The United Nations and its Functioning
• Headquartered in New York, USA, The United Nations is a unique organization of independent countries designed to make the enforcement of international law, security, economic development, social progress and human rights easier for countries around the world.
• The organisation formally (officially) came into existence on 24th October 1945
, with 51 countries considered as founding members and several non-governmental organisation, who signed the charter which was drafted at the UN Conference on International Organisation in San Francisco, California.
• By the end of July 2011, the membership of the UN had grown to 193 as the South Sudan is being welcomed as the last member into the community of nations on 14th July 2011.
How the Idea came:
• There were several international treaty organizations and conferences formed to regulate conflicts between nations, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907. Following the catastrophic loss of life in the First World War, the Paris Peace Conference established the League of Nations to maintain harmony between countries.
• However, the League lacked representation for colonial peoples (then half the world’s population) and significant participation from several major powers, including the US, USSR, Germany and Japan.
• The League failed to act against the Japanese invasion of Manchuria in 1937, Second Italo-Ethiopian War in 1935, the Japanese invasion of China in 1937 and German expansion under Adolf Hitler that culminated in the Second World War.
• The World Leaders, who collaborated to end the WW-II, felt a strong need for a mechanism which will possibly bring all nations together through a global organization. The United Nations was to be that Organisation.
Main Organs of the UN
• General Assembly:
The General Assembly is the main deliberative, policymaking and representative organ of the UN. All 193 Member States of the UN are represented in the General Assembly, making it the only UN body with universal representation.
• Security Council:
The Security Council has primary responsibility, under the UN Charter, for the maintenance of international peace and security. It has 15 Members (5 permanent and 10 non-permanent members). Each Member has one vote. The Security Council takes the lead in determining the existence of a threat to the peace or act of aggression. In some cases, the Security Council can resort to imposing sanctions or even authorize the use of force to maintain or restore international peace and security.
Permanent members are China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States—and ten non-permanent members—Angola (term ends 2016), Chad (2015), Chile (2015), Jordan (2015), Lithuania (2015), Malaysia (2016), New Zealand (2016), Nigeria (2015), Spain (2016), and Venezuela (2016). The five permanent members hold veto power over UN resolutions.
• Economic and Social Council:
The Economic and Social Council is the principal body for coordination, policy review, policy dialogue and recommendations on economic, social and environmental issues, as well as implementation of internationally agreed development goals.
• International Court of Justice:
The International Court of Justice is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations. Its seat is at the Peace Palace in the Hague (Netherlands). The Court’s 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 Secretariat comprises the Secretary-General and tens of thousands of international UN staff members who carry out the day-to-day work of the UN as mandated by the General Assembly and the Organization’s other principal organs. The Secretary-General is chief administrative officer of the Organization, appointed by the General Assembly on the recommendation of the Security Council for a five-year, renewable term.
FUNCTIONS OF THE UNITED NATIONS:
Maintain International Peace and Security:
• The main function of the UN is to maintain peace and security of all of its member states.
• The UN does this by working to prevent conflict; helping parties in conflict to make peace; peacekeeping; and creating the conditions to allow peace to hold & flourish. These activities often overlap and should reinforce one another, to be effective.
Protect Human Rights:
• The term Human Right is mentioned in the founding charter of UN making the promotion and protection of human rights a key purpose and guiding principle of the Organization.
• In 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights brought human rights into the realm of international law. Since then, the Organization has diligently protected human rights through legal instruments and on-the-ground activities.
• The Office of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) supports the human rights components of peacekeeping missions in several countries with many regional offices in several countries.
Deliver Humanitarian Aid:
• The term is mentioned in its charter “to achieve international co-operation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character.”
• It does this through the Inter-Agency Standing Committee, whose members include the UN system entities most responsible for providing emergency relief.
• Four UN entities, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP),
the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR)
, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)
and the World Food Program (WFP)
have primary roles in the delivery of relief assistance.
Promote Sustainable Development:
• Since 1945, one of the main priorities of the UN is to achieve international co-operation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural or humanitarian character and in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion.
• The UN is also working to develop a framework to ensure that both the sustainable development agenda and climate action are properly resourced.
• The main UN offices involved in this are UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, The UN Development Program, UN offices for Disaster Risk Reduction, Sandai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 and many agencies like World Health Organisation, The Food and Agriculture Organization, UNICEF, UNESCO and the UN Environment Program.
Uphold International Laws:
• The UN Charter, in its Preamble, set an objective: “to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained”.
• Ever since, the development of, and respect for international law has been a key part of the work of the Organization.
FUNCTIONS OF THE UNITED NATIONS TODAY:
• Through the peacekeeping force UN maintains the peace and security for all of its member states. Though the UN does not maintain its own military, the man-powers’ in peacekeeping force are being contributed by the member nations, who are being deployed on regions of armed conflict and possibly for discouraging combatants from resuming fights postwar with the approval of UN Security Council. In 1988, the Peacekeeping force won a Nobel Peace Prize for its actions.
• In addition to maintain peace, the UN aims to protect human rights and provide humanitarian assistance when needed which is being supported by The Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted in 1948 by UN General Assembly.
• The UN currently provides technical assistance in elections, help to improve judicial structures and draft constitutions, trains human rights officials and provide food, drinking water, shelter and other humanitarian services to people displaced by famine, war and natural disaster.
• Finally, the UN plays an integral part in social and economic development through its UN Development Program which is the largest source of technical grant assistance in the world.
• In addition the World Health Organization, UNAIDS, The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the UN Population Fund and the World Bank Group to name a few play an essential role in this aspect of the UN as well. The UN also annually publishes the Human Development Index to rank countries in terms of poverty, literacy, education and life expectancy.
• For the future, the UN has established what it calls its Millennium Development Goals which is being agreed by member states to achieve these goals relating to reducing poverty, child mortality, fighting diseases and epidemics, and developing a global partnership in terms of international development by 2015.
• Further, the Sustainable Development Goals 2030 is being adopted advancing the Millennium Development Goals 2015 for greater sustainability of Human Beings and other lives on earth.
• Some member states have achieved a number of the agreement’s goals while others have reached none. However, the UN has been successful over the years and only the future can bring evidence for the true realization of these goals for greater benefits.