United Nations is an international organization established on 24th October 1945. The United Nations was the second multipurpose international organization established in the 20th century that was worldwide in scope and membership. Its predecessor, The League of Nations, was created by The Treaty of Versailles in 1919 and disbanded in 1946.
Headquartered in New York City, the UN also has offices in Geneva, Vienna, and other cities. Its official languages are Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish. For a list of UN member countries and secretaries-general, see below.
According to its Charter, the UN aims: to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, and to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom.
In addition to maintaining peace and security, other important objectives include developing friendly relations among countries based on respect for the principles of equal rights and self-determination of peoples; achieving worldwide cooperation to solve international economic, social, cultural, and humanitarian problems, respecting and promoting human rights, and serving as a centre where countries can coordinate their actions and activities toward these various ends.
The UN formed a continuum with The League of Nations in general purpose, structure, and functions; many of the UN’s principal organs and related agencies were adopted from similar structures established earlier in the century. In some respects, however, the UN constituted a very different organization, especially with regard to its objective of maintaining international peace and security and its commitment to economic and social development.
Changes in the nature of international relations resulted in modifications in the responsibilities of the UN and its decision-making apparatus. Cold War tensions between The United States and The Soviet Union deeply affected the UN’s security functions during its first 45 years. Extensive post-World War II decolonization in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East increased the volume and nature of political, economic, and social issues that confronted the organization. The Cold War’s end in 1991 brought renewed attention and appeals to The UN.
Amid an increasingly volatile geopolitical climate, there ware new challenges to established practices and functions, especially in the areas of conflict resolution and humanitarian assistance. At the beginning of the 21s: century, The UN and its programs and affiliated agencies struggled to address humanitarian crises and civil wars, unprecedented refugee flows, the devastation caused by the spread of AIDS, global financial disruptions, international terrorism, and the disparities in wealth between the world’s richest and poorest peoples.
Organization and Administration [ United Nations ]
Principal Organs: The United Nations has six principal organs: The General Assembly, The Security Council, The Economic and Social Council, The Trusteeship Council, The International Court of Justice, and The Secretariat.
General Assembly [ United Nations ]
The only body in which all ON members represented, The General Assembly exercises deliberative, supervisory, financial, and elective functions relating to any matter within the scope of the UN Charter. Its primary role, however, is to discuss issues and make recommendations, though it has no power to enforce its resolutions or to compel state action. Other functions include admitting new members: selecting members of The Economic and Social Council, the nonpermanent members of the Security Council, and the Trusteeship Council; supervising the activities of the other UN organs, from which the Assembly receives reports; and participating in the election of judges to The International Court of Justice and the selection of the secretary-general.
Decisions usually are reached by a simple majority vote. On important questions, however such as the admission of new members, budgetary matters, and peace and security issues, a two-thirds majority is required.
The Assembly convenes annually and in special sessions, electing a new president each year from among five regional groups of states. At the beginning of each regular session, The Assembly also holds a general debate, in which all members may participate and raise any issue of international concern. Most work, however, delegated to six main committees:
- Disarmament and International Security
- Economic and Financial
- Social, Humanitarian, and Cultural
- Special Political and Decolonization
- Administrative and Budgetary, and
The General Assembly has debated issues that other organs of the UN have either overlooked or avoided, including decolonization, the independence of Namibia, apartheid in South Africa, terrorism, and The AIDS epidemic. The number of resolutions passed by The Assembly each year climbed to more than 350, and many resolutions are adopted without opposition. Nevertheless, there have been sharp disagreements among members on several issues, such as those relating to The Cold War, The Arab-Israeli conflict, and human rights.
The General Assembly has drawn public attention to major issues, thereby forcing member governments to develop positions on them, and it has helped to organize ad hoc bodies and conferences to deal with important global problems.
The large size of the Assembly and the diversity of the issues it discusses contributed to the emergence of regionally based voting blocs in the 1960s. During The Cold War, the Soviet Union and The Countries of Eastern Europe formed one of the most cohesive blocs, and another bloc comprised The United States and its Western allies. The admission of new countries of The Southern Hemisphere in the 1960s and ’70s and the dissipation of Cold War tensions after 1989 contributed to the formation of blocs based on “North-South” economic issues i.e., issues of disagreement between the more prosperous, industrialized countries of the Northern Hemisphere and the poorer, less industrialized developing countries of the Southern Hemisphere.
Other issues have been incorporated into The North-South divide, including Northern economic and political domination, economic development, the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and support for Israel.
Security Council United Nations
The UN Charter assigns to The Security Council, the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. The Security Council originally consisted of 11 members five permanent and six nonpermanent elected by The General Assembly for two-year terms. From the beginning, nonpermanent members of the Security Council were elected to give representation to certain regions or groups of states. As membership increased, however, this practice ran into difficulty.
An amendment to The UN Charter in 1965 increased the council’s membership to 15, including the original five permanent members plus 10 nonpermanent members. Among the permanent members, The People’s Republic of China replaced The Republic of China (Taiwan) in 1971, and The Russian Federation succeeded the Soviet Union in 1991. After the unification of Germany, the debate over the council’s composition arose again. And Germany, India, and Japan each applied for permanent council seats.
The nonpermanent members are chosen to achieve equitable regional representation, five members coming from Africa or Asia, one from eastern Europe, two from Latin America, and two from western Europe or other areas. Five of the 10 nonpermanent members are elected each year by The General Assembly for two-year terms, and five retire each year. The presidency is held by each member in rotation for a period of one month.
Each Security Council member is entitled to one vote. On all “procedural” matters the definition of which is sometimes in dispute decisions by the council are made by an affirmative vote of any nine of its members. Substantive matters, such as the investigation of a dispute or the application of sanctions, also require nine affirmative votes, including those of the five permanent members holding veto power. In practice, however, a permanent member may abstain without impairing the validity of the decision. A vote on whether a matter is procedural or substantive is itself a substantive question. Because The Security Council is required to function continuously, each member is represented at all times at the UN’s headquarters in New York City.
Any country even if it is not a member of The UN may bring a dispute to which it is a party to the attention of The Security Council. When there is a complaint, the council first explores the possibility of a peaceful resolution. International peacekeeping forces may authorize to keep warring parties apart pending further negotiations. If the council finds that there is a real threat to the peace, a breach of the peace, or an act of aggression (as defined by Article 39 of the UN Charter), it may call upon UN members to apply diplomatic or economic sanctions. If these methods prove inadequate. The UN Charter allows the Security Council to take military action against the offending country.
During The Cold War,
continual disagreement between The United States and The Soviet Union, coupled mtn the veto Power of The Security Council’s permanent members, made The Security Council an ineffective institution. Since the late 1980s, however, the council’s power and prestige have grown. Between 1987 and 2000 it authorized more peacekeeping operations than at any previous time.
The use of the veto has declined dramatically, though disagreements among permanent members of The Security Council most notably in 2003 over the use of military force against Iraq have occasionally undermined the council’s effectiveness. To achieve consensus, comparatively informal meetings are held in private among the council’s permanent members. A practice that has criticized by nonpermanent members of The Security Council.
In addition to several standing and ad hoc committees, the work of the council facilitated by The Military Staff Committee, sanctions committees for each of the countries under sanctions, peacekeeping forces committees. And an international Tribunals Committee.
Economic and Social Council United Nations
Designed to be The UN’s main venue for the discussion of international economic and social issues, The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) directs and coordinates the economic, social, humanitarian, and cultural activities of The UN and its specialized agencies. Established by the UN Charter, ECOSOC is empowered to recommend international action on economic and social issues. Promote universal respect for human rights; and work for global cooperation on health, education, and cultural and related areas.
ECOSOC conducts studies; formulates resolutions, recommendations, and conventions for consideration by The General Assembly. And coordinates the activities of various UN programs and specialized agencies. Most of ECOSOC’s work is performed in functional commissions on topics such as human rights, narcotics, population, social development, statistics, the status of women, and science and technology.; the council also oversees regional commissions for Europe, Asia and The Pacific, Western Asia, Latin America, and Africa,
Trusteeship Council United Nations
The Trusteeship Council was designed to supervise the government of trust territories and to lead them to self-government or independence. The trusteeship system, like the mandate system under the League of Nations, established on the premise that colonial territories taken from countries defeated in war should not annex by the victorious powers but should administer by a trusted country under international supervision until their future status determined. Unlike the mandate system, the trusteeship system invited petitions from trust territories on their independence. And required periodic international missions to the territories.
In 1945 only 12 League of Nations mandates remained: Nauru, New Guinea, Ruanda-Urundi, Togoland and Cameroon (French administered), Togoland and Cameroon (British administered), The Pacific Islands (Carolines, Marshalls, and Marianas), Western Samoa, South West Africa, Tanganyika, and Palestine.
All these mandates became trust territories except South West Africa (now Namibia), which South Africa refused to enter into the trusteeship system. The Trusteeship Council, which met once each year, consisted of states administering trust territories, permanent members of The Security Council that did not administer trust territories, and other UN members elected by The General Assembly.
Each member had one vote, and decisions taken by a simple majority of those present. With the independence of Palau, the last remaining trust territory, in 1994 the council terminated its operations. No longer required to meet annually, the council may meet on the decision of it’s President or on a request by a majority of its members, by The General Assembly, or by The Security Council. Since 1994 new roles for the council have been proposed, including administering the global commons (e.g., the seabed and outer space) and serving as a forum for minority and indigenous peoples.
International Court of Justice United Nations
The International Court of Justice, commonly known as The World Court, is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, though the court’s origins predate the League of Nations. The idea for the creation of an international court to arbitrate international disputes arose during an international conference held at The Hague in 1899. This institution subsumed under the League of Nations in 1919 as The Permanent Court of International Justice (PCIJ). And adopted it’s present name with the founding of The UN in 1945.
The court’s decisions binding and its broad jurisdiction encompasses “all cases which the parties refer to and all matters specially provided for in The Charter of The United Nations or in treaties and conventions in force. “Most importantly, states may not parties to a dispute without their consent, though they may accept the compulsory
jurisdiction of the court in specified categories of disputes. The court may give advisory opinions at the request of The General Assembly. Or The Security Council or at the request of other organs. And specialized agencies authorized by The General Assembly. Although the court has successfully arbitrated some cases (e.g., the border dispute between Honduras and El Salvador in 1992), governments have reluctant to submit sensitive issues, thereby limiting the court’s ability to resolve threats to international peace and security.
At times countries also have refused to acknowledge the jurisdiction or the findings of the court. For example, when Nicaragua sued The United States in the court in 1984 for mining its harbors. The court found in favor of Nicaragua, but The United States refused to accept the court’s decision.
The 15 judges of the court are elected by The General Assembly and The Security Council voting independently. No two judges may be nationals of the same state. And the judges are to represent a cross-section of the major legal systems of the world. Judges serve nine-year terms and are eligible for reelection. The seat of the World Court in The Hague.
Secretariat United Nations
The secretary-general, the principal administrative officer of The United Nations, elected for a five-year renewable term by a two-thirds vote of the General Assembly. And by the recommendation of The Security Council and the approval of it’s permanent members. Secretaries-general usually have come from small, neutral countries. The secretary-general serves as the chief administrative officer at all meetings. And carries out any functions that those organs entrust to The Secretariat; he also oversees the preparation of the UN’s budget.
The secretary-general has important political functions charged with bringing before the organization any matter that threatens international peace and security. Both the chief spokesperson for the UN and the UN’s most visible. And authoritative figure in world affairs, the secretary-general often serves as a high-level negotiator. Attesting to the importance of the post, two secretaries-general have awarded the Nobel Prize for Peac. Dag Hammarskjold in 1961 and Kofi Annan, co-recipient with The UN, in 2001.
The Secretariat influences the work of the United Nations to a much greater degree than indicated in The UN Charter. It is responsible for preparing numerous reports, studies, and investigations. In addition to the major tasks of translating interpreting, providing services for large numbers of meetings, and other work.
Under the Charter, the staff is to recruited mainly on the basis of merit. Though there has been a conscious effort to recruit individuals from different geographic regions. Some members of The Secretariat engaged on permanent contracts, but others serve on temporary assignment from their national governments. In both cases, they must take an oath of loyalty to The United Nations. And not permitted to receive instructions from member governments. The influence of the Secretariat can attribute to the fact that some 9,000 people on its staff are permanent experts. And international civil servants rather I than political appointees of member states.
The Secretariat is based in New York, Geneva, Vienna, Nairobi (Kenya), and other locales. It has been criticized frequently for poor administrative practices. Though it has made persistent efforts to increase the efficiency of is operations as well as for a lack of neutrality.
Subsidiary Organs United Nations
The United Nations network also includes subsidiary organs created by The General Assembly and autonomous specialized agencies. The subsidiary organs report to the General Assembly or ECOSOC or both. Some of these organs are funded directly by the UN. Others are financed by the voluntary contributions of governments or private citizens. In Addition, ECOSOC has consultative relationships with NGOs operating in economic, social, cultural, educational, health, and related fields. NGOs have played an increasingly important role in the work of the UN’s specialized agencies, especially in the areas of health, peacekeeping, refugee issues, and human rights.
Specialized Agencies United Nations
The specialized agencies report annually to ECOSOC and often cooperate with each other and with various UN organs. However, they also have their own principles, goals, and rules. Which at times may conflict with those of other UN organs and agencies. The specialized agencies autonomous in so far as they control their own budgets. And have their own boards of directors, who appoint agency heads independently of the General Assembly or secretary-general. Major specialized agencies and related organs of the UN include the International Labour Organization (ILO).
The Food and Agriculture Organization of The United Nations (FAO), The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and The World Health Organization (WHO). Two of the most powerful specialized agencies, which also are the most independent with respect to UN decision making. The World Bank and The International Monetary Fund (IMF). The United Nations, along with its specialized agencies, is often referred to collectively as The United Nations system.
Functions United Nations
Maintenance of international peace and security: The main function of The United Nations is to preserve international peace and security. Chapter 6 of The Charter provides for the pacific settlement of disputes, through the intervention of The Security Council, by means such as negotiation, mediation, arbitration, and judicial decisions. The Security Council may investigate any dispute or situation to determine. Whether it is likely to endanger international peace and security. At any stage of the dispute, the council may recommend appropriate procedures or methods of adjustment. And, if the parties fail to settle the dispute by peaceful means, the council may recommend terms of the settlement.
Peacekeeping, peacemaking, and peacebuilding: International armed forces were first used in 1948 to observe cease-fires in Kashmir and Palestine. Although not specifically mentioned in The UN Charter. The use of such forces as a buffer between warring parties pending troop withdrawals. And negotiations a practice known as peacekeeping formalized. In 1956 during the Suez Crisis between Egypt, Israel, France, and The United Kingdom. Peacekeeping missions have taken many forms. Though they have in common the fact that they designed to be peaceful. That they involve military s from several countries. And that the troops serve under the authority of The UN Security Council. In 1988 the UN Peacekeeping Forces awarded The Nobel Prize for Peace.
Sanctions and Military Action
By subscribing to the Charter, all members undertake to place, at the disposal of the Security Council, armed forces and facilities for military sanctions against aggressors or disturbers of the peace. During the Cold War, however, no agreements to give this measure effect concluded. Following the end of the Cold War, the possibility of creating permanent UN forces revived.
Arms Control and Disarmament
The UN’s founders hoped that the maintenance of international peace. And security would lead to the control and eventual reduction of weapons. Therefore the Charter empowers the General Assembly to consider principles for arms control and disarmament. And to make recommendations to member states and the Security Council. The Charter also gives The Security Council the responsibility to formulate plans for arms control and disarmament. Although the goal of arms control and disarmament has proved elusive. The UN has facilitated the negotiation of several multilateral arms control treaties.
Economic Welfare and Cooperation
The General Assembly, ECOSOC, The Secretariat, and many of the subsidiary eirgans. And specialized agencies are responsible for promoting economic welfare. And cooperation in areas such as postwar reconstruction, technical assistance, and trade and development.
The devastation of large areas of the world and the disruption of economic relations during World War 2 resulted in the establishment (before the UN founded) of The United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) in 1943. The UNRRA succeeded by The International Refugee Organization, which operated from 1947 to 1951. To assist in dealing with regional problems, in 1947 ECOSOC established The Economic Commission for Europe. And The Economic Commission for Asia and work of Far East.
Similar commissions established for Latin America In 1948 and for Africa in 1958. The major work of economic reconstruction, however, delegated to the International Bank for Reconstruction. And Development (World Bank) one of the major financial institutions created in 1944 at The UN Monetary. And Financial Conference (commonly known as the Bretton Woods Conference). Although the World Bank formally autonomous from the UN. It reports to ECOSOC as one of the UN’s Specialized agencies. The World Bank works closely with donor countries, UN programs, and other specialized agencies.
Financing Economic Development United Nations
The World Bank is also primarily responsible for financing economic development.
In 1956 The International Finance Corporation created as an arm of The World Bank specifically to stimulate private investment flows. The corporation has the authority to make direct loans to private enterprises without government guarantees. And allowed to make loans for other than fixed returns. In 1960 The International Development Association (IDA) established to make loans to less-developed countries on terms that more flexible than bank loans. The UN itself has played a more limited role in financing economic development.
The General Assembly provides direction and supervision for economic activities, and ECOSOC coordinates different agencies and programs. UN development efforts have consisted of two primary activities. First, several regional commissions promote regional approaches to development. And undertake studies and development initiatives for regional economic projects.
UN-sponsored technical assistance programs, funded from 1965 through The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), provide systematic assistance in fields essential to the technical, economic, and social development of less-developed countries. Resident representatives of The UNDP in recipient countries assess local needs. And priorities and administer UN development programs.
Trade and Development: After the massive decolonization of the 1950s and early 1960s. At that time, less-developed countries became much more numerous, organized, and powerful in The General Assembly. And they began to create organs to address the problems of development and diversification in developing economies. Because of the international trading system and The General Agreements on Tariffs. And Trade dealt primarily with the promotion of trade between advanced industrialized countries.
In 1964 United Nations
The General Assembly established The United Nations Conference on Trade. And Development (UNCTAD) to address issues of concern to developing countries. Toward that end, UNCTAD and the Group of 77 less-developed countries that promoted its establishment tried to codify principles of international trade. And arrange agreements to stabilize commodity prices.
Social Welfare and Cooperation: The United Nations concerned with issues of human rights, including the rights of women and children, refugee resettlement, and narcotics control. Some of its greatest successes have been in the area of improving the health and welfare of the world’s population. In the 1990s, despite severe strains on the resources of UN development programs. And agencies resulting from massive refugee movements and humanitarian crises. The UN increased its emphasis on social development.-