The United Nations
Origin and members
· The United Nations came into existence on October 24, 1945, as the Charter was ratified by the five permanent Security Council members – China, France, Russia, the UK and the US – and a majority of other countries.
· At present, it has 193 member states, and is headquartered in New York City, with main offices in Geneva, Nairobi, Vienna and The Hague.
Purpose of formation
· A successor to the League of Nations, the UN was formed after World War II to prevent future wars.
· Its stated purposes are to maintain international peace and security, develop friendly ties among countries, and achieve international cooperation.
The organization’s objectives include:
· Maintaining international peace and security,
· Protecting human rights,
· Delivering humanitarian aid,
· Promoting sustainable development, and
· Upholding international law.
The six principal organs of the United Nations are:
1. General Assembly
· It can be loosely called the parliament of the United Nations Organisation.
· Some decisions like budget, admission of new members and peace and security require a two-thirds majority to be passed. Other decisions require only a simple majority.
2. Security Council
· It has the primary responsibility of maintenance of peace and security in the international community.
· It comprises 15 members, which can be divided into two categories:
A. Permanent members:
· Also called the P-5 members.
· It is comprised of the United States, Russia, China, France and the United Kingdom.
· They have veto power, which essentially means that passing of a decision in the UNSC must have each P5 member’s concurrence.
B Elected Members:
· There are 10 non-permanent members. They are elected by the General Assembly and have tenure of 2 years each.
3. Economic and Social Council
· It is responsible for coordinating the economic and social fields of the organization.
· ECOSOC serves as the central forum for discussing international economic and social issues, and formulating policy recommendations addressed to member states and the United Nations System.
· The Council consists of 54 Member States, which are elected yearly by the General Assembly for overlapping three-year terms.
4. Trusteeship Council
· It is established to help ensure that trust territories were administered in the best interests of their inhabitants and of international peace and security.
The trust territories:
· Most of them former mandates of the League of Nations or territories taken from nations defeated at the end of World War II — have all now attained self-government or independence, either as separate nations or by joining neighbouring independent countries.
5. International Court of Justice
· The International Court of Justice is also known as the World Court.
· 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 (Netherlands).
· Role and Responsibilities
o The Court settles legal disputes submitted to it by States, in accordance with international law.
o It also gives advisory opinions on legal questions referred by authorised UN organs and specialised agencies.
o Judgments in disputes between States are binding.
o The Court decides disputes between countries, based on the voluntary participation of the States concerned.
o If a State agrees to participate in a proceeding, it is obligated to comply with the Court’s decision.
6. UN Secretariat
· The secretariat is the UN’s executive arm.
· The secretariat has an important role in setting the agenda for the deliberative and decision-making bodies of the UN (i.e., the General Assembly, Economic and Social Council, and Security Council), and the implementation of the decision of these bodies.
· The Secretary-General, who is appointed by the General Assembly, is the head of the secretariat.
Why is the UN needed?
1. Specialized agencies
· The United Nations along with its specialized agencies assumes a significant job in keeping up harmony and security of the world nations.
· The UN specialized agencies like the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), UNICEF, World Health Organization, etc. have done noteworthy work in the growth and development of developed and developing countries.
2. Forum for discussion
· It is a stage that provides its members with a forum for discussion to come to a common understanding.
· United Nations is as relevant in the present time as it was at the point when it was established. It is the only organization to have universal membership.
· The UN is actively working in this regard for maintaining peace, ensuring development, and cooperation among nations and has devised various initiatives to prevent conflicts.
The writer works as an Assistant Editor with JWT.