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United Nations


At a glance

Founded on the 24th October 1945 by 51 countries committed to

international peace and security, developing friendly relations among nations
and promoting social progress, better living standards and human rights.
193 members to date.
Main purposes - To keep peace throughout the world; To develop friendly
relations among nations help nations work together to improve the lives of
poor people, to conquer hunger, disease and illiteracy, and to encourage
respect for each others rights and freedom; To be a centre for harmonizing
the actions of nations to achieve these goals
Active for peacekeeping, peacebuilding, conflict prevention and humanitarian
Sustainable development, environment and refugees protection,
disaster relief, counter terrorism, disarmament and non-proliferation, to
promoting democracy, human rights, gender equality and the advancement
of women, governance, economic and social development and international
health, clearing landmines and expanding food production.

UN Charter
Signed on 26 June 1945, in San Francisco, at the conclusion of the

United Nations Conference on International Organization, and came

into force on 24 October 1945. The Statute of the International Court of
Justice is an integral part of the Charter.
Purposes and Principles, membership, organs, the General Assembly,
the Security Council, Pacific settlement of disputes, action with respect
to threats to the peace breaches of peace and acts of aggression,
regional arrangements, international economic and social cooperation,
the economic and social council, declaration regarding, non-self
governing territories, international trusteeship system, trusteeship
council, the International Court of Justice, the Secretariat,
Miscellaneaous provisions, transitional security arrangements,
amendments, ratification and signature

Structure and organisation

UN charter establishes 6 principal organs General Assembly, Security

Council, Economic and Social Council, trusteeship Council, ICJ,

http://www.un.org/en/aboutun/structure/index.shtml#text list of
committees, sub-committees, commissions, panels, working groups,
programmes, funds, research and training institutes
GENERAL ASSEMBLY - the chief deliberative, policymaking and
representative organ of the United Nations
it provides a unique forum for multilateral discussion of the full
spectrum of international issues covered by the Charter.
plays a significant role in the process of standard-setting and the
codification of international law.
The Assembly meets in regular session intensively from September to
December each year.

Functions and powers of the GA

According to the Charter of the United Nations, the General Assembly may:

Consider and make recommendations on the general principles of cooperation for

maintaining international peace and security, including disarmament;
Discuss any question relating to international peace and security and, except where a
dispute or situation is currently being discussed by the Security Council, make
recommendations on it;
Discuss, with the same exception, and make recommendations on any questions within
the scope of the Charter or affecting the powers and functions of any organ of the
United Nations;
Initiate studies and make recommendations to promote international political
cooperation, the development and codification of international law, the realization of
human rights and fundamental freedoms, and international collaboration in the
economic, social, humanitarian, cultural, educational and health fields;
Make recommendations for the peaceful settlement of any situation that might impair
friendly relations among nations;
Receive and consider reports from the Security Council and other United Nations
Consider and approve the United Nations budget and establish the financial
assessments of Member States;
Elect the non-permanent members of the Security Council and the members of other
United Nations councils and organs and, on the recommendation of the Security
Council, appoint the Secretary-General.

Special powers

Uniting for Peace resolution of November 1950 (resolution 377 (V)) ,
Assembly may also take action if the Security Council fails to act, owing to the
negative vote of a permanent member, in a case where there appears to be a
threat to the peace, breach of the peace or act of aggression. The Assembly can
consider the matter immediately with a view to making recommendations to
Members for collective measures to maintain or restore international peace
and security
While the Assembly is empowered to make only non-binding
recommendations to States on international issues within its competence, it
has, nonetheless, initiated actionspolitical, economic, humanitarian, social
and legalwhich have affected the lives of millions of people throughout the
The landmark Millennium Declaration, adopted in 2000, and the
2005 World Summit Outcome Document reflect the commitment of Member
States to reach specific goals to attain peace, security and disarmament along
with development and poverty eradication; safeguard human rights and
promote the rule of law; protect our common environment; meet the special
needs of Africa; and strengthen the United Nations.

The Rules of Procedure of the GA governs the arrangement and

fucntioning of the GA
Under Article 19 of the Charter, a Member State in arrears in the
payment of its dues in an amount that equals or exceeds the
contributions due for two preceding years can lose its vote in the
General Assembly.
As of 1 February 2013, the following 12 Member States are in
arrears in the payments of their dues and are not able to vote
Dominica, Dominican Republic, Gabon, Grenada, Marshall
Islands, Saint Lucia, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Vanuatu,
Venezuela, Zimbabwe
Observers Permananent Observer of Mission of the Holy See to
the UN, Permanent Observer of Mission of Palestine to the
United Nations, African Union, European Union, ICC..

The Security Council


Charter gives primary responsibility for

maintaining international peace and security to the
Security Council, which may meet whenever peace is
All members of the United Nations agree to accept
and carry out the decisions of the Security Council.
While other organs of the United Nations make
recommendations to member states, only the
Security Council has the power to make decisions
that member states are then obligated to implement
under the Charter.

Maintaining Peace and Security

When a complaint concerning a threat to peace is brought before it, the

Councils first action is usually to recommend that the parties try to reach
agreement by peaceful means by:

set forth principles for such an agreement,

undertake investigation and mediation, in some cases;
dispatch a mission;appoint special envoys;
or arequest the Secretary-General to use his good offices to achieve a pacific settlement of
the dispute.

When a dispute leads to hostilities, the Councils primary concern is to

bring them to an end as soon as possible. In that case, the Council may:

issue ceasefire directives that can help prevent an escalation of the conflict;
dispatch military observers or a peacekeeping force to help reduce tensions, separate
opposing forces and establish a calm in which peaceful settlements may be sought.

Beyond this, the Council may opt for enforcement measures, including:

economic sanctions, arms embargoes, financial penalties and restrictions, and travel bans;

severance of diplomatic relations;

or even collective military action.

Functions and power

Under the United Nations Charter, the functions and powers of the Security Council are:

to maintain international peace and security in accordance with the principles and
purposes of the United Nations;
to investigate any dispute or situation which might lead to international friction;
to recommend methods of adjusting such disputes or the terms of settlement;
to formulate plans for the establishment of a system to regulate armaments;
to determine the existence of a threat to the peace or act of aggression and to
recommend what action should be taken;
to call on Members to apply economic sanctions and other measures not involving the
use of force to prevent or stop aggression;
to take military action against an aggressor;
to recommend the admission of new Members;
to exercise the trusteeship functions of the United Nations in "strategic areas";
to recommend to the General Assembly the appointment of the Secretary-General and,
together with the Assembly, to elect the Judges of the International Court of Justice.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is the principal judicial organ

of the United Nations (UN). It was established in June 1945 by the

Charter of the United Nations and began work in April 1946
The seat of the Court is at the Peace Palace in The Hague
The Courts role is to settle, in accordance with international law, legal
disputes submitted to it by States and to give advisory opinions on legal
questions referred to it by authorized United Nations organs and
specialized agencies.
The Court is composed of 15 judges, who are elected for terms of office
of nine years by the United Nations General Assembly and the Security
Council. It is assisted by a Registry, its administrative organ. Its official
languages are English and French.
Only States may apply to and appear before the International Court of
Justice. International organizations, other collectivities and private
persons are not entitled to institute proceedings before the Court.

UN Human Rights Council

an inter-governmental body within the United Nations system responsible for

strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe and
for addressing situations of human rights violations and make recommendations on
discuss all thematic human rights issues and situations that require its attention
throughout the year
made up of 47 United Nations Member States which are elected by the UN General
created by the United Nations General Assembly on 15 March 2006 by resolution
Universal Periodic Review mechanism which serves to assess the human rights
situations in all United Nations Member States
the Advisory Committee which serves as the Councils think tank providing it with
expertise and advice on thematic human rights issues
the Complaint Procedure which allows individuals and organizations to bring
human rights violations to the attention of the Council

Human Rights Bodies of the UN

Charter-based bodies

Human Rights Council

Universal Periodic Review
Commission on Human Rights (replaced by the Human Rights Council)
Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council
Human Rights Council Complaint Procedure
Treaty-based bodies
There are ten human rights treaty bodies that monitor implementation of the
core international human rights treaties :
Human Rights Committee (CCPR)
Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR)
Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD)
Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)
Committee against Torture (CAT)
Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT)
Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC)
Committee on Migrant Workers (CMW)
Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)
Committee on Enforced Disappearances (CED)

Many United Nations agencies and partners are also involved in the promotion and protection of human rights and

interact with the main human rights bodies:

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
Inter-Agency Internal Displacement Division
International Labour Organization
World Health Organization
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS)
Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC)
DESA (Department of Economic and Social Affairs)
Commission on the Status of Women (CSW)
Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues and the Advancement of Women (OSAGI)
Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW)
United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)
United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)
United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM)
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
United Nations Human Settlements Programme (HABITAT)
United Nations Mine Action

UN and peacekeeping missions

1948 Arab-Israeli war
Involved in other important missions such as Korean War 1950 and Indo-

Pakistani War 1947 and Suez Crisis 1956

International conflicts UN Peacekeeping mission in Cyprus 1964
Involved in the decolonisation programmes Congo and West New Guinea
Middle East Lebanese borders, Yemen Civil War
End of Cold War Georgian conflict and the Civil War in Tajikstan
Post Cold War first explicitly authorized operation of collective self
defence expelling Iraq from Kuwait in the Gulf War
Refocusing attention on genocide and ethnic cleansing Former
Yugoslavia, Haiti, Somalia, Rwanda and Darfur
Independence facilitation effort Namibia/South Africa and 1991 Western
Sahara / Morocco ceasefire agreements monitoring by UN