24th October is observed as World United Nations Day across the world. It was on this day in 1945 that the United Nations Charter came into force and thus, the United Nations came into existence.
What is the United Nations?
The United Nations is an international organization that takes action on the issues in the world concerning peace and security, climate change, human rights, disarmament, gender equality, terrorism, and sustainable development. It is widely known as a body for governments of various nations to resolve issues and problems and to find areas of agreement.
In short, it is the peacekeeping body of the world.
The major functions of the United Nations are:
- Maintain international peace and security
- Protect human rights
- Deliver humanitarian aid
- Promote sustainable development and
- Uphold international law
How many members does the UN have?
The United Nations currently is made up of 193 member states.
What are the main organs of the United Nations?
There are currently five major organs of the United Nations – the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, the International Court of Justice, and the UN Secretariat. The sixth organ – the Trusteeship Council suspended operations in 1994.
The General Assembly is the primary policy-making body of the United Nations and all the member states are a part of this body..
The Security Council has the chief role of maintaining peace and security across the world.
The Economic and Social Council aids the Security Council in encouraging and promoting international economic and social collaboration and cooperation.
The International Court of Justice is the primary judicial organ of the United Nations. It is located in The Hague, Netherlands and is the only one of the five principal organs that is not based in New York, United States,
The UN Secretariat carries out the everyday operations of the UN as specified by the other organs of the United Nations. It is headed by the Secretary-General, who is also the chief administrative officer and leader of the United Nations.
The current Secretary-General of the United Nations is Antonio Guterres from Portugal who took office on 1st January 2017.
Specialized Funds and Agencies of the United Nations
The UN system comprises of the United Nations and various affiliated agencies, funds, and programmes. Here are a few of them:
- Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
- International Labour Organization (ILO)
- International Monetary Fund (IMF)
- United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
- World Health Organization (WHO)
- World Bank
Funds and Programmes
- United Nations Development Programme
- United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
- United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)
- World Food Programme (WFP)
Awards and acknowledgements for the UN
The United Nations and its subsidiaries have been awarded the Nobel Prize on various occasions for their work to maintain international peace and harmony.
Here are a few instances.
- In 1954, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
- In 1965, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
- In 1969, The International Labor Organization (ILO) was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
- In 1981, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
- In 1988, the United Nations Peacekeeping Forces were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
- In 2001, The United Nations and its Secretary-General Kofi Annan were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize “for their work for a better organized and more peaceful world”.
- In 2005, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and its Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize “for their efforts to prevent nuclear energy from being used for military purposes and to ensure that nuclear energy for peaceful purposes is used in the safest possible way”.
- In 2007, The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize “for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change.”
- In 2013, The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize “for its extensive efforts to eliminate chemical weapons”.