Countries Not in the United Nations 2024

193 member nations and two permanent non-member observer states (Palestine and the Vatican City/Holy See) comprise the United Nations, the world’s biggest intergovernmental organization. The United Nations General Assembly features equal representation for all of its members.

In the wake of World War II, the United Nations was established in 1945. Its primary goals are to prevent and resolve conflicts, mediate for countries in conflict, and establish a conducive environment for peace.

Human rights protection, humanitarian assistance, international law enforcement, and sustainable development are all responsibilities of the U.N.

U.N. members that were part of the first group

United Nations Charter was signed by 50 nations on June 26, 1945, following World War II by the United States, United Kingdom, Russia, and China. After missing the first signing, Poland joined on October 15, 1945, making it the 51st founding member.

On October 24, 1945, the United Nations and the International Court of Justice were formally established as a result of the signing of the charter.

Several original member nations have disbanded or changed their identities since 1945, including Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, and the Soviet Union.

Its initial members comprised the United States (which included France and the United Kingdom), Argentina (which included Brazil and New Zealand), Belarus (which included Turkey), Australia (which included Belgium), Mexico (which included the Netherlands), and South Africa (which included Panama).

The United Nations now has a membership of 193 nations, up from the original 122 when it was established (plus two). To join the U.N., you must meet the following requirements:

  1. To become a member of the United Nations, a country must submit an application pledging to uphold the principles enshrined in the UN Charter, such as maintaining world peace, protecting human rights, and fostering international cooperation.
  2. It is decided whether or not the application is eligible by the United Nations Security Council. This means that the application must be authorized by all five permanent members and at least four of 10 rotating members of the council (which rotate every two years).
  3. If the application is granted, the General Assembly will vote on whether or not to admit the territory, which has now been verified as a fully-fledged nation, to the United Nations. A simple two-thirds majority is necessary.
Countries Not in the United Nations 2022

Countries that aren’t members of the U.N.

Because being recognized by the United Nations is a prerequisite to becoming a nation, it is uncommon for a country to exist without joining the U.N.

While this is true for the majority of permanent non-member observer nations, there are two exceptions that may be considered: (1) Vatican City and the Palestinian Territories.

No votes may be cast for any country, although both nations are welcome in the General Assembly as non-member observer states. In the future, both permanent observer nations might become full members of the United Nations.

However, these two states have unique circumstances preventing them from becoming full members.

Holy See/Vatican City

Vatican City’s administration, known as the Holy See, is responsible for running the world’s smallest country, the Catholic Church’s worldwide headquarters. In addition, it is the only sovereign country that has not applied for United Nations membership.

Because the Pope likes to avoid actively influencing foreign affairs, this choice has been explained.

The Holy See, however, may face questions about whether it can fit the United Nations’ definition of a nation (especially it’s capacity to contribute to global security) and if it is, in reality, a religious institution rather than a legitimate state, should it decide to seek for membership.


Because of its violent and continuing territorial conflict with U.N. member Israel, Palestine has been unable to join the United Nations as a full member state.

Most U.N. members (138 out of 193, plus observer state Vatican City/Holy See) recognize Palestine as a sovereign state deserving of U.N. membership.

Still, several key members, including the United States, the United Kingdom, and France, three permanent members of the Security Council, refuse to allow Palestine to join until the conflict between Palestine and Israel is peacefully resolved.

The United Nations is poised to vote to award Palestine full membership status if Israel and Palestine peacefully come to a deal. Even if a peaceful ending is possible, the dispute has already lasted more than 50 years and has resisted several efforts to find a solution.

The United Nations has not completely recognized any independent nations as countries.

Despite not being full members of the United Nations, both the Holy See and Palestine are recognized as sovereign entities. A large number of nations and territories, however, have not yet been recognized by the United Nations as countries despite their desire to do so.

Kosovo (recognized by 100+ members)

In 2008, this European nation proclaimed its independence from Serbia and is now recognized by more than 100 countries that are members of the United Nations (sources vary, and some states have withdrawn their recognition).

Because two countries—China and Russia—oppose Kosovo’s full membership (and nationhood), the country is in an indefinite holding pattern.

Taiwan (recognized by 13 members)

The Republic of China (ROC), which also encompassed the Chinese mainland, was a founding member of the United Nations, and this island nation located off the coast of China was one of its members.

However, a civil war in China drove the government of the Republic of China (ROC) to flee to the island of Taiwan, with the communist People’s Republic of China (PRC) assuming control of the rest of the country.

The United Nations withdrew the ROC of its membership after it became evident that the ROC would not be able to restore control of the mainland (where the vast majority of Chinese people resided).

The Republic of China (ROC) has petitioned to join the United Nations Security Council as Taiwan’s sovereign nation. Still, as one of the five permanent members, the PRC-controlled China has the power to reject Taiwan’s application in perpetuity.

China has also made it mandatory for all current members of the United Nations to either acknowledge China or Taiwan (and severed diplomatic relations with any country that chose Taiwan).

Western Sahara (recognized by 44 members)

For decades, the residents of this thinly populated desert nation have been calling for their country’s independence from Morocco. Several referendums have been suggested that would allow residents of the area to vote on whether or not to separate from the United States.

However, disagreements over the voting procedure have stopped the referendum from taking place, especially regarding the many thousands of Moroccan immigrants who have relocated to the area in recent decades.

Also See: Countries Never Colonized 2022

Additional states with little recognition:

  • South Ossetia (recognized by five members)
  • Abkhazia (recognized by five members)
  • Northern Cyprus (recognized by one member)

Dozens of territories with varied legal titles and degrees of independence might theoretically join the United Nations if their parent nations agreed to join as well exist.

Many of these areas are deserted or small islands, making it doubtful that they would ever become independent countries. For the typical person, certain nations — like Greenland, Hong Kong, and Puerto Rico — seem to have gained their independence long ago.

As long as their parent nation agrees, these areas might stand on their own if they so choose.

Nation/StateLegal StatusContinent
Abkhazia (Georgia)Separatist state recognized by 5 U.N. membersAsia
Akrotiti and Dhekelia (UK)Overseas territoryEurope/Asia
Åland (Finland)Autonomous regionEurope
American Samoa (US)Unincorporated unorganized territoryOceania
Anguilla (UK)Overseas territoryNorth America
Artsakh (Azerbaijan)Separatist state - not recognizedAsia
Aruba (Netherlands)Constituent countryNorth America/South America
Ashmore and Cartier Islands (Australia)External territory (uninhabited)Oceania
Bailiwick of Guernsey (UK crown dependency)Crown dependencyEurope
Bailiwick of Jersey (UK crown dependency)Crown dependencyEurope
Baker Island (US)Unincorporated unorganized territory (uninhabited)Oceania
Bermuda (UK)Overseas territoryNorth America
Bonaire (Netherlands)Special MunicipalityNorth America/South America
Bouvet Island (Norway)Dependent territory (uninhabited)Antarctica
British Indian Ocean Territory (UK)Overseas territory (uninhabited)Asia
British Virgin Islands (UK)Overseas territoryNorth America
Canary Islands (Spain)Autonomous communityAfrica
Cayman Islands (UK)Overseas territoryNorth America
Ceuta (Spain)Autonomous communityAfrica
Christmas Island (Australia)External territoryAsia/Oceania
Clipperton Island (France)Overseas state private property
Oceania/North America
Cocos (Kneeling Islands) (Australia)External territoryAsia/Oceania
Cook Islands (New Zealand)Self-governing state in free associationOceania
Coral Sea Islands (Australia)External territory (uninhabited)Oceania
Curaçao (Netherlands)Constituent countryNorth America
Easter Island (Chile)Special territoryOceania/South America
Falkland Islands (UK)Overseas territorySouth America
Faroe Islands (Denmark)Self-governing territoryEurope
Federal Dependencies of Venezuela (Venezuela)Federal dependencyNorth America
French Guiana (France)Overseas department and regionSouth America
French Polynesia (France)Overseas collectiveOceania
French Southern and Antarctic Lands (France)Overseas territory
Gibraltar (UK)Overseas territoryEurope
Greenland (Denmark)Self-governing territoryNorth America
Guadeloupe (France)Overseas department and regionNorth America
Guam (US)Unincorporated organized territoryAsia/Oceania
Heard Island and McDonald Islands (Australia)External territory (uninhabited)Oceania
Hong Kong (China)Special administrative regionAsia
Howland Island (US)Unincorporated unorganized territory (uninhabited)Oceania
Isle of Man (UK crown dependency)Crown dependencyEurope
Jarvis Island (US)Unincorporated unorganized territory (uninhabited)Oceania
Johnston Atoll (US)Unincorporated unorganized territory (uninhabited)Oceania/North America
Kingman Reef (US)Unincorporated unorganized territory (uninhabited)Oceania
Kosovo (Serbia)Partially recognized state (approx. 102 U.N. members)Europe
Macau (China)Special administrative regionAsia
Madeira (Portugal)Autonomous regionAfrica
Martinique (France)Overseas department and regionNorth America
Mayotte (France)Overseas department and regionAfrica
Melilla (Spain)Autonomous communityAfrica
Midway Atoll (US)Unincorporated unorganized territory (uninhabited)Oceania/North America
Montserrat (UK)Overseas territoryNorth America
Navassa Island (Haiti/US)Unincorporated unorganized territory (uninhabited)North America
New Caledonia (France)Sui generis collectivityOceania
Niue (New Zealand)Self-governing state in free associationOceania
Norfolk Island (Australia)External territoryOceania
Northern Cyprus (Cyprus)Separatist state recognized by 1 U.N. memberEurope/Asia
Northern Mariana Islands (US)Unincorporated organized territoryAsia/Oceania
Palestine - non-member U.N. observer statePartially recognized state (138 U.N. members)Asia
Palmyra Atoll (US)Insular areaOceania/North America
Pitcairn Islands (UK)Overseas territoryOceania
Plazas de Soberania (Spain)Overseas territoryAfrica
Puerto Rico (US)Unincorporated organized territoryNorth America
Reunion (France)Overseas department and regionAfrica
Saba (Netherlands)Special municipalityNorth America
Saint Barthélemy (France)Overseas collectiveNorth America
Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha (UK)Overseas territoryAfrica
Saint Martin (France)Overseas collectiveNorth America
Saint Pierre and Miquelon (France)Overseas collectiveNorth America
Sint Eustatius (Netherlands)Special municipalityNorth America
Sint Maarten (Netherlands)Constituent countryNorth America
Socotra Archipelago (Yemen)TerritoryAfrica
Somaliland (Not Somalia)Separatist state - not recognizedAfrica
South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands (UK)Overseas territory (uninhabited)South America/Antarctica
South Ossetia (Georgia)Separatist state recognized by 5 U.N. membersAsia
Svalbard (Norway)TerritoryEurope
Taiwan (RoC, claimed by China)Partially recognized state (16 U.N. members)Asia
Tokelau (New Zealand)Dependent TerritoryOceania
Transnistria (Moldova)Separatist stateEurope
Turks and Caicos Islands (UK)Overseas territoryNorth America
United States Virgin Islands (US)Unincorporated organized territoryNorth America
Vatican City/Holy See - non-member observer stateCountryEurope
Wake Island (US)Unincorporated unorganized territory (uninhabited)Oceania
Wallis and Futuna (France)Overseas collectiveOceania
West Papua / Western New Guinea (Indonesia)TerritoryOceania
Western Sahara (Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic) (Morocco)Disputed territory recognized by 44 U.N. membersAfrica

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