The United Nations (U.N.) is a global diplomatic and political organization dedicated to international peace and stability. The U.N. was officially established in 1945 following the horrific events of World War II, when international leaders proposed creating a new global organization to maintain peace and avoid the abuses of war. The U.N. initially had just 51 member states; today, the organization, which is headquartered in New York City, has 193 members. Major U.N. initiatives include preventing conflict by exploring options to ensure peace, providing food and medical assistance in emergencies, and offering humanitarian support to millions of people around the world. While the United Nations is sometimes criticized for its policies, bureaucracy and spending, the organization has accomplished hundreds of successful peacekeeping missions.