What are the roots of Quaker work for the United Nations?

William Penn on the need for a European Diet

William Penn (1644 - 1718), the son of an English admiral, joined the Society of Friends and, after imprisonment for his beliefs, founded Pennsylvania in 1682 as a colony with full religious toleration.

"Now, if the sovereign princes of Europe, who represent that society, or independent state of man that was previous to the obligations of society, would, for the same reason that engaged men first into society, viz., love of peace and order, agree to meet by their stated deputies in a general diet, estates or parliament, and there establish rules of justice for sovereign princes to observe one to another; and thus to meet yearly... before which sovereign assembly shall be brought all differences depending between one sovereign and another that cannot be made up of private embassies before the sessions begin."

- William Penn, "An Essay towards the Present and Future Peace of Europe by the Establishment of an European Diet, Parliament or Estates," 1693, in The Peace of Europe, the Fruits of Solitude and Other Writings, by William Penn. London & Toronto: J.M. Dent & Sons, 1915, pp. 7-8. .

John Bellers on the need for a Congress of European States

John Bellers (1654 - 1725), a Quaker economist, proposed the establishment of "Colleges of Industry" for skilled tradespeople to teach their trades to the unemployed. He was a member of the Meeting for Sufferings of London Yearly Meeting and of the Royal Society.

"That at the next General Peace, there should be settled an Universal Guarantee and An Annual Congress, Senate, Dyet, or Parliament, by all the Princes and States of Europe, as well as Enemies, as Neuters, joyned as one State, with a renouncing of all Claims upon each other, with such other Articles of Agreement as may be needful for a standing European Law; the more Amicably to Debate and the better to Explain any obscure Articles in the Peace, and to prevent any Dispute that might otherwise raise a New War..."

- John Bellers, "Some Reasons for A European State" 1710, in John Bellers: Quaker, Economist and Social Reformer, by A. Ruth Fry, London: Cassell and Company, 1935, p. 92 and 103.

1920s: Carl Heath helps to create "Quaker Embassies" in Berlin, Vienna, Geneva

-Carl Heath's 1917 pamphlet, "Quaker Embassies", led to the establishment of Quaker Embassies in Berlin, Vienna, Paris and Geneva in the 1920s and 1930s, and for a shorter time, in Moscow, Shanghai. and elsewhere.

1947: AFSC and Friends Service Council (U.K.) win the Nobel Peace Prize

The awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize. to American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) and to Friends Service Council (U.K.) in 1947 provided the world recognition which allowed the establishment of the Quaker United Nations Offices that same year. Henry J. Cadbury accepted for AFSC and Margaret A. Backhouse for FSC.