United Nations

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Early days

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The United Nations (UN) came into existence on 24 October 1945. The intergovernmental organization was established for promoting international cooperation. During the second world war, it was important to set up an agency which would act as a successor to the League of Nations. Hence, the United Nations charter was drafted at a conference which happened between April-June 1945. The United Nations began its operations within a few months. 

The United Nations works for building peace and security in the world. It also tries to develop friendly relations among countries. It strongly believes in the principle of equal rights and tries to solve economic, social, cultural, and humanitarian problems across the globe. The United Nations promotes human rights and helps countries coordinate their actions for achieving various goals. 

The United Nations has so many similarities with the League of Nations. They are homogeneous in structure, functions, principal organs and related agencies. The principal objective of the United Nations is to maintain international peace and security. It is committed to the economic and social welfare of the member nations.

In the early days, the cold war between the US and the Soviet Union had made the UN’s mission extremely difficult. Meanwhile, the organization played a major role in the developments in Korea and Congo, and approved the creation of the state of Israel in 1947 as well. The United Nations witnessed a significant rise in its membership following widespread decolonization in the 1960s. And by the 1970s, the United Nations budget for economic and social development exceeded its expenditure on peacekeeping. Post the cold war, the United Nations took up major military and peacekeeping missions across the globe.

Six organs

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For efficient functioning, the United Nations is divided into six branches/organs. The first branch is called the UN General Assembly. Being the decision-making and representative assembly, it is responsible for upholding the principles of the United Nation. The UN General Assembly consists of all the member nations. The president of the assembly is elected from the member states, it meets from September to December every year. 

The UN Security Council is the most powerful of all the branches. It has the power to deploy military forces as well as the authority to call for cease-fire during conflicts. The United Nations security council can enforce penalties on member nations if they don’t agree with the given mandates. It has five permanent members and ten rotating members. 

The International Court of Justice, situated in the Hague, Netherlands is the other branch of the United Nations. It is responsible for the judicial matters of the organization. The economic and social council branch helps the general assembly in promoting economic and social development/cooperation among member states, while the trusteeship council takes care of the state of affairs in the eleven ‘trust’ territories.

The UN Secretariat is headed by the Secretary General. Its primary responsibility is to provide necessary information/data to other UN branches/organs. The United Nations has 193 member nations. The UN does not have its own military forces. But have peace keeping forces which are supplied to the member states according to their requirements. The peacekeepers are mostly sent to regions which recently witnessed armed conflicts. On the approval of the security council, the peacekeepers are moved to the regions discouraging combatants from resuming the fight. The peacekeeping force of the UN won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1988 for their services. 

The UN is the protector of human rights and provides humanitarian assistance in difficult times. It also gives technical assistance in conducting elections, and also helps improve judicial structures and draft constitutions for nations. The organization provides food, drinking water, and shelter to people displaced by famine, war, and other natural disasters. 

The UN constantly tracks the social and economic development of its member nations. The common grants for the countries in the world include the funds provided by the World Health Organization, World Bank, UNAIDS, UN Population Fund and also money for fighting deadly diseases like aids, tuberculosis and malaria. The Human Development Index is published by the United Nations every year, ranking countries in terms of poverty, literacy, education and life expectancy.

Through its Millennium Development Goals, the United Nations tries to build a great future. Most of these goals are related to reducing poverty, child mortality, fighting diseases and epidemics. 

In short, the United Nations works towards making this world a better place to live! It has its headquarters in New York. António Guterres, who took office on 1st January 2017, is the ninth Secretary-General of the United Nations.

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