The United Kingdom became a charter member of the UN on 24 October 1945; it participates in the ECE, ECLAC, and ESCAP, as well as in all the nonregional specialized agencies. The United Kingdom is a permanent member of the UN Security Council. The United Kingdom is also a member of the Council of Europe, the EU, NATO, and OECD; participates in the African Development Bank and the Asian Development Bank; belongs to many other inter-European, inter-African, inter-Commonwealth, and intergovernmental organizations; and is a member of the WTO. The headquarters of the IMO is in London.
The Commonwealth of Nations, an organization of 49 states, provides a means for consultation and cooperation, especially on economic matters, between the United Kingdom and its former colonies. Its main coordinating organ is the Commonwealth Secretariat, which was established in London in 1965 and is headed by a secretary-general appointed by the heads of the member governments. The heads of governments hold biennial meetings; meetings also are held by diplomatic representatives known as high commissioners and among other ministers, officials, and experts.