in response to a request for a button design for the San Francisco Conference.
He recommended the General Assembly to adopt a design to function as official emblem. Also he recommended that the member states would take care of national legislation to protect the name and emblem of the UN against commercial use.
A few weeks later the design was modified to include all countries. Also the world map was turned so the Greenwich meridian would be in the centre of the emblem. Without a vote the General Assembly adopted the emblem on 7 December 1946 (Resolution 92 (I)).
The design is "a map of the world representing an azimuthal equidistant projection centred on the North Pole, inscribed in a wreath consisting of crossed conventionalised branches of the olive tree, in gold on a field of smoke-blue with all water areas in white. The projection of the map extends to 60 degrees south latitude, and includes five concentric circles".
On 21 August 1947 the secretary-general sent a memorandum to the General Assembly underlining the necessity of a flag for the UN. He described that some time earlier a flag was designed to protect and identify with a neutral symbol the Commission of Investigation concerning Greek Frontier Incidents. The UN secretariat designed a flag in blue with the UN emblem in white with the words "United Nations - Nations Unies" around it.
Since then more than a hundred other designs were received from various countries. The secretary-general feels that the design with the UN emblem, but without the name on it, "possesses the essential requirements of simplicity and dignity to a greater extent than any other design which has been submitted."
The General Assembly adopted Resolution 167 (II) on 20 October 1947 giving the UN its own flag and instructing the secretary-general to draw up regulation concerning the dimensions and proportions of the flag and to adopt a flag code.
The flag code was published on 19 December 1947, amended on 11 November 1952 and completely revised on 1 January 1967 and contains regulations where and when to display the flag, including in periods of mourning. It also contains the rules on the display of the flags of the member states outside the UN Headquarters.
Later on the flags of the other specialized organizations were based on the original design and have in most cases the blue colour with a white emblem. The colour light blue has consequently been used in various ways, with the best known being the UN peace-keeping forces wearing blue helmets.
The emblem and flag are frequently pictured on stamps. The stamp catalogue is divided into two parts: stamps that have the emblem or flag as main subject and stamps that have the emblem or flag on it but are issued for another occasion. It should be noted that not every stamp with the emblem is listed. The emblem should be a significant part of the stamp design.
All official documents concerning the emblem and flag on the UN website.
The UN flag in Flags of the World.
Catalogue - emblem as main subject
Austria 23 October 1970
Belgium 17 April 1958
Belgium 19 May 1995
Belgium 18 November 2000
Federation of Malaya 5 March 1958
German Democratic Republic 22 October 1985
Suriname 26 June 1995
Union of Soviet Socialist Republics 20 June 1975
Catalogue - emblem as secondary subject
Austria 17 November 1976
Austria 26 June 1985
Belgium 17 April 1958
Belgium 24 November 1962
Benin 4 November 1980
German Democratic Republic 20 October 1970
Netherlands Antilles 5 June 1985
Niger 16 December 1961
Niger 21 October 1967
Niger 26 June 1970
Niger 26 November 1975
Papua and New Guinea 13 October 1965
Republic of Moldova 21 November 1992
Surinam 2 January 1962
Suriname 30 April 1985
Tunisia 24 October 1959
Tunisia 24 October 1960
Tunisia 24 October 1962
Tunisia 24 October 1985
Tunisia 19 February 2001
Union of Soviet Socialist Republics 1 June 1970
Union of Soviet Socialist Republics 8 September 1976
Union of Soviet Socialist Republics 26 June 1985
Union of Soviet Socialist Republics 4 November 1986
Union of Soviet Socialist Republics 21 April 1987
Catalogue - flag as main subject
Catalogue - flag as secondary subject
Austria 25 October 1965
Austria 20 September 1990
Bangladesh 12 September 1989
Belgium 8 March 1997
Tunisia 8 October 1982
Tunisia 9 October 2001 (inverted colours)
Union of Soviet Socialist Republics 15 June 1982
Union of Soviet Socialist Republics 24 October 1985
UNOstamps subject page 183
last revised: 15 August 2010