Emblem and flag of the United Nations


UN Emblem at the UN Office, Nairobi, KenyaThe 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.


First UN flagA 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.


Flag for the Commission of Investigation concerning Greek Frontier Incidents 1947Since 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.


UN FlagThe 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.Flags of the Member States

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









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UNOstamps subject page 183

last revised: 15 August 2010