The United Nations (UN) was instituted to maintain international peace and security, to formulate friendly relations among different countries and to encourage international cooperation in solving social, economic and humanitarian problems. It is also involved in promotion and encouragement of respect for fundamental freedoms and human rights. It acts as a centre for harmonising the actions of different nations to achieve its aims.
The United Nations Organisation was established in the year 1945. The number of member states in the UN are 193. The headquarters of United Nations is located in New York. The number of official languages of UN are six namely, Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish. The UN Charter provided for six main organs of the UN. They are,
The General Assembly is the important organ of the UN consisting of representatives of all the members-states of the UN. Generally in
September, it holds regular annual session. Each member-state has one single vote and all the members are equally placed, unlike the UN Security
Decisions of General Assembly are taken based on simple majority vote, but in the cases of security, peace, UN budget and election of new UN Security Council members, a two-thirds majority is required.
It is an important organ of the UN dealing with basic responsibility of maintaining the World Peace and Security. It consists of 15 nations as
its members of which 5 are permanent in nature - The US, France, China, The UK and Russia. The remaining 10 members are non-permanent members,
who are elected by a two-thirds majority of the UN General Assembly for a term of 2 years.
Out of these 10 non-permanent seats, 5 seats are allocated to Afro-Asian region, two seats are allocated to Latin America, one seat is allocated to Eastern Europe and the remaining two seats are allotted to Western Europe and others.
The 5 permanent members of the UN Security Council have special voting rights called "Veto" power. Any decision in the UN Security Council can only be taken with the support of at least 9 members that includes 5 permanent members. Thus, no decision can be taken in the Security Council, even if one of the five permanent members votes against the proposal.
Decisions that are taken by the UN Security Council are binding on all the member-states of the UN, since the UN charter provides that the
decisions of the Security Council are made in the name of all the UN members.
The powers of the UN Security Council include, taking decisions to settle disputes among different member-states, approving admission of nations as new members of UN, requisitioning military forces from different member-states for peace-keeping operations, recommending to the General Assembly in the appointment of new Secretary General, etc.
The UN Security Council was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1988 for its role in ensuring World peace by means of conflict resolution.
Economic and Social Council is the Chief Coordinating Agency of the United Nations in the social and economic sectors between the UN and its
specialised institutions. ECOSOC consists of only 54 members. It generally meets two times in a year.
The main activities of ECOSOC include, conducting studies and giving recommendations on educational, social, economic, health and related matters in the world giving special focus to least developed countries.
ECOSOC carries out its activities through 9 functional commissions, 5 regional commissions and different standing committees. The 9 functional commissions were set up to focus on specific areas like status of women, social development, human rights, population and development, etc.
The five regional commissions of ECOSOC are :
The main functions of these commissions are to help in raising the economic activity levels in their respective regions and to strengthen the economic relations among the States and with others.
As per the terms of the UN Charter, there are sixteen specialised agencies, which are autonomous organisations established to deal with specific issues. ECOSOC coordinates between the UN and these agencies and also among the agencies.
|Sl. No.||Name of the Agency||Year of Establishment||Headquarters||Purpose|
|1.||Universal Postal Union (UPU)||1875*/1948||Berne||To improve the world postal services|
|2.||International Labour Organisation (ILO)||1919*/1946||Geneva||To encourage productive employment and to improve labour conditions|
|3.||International Telecommunication Union (ITU)||1934*/1947||Geneva||To promote cooperation in use of telecommunications|
|4.||Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO)||1945*/1946||Rome||To deal with the problems of food and agriculture|
|5.||UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)||1946||Paris||To promote and spread education, knowledge and mutual understanding of people|
|6.||International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD)||1944/1945||Washington D.C.||To mobilise and allocate capital for world economic development and trade|
|7.||International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)||1947||Montreal||To encourage cooperation in air navigation and transport|
|8.||International Monetary Fund (IMF)||1944/1945||Washington D.C.||To promote financial & monetary stability and assist in revival of international trade|
|9.||World Health Organization (WHO)||1947||Geneva||To promote the highest possible levels of health to all people|
|10.||World Meteorological Organization (WMO)||1951||Geneva||To improve the world meteorological activities|
|11.||International Finance Corporation (IFC)||1955*/1957||Washington D.C.||To encourage economic development by helping in the growth of productive private enterprises|
|12.||International Maritime Organization (IMO)||1959||London||To facilitate cooperation in maritime activities|
|13.||International Development Association (IDA)||1961||Washington D.C.||To help in economic development by giving soft loans to the less developed member-states|
|14.||UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO)||1967||Vienna||To encourage industrial development|
|15.||World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)||1970||Geneva||To encourage for protection of intellectual property|
|16.||International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)||1977||Rome||To extend financial assistance to the least developed countries in order to increase production of food|
*(1st mentioned year is the year of its establishment. 2nd mentioned year is the year of becoming Specialised Agency of UN)
The following are the special bodies created by the UN General Assembly and / or ECOSOC to deal with the specific areas of trade and development, environment, research and training, relief and welfare, etc.
|Sl. No.||Name of the Body||Year of Establishment||Headquarters||Objective|
|1.||UN Children's Fund (UNICEF)||1946||New York||To assist the Least Developed Countries by providing child healthcare services|
|2.||UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)||1951||Geneva||To render relief and rehabilitation to the refugees|
|3.||World Food Programme (WFP)||1963||Rome||To furnish aid in the form of food for social and economic development projects and also for relief operations during the natural disasters|
|4.||UN Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR)||1963||Geneva||To render training to the UN personnel and to the officials of countries dealing with UN schemes|
|5.||UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)||1964||Geneva||To encourage international trade|
|6.||UN Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD)||1964||Geneva||To carry on research on matters related to social development|
|7.||UN Development Programme (UNDP)||1965||New York||To assist Least Developed Countries in their socio-economic development|
|8.||UN Population Fund (UNFPA)||1967||New York||To promote population related programmes|
|9.||UN Environment Programme (UNEP)||1972||Nairobi||To facilitate international cooperation in matters that affect the human environment|
|10.||UN University (UNU)||1972||Tokyo||To conduct training and research on development welfare and human survival|
|11.||UN International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (UN-INSTRAW)||1976||Santo Domingo||To assist in integrating women into development process|
|12.||UN Centre for Human Settlements (UNCHS)||1978||Nairobi||To render technical assistance to human settlement and planning schemes of the Governments|
|13.||UN Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR)||1980||Geneva||To conduct research in fields related to disarmament|
|14.||University for Peace (UPeace)||1980||San Jose, Costa Rica||To conduct research on all matters that affect peace of the world|
|15.||UN International Drug Control Programme (UNDCP)||1991||Vienna||To tackle drug trafficking and drug abuse. It was later converted as United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in 1997|