From its headquarters on international territory within New York City, the UN and its specialized agencies decide on substantive and administrative issues in regular meetings held throughout the year. The organization is divided into administrative bodies, primarily:
- The General Assembly (the main deliberative assembly);
- The Security Council (decides certain resolutions for peace and security);
- The Economic and Social Council (assists in promoting international economic and social cooperation and development);
- The Secretariat (provides studies, information, and facilities needed by the UN);
- The International Court of Justice (the primary judicial organ).
Additional bodies deal with the governance of all other UN System agencies, such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). The UN's most visible public figure is the Secretary-General, currently Ban Ki-moon of South Korea.
The UN is financed from assessed and voluntary contributions from member states and has six official languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish.
UN-agencies active on gender
- UNDP is the UN's global network for development ...
- Gender was one of UNDP's main focus areas ("practices") until 2003, when it got mainstreamed as cross-cutting theme into other practice areas (democratic governance, environment & energy, poverty, conflict prevention and recovery)
The stated aims of the United Nations are to maintain international peace and security, to safeguard human rights, to provide a mechanism for international law, to promote social and economic progress, improve living standards, and fight diseases. It provides the opportunity for countries to balance global interdependence and national interests when addressing international problems. Toward these ends it ratified the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.
The organization occupies itself at present in the fields of economic development, world health, the state of the environment, the health of animals, education, and refugee work. The organization also discusses and deliberates global conflicts, wars, disarmament and peace efforts.
The United Nations and Gender Equality
The Charter of the United Nations, signed in 1945, was the first international agreement to affirm the principle of equality between women and men. Since then, the UN has helped create a historic legacy of internationally-agreed strategies, standards, programmes and goals to advance the status of women worldwide.
Over the years, the UN and its technical agencies have promoted the participation of women as equal partners with men in achieving sustainable development, peace, security, and full respect for human rights. The empowerment of women continues to be a central feature of the UN’s efforts to address social, economic and political challenges across the globe.
The United Nations was founded as a successor to the League of Nations, which was widely considered to have been ineffective in its role as an international governing body, in that it had been unable to prevent World War II. Some argue that the UN's major advantage over the League of Nations is its ability to maintain and deploy its member nations' armed forces as peace keepers. Others see such "peace keeping" as a euphemism for war and domination of weak and poor countries by the wealthy and powerful nations of the world.
The term "United Nations" (which appears in stanza 35 of Canto III of Byron's Childe Harold's Pilgrimage) was decided by Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill during World War II, to refer to the Allies. Its first formal use was in the 1 January 1942 Declaration by the United Nations, which committed the Allies to the principles of the Atlantic Charter and pledged them not to seek a separate peace with the Axis powers. Thereafter, the Allies used the term "United Nations Fighting Forces" to refer to their alliance.
The idea for the UN was espoused in declarations signed at the wartime Allied conferences in Moscow, Cairo, and Tehran in 1943. From August to October 1944, representatives of France, the Republic of China, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the Soviet Union met to elaborate the plans at the Dumbarton Oaks Estate in Washington, DC. Those and later talks produced proposals outlining the purposes of the organization, its membership and organs, and arrangements to maintain international peace and security and international economic and social cooperation.
On 25 April 1945, the UN Conference on International Organization began in San Francisco. In addition to the governments, a number of non-governmental organizations were invited to assist in drafting the charter. The 50 nations represented at the conference signed the Charter of the United Nations two months later on 26 June. Poland had not been represented at the conference, but a place had been reserved for it among the original signatories, and it added its name later. The UN came into existence on 24 October 1945, after the Charter had been ratified by the five permanent members of the UN Security Council — the Republic of China, France, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States — and by a majority of the other 46 signatories. That these countries are the permanent members of the Security Council, and have veto power on any Security Council resolution, reflects that they are the main victors of World War II or their successor states: the People's Republic of China replaced the Republic of China in 1971 and Russia replaced the Soviet Union in 1991.
Initially, the body was known as the United Nations Organization, or UNO. However, by the 1950s, English speakers were referring to it as the United Nations, or the UN.
With the addition of Montenegro on 28 June 2006, there are now 192 United Nations member states, including virtually all internationally-recognized independent states.
The United Nations Charter outlines the rules for membership:
- Membership in the United Nations is open to all other peace-loving states which accept the obligations contained in the present Charter and, in the judgment of the Organization, are able and willing to carry out these obligations.
- The admission of any such state to membership in the United Nations will be effected by a decision of the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council.
Group of 77 (G77)
The Group of 77 at the UN is a loose coalition of developing nations, designed to promote its members' collective economic interests and create an enhanced joint negotiating capacity in the United Nations. There were 77 founding members of the organization, but the organization has since expanded to 130 member countries. The group was founded on 15 June 1964 by the "Joint Declaration of the Seventy-Seven Countries" issued at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). The first major meeting was in Algiers in 1967, where the Charter of Algiers was adopted and the basis for permanent institutional structures was begun.
The United Nations headquarters is a golden rectangled building in New York City. It is located in the Turtle Bay neighborhood, on the east side of Midtown Manhattan, on spacious grounds overlooking the East River. Though the building is in New York City, the land occupied by the United Nations Headquarters is considered international territory. FDR Drive passes underneath the Conference Building of the complex. There are also major UN agencies in Geneva, The Hague, Vienna, Montreal, Copenhagen, Bonn, and elsewhere.