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United Nations, Foundation, Principal Organs, Members

United Nations

United Nations is a  multinational organisation called the United Nations (UN) was established in 1945. There are currently 193 Member States in it. Its numerous organs and specialised agencies carry out its mission and operate in accordance with the goals and principles outlined in its founding Charter. Its responsibilities include upholding international law, maintaining global peace and security, and defending human rights, as well as providing humanitarian assistance and promoting sustainable development. 

United Nations Foundation

In 1899, the International Peace Conference met in The Hague to devise strategies for peaceful conflict resolution, averting war, and codifying war laws. It established the Permanent Court of Arbitration, which began operations in 1902, and adopted the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes. The UN International Court of Justice had its antecedent in this court.

The League of Nations, established in 1919 as part of the Treaty of Versailles “to promote international cooperation and to achieve peace and security,” was the predecessor to the United Nations. It was created in the context of World War I. In addition, the Treaty of Versailles established the International Labor Organization (ILO) as a League affiliate organisation in 1919.

The term “United Nations” was coined by United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt. In 1942, 26 countries agreed to continue fighting against the Axis Powers (the Rome-Berlin-Tokyo Axis) by signing The Declaration by the United Nations, which prohibited them from negotiating their own peace terms.

The United Nations Charter was signed in 1945 at the United Nations Conference on International Organization in San Francisco, California. The 1945 UN Charter established the United Nations as an intergovernmental body. António Guterres, the United Nations’ ninth Secretary-General, took office on January 1, 2017.

United Nations Day 

United Nations Day (October 24) commemorates the United Nations Charter’s entry into force in 1945. The UN General Assembly declared on October 31, 1947, by resolution that the Day would be dedicated to raising awareness of the Organization’s goals and achievements and gaining support for its work.

United Nations Logo 

A world map on a polar azimuthally equidistant projection is surrounded by two olive branches in the new emblem. These two symbols are self-explanatory: the olive branch represents peace, and the world map represents the Organization’s efforts to achieve global peace. Oliver Lincoln Lundquist (September 20, 1916 – December 28, 2008) was an American architect and industrial designer best known for creating the United Nations logo.

United Nations Functions

The organization’s goals, as stated in the Charter, are preserving world peace and security, defending human rights, providing humanitarian help, fostering sustainable development, and upholding international law. The United Nations initially had 51 members; by 2011, this number had increased to 193, reflecting the great majority of independent states in the world.

Principal Organs of the United Nations

The Principal Organs of the United Nations are:

S. No. Name of the Organs
1. United Nations General Assembly
2. United Nations Security Council
3. United Nations Economic and Social Council
4. United Nations Trusteeship Council
5. United Nations International Court of Justice
6. UN Secretariat

United Nations General Assembly

The General Assembly is the UN’s primary decision-making, policy-making, and representative body. Because it is made up of representatives from each of the 193 UN Member States, the General Assembly is the only UN body with universal representation. The whole UN membership convenes annually in September for the annual General Assembly session and general debate at the General Assembly Hall in New York, to which many heads of state are invited and participate.

A two-thirds majority of the General Assembly is necessary to decide on crucial issues like budgetary matters, admission of new members, and questions of peace and security. Some decisions are made by a simple majority. Each year, the General Assembly elects a president to hold office for a term of one year. Csaba Korosi is the Incumbent  president of UNGA

United Nations Security Council

In accordance with the UN Charter, it is in charge of maintaining global peace and security. The Security Council is made up of fifteen member states: ten non-permanent members chosen for two-year terms by the General Assembly on a regional basis, and five permanent members. China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States are all represented.

The term “veto power” refers to the ability of any permanent member to veto (reject) any Security Council resolution. The absolute veto power of the five states has been criticised as the UN’s least democratic feature. The primary reason for the international delay on war crimes and crimes against humanity, according to critics, is the veto power. The United States, however, resisted joining the UN in 1945 unless it was granted a veto. The League of Nations was ineffective in part because the United States was not a member. The veto is seen as a crucial bulwark against American dominance, a check against military incursions, and a supporter of global stability.

UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)

It serves as the main organisation for coordination, policy evaluation, policy discourse, and recommendations on issues relating to the economy, society, and the environment. It also oversees the execution of internationally recognised development objectives. The General Assembly chose its 54 members for consecutive three-year mandates. It serves as the main forum for reflection, discussion, and creative thinking on sustainable development at the UN. 

The work of ECOSOC is organised around a yearly subject that has global significance for sustainable development. This guarantees focused attention among the diverse partners of ECOSOC and across the UN development system. It coordinates the efforts of the ten functional commissions, five regional commissions, and the fourteen specialised agencies of the UN. It also receives reports from the nine funds and programmes of the UN and makes policy recommendations to the Member States and the UN system.

UN Trusteeship Council

Under Chapter XIII of the UN Charter, it was created in 1945. Trust territories are non-self-governing areas that have been placed under administrative control by the UN Trusteeship Council.

A League of Nations mandate, or the legal documents containing the internationally agreed-upon terms for managing the region on behalf of the League of Nations, was the legal status for some territories that were passed from one country’s control to another after World War I.

After the League of Nations ceased to exist in 1946, United Nations trust territories were established as the new owners of the remaining League of Nations mandates. It had to oversee the administration of 11 Trust Territories by seven Member States from a global perspective and make sure that the necessary steps were made to get the Territories ready for self-rule and independence.

All Trust Territories had achieved independence or self-government by 1994. On November 1st, 1994, the Trusteeship Council ceased operations.

UN International Court of Justice

The main court of the United Nations is the International Court of Justice. The United Nations Charter has established it in June 1945, and it officially started operating in April 1946. The Permanent Court of International Justice (PCIJ), which was founded by the League of Nations in 1920, was replaced by the ICJ.

UN Secretariat

The Secretary-General and tens of thousands of other worldwide UN employees make up the Secretariat, which carries out the day-to-day tasks assigned by the General Assembly and other key UN bodies. The General Assembly appointed the Secretary-General for a five-year term that is renewable in order to serve as the Organization’s main administrative official.

Internationally and locally recruited UN employees serve in duty stations and on peacekeeping missions all throughout the world.

What are the Specialized Agencies of the UN?

Each basic organ of the UN is allowed to create different specialised agencies to carry out its mandates, according to the UN Charter. The UN has 17 specialised organisations. These are listed in the following table:

United Nations Specialized Agencies
Agency Acronym Headquarters Founding Year
Food and Agriculture Organization FAO Rome, Italy 1945
International Telecommunication Union ITU Geneva, Switzerland 1865 (Joined UN in 1947)
International Fund for Agricultural Development IFAD Rome, Italy 1977
International Labour Organization ILO Geneva, Switzerland 1946
International Maritime Organization IMO London, United Kingdom 1948
International Monetary Fund IMF Washington, United States 1945
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization UNESCO Paris, France 1946
World Health Organization WHO Geneva, Switzerland 1948
United Nations Industrial Development Organization UNIDO Vienna, Austria 1966
International Civil Aviation Organization ICAO Montreal, Canada 1944
World Intellectual Property Organisation WIPO Geneva, Switzerland 1967
International Fund for Agricultural Development IFAD Rome, Italy 1977
Universal Postal Union UPU Bern, Switzerland 1874
International Telecommunication Union ITU Geneva, Switzerland 1865
United Nations World Tourism Organization UNWTO Madrid, Spain 1974
World Meteorological Organisation WMO Geneva, Switzerland 1950
World Bank Group WBG Washington, D.C, USA 1944

UN Agencies and Organisations

The UN system is made up of a number of organisations, bodies, institutions, and agencies. Some of them predate the UN’s foundation and were absorbed into the UN later on, while others were formed subsequently. They carry out crucial tasks across domains, geographies, and industries. A few notable examples of these organisations are listed in the table below.

Important Agencies & Programs under the UN System
Agency Acronym HQ Founding Year
United Nations Environment Programme UNEP Nairobi, Kenya 1972
United Nations Children’s Fund UNICEF New York, USA 1946
United Nations Population Fund UNFPA New York, USA 1967
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees UNHCR Geneva, Switzerland 1950
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime UNODC Vienna, Austria 1997
United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute UNICRI Turin, Italy 1968
United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction UNDRR Geneva, Switzerland 1999
United Nations Development Programme UNDP New York, USA 1965
United Nations University UNU Tokyo, Japan 1972
United Nations Conference on Trade and Development UNCTAD Geneva, Switzerland 1964
International Atomic Energy Agency IAEA Vienna, Austria 1957
United Nations Human Settlement Programme UN-Habitat Nairobi, Kenya 1978
Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS UNAIDS Geneva, Switzerland 1994
World Food Programme WFP Rome, Italy 1961
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights OHCHR Geneva, Switzerland 1993

India’s Contribution to the United Nations

Since the UN’s inception, India has been an active member of UN. India was the first country to bring up the issues of racism and apartheid in South Africa in a UN forum in 1946. In 1948, India played an important role in the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Vijayalakshmi Pandit, an Indian, was the first woman president of the United Nations General Assembly in 1953.
The contribution of India to the UNSC can be found in the UNSC article from the first table on this page.
India has made significant contributions to UN Peacekeeping Missions around the world.

India has sent peacekeepers to Korea, Egypt, Congo, Haiti, Angola, Somalia, Liberia, Rwanda, Lebanon, and South Sudan, among other places. India has consistently been one of the missions’ largest contributors of troops.
The nonviolent ideals of Mahatma Gandhi resonate strongly with the principles of the United Nations. The United Nations designated Gandhi’s birthday, October 2, as the “International Day of Nonviolence” in 2007. The United Nations General Assembly declared June 21st to be International Yoga Day in 2014.

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How many countries are in the United Nations?

The UN, which has 193 Member States as of right now, is governed by the goals and principles set down in its founding Charter.

What 3 countries are not in the UN?

Taiwan, Kosovo, and Vatican City are the only three nations in the world that are unable to join the UN. The UN views Taiwan and Kosovo as being a part of China and Serbia, respectively, rather than as sovereign states.

What are the 5 countries in the UN?

China, France, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the United States are the five permanent members. The General Assembly also elects ten non-permanent members to two-year terms.

Is India a member of the UN?

India joined the UN as a charter member and takes part in all of its specialised agencies and organisations.

What does United Nations do?

The United Nations is an international body dedicated to upholding world peace and security, fostering good relations between nations, and advancing social progress, higher living standards, and human rights. It was established in 1945.

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