The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization established on 24 October 1945 to promote international cooperation. It was founded to replace the League of Nations following World War II and to prevent another conflict. When it was founded, the UN had 51 Member States; there are now 193. Most nations are members of the UN and send diplomats to the headquarters to hold meetings and make decisions about global issues.
The UN system is based on five principal organs:
The General Assembly,
The Security Council,
The International Court of Justice.
The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC),
A sixth principal organ, the Trusteeship Council, suspended operations in 1994
Four of the five principal organs are located at the main UN Headquarters in New York City. The International Court of Justice is located in The Hague, while other major agencies are based in the UN offices at Geneva, Vienna, and Nairobi. Other UN institutions are located throughout the world. The six official languages of the UN, used in intergovernmental meetings and documents, are Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish.
- The General Assembly
The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA or GA) is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations (UN), the only one in which all member nations have equal representation, and the main deliberative, policy-making and representative organ of the UN. Its powers are to oversee the budget of the UN, appoint the non-permanent members to the Security Council, receive reports from other parts of the UN and make recommendations in the form of General Assembly Resolutions. It has also established numerous subsidiary organs. Its current President is Peter Thomson.
- The Secretariat
The Secretariat is the United Nations’ executive arm. The Secretariat has an important role in setting the agenda for the UN’s deliberative and decision making bodies of the UN (the General Assembly, Economic and Social Council, and Security Council), and the implementation of the decision of these bodies. The Secretary-General, who is appointed by the General Assembly, is the head of the secretariat. Present Sectary General is Antonio Guterres from Portugal.
- The International Court of Justice
The International Court of commonly referred to as the World Court, ICJ or The Hague) is the primary judicial branch of the United Nations (UN). Seated in the Peace Palace in The Hague, Netherlands, the court settles legal disputes submitted to it by states and provides advisory opinions on legal questions submitted to it by duly authorized international branches, agencies, and the UN General Assembly.
The ICJ is composed of fifteen judges elected to nine-year terms by the UN General Assembly and the UN Security Council from a list of people nominated by the national groups in the Permanent Court of Arbitration.
- The Security Council
It has charged with the maintenance of international peace and security as well as accepting new members to the United Nations and approving any changes to its United Nations Charter. Its powers include the establishment of peacekeeping operations, the establishment of international sanctions, and the authorization of military action through Security Council resolutions; it is the only UN body with the authority to issue binding resolutions to member states. The Security Council held its first session on 17 January 1946.
The Security Council consists of fifteen members. The great powers that were the victors of World War II—the Soviet Union (now represented by the Russian Federation), the United Kingdom, France, Republic of China (now represented by the People’s Republic of China), and the United States—serve as the body’s five permanent members. These permanent members can veto any substantive Security Council resolution, including those on the admission of new member states or candidates for Secretary-General. The Security Council also has 10 non-permanent members, elected on a regional basis to serve two-year terms. The body’s presidency rotates monthly among its members. Security Council resolutions are typically enforced by UN peacekeepers, military forces voluntarily provided by member states and funded independently of the main UN budget. Present President is Tekeda Alemu.
- The Economic and Social Council(ECOSOC)
The United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations, responsible for coordinating the economic, social, and related work of 15 UN specialised agencies, their functional commissions and five regional commissions. The ECOSOC has 54 members. It holds one four-week session each year in July, and since 1998, it has also held an annual meeting in April with finance ministers heading key committees of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
United Nation specialized agencies
The UN specialized agencies are autonomous organizations working with the United Nations. All were brought into relationship with the UN through negotiated agreements. Some existed before the First World War. Some were associated with the League of Nations. Others were created almost simultaneously with the UN. Others were created by the UN to meet emerging needs.
WORLD BANK (WB)
The World Bank focuses on poverty reduction and the improvement of living standards worldwide by providing low-interest loans, interest-free credit, and grants to developing countries for education, health, infrastructure, and communications, among other things. The World Bank works in over 100 countries through:
World Bank Group
• International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD)
• International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID)
• International Development Association (IDA)
• International Finance Corporation (IFC)
• Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA)
INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND (IMF)
- Created in 1945, it is an organization of 189 countries, working to foster global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth and reduce poverty around the world.
- It does so by providing temporary financial assistance to countries to help ease balance of payments adjustment and technical assistance. The IMF currently has $28 billion in outstanding loans to 74 nations.
WORLD HEALTH ORGANISATION (WHO)
- WHO began its work on April 7, 1948, the day we celebrate every year as World Health Day. Its goal is to build a better, healthier future for people all over the world. Working through offices in more than 150 countries.
- WHO staffs work side by side with governments and other partners to ensure the highest attainable level of health for all people.
- It also helps mothers and children survive and thrive so they can look forward to a healthy old age.
- WHO ensures the safety of the air people breathe, the food they eat, the water they drink and the medicines and vaccines they need.
UNITED NATIONS EDUCATIONAL, SCIENTIFIC AND CULTURAL ORGANIZATOIN (UNESCO)
- Founded on Nov 1945, having 195 members and eight associate members, governed by the General Conference and the Executive Board focuses on everything from teacher training to helping improve education worldwide to protecting important historical and cultural sites around the world.
- It added about 28 new World Heritage Sites this year to the list of irreplaceable treasures that will be protected for today’s travelers and future generations.
- Headquarter is in Paris, France known as the heart of Paris.
- Thus UNESCO’s unique competencies in education, the sciences, culture and communication and information contribute towards the realization of those goals.
- UNESCO is also a member of the United Nations Development Group and works for Millennium Development Goals.
INTERNATIONAL LABOUR ORGANISATION (ILO)
- Headquartered at Geneva, Switzerland, the ILO promotes international labor rights by formulating international standards on the freedom to associate, collective bargaining, the abolition of forced labor, and equality of opportunity and treatment.
- The ILO has 187 member states: 186 of the 193 UN member states plus the Cook Islands are members of the ILO.
- In 1969, the organization received the Nobel Peace Prize for improving peace among classes, pursuing decent work and justice for workers, and providing technical assistance to other developing nations.
- The Governing Body decides the agenda of the International Labour Conference, adopts the draft program and budget of the organization for submission to the conference, elects the director-general, requests information from member states concerning labour matters, appoints commissions of inquiry and supervises the work of the International Labour Office.
FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATION (FAO)
- Headquartered at Rome Italy, the FAO leads international efforts to defeat hunger. It is both a forum for negotiating agreements between developing and developed countries and a source of technical knowledge and information to aid development.
- Formed on Oct 16, 1945, presently having 194 members along with EU (a member organization) and the Faroe Island and Tokelau which are associate members.
THE INTERNATIONAL FUND FOR AGRICULTURAL DEVELOPMENT (IFAD)
- The IFAD, since it was created in 1977, has focused exclusively on rural poverty reduction, working with poor rural populations in developing countries to eliminate poverty, hunger and malnutrition; raise their productivity and incomes; and improve the quality of their lives.
- Headquartered in Rome, Italy, it has 176 members including 174 UN member states along with the Cook Island and Niue.
INTERNATIONAL MARITIME ORGANIZATION (IMO)
- Also known as Inter-Governmental Maritime Consultative Organization (IMCO), the IMO has created a comprehensive shipping regulatory framework, addressing safety and environmental concerns, legal matters, technical cooperation, security, and efficiency.
- The IMO was established in Geneva in 1948 and came into force ten years later, meeting for the first time in 1959, Headquartered in London, United Kingdom, the IMO has 172 Member States and three Associate Members.
- IMO is governed by an assembly of members and is financially administered by a council of members elected from the assembly.
WORLD METEOROLOGICAL ORGANIZATION (WMO)
- Founded in 1873 as International Meteorological Organisation, Established in 1950 headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, it has 191 members.
- The WMO facilitates the free international exchange of meteorological data and information and the furtherance of its use in aviation, shipping, security, and agriculture, among other things.
WORLD INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY ORGANIZATION (WIPO)
- The WIPO protects intellectual property throughout the world through 23 international treaties.
- Created in 1967, currently having 189 member states 186 of the UN Members as well as the Cook Islands, Holy See and Niue are Members of WIPO. Non-members are the states of Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Solomon Islands, South Sudan and East Timor. The Palestinians have observer status and its headquartered is in Geneva, Switzerland.
INTERNATIONAL CIVILIAN AVIATION ORGANIZATION (ICAO)
- The ICAO is a UN specialized agency, established by States in 1944 to manage the administration and governance of the Convention on International Civil Aviation (Chicago Convention), headquartered in Montreal Canada.
- ICAO works with the Convention’s 191 Member States and industry groups to reach consensus on international civil aviation Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) and policies in support of a safe, efficient, secure, economically sustainable and environmentally responsible civil aviation sector.
INTERNATIONAL TELECOMMUNICATION UNION (ITU)
- The ITU is the United Nations specialized agency for information and communication technologies.
- It is committed to connecting the entire world’s people – wherever they live and whatever their means. Through its work, it protects and supports everyone’s fundamental right to communicate
- An organization based on public-private partnership since its inception, ITU currently has a membership of 193 countries and almost 800 private-sector entities and academic institutions. ITU is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, and has twelve regional and area offices around the world.
UNITED NATIONS INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT ORGANIZATION (UNIDO)
- Headquartered in Vienna, Austria, the UNIDO is the specialized agency of the United Nations that promotes industrial development for poverty reduction, inclusive globalization and environmental sustainability.
- Formed in 1966 with the mission described in the Lima Declaration adopted at the fifteenth session of the UNIDO General Conference in 2013, is to promote and accelerate Inclusive and Sustainable Industrial Development (ISID) in developing countries and economies in transition.
UNIVERSAL POSTAL UNION (UPO)
- It is the primary forum for cooperation between postal sector players. It helps to ensure a truly universal network of up-to-date products and services.
- Headquartered in Bern, Switzerland, Formed on October 9, 1874 contains four bodies consisting of the Congress, the Council of Administration, the Postal Operation Council and the International bureau.
- It also oversees the Telematics and EMS cooperatives. Each member agrees to the same terms for conducting international postal duties.
• The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS is co-sponsored by 10 UN system agencies: UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP, UNDP, UNFPA, UNODC, the ILO, UNESCO, WHO and the World Bank and has ten goals related to stopping and reversing the spread of HIV/AIDS.
• The United Nations Office for Disaster Reduction serves as the focal point in the United Nations system for the coordination of disaster reduction.
• The United Nations Office for Project Services is an operational arm of the United Nations, supporting the successful implementation of its partners’ peace building, humanitarian and development projects around the world.
• The International Atomic Energy Agency is the world’s centre for cooperation in the nuclear field. The Agency works with its Member States and multiple partners worldwide to promote the safe, secure and peaceful use of nuclear technologies.
• The World Trade Organization is a forum for governments to negotiate trade agreements, and a place where member governments try to sort out the trade problems they face with each other.
• The Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization promotes the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (which is not yet in force) and the build-up of the verification regime so that it is operational when the Treaty enters into force.
• The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons is the implementing body of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), which entered into force in 1997. OPCW Member States work together to achieve a world free of chemical weapons.
• The International Organization for Migration works to help ensure the orderly and humane management of migration, to promote international cooperation on migration issues, to assist in the search for practical solutions to migration problems and to provide humanitarian assistance to migrants in need, including refugees and internally displaced people.
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