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Every thing about United nation!

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1 Introduction to the United Nations �.��.��.��.��.��.��.��. 1

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3 The UN works for

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5 Human Rights � .��.��.��.��.��.��.��.��.��.��.��.��.��.��.��.��.��.��.��.��.��.��.��.��.��.��.�� 51

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An introduction to

the United Nations


  • The United Nations has four purposes: to maintain international

peace and security; to develop friendly relations among nations;

to cooperate in solving international problems and in promoting

respect for human rights; and to be a centre for harmonizing the

actions of nations. Cooperating in this effort are more than 30

affiliated organizations, known together as the UN system.

  • The United Nations is not a world government, and it does not

make laws. It does, however, provide the means to help resolve

international conflicts and formulate policies on matters affecting

all of us.

  • At the UN, all the Member States — large and small, rich and poor,

with differing political views and social systems — have a voice

and a vote in this process. The United Nations gives the opportunity

for countries to balance global interdependence and national

interests when addressing international problems.

  • The UN system works to promote respect for human rights, reduce

poverty, fight disease and protect the environment. The United

Nations leads international campaigns against drug trafficking

and terrorism.

  • Throughout the world, the UN and its agencies help expand food

production, assist refugees, lead the fight against AIDS and set up

programmes to clear landmines, among others.

2 Everything About the United Nations

An introduction to the United Nations 3

What is the United Nations?

The United Nations is a unique organization of

independent countries that have come together

to work for world peace and social progress. The

Organization formally came into existence on

24 October 1945, with 51 countries considered

founding Members. By the end of 2008, the

membership of the UN had grown to 192 countries.

Since its inception, no country has ever been

expelled from membership. Indonesia temporarily

quit the UN in 1965 over a dispute with neighbouring

Malaysia, but returned the following year.

So, the United Nations is like a world government?

Wrong. Governments represent countries and peoples. The United Nations represents

neither a particular government nor any one nation. It represents all its Members and

does only what the Member States decide that it should do.

Is there a set of rules or principles that guides the United

Nations in its work?

Yes, the Charter of the United Nations. It is a set of guidelines that

explains the rights and duties of each Member country, and what

needs to be done to achieve the goals they have set for themselves.

When a nation becomes a Member of the UN, it accepts

the aims and rules of the Charter.

: http://www.un.org/aboutun/charter/

How did the United Nations begin?

The idea of the United Nations was born during World War II

(1939-1945). World leaders who had collaborated to end the war

felt a strong need for a mechanism that would help bring peace

and stop future wars. They realized that this was possible only if

all nations worked together through a global organization. The

United Nations was to be that Organization.

An introduction to the

United Nations

The UN has four

main purposes:

To keep peace throughout

the world;

To develop friendly relations

among nations;

To work together to

help poor people live

better lives, to conquer

hunger, disease and illiteracy,

and to encourage

respect for each other’s

rights and freedoms;

To be a centre for

helping nations achieve

these goals.

The United Nations building in New York City

4 Everything About the United Nations

Where did the name “United Nations” come from?

The name “United Nations” was suggested by United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt. It was

first officially used in 1942, when representatives of 26 countries signed the Declaration by United

Nations. As a tribute to President Roosevelt, who died a few weeks before the signing of the Charter,

all those present at the San Francisco Conference agreed to adopt the name “United Nations”.

Was this the first time that such an organization had been created?

A similar organization, the League of Nations, was set up in 1919, following World War I. Its

main objective was to keep world peace. However, not every country joined the League. The

United States, for example, was never a member. Others that had joined later quit, and the

League often failed to take action. Though it did not succeed, the League ignited a dream for a

universal organization. The result was the United Nations.

Who owns the United Nations Headquarters?

The United Nations Headquarters is an international zone. This means that the land on which the UN

sits does not belong to just the United States, the host country, but to all the Members of the United

Nations. The UN has its own flag and its own security officers who guard the area. It also has its own

post office and issues its own stamps. These stamps can be used only from UN Headquarters or from

UN offices in Vienna and Geneva.

Same view of the site chosen for UN Headquarters,

taken from Tudor City at 41st street, looking north

to 48th street (left). United Nations Headquarters

building in New York City as it stands today (above).


The building that rose from a slaughterhouse

At its first meeting in

London in 1946, the

General Assembly

decided to locate the

United Nations Headquarters

in the United

States. However, New

York was not the first choice. Philadelphia, Boston and

San Francisco were also considered. What eventually

persuaded the General Assembly to settle on the present

site was a last-minute gift of $8.5 million from John D.

Rockefeller, Jr. Later, New York City offered additional

property as a gift.

The site chosen for UN Headquarters was a run-down

area of slaughterhouses, a railroad garage building and

other commercial buildings.

On 24 October 1949, Secretary-General Trygve Lie laid the

cornerstone of the 39-storey building. On 21 August 1950,

the Secretariat staff began moving into their new offices.

: http://www.un.org/tours/http://www.un.org/Pubs/CyberSchoolBus/untour/

Who pays for the work of the United Nations?

The 192 Members of the United Nations pay for everything that the Organization does.

It has no other source of income. There are four types of budgets at the UN:

 The regular budget includes the core functions at its Headquarters in New York and

field offices around the world.

 The Peacekeeping budget pays for various operations, often in “hot spots” around the


 The budget for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the International

Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.

 An approved budget of $1.9 billion is allocated towards a renovation project of the

UN headquarters. The project is called the Capital Master Plan (CMP).

Payments to the UN for all types of budgets are compulsory. Members pay according to

a scale of assessments agreed upon by all. This scale is based on a country’s ability to

pay, national income and population.

Is the United Nations a good value for the money?

The regular budget for the United Nations is approved by the General Assembly for a two-year

period. The budget approved for 2008-2009 was $4.17 billion, which pays for UN activities, staff

and basic infrastructure. Citizens of the United States spend approximately the same amount on

cut flowers and potted plants each year. For peacekeeping, the budget for the year from 1 July

2007 to 30 June 2008 was about $6.8 billion. This represented 0.5% of global military spending,

estimated at $1339 billion in 2007. That amount would pay for the entire UN system for

more than 65 years. Peacekeeping is far cheaper than war and is good value for money!

The UN is funded by Member countries.

The top 10 Member States in assessment

for the 2008 UN regular budget were:

Assessment rates/amount

Country per cent



United States 22.00 453.3

Japan 16.62 342.5

Germany 8.57 176.7

United Kingdom 6.64 136.8

France 6.30 129.8

Italy 5.07 104.6

Canada 2.97 61.3

Spain 2.96 61.1

China 2.66 54.9

Mexico 2.25 46.5

The road to the

United Nations:

a chronology

September 1939

This is how Warsaw

(Poland) looked only

weeks after the start

of the Second World

War. The war reduced

much of Europe to


14 August 1941

President Roosevelt

and Prime Minister

Churchill met on

board a battleship in

the Atlantic Ocean.

They adopted the Atlantic

Charter, wherein

a plan for world peace

was outlined.

1 January 1942

On New Year’s Day

1942, the representatives

of 26 nations

signed at Washington,

D.C., the Declaration

by the United Nations.

30 October 1943

Representatives of

China, the Soviet

Union, the United

Kingdom and the

United States signed

the Moscow Declaration

and agreed to set

up an organization of

nations to keep peace

once the war was


   

An introduction to the United Nations 5

6 Everything About the United Nations





India 9,471

Nepal 3,626

Jordan 3,564

Ghana 2,907

Uruguay 2,583

Italy 2,539

Nigeria 2,465

France 1,975

Top ten contributors of uniformed UN personnel

(as of 31 March 2007)

Top ten providers of contributions to

UN Peacekeeping Budget

(as of 1 January 2007)

United States

of America



United Kingdom






Republic of












   

Summer and fall, 1944

Leaders of China, the

United States and the

United Kingdom met

at Dumbarton Oaks,

Washington, D.C., and

agreed on purposes and

principles of the future

United Nations.

11 February 1945

President Roosevelt,

Prime Minister Churchill

and Premier Joseph

Stalin, after their

meeting in Yalta, in the

Soviet Union, declared

their resolve to establish

the United Nations.

They also agreed on

the voting system to

be used in the Security


26 June 1945

Representatives of

50 countries unanimously

adopted the

Charter of the United

Nations at a conference

in San Francisco.

24 October 1945

After a majority of

countries, including the

five permanent members

of the Security

Council (China, France,

USA, UK and USSR),

had signed the UN

Charter and officially

recognized it, the

United Nations came

into being. That is why

24 October is observed

as United Nations Day.

: For more:



(for photos)

The UN Peacekeeping

budget is funded by

Member countries

The top ten contributors

to the UN in 2007 were:

  1. United States of America (20%),
  2. Japan (17%), 3. Germany (9%),
  3. United Kingdom (8%),
  4. France (7%), 6. Italy (5%),
  5. China (3%), 8. Canada (3%),
  6. Spain (3%), and
  7. Republic of Korea (2%).





India 9,471

Nepal 3,626

Jordan 3,564

Ghana 2,907

Uruguay 2,583

Italy 2,539

Nigeria 2,465

France 1,975

Top ten contributors of uniformed UN personnel

(as of 31 March 2007)

Top ten providers of contributions to

UN Peacekeeping Budget

(as of 1 January 2007)

United States

of America



United Kingdom






Republic of












An introduction to the United Nations 7

How does a country become a Member of the United Nations?

Membership in the Organization, in accordance with the Charter of

the United Nations, “is open to all peace-loving States that accept the

obligations contained in the United Nations Charter and, in the judgment

of the Organization, are able to carry out these obligations”. States

are admitted to membership in the United Nations by decision of the

General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council.

How is the United Nations structured?

The work of the United Nations is carried out almost all over the world

and is done by six main organs:

  1. General Assembly
  2. Security Council
  3. Economic and Social Council
  4. Trusteeship Council
  5. International Court of Justice
  6. Secretariat

All these organs are based at UN Headquarters in New York, except for

the International Court of Justice, which is located at The Hague, Netherlands.

Related to the United Nations are 15 specialized agencies that

coordinate their work with the UN but are separate, autonomous organizations.

They work in areas as diverse as health, agriculture, telecommunications

and weather. In addition, there are 24 programmes, funds

and other bodies with responsibilities in specific fields. These bodies,

together with the UN proper and its specialized programmes, compose

the United Nations system.

: http://www.un.org/geninfo/faq/factsheets/memberstate.pdf

What is a Permanent Observer?

Non-Member States of the United Nations, which are members of one

or more specialized agencies, can apply for the status of Permanent

Observer. The status of a Permanent Observer is based purely on practice,

and there are no provisions for it in the United Nations Charter. The

practice dates from 1946, when the Secretary-General accepted the designation

of the Swiss Government as a Permanent Observer to the United

Nations. Observers were subsequently put forward by certain States that

later became United Nations Members, including Austria, Finland, Italy,

and Japan. Switzerland became a UN Member on 10 September 2002.

Permanent Observers have free access to most meetings and relevant

documentation. Many regional and international organizations are also

observers in the work and annual sessions of the General Assembly.







What are the official languages of the United Nations?

The official languages used at the United Nations are Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian

and Spanish. The working languages at the UN Secretariat are English and French.

A delegate may speak in any of the official languages, and the speech is interpreted simultaneously

into the other official languages. Most UN documents are also issued in all six

official languages. At times, a delegate may choose to make a statement using a non-official

language. In such cases, the delegation must provide either an interpretation or a written text of

the statement in one of the official languages.

Originally English and French were established as working languages at the UN.

Later, Arabic, Chinese, Russian and Spanish were added as working languages in the

General Assembly and in the Economic and Social Council. English, French, Chinese,

Russian and Spanish are the working languages of the Security Council.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) brought together hundreds of children and UN staff as part of a global attempt to break the world record for


largest lesson. The lesson was the value and urgency of girls’ education.

8 Everything About the United Nations

How does a new State or Government obtain recognition

by the United Nations?

The recognition of a new State or Government is an act that only other States and

Governments may grant or withhold. It generally implies readiness to assume diplomatic

relations. The United Nations is neither a State nor a Government, and therefore

does not possess any authority to recognize either a State or a Government. As

an organization of independent States, it may admit a new State to its membership

or accept the credentials of the representatives of a new Government.

Membership in the Organization, in accordance with the Charter of the United

Nations, “is open to all peace-loving States which accept the obligations contained

in the [United Nations Charter] and, in the judgment of the Organization, are able

to carry out these obligations”. States are admitted to membership in the United

Nations by decision of the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the

Security Council. The procedure is briefly as follows:

  1. The State submits an application to the Secretary-General and a letter

formally stating that it accepts the obligations under the Charter.

  1. The Security Council considers the application. Any recommendation for

admission must receive the affirmative votes of 9 of the 15 members of

the Council, provided that none of its five permanent members — China,

France, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain

and Northern Ireland and the United States of America — have voted

against the application.

  1. If the Council recommends admission, the recommendation is presented

to the General Assembly for consideration. A two-thirds majority

vote is necessary in the Assembly for admission of a new State.

  1. Membership becomes effective the date the resolution for admission

is adopted.

At each session, the General Assembly considers the credentials of all representatives

of Member States participating in that session. During such consideration,

which routinely takes place first in the nine-member Credentials Committee but can

also arise at other times, the issue can be raised whether a particular representative

has been accredited by the Government actually in power. This issue is ultimately

decided by a majority vote in the Assembly. It should be noted that the normal

change of Governments, as through a democratic election, does not raise any issues

concerning the credentials of the representative of the State concerned.

: http://www.un.org/aboutunhttp://www.un.org/members

From 51 member states in 1945

to 192 member states in 2008

An introduction to the United Nations 9

Q&A Team Play

Team Play

When playing as team-mates (2 or more players on a team), team-mates can work

together to arrive at an answer, but must reach a consensus before declaring an answer

to the other players.

  1. In what year was the United Nations founded?
  2. How many Member States does the United Nations have?
  3. What are the official languages of the United Nations?
  4. Who coined the phrase “United Nations”?
  5. How many organs does the United Nations have?
  6. What was the League of Nations?
  7. Has any country ever quit the United Nations?
  8. What is the list of rules and regulations of the UN called?
  9. Name one of the aims and purposes of the United Nations.
  10. When and where was the United Nations Declaration signed?

This is the United Nations flag. It has a blue background with a white emblem in

the centre. The emblem has a world map with olive branches around it, signifying

world peace. The emblem should be one half the height of the flag and

entirely centred.

10 Everything About the United Nations

The United Nations Family


Some achievements by the UN System

  • The UN was a promoter of the great movement of decolonization,

which led to the independence of more than 80 nations.

  • The UN system is a major purchaser of goods and services, totalling

over $6.4 billion a year. UNICEF buys half the vaccines produced


  • UN relief agencies together provide aid and protection to more

than 23 million refugees and displaced persons worldwide.

  • The UN system defines technical standards in telecommunication,

aviation, shipping and postal services, which make international

transactions possible.

  • UN campaigns for universal immunization against childhood diseases

have eradicated smallpox and reduced cases of polio by 99

per cent.

  • The World Food Programme, the UN’s front-line food aid organization,

ships over 5 million tonnes of food annually, feeding some 113

million people in 80 countries.

The United Nations Family 13

The UN Charter establishes six main organs of the United Nations. This is a summary of

their composition and functions:


All members of the United Nations (currently

192) are represented in the General Assembly.

Each nation, rich or poor, large or small, has

one vote. Decisions on such issues as international

peace and security, admitting new members

and the UN budget are decided by a twothirds

majority. Other matters are decided by

simple majority. In recent years, a special effort

has been made to reach decisions through consensus,

rather than by taking a formal vote.

The General Assembly’s regular session begins

each year in September and continues throughout the year. At the

beginning of each regular session, the Assembly holds a general

debate at which Heads of State or Government and others present

views on a wide-ranging agenda of issues of concern to the international

community, from war and terrorism to disease and poverty.

In 2005, world leaders gathered at UN Headquarters in New York

for the General Assembly High Level Summit and to commemorate

the Organization’s 60th birthday. Each year, the Assembly

elects a president who presides over–that is, runs–the meetings.


 To discuss and make recommendations on any subject (except

those being dealt with at the same time by the Security Council);

 To discuss questions related to military conflicts and the

arms race;

 To discuss ways and means to improve the state of children,

youth, women and others;

 To discuss the issues of sustainable development and human


 To decide how much each Member country should pay to run

the United Nations and how this money is spent.

The United Nations Family

President of the 65th Session of the

General Assembly, Mr. Joseph Deiss

of the Switzerland.

The green and gold General Assembly

Hall accommodates all 192 delegations.

Each delegation has six seats, and there

is a gallery for the media and the public,

making a total of 1,898 seats.

One country, one vote

In the General Assembly, each

member has one vote. This rule

applies to all nations, large and

small. China has over a billion people.

It has one vote. Palau, one of the

smallest UN Member countries,

has only 17,000 people. It, too,

has one vote.

Main Committees

Most discussions in the General Assembly take place in its six main committees:

 First Committee (Disarmament and International Security)

 Second Committee (Economic and Financial)

 Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural)

 Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization)

 Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary)

 Sixth Committee (Legal)

Some recent actions by the General Assembly

 In 2006, United Nations Member States agreed on a process

of reforming the work of the Assembly that involves speeding

up the decision-making process, streamlining the Assembly’s

agenda, and strengthening the role and authority of the Assembly


 In 2006, the Assembly approved the establishment of the new,

strengthened Human Rights Council to replace the muchcriticized

UN Human Rights Commission. The new Council that

was inaugurated on 19 June 2006 in Geneva has a higher status

in the UN system as a subsidiary body of the General Assembly.

 The Assembly designated 2001-2010 as Roll Back Malaria

decade in developing countries, particularly in Africa. The Roll

Back Malaria movement helps prevent disease and improves

lives. It is estimated that malaria kills up to 2.7 million persons

each year; 90 per cent of these deaths occur in Africa, and

children under the age of five years are the most vulnerable.

Malaria kills more than 3,000 African children every day.

 At the United Nations Summit in 2000, and reconfirmed in

2005, world leaders set goals in a landmark Millennium Declaration

to make the world of the twenty-first century a safer and

better place.

: http://www.un.org/ga

14 Everything About the United Nations

The United Nations Family 15


While the General Assembly can discuss any world

concern, the Security Council has primary responsibility

for questions of peace and security.


The Security Council has fifteen members. Five are

permanent members: China, France, the Russian Federation,

the United Kingdom and the United States.

The other ten non-permanent members are elected

by the General Assembly for two-year terms and are

chosen on the basis of geographical representation.


 To investigate any dispute or situation which might lead to

international conflict;

 To recommend methods and terms of settlement;

 To recommend actions against any threat or act of aggression;

 To recommend to the General Assembly who should be appointed

Secretary-General of the United Nations.


The Security Council, unlike the General Assembly, does not hold regular meetings. It can be called

to meet at any time on short notice. The members take turns at being President of the Council for a

month at a time. They serve in the English alphabetical order of the names of their countries.

To pass a resolution in the Security Council, nine members of the Council must vote “yes”, but if

any of the five permanent members votes “no”, it is called a veto, and the resolution does not pass.

: http://www.un.org/docs/sc/

Some recent actions by the Security Council

 In July 2007, the Council voted unanimously to deploy a

26,000-strong joint United Nations-African Union Mission

in Darfur (UNAMID) in an attempt to quell the violence in

Sudan’s western Darfur region, where fighting between pro-

Government militias and rebel guerillas has killed more than

250,000 people since 2003.

 The Council established two international criminal tribunals

to prosecute crimes against humanity in the former Yugoslavia

and in Rwanda.

 Following the terrorist attacks on the United States on

11 September 2001, the Council established its Counter-

Terrorism Committee to help States increase their capability

to fight terrorism.

The Security Council chamber, a

gift from Norway, was designed

by Norwegian artist Arnstein

Arneberg. A large mural by Per

Krohg (Norway), symbolizing

the promise of future peace

and individual freedom, covers

most of the east wall.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon speaks with Red Cross

Youth students in the Security Council.

16 Everything About the United Nations



The Economic and Social Council is the forum

to discuss economic problems, such as trade,

transport, economic development, and social

issues. It also helps countries reach agreement

on how to improve education and health conditions

and to promote respect for and observance

of universal human rights and freedoms

of people everywhere.


 Serves as the main forum for international economic and

social issues;

 Promotes higher standards of living, full employment and economic and social progress;

 Advances solutions to international economic, social and health-related problems, as well as

international cultural and educational cooperation.


The Council has 54 members, who serve for three-year terms. Voting in the Council is by simple

majority; each member has one vote. Each year, the Council holds several short sessions with

regard to the organization of its work, often including representatives of civil society. The Economic

and Social Council also holds an annual four-week substantive session in July, alternating

the venue between Geneva and New York.

A gift from Sweden, the ECOSOC chamber was

designed by Sven Markelius of Sweden.

Is it fair that only five major Powers have the right to veto?

At the end of World War II, China, France, the

Russian Federation (originally the USSR),

the United Kingdom and the United States

played key roles in the establishment of

the United Nations. The creators of the UN

Charter conceived that these five countries

would continue to play important roles in

the maintenance of international peace and

security. So the “big five” were given a special

voting power known as the “right to veto”. It

was agreed by the drafters that if any one of the “big five” cast a negative vote in the

15-member Security Council, the resolution or decision would not be approved.

The United Nations Family 17

Subsidiary bodies

ECOSOC has many commissions to administer the wide range of issues that fall within

its purview. Among them, the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, the Commission for Social

Development, the Commission on Population and Development, the Commission on the

Status of Women, the Statistical Commission, the Commission on Crime Prevention and

Criminal Justice, the Commission on Sustainable Development, the Commission on Science

and Technology for Development and the United Nations Forum on Forests.

The Council also directs 5 regional commissions: the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA),

the Economic Commission for Europe (ECE), the Economic Commission for Latin America

and the Caribbean (ECLAC), the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific

(ESCAP), and the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA).

Some UN Specialized Agencies, Funds and Programmes

The Economic and Social Council considers reports from several specialized agencies, funds

and programmes, each of which is a separate organization with its own membership, budget

and headquarters. A partial list follows.



The United Nations Development Programme is the UN’s global development

network, advocating for change and connecting countries

to knowledge, experience and resources to help people build a better

life. UNDP is on the ground in 166 countries, working with them on

their own solutions to global and national development challenges.



The United Nations Children’s Fund is the main UN organization

defending, promoting and protecting children’s rights. It also works

towards protecting the world’s most disadvantaged children.



The United Nations Environment Programme provides leadership

and encourages partnership in caring for the environment. It supports

environmental monitoring, assessment and early warning.



The United Nations Population Fund promotes the right of women, men

and children to enjoy a healthy life. UNFPA supports countries in using

population data for policies and programmes to reduce poverty and to

ensure that every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe and every girl

and woman is treated with dignity and respect.



The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees provides legal

protection for refugees and seeks durable solutions to their problems,

either by helping them to return voluntarily to their homes or to settle

in other countries.



The International Labour Organization formulates policies and programmes

to promote basic human rights of workers, improve working

and living conditions and enhance employment opportunities.



The International Monetary Fund ensures that the global monetary

and financial system is stable. It advises on key economic policies,

provides temporary financial assistance and training, promotes

growth and alleviates poverty.

18 Everything About the United Nations



The Food and Agriculture Organization works to eradicate hunger and

malnutrition and to raise levels of nutrition. It also assists its Member

States in the sustainable development of their agricultural sector.



The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

promotes international cooperation and facilitates the

exchange of information in the fields of education, science, culture

and communications.



The World Health Organization directs and coordinates international

health work. It also promotes and coordinates research on preventing


World Bank



The World Bank provides low-interest loans and interest-free credits

and grants to developing countries for education, health, infrastructure,

communications and other purposes.



The International Civil Aviation Organization assures the safe, secure,

orderly and sustainable development of international air transport

while minimizing the adverse effect of global civil aviation on the




The International Maritime Organization is responsible for safe, secure

and efficient shipping on clean oceans and the prevention of marine

pollution from ships.



The International Telecommunications Union works with governments

and the private sector to coordinate the operation of global telecommunications

networks and services. From broadband internet to latest-generation

wireless technologies, from aeronautical and maritime navigation

to radio astronomy and satellite-based meteorology, from phone and fax

services to television broadcasting, ITU helps the world communicate.



The Universal Postal Union fosters the sustainable development of

quality universal, efficient, accessible postal services in order to facilitate

communication among the people of the world.



The World Meteorological Organization coordinates global scientific

activity on the state and behaviour of the Earth’s atmosphere, its

interaction with the oceans, the climate it produces and the resulting

distribution of water resources.



The World Intellectual Property Organization ensures that the rights of

creators and owners of intellectual property are protected worldwide

and that inventors and authors are, thus, recognized and rewarded for

their ingenuity.



The International Fund for Agricultural Development provides direct

funding and mobilizes additional resources for programmes designed

to promote the economic advancement of the rural poor. 800 million

women, children and men live in rural areas and depend on agriculture

and related activities for their livelihoods.



The United Nations Industrial Development Organization helps countries

improve their national development policies and regulatory frameworks.

Its tailor-made programmes support market access and access to finance

for micro, small and medium scale agro-industrial development.

The United Nations Family 19




The World Tourism Organization promotes the development of responsible,

sustainable and universally accessible tourism, with the aim

of contributing to economic development, international understanding,

peace, prosperity and universal respect for, and observance of,

human rights and fundamental freedoms. It pays particular attention

to the interests of developing countries in the field of tourism.



The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime assists countries in

their struggle against illicit drugs, crime and terrorism. It seeks to increase

understanding of drug and crime issues and to assist countries

in developing domestic legislature and implementing international




The United Nations Development Fund for Women provides financial

and technical assistance to innovative programmes and strategies to

foster women’s empowerment and gender equality, and acts as a catalyst

to ensure the appropriate involvement of women in mainstream

development activities.



The World Food Programme supplies food to sustain victims of manmade

and natural disasters, improves the nutrition and quality of

life of the most vulnerable people at critical times in their lives, and

promotes self-reliance of people and communities.




The United Nations Human Settlements Programme promotes socially

and environmentally sustainable towns and cities with the goal of

ensuring adequate shelter for all.


In 1945, when the United Nations was established,

there were eleven territories (mostly in Africa and in

the Pacific Ocean) that were placed under international

supervision. The major goals of the Trusteeship System

were to promote the advancement of the inhabitants

of Trust Territories and their progressive development

towards self-government or independence.


The Trusteeship Council is composed of the permanent

members of the Security Council (China, France,

the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the

United States). Each member has one vote, and decisions

are made by a simple majority.


Since the last Trust Territory — Palau, formerly administered

by the United States — achieved self-government

in 1994, the Council has formally suspended

operations after nearly half a century. It will meet only

as the need arises.

The Trusteeship Council chamber was furnished

by Denmark and designed by Finn Juhl, a Dane.

Against one wall is a nine-foot statue of a woman

with arms up-raised carved from teak by Henrik

Starcke, also a Dane.


The International Court of Justice (ICJ) was established

in 1945 and assumed its functions in 1946

as the main UN organ for handing down legal

judgments. Only countries, not individuals, can

take cases before the Court. Once a country agrees

to let the Court act on a case, it must agree to comply

with the Court’s decision. In addition, other

organs of the UN may seek an advisory opinion

from the Court.

As of June 2006, the ICJ had delivered 92 judgments

on disputes between states, including cases

on territorial boundaries, diplomatic relations,

not interfering in countries’ domestic affairs, and



The Court sits at the Peace Palace in The Hague,

Netherlands. It has fifteen judges who are elected by

the General Assembly and the Security Council. No

two judges can come from the same country. Nine

judges have to agree before a decision can be made.

All the judgments passed by the Court are final and

without appeal. If one of the states involved fails

to comply with the decision, the other party may

take the issue to the Security Council. On 6 February

2006, Judge Rosalyn Higgins (United Kingdom),

the sole woman Member of the Court, was elected

the first female President of the International Court

for a term of three years.



In 1945, half of the world’s people lived in countries that were controlled by outsiders. These

countries, known as colonies, were divided by a handful of major Powers, including Great

Britain, France and Portugal. Through the process known as decolonization, the United Nations

has helped most of the colonies gain independence. The General Assembly, in 1960, adopted a

declaration to urge the speedy independence of all colonies and peoples. The following year it

set up the Special Committee on Decolonization. As a result of the UN’s decolonization efforts,

more than 80 former colonies are now themselves members of the United Nations. Today, only

1.5 million people live in dependent territories.

After an international competition, French architect Louis Cordonnier’s

design of the Peace Palace now stands in The Hague, Netherlands. It has

housed the International Court of Justice and its predecessors since 1913.

The International Court of Justice in observance of its 60th anniversary

at the Peace Palace at the Hague in the Netherlands.

20 Everything About the United Nations

The United Nations Family 21

Some recent decisions by the International Court of Justice

 After the Court concluded public hearings in 2006, it decided to hear the case brought by Bosnia

and Herzegovina alleging that Serbia and Montenegro had breached their obligations under the

Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

 In 2004, the Court unanimously reaffirmed that Israel’s construction of the wall in the Occupied

Palestinian Territory violates international law.

 In 2002, the Court ruled on the border dispute between Nigeria and Cameroon, placing the main

territory under dispute, the Bakassi Peninsula, under Cameroonian sovereignty.

: http://www.icj-cij.org


The Secretariat, headed by the Secretary-General, consists of an

international staff working at the United Nations Headquarters

in New York, and all over the world. It carries out the day-to-day

work of the Organization. Its duties are as varied as the problems

dealt with by the United Nations. These range from administering

peacekeeping operations to mediating international disputes or

surveying social and economic trends and problems. The Secretariat

is responsible for servicing the other organs of the United Nations

and administering the programmes and policies laid down by them.

Who it serves

The United Nations Headquarters was designed to serve four major groups: delegations, who represent

the 192 current Member States and who send more than 5,000 persons to New York each year for the

annual sessions of the General Assembly; the international staff or Secretariat, numbering about 5,478

persons in New York; visitors, estimated at about 1 million in 2007; and journalists, close to 2,000 of

whom are permanently accredited while nearly 5,000 are present during major meetings. There are also

more than 3,000 non-governmental organizations accredited to the United Nations, many of whom

attend meetings at Headquarters. The aggregate annual income to New York resulting from the UN

presence is estimated at $3.3 billion.


What are some other international courts?

The International Criminal Court (ICC) adjudicates individuals for

the most serious offenses of global concern, such as genocide, war

crimes, and crimes against humanity.

Over 5,000 people, drawn from all parts of the

world, work at the UN Headquarters in New York.

22 Everything About the United Nations


 To gather and prepare background information on various problems so that the

government delegates can study the facts and make their recommendations;

 To help carry out the decisions of the United Nations;

 To organize international conferences;

 To interpret speeches and translate documents into the UN’s official languages.


The Secretary-General is the chief officer of the United Nations. He or she is assisted by a

staff of international civil servants. Unlike diplomats, who represent a particular country,

the civil servants work for all 192 Member countries and take their orders not from governments,

but from the Secretary-General.

How is the UN Secretary-General appointed?

The Secretary-General is appointed for a period of five years by the General Assembly on the

recommendation of the Security Council. There have been eight Secretaries-General since the

UN was created. The appointment of the Secretary-General follows a regional rotation.

  • Trygve Lie (Norway) 1946-1952
  • Dag Hammarskjöld (Sweden) 1953-1961
  • U Thant (Myanmar) 1961-1971
  • Kurt Waldheim (Austria) 1972-1981
  • Javier Pérez de Cuéllar (Peru) 1982-1991
  • Boutros Boutros-Ghali (Egypt) 1992-1996
  • Kofi Annan (Ghana) 1997-2006
  • Ban Ki-moon (South Korea) 2007-

Some functions of the Secretary-General

The UN Charter describes the Secretary-General as the “chief administrative officer” of the

Organization, who shall act in the capacity and perform “functions as are entrusted” to him or

her by the General Assembly, Security Council, Economic and Social Council and other United

Nations organs. The Charter also empowers the Secretary-General to bring to the attention of the

Security Council any matter that threatens international peace and security.

 To propose issues to be discussed by the General

Assembly or any other organ of the United


 To bring to the attention of the Security Council

any problem which the Secretary-General feels

may threaten world peace;

 To act as a “referee” in disputes between Member


 To offer his or her “good offices”.

Dag Hammarskjöld


Does the Secretary-General act alone?

No. The Secretary-General does not act without

the support and approval of the United Nations

Member States. Any course of action, whether it

concerns sending peacekeeping troops to war-torn

areas or helping a country rebuild after a war or a

natural disaster, must be set by the Member States.

The United Nations Family 23


Ban Ki-moon of the Republic of Korea (ROK), the eighth

Secretary-General of the United Nations, brings to his post 37

years of service both in government and on the global stage.

Career highlights At the time of his election as Secretary-

General, Mr. Ban was his country’s Minister of Foreign

Affairs and Trade. His long tenure with the ministry included

postings in New Delhi, Washington D.C. and Vienna, and

responsibility for a variety of portfolios, including Foreign

Policy Advisor to the President, Chief National Security

Advisor to the President, Deputy Minister for Policy Planning and Director-General

of American Affairs. Throughout this service, his guiding vision was that of a peaceful

Korean peninsula, playing an expanding role for peace and prosperity in the

region and the world.

Mr. Ban has long-standing ties with the United Nations, dating back to 1975, when

he worked for the Foreign Ministry’s United Nations Division. That work expanded

over the years, with assignments as First Secretary at the ROK’s Permanent Mission

to the UN in New York, Director of the UN Division at the Ministry’s headquarters

in Seoul, and Ambassador to Vienna, during which time, in 1999, he served as

Chairman of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban

Treaty Organization. In 2001-2002, as Chef-de-Cabinet during the ROK’s Presidency

of the General Assembly, he facilitated the prompt adoption of the first resolution

of the session, condemning the terrorist attacks of 11 September, and undertook a

number of initiatives aimed at strengthening the Assembly’s functioning, thereby

helping to turn a session that started out in crisis and confusion into one in which

a number of important reforms were adopted.

Mr. Ban has also been actively involved in issues relating to inter-Korean relations.

In 1992, as Special Advisor to the Foreign Minister, he served as Vice Chair

of the South-North Joint Nuclear Control Commission following the adoption of

the historic Joint Declaration on the Denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.

In September 2005, as Foreign Minister, he played a leading role in bringing about

another landmark agreement aimed at promoting peace and stability on the Korean

peninsula with the adoption at the Six Party Talks of the Joint Statement on resolving

the North Korean nuclear issue.

Education Mr. Ban received a bachelor’s degree in international relations from

Seoul National University in 1970. In1985, he earned a master’s degree in public

administration from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Prizes and awards Mr. Ban has received numerous national and international

prizes, medals and honours. In 1975, 1986 and again in 2006, he was awarded the

ROK’s Highest Order of Service Merit for service to his country.

Personal Mr. Ban was born on 13 June 1944. He and his wife, Madam Yoo (Ban)

Soon-taek, whom he met in high school in 1962, have one son and two daughters. In

addition to Korean, Mr. Ban speaks English and French.

24 Everything About the United Nations

Why a Nobel peace prize for the United Nations?

The Norwegian Nobel Committee decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2001

in two equal portions–to the United Nations and to its Secretary-General, Kofi Annan

– “for their work for a better organized and more peaceful world.”

The Committee said the end of the Cold War had at last made it possible for the UN

to perform more fully the part it was originally intended to play; the Organization

was at the forefront of efforts to achieve peace and security in the world, and central

to the international mobilization aimed at meeting the world’s economic, social and

environmental challenges. Besides, Secretary-General Kofi Annan had been preeminent

in bringing new life to the Organization, “while clearly underlining the UN’s

traditional responsibility for peace and security, he has also emphasized its obligations

with regard to human rights.” In its statement announcing the peace prize, the

Nobel Committee acknowledged “he has risen to such new challenges as HIV/AIDS

and international terrorism, and brought about more efficient utilization of the UN’s

modest resources.”

In 2007, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize jointly

with Albert Arnold Gore Jr, former Vice-President of the United States. This was the fifteenth time the UN

was honoured by the Nobel Committee with the peace award. Previous winners were: the International

Atomic Energy Agency and Mohamed ElBaradei, IAEA Director-General ( 2005); the United Nations and Kofi

Annan, UN Secretary-General (2001); the UN Peacekeeping Forces (1988); Seán MacBride, UN Commissioner

for Namibia (1974); Lester Bowles Pearson, for striving to end the Suez conflict and

Middle East question through the UN (1957); the Office of the UN High Commissioner for

Refugees (1954 and 1981); the International Labour Organization (1969); the UN Children’s

Fund (1965); Dag Hammarskjöld, UN Secretary-General (1961); Léon Jouhaux, a

founder of the ILO (1951); Ralph Bunche, UN Trusteeship Director (1950); Lord John Boyd

Orr, founding Director-General of the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (1949); and

Cordell Hull, US Secretary of State instrumental in establishing the United Nations (1945). Q&A Team Play

Team Play

When playing as team-mates (2 or more players on a team), team-mates can work together to arrive at an answer, but

must reach a consensus before declaring an answer to the other players.

  1. What does UNICEF stand for?
  2. Where is the International Court of Justice located?
  3. What is the name of the UN agency that deals with


  1. What is a veto?
  2. How many votes does each Member State have in the

General Assembly?

  1. What is the main judicial organ of the United Nations?
  2. How many members does the Security Council have?
  3. True or false- China has more votes at the General Assembly

than Monaco because its population is larger?

  1. On what does the General Assembly discuss and/or

make suggestions?

  1. With what is ECOSOC concerned?
  2. Which Trust territory was the last country to achieve

self-government thanks to the Trusteeship Council?

  1. The judges of the International Court of Justice come

from how many different countries?

  1. Who are the members of the Secretariat?
  2. How many times has the United Nations system been

awarded the Nobel Peace Prize?

The seventh Secretary-General of

the United Nations, Mr. Kofi Annan,

holds the Nobel Peace Prize

awarded to the United Nations

and to him.

The United Nations works

for international peace

and security


UN peacemaking efforts

  • UN peacebuilding in post-conflict situations often includes overseeing

the collection and destruction of hundreds of thousands of

weapons and facilitating the reintegration of former combatants

into civil society.

  • The UN played a crucial role in encouraging countries to support

the 1997 Ottawa Convention – which provides for the total ban on

the production, export and use of landmines – and continues to

promote universal adherence to this treaty.

  • UN support has resulted in a wide range of agreements, including

the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Comprehensive Nuclear-

Test-Ban Treaty, and treaties to establish nuclear-free zones.

  • During the 1990s, more than 2 million children were killed and 6 million

seriously injured in conflicts involving revolvers, assault rifles,

mortars, hand grenades and portable missile launchers. At a UN

Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Lights Weapons

in 2001, States agreed on measures to strengthen international

cooperation in curbing this illegal arms trade.

26 Everything About the United Nations

The United Nations works for international peace and security 27

The UN was created to keep peace. How does it do that?

The United Nations serves as a global forum where countries can raise and discuss the

most difficult issues, including problems of war and peace. When government leaders talk

to each other face-to-face, a dialogue is established. This can result in agreement on how

to peacefully settle disputes. When many countries speak with one voice – or by consensus

– it creates a global pressure on all. The Secretary-General, either directly or through a

representative, may also advance a dialogue between and among nations.

Who commands the peacekeeping operations?

Peacekeeping operations are established by the Security

Council and directed by the Secretary-General,

often through a special representative. When a threat

to peace is brought before the Council, it usually

first asks the parties to reach agreement by peaceful

means. If fighting breaks out or persists, the Council

tries to secure a ceasefire. It may then send peacekeeping

missions to troubled areas to restore peace

or call for economic sanctions and embargoes.

Has the UN stopped any war?

The UN has helped prevent many conflicts from flaring up into full-scale wars. It has also negotiated the

peaceful settlement of conflicts. On many occasions, the UN has provided a mechanism to help defuse

hostilities, for example, the Berlin crisis (1948-1949), the Cuban missile crisis (1962) and the 1973 Middle

East crisis. In each of these cases, UN intervention helped prevent war between the super-powers.

The UN also played a major role in ending wars in the Congo (1964), between Iran and Iraq (1988), and

in El Salvador (1992) and Guatemala (1996). The UN led the way to a peace that has brought sustained

economic growth in Mozambique (1994); independence to Timor-Leste (2002) and in December 2005,

the Organization successfully completed its peacekeeping mandate in Sierra Leone.

Other accomplishments include:

 The UN Transition Assistance Group (UNTAG) supervised Namibia’s first free and fair elections,

leading to its independence.

 In Cambodia, the UN Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) monitored a ceasefire

and withdrawal of foreign forces, supervised various government offices and organized a free

and fair election.

 In the former Yugoslavia, the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR) worked to protect

the civilians in demilitarized zones and to enable the delivery of humanitarian assistance.

The United Nations works for

international peace and security

Blue helmets and uniforms

What happens when a country ignores the decisions of the Security Council?

When decisions of the Security Council are not complied with, the Council may take several

actions to ensure their implementation. Should a country threaten or breach the peace or commit

an act of aggression, it may impose economic and trade sanctions, or other specific measures

such as arms and travel ban and diplomatic restrictions. It can also authorize the use of force in

certain instances. But these measures are usually a last resort, to be used only if peaceful means

of settling a dispute have been exhausted.

The Security Council can authorize a coalition of Member States to use “all necessary means”,

including military action, to deal with a conflict as for example :

 in 1991 to restore the sovereignty of Kuwait after its invasion by Iraq;

 in 1992 to secure the environment for humanitarian relief to be delivered in Somalia;

 in 1994 to restore the democratically-elected government in Haiti;

 in 1999 to restore peace and security in East Timor.

Does the UN have an army?

No, the United Nations has no standing international police or military force. Troops

who serve in the UN peacekeeping operations are voluntarily contributed by the Member

States. Civilians, often drawn from the UN itself, also play a key role in forming

such operations.

UN Peacekeepers on patrol in El Arish, Egypt.

The first UN peacekeeping operation, the UN Truce Supervision

Organization, was created in 1948 following a war between Israel and its

Arab neighbours. To this day, UNTSO ’s military observers remain in the

region to monitor ceasefires and supervise agreements.

28 Everything About the United Nations

The United Nations works for international peace and security 29

What, then, is a peacekeeping operation?

Peacekeeping has traditionally been defined as the use of multinational forces, under UN command,

to help control and resolve conflicts between countries. Peacekeeping operations fulfill the

role of a neutral third party to help create and maintain a ceasefire and form a buffer zone between

warring parties. They also provide electoral assistance and help in clearing deadly landmines.

As peacekeepers maintain peace on the ground, mediators from the United Nations meet with

leaders from the disputing parties or countries and try to reach a peaceful solution.

There are two types of peacekeeping operations: observer missions and peacekeeping forces.

Observers are not armed. Soldiers of UN peacekeeping forces carry light weapons, which they may

use only in self-defence. The UN peacekeepers are easily identifiable by the UN insignia and the

blue beret they wear when on duty. The blue helmet, which has become the symbol of UN peacekeepers,

is carried during all operations and is worn when there is danger. Peacekeepers wear their

own national uniforms. Governments that volunteer personnel retain ultimate control over their

own military forces serving under the UN flag.

Why does the UN have so many peacekeeping operations?

Peacekeeping operations are created in response to serious military or humanitarian crises. In the

past, peacekeepers were mainly involved in keeping peace between warring nations. But now many

nations are at war with themselves. Due to civil strife and ethnic conflicts, some governments are

unable to exercise authority over their own territory, causing great human suffering. In such situations,

the United Nations is often asked, on the one hand, to negotiate a settlement and, on the

other, to provide emergency relief to the people affected by the conflict. Working under difficult

conditions, the United Nations integrates humanitarian assistance with efforts to resolve the crisis.

What are some recent United Nations peacekeeping operations?

In the first 40 years of its history (1945-1985); the United Nations set up only 13 peacekeeping operations.

In the 20 years since then (1986-2006), 47 peacekeeping missions were deployed.

United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID)

A joint African Union/United Nations Hybrid operation in Darfur was authorized by the Security Council

on 31 July 2007. The Council, acting under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, authorized UNAMID

to take necessary action to support the implementation of the Darfur

Peace Agreement, as well as to protect its personnel and civilians, without

“prejudice to the responsibility of the Government of Sudan”. The Council

decided that UNAMID would start implementing its mandated tasks no later

than 31 December 2007.

United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad


On 25 September 2007, the Security Council approved the establishment

in Chad and the Central African Republic, in concert with the European

Union, of a multi-dimensional presence intended to help create the security

conditions conducive to a voluntary, secure and sustainable return

of refugees and displaced persons. The Council decided that the multidimensional

presence would include a United Nations Mission in the

Central African Republic and Chad.

Sudanese refugees in Iridimi Camp in


30 Everything About the United Nations

United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS)

On 24 March 2005, the Security Council voted unanimously

to send 10,000 troops and more than 700

civilian police to southern Sudan to support the peace

agreement between the Government of Sudan and the

Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A),

which ended more than two decades of civil strife.

Until the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement

in 2005, there had been 21 years of continuous

fighting over resources, power, the role of religion and

self-determination in southern Sudan. Over two million

people died, four million people were uprooted and

some 600,000 people fled the country as refugees.

United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT)

The UN was called in to East Timor (now Timor-Leste) in late 1999 to guide the Timorese towards statehood

in the wake of violence and devastation that followed a UN-led consultation on integration with

Indonesia. The UN established an effective administration, enabled refugees to return, helped to develop

civil and social services, ensured humanitarian assistance, supported capacity-building for self-governance

and helped to establish conditions for sustainable development. In 2005, the peacekeeping mission

was transformed into an assitance and peacebuilding mission.

United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone


The efforts of the international community to end

an 11-year civil war and move the country towards

peace enabled Sierra Leone since 2002 to enjoy

a much improved security environment. After a

decisive intervention by British troops in 2001, the

UN helped disarm and demobilize some 75,000

combatants. UN peacekeepers reconstructed roads;

renovated and built schools, houses of worship and

clinics; and initiated agricultural projects and welfare

programmes. UNAMSIL also helped Sierra Leone to

ensure that the rights of its citizens were fully protected;

to bring to justice those who bore the greatest

responsibility for serious violations of international

humanitarian law through the UN-backed Special

Court for Sierra Leone; and to develop a professional

and democratic police force. A new mission—the

United Nations Integrated Office for Sierra Leone

(UNIOSIL)—was established by the Security Council

to help consolidate the peace, strengthen human rights, develop the economy, improve transparency

and hold elections in 2007. The United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone, which came to a close at the

end of 2005, could serve as a prototype for the UN’s new emphasis on peacebuilding.

60 years of peacekeeping


63 peacekeeping operations

since 1948

16 current operations (2008)

107,503 personnel serving

in current peacekeeping


2,493 fatalities

One Nobel peace prize

UN Peacekeeping troops from Rwanda mount the guard

during the commemoration of the International Day of

United Nations Peacekeepers, at the Headquarters of the

United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS) in Khartoum.

What else does the UN do for peace?

The UN’s work for peace does not end with the successful conclusion of a peacekeeping

mission. In the aftermath of a conflict, the UN helps displaced persons and

refugees to return to their homes. It clears mines, repairs roads and bridges and provides

economic and technical help to rebuild the economy. It also monitors elections

and closely follows how a country respects the human rights of its citizens.

This process, also known as peacebuilding, has helped over 60 countries to build

democratic institutions.

Peacebuilding, peacekeeping, nation-building: what’s the difference?

Peacekeeping is organized around a military deployment. It is often a central part

of a peacebuilding effort. Nation-building means different things to different people

and is not a term used by the UN. It normally refers to a longer historical process

and includes the building up of a national identity. Peacebuilding provides all that is

needed to help a country move from war to peace and a functioning self-government.

The UN has been engaged in peacebuilding activities for years, but only

recently decided to establish a Peacebuilding Commission. Why?

The United Nations has played a vital role in reducing the level of conflict in several

regions by mediating peace agreements and assisting in their implementation. However,

some of those accords have failed to take hold, such as in Angola in 1993 and

Rwanda in 1994. Roughly half of all countries that emerge from war lapse back into

violence within five years, driving home the message that, to prevent conflict, peace

agreements must be implemented in a sustained manner.

In June 2006, the UN set up the Peacebuilding Commission with a view to helping

countries make the transition from war to lasting peace. It forms the connecting link

between peacekeeping and post-conflict operations. Its job is to bring together all the

major actors in a given situation to discuss and decide on a long-term peacebuilding

strategy. What that means is that assistance is better coordinated, money is better

spent, and there is a real link between immediate post-conflict efforts on the one

hand and long-term recovery and development efforts on the other.

: http://www.un.org/peace/peacebuilding/

The United Nations works for peace and progress. But there is so little peace

in the world today. Do we really need the UN?

The world has fought more than 50 wars in the past 60 years. According to the Stockholm

International Peace Research Institute, in 2006 alone, 17 major armed conflicts

were waged around the world. Luckily, none of them turned into devastating world

wars. There is general agreement that the UN’s campaign for peace and disarmament

played a key role in this regard.

Many people feel that the UN should be made stronger to stop smaller wars and have

its decisions fully carried out. But the effectiveness of UN actions depends on the

political will of the Member States — on their readiness to respect the decisions they

The United Nations works for international peace and security 31

32 Everything About the United Nations

themselves take. Also, these operations are costly. Because of a lack of funds, the UN is often

unable to play a greater role.

The strength of the UN comes from its refusal to give up, even in the face of the stiffest challenge.

When countries at war do not have the political will to stop, the UN sometimes has to

withdraw its peacekeeping troops. But it continues its work through diplomacy and negotiations,

by constantly speaking with the parties concerned. When better conditions are created,

the peacekeepers may return.

The world still has a long way to go before it can ensure peace and justice for everyone.

Wars, poverty and human rights violations are still widespread. But that’s precisely why there

is a need for the UN to continue to operate. It has been said that, if the UN did not exist, the

countries of the world would have to create another organization, maybe with another name,

to do exactly what the UN does.

: http://www.un.org/Depts/dpko/dpko/

What is the UN doing to combat terrorism?

The United Nations has long been active in the fight against international terrorism. Reflecting

the determination of the international community to eliminate this threat, the Organization

and its agencies have developed a wide range of international legal instruments that

enable the international community to take action to suppress terrorism and bring those

responsible to justice. Thirteen global conventions have been negotiated through the UN

dating back to 1963, including treaties against hostage-taking, airplane hijacking, terrorist

bombings and terrorism financing. A Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee oversees

how Member States carry out the commitments they promised subsequent to 11 September

2001 and works to increase their capability to fight terrorism.

“Whether we like it or not, our generation will go down in history as one that

was challenged to protect the world from terrorism”.

Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General

: http://www.un.org/terrorism/

: http://disarmament.un.org/terrorism.htm

19 August 2003

A suicide attacker set off a bomb

explosion in a cement truck

parked outside the Canal Hotel

that housed the UN Headquarters

in Baghdad, Iraq, killing at

least 17 people including the

Secretary-General’s Special Representative

in Iraq, Sergio Vieira

de Mello, and wounding some

100 people.

A Global counter-terrorism strategy

The United Nations General Assembly adopted a global counter-terrorism

strategy on 8 September 2006. The strategy – in the form of a Resolution

and an annexed Plan of Action – is a unique instrument to enhance

national, regional and international efforts to counter terrorism. Its adoption

marks the first time that all Member States have agreed to a common

strategic and operational approach to fight terrorism. Important new initiatives

set forth in the strategy include:

  • Improving the coherence and efficiency of counter-terrorism technical

assistance delivery so that all States can play their part effectively.

  • Voluntarily putting in place systems of assistance that would address

the needs of victims of terrorism and their families.

  • Addressing the threat of bioterrorism by establishing a single comprehensive

database on biological incidents, focusing on improving States’

public health systems, and acknowledging the need to bring together

major stakeholders to ensure that biotechnology’s advances are not

used for terrorist or other criminal purposes but for the public good.

  • Involving civil society, regional and sub-regional organizations in the

fight against terrorism and developing partnerships with the private

sector to prevent terrorist attacks on particularly vulnerable targets.

  • Exploring innovative means to address the growing threat of terrorists’

use of the internet.

  • Modernizing border and customs controls systems, and improving

the security of travel documents, to prevent terrorists’ travel and the

movement of illicit materials.

  • Enhancing cooperation to combat money laundering and the financing

of terrorism.

: http://www.un.org/sc/ctc

The United Nations works for international peace and security 33

Battling Landmines

Since the 1980s, the United Nations has been addressing the problems posed

by the millions of deadly landmines scattered in over 60 countries. Each year

thousands of people – most of them children, women and the elderly – are

maimed or killed by these “silent killers”. Meanwhile, new landmines continue

to be deployed in various countries around the world.

The United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) acts as the focal point for

mine action and coordinates all mine-related activities of UN agencies, funds

and programmes. The work focuses on mine action clearance, mine awareness

and risk-reduction education, victim assistance and stockpile destruction.

: http://www.mineaction.org/


Mine Terror

  • E very 20 minutes someone is either killed or maimed by a landmine.
  • A t the beginning of the 20th century, nearly 80 per cent of landmine victims were

military personnel. Today, nearly 80 per cent of landmine victims are civilians.

  • It cost as little as $3 to buy a landmine but as much as $1000 to remove one.
  • T he countries most affected by landmines are Angola, Afghanistan, Bosnia and

Herzegovina, Cambodia, Croatia, Eritrea, Iraq, Mozambique, Sudan and Vietnam.

The Mine-Ban Convention forbids the possession and use of anti-personnel landmines.

As of April 2007, 133 States had signed the Convention. A total of 153 States have formally

agreed to be bound by the Convention.

  • 76 States Parties have completed destruction of their stockpiles.
  • 58 States Parties have officially declared not having a stockpile of anti-personnel mines.
  • 9 States Parties are in the process of destroying their stockpiles.
  • 8 States Parties are late to declare the presence or absence of stockpiles.
  • 2 States Parties are scheduled to formally announce the presence or absence of

stockpiles in their initial transparency measures report.

Unexploded cluster bombs in Lebanon

Some of the unexploded devices found in

the de-mining of the town of Hiniyah in

Lebanon by a United Nations Chinese battalion.

The soldiers remove the unexploded

devices, and relocate them to a safe area

where they then detonate them.

34 Everything About the United Nations

Cluster Munitions and Mine Action

Since the antipersonnel mine-ban treaty went into force in 1999, the number

of new victims each year has dropped, large tracts of land have been cleared,

and the number of stockpiled mines has decreased by millions. The treaty has had a major impact on the

global landmine problem. It has not, however, addressed another major problem: explosive remnants of

war, which kill thousands of civilians annually.

“Explosive remnants of war” refer to abandoned explosive ordnance and unexploded ordnance, or UXO,

such as cluster munitions that fail to detonate but remain volatile and dangerous, often threatening the

safety of civilians. UN-supported mine-action programmes help countries eliminate the threat of landmines

and explosive remnants of war. An international movement seeking to limit the use of cluster

munitions has gained momentum in recent years.

More than

keeping peace

Peacekeeping, in the

traditional sense, is sending

multinational troops under

the UN command to keep

warring factions apart.

These days, UN peacekeepers

do much more

than just acting as a buffer

between opposing forces.

Here are a few examples:

 Truce supervision,

ceasefire monitoring,

military observation

 Demobilization and


 Disarmament

 Humanitarian


 Electoral assistance

 Human rights

 Civilian police

 Mine clearance

 Cooperation with

regional organizations

A young man

demonstrating the

method involved to

deactivate a mine.

More spending for weapons

than for people

The United Nations works for international peace and security 35

$1339 billion — annual world

military expenditures in 2007

compares to:

$50 billion Provide clean,

safe energy

$30 bil Retire developing

nations’ debt

$24 billion Prevent soil erosion

$21 billion Provide health care

and AIDS control

$21 billion Provide shelter

$19 billion Eliminate starvation

and malnutrition

$10.5 billion Stabilize population

$10 billion Provide clean,

safe water

$8 billion Prevent acid rain

$8 billion Prevent global


$7 billion Eliminate nuclear


$7 billion Stop deforestation

$5 billion Stop ozone


$5 billion Refugee relief

$5billion Eliminate illiteracy

$2 billion Remove landmines

$2 billion Build democracy

36 Everything About the United Nations


Ensuring world safety by reducing nuclear weapons

Humankind has so far avoided a second nuclear war, due in large part

to United Nations activities for disarmament, in particular, the elimination

of weapons of mass destruction. But the world remains a dangerous

place: weapon supplies continue to grow; more people train for war

every day; and the costs of the arms race continue to mount.

Consider this: In 1945, after two atomic bombs were dropped over Hiroshima

and Nagasaki in Japan, the Second World War (1939-1945) was

over. Since then, the world has witnessed some 150 wars. These conflicts

have cost more than 20 million lives, more than 80 per cent of them

civilians. Though nobody has used nuclear weapons again, we now have

at least seven “nuclear Powers”. The total stockpile of nuclear weapons

in the world now amounts to some 15,000 megatons, roughly equivalent

to more than 1 million Hiroshima bombs.

Now consider this: Take a minute to count from 1 to 60. By

the time you finish counting from 1 to 60, the world has lost

25 to 30 children. During the same time, the world has spent

about $2.55 million for military purposes- or approximately

$1339 billion annually.

The accumulation of arms and economic development both

require large-scale human and material resources. But since

resources are limited, pursuing either process tends to be at

the expense of the other. There is growing agreement that,

in the long run, the world can either continue to pursue the

arms race or achieve and sustain social and economic development

for the benefit of all, but it will not be able to do both.

General and complete disarmament — or gradual elimination

of weapons of mass destruction — is one of the goals set by the

United Nations. Its immediate objectives are to eliminate the danger of war, particularly nuclear war,

and to implement measures to halt and reverse the arms race.

: http://disarmament.un.org

Some UN actions for disarmament

 The Partial Test-Ban Treaty, 1963, prohibits nuclear tests in the atmosphere, in outer space

and under water.

 The Non-Proliferation Treaty, 1968, prohibits the spread of nuclear weapons from nuclear to

non-nuclear countries.

 The Chemical Weapons Convention, 1992, prohibits use, manufacturing and stockpiling of

such weapons.

 The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, 1996, bans all underground nuclear-test explosions.

 The Anti-Personnel Landmines Convention, 1997, prohibits the use, stock-piling, production

and transfer of such mines.

In 1945, more than 120,000 people

were killed in Hiroshima and Nagasaki

(Japan) by atomic bombs.

The Hiroshima Peace Memorial (Genbaku Dome)

was the only structure left standing in the area

where the first atomic bomb exploded. In 1996 it

became a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The story of a child soldier

“I don’t know how old I am,” said Abu Bakar Bangura, a slight and serious

young boy from the West African country of Sierra Leone. “I was very

young when I was taken from my family,” he explained. Abu, as he is

known, is one of the 10,000 children who were abducted from their homes

and forced to become soldiers by both the pro-government and the rebel

forces during the 11-year civil war that tore his country apart.

After being kidnapped by the rebel group, Abu was drugged, beaten,

and forced to commit terrible atrocities. Instead of a childhood of innocence

and affection, he lived a life of violence and fear. Only once the fighting

in Sierra Leone stopped in 2001, could these children put down their

weapons and return to their homes and their childhoods. But many had

forgotten how to be children and part of a family. Fighting and fending for

themselves was all that they remembered.

Actor Michael Douglas of the United States, a United Nations

Messenger of Peace, met Abu while at the Child Protection Care Center

in Kono in the eastern district of Sierra Leone. At that point, Abu’s

time was running out – if his family wasn’t found soon, he would be

placed in foster care, an option that he was not looking forward to.

Although Samuel T. Kamanda, the assistant programme manager of

the International Red Cross’ Child Protection Care Center, had already

visited several villages trying to track down Abu’s family without success,

he decided to follow one of Abu’s last leads – a village in another

region of Sierra Leone. Michael Douglas accompanied Kamanda and

Abu on the quest. After flying in on a UN helicopter, they walked for

miles under the hot sun in a tiring search for Abu’s village and family.

Finally they came to a village, and suddenly, while waiting for the village

chief, Abu heard a cry of joy and surprise. It was his mother. Abu recognized

her immediately and rushed to her crying with relief and excitement.

: http://www.un.org/works/

The United Nations works for international peace and security 37

Michael Douglas and

Abu – screenshot

from the UN Works

documentary series

“What’s Going On?’

: http://www.un.org/



Far right photo:

Actor George Clooney,

United Nations

Messenger of Peace

: http://www.un.org/sg/mop

38 Everything About the United Nations

“The Meditation Room” • United Nations Headquarters, New York

In the original plan for the new Headquarters, a tiny room had been provided as a place

dedicated to silence, where people could withdraw into themselves, regardless of their faith,

creed or religion, but Dag Hammarskjöld wanted something more dignified. In his efforts he

was supported by a group, composed of Christians, Jews, and Muslims, the “Friends of the

UN Meditation Room”, who combined their efforts and provided the money for a room worthy

of a world organization. The work on the room began, and Mr. Hammarskjöld personally

planned and supervised in every detail the creation of the “Meditation Room”. The abstract

mural was made by his friend and artist Bo Beskow.

: http://www.un.org/Depts/dhl/dag/meditationroom.htm

Q&A Team Play

Team Play

When playing as team-mates (2 or more players on a team), team-mates can work together to arrive at an

answer, but must reach a consensus before declaring an answer to the other players.

  1. Does the United Nations have its own army?
  2. What are the two types of peacekeeping operations under UN command?
  3. UN peacekeepers are easily recognized by what piece of clothing?
  4. Can peacekeeping soldiers fight for one side of a dispute?
  5. What does the United Nations do to promote peace after the successful completion of a peacekeeping mission?
  6. What is the Mine-ban Convention?
  7. What is the UN doing to combat terrorism?

“We all have within us a centre of stillness

surrounded by silence. This house, dedicated

to work and debate in the service of

peace, should have one room dedicated to

silence in the outward sense and stillness

in the inner sense. It has been the aim to

create in this small room a place where the

doors may be open to the infinite lands of

thought and prayer”.

Dag Hammarskjöld, 1957

Photo: Arun Malhotra

Seeking Inner Peace

The Millennium

Development Goals


Development facts

  • The proportion of the worldwide population living in extreme

poverty has fallen from one-third to one-fifth since 1990.

However, in sub-Saharan Africa, while the poverty rate has leveled

off, life expectancy is lower today than it was three decades

ago. The percentage of underweight children is still very high in

sub-Saharan Africa and in Southern Asia.

  • The benefits of economic growth in the developing world have

been unequally shared. Widening income inequality is of particular

concern. Also, most economies have failed to provide

employment opportunities to their youth, with young people

more than three times as likely as adults to be unemployed.

  • Half the population of the developing world lacks basic sanitation.

Approximately 1.1 billion people have no access to clean water.

  • Over half a million women still die each year from treatable

and preventable complications of pregnancy and childbirth. The

odds that a woman will die from these causes in sub-Saharan

Africa are 1 in 16 over the course of her lifetime, compared to

1 in 3,800 in the developed world.

  • The number of people dying from AIDS worldwide increased to

2.9 million in 2006, and prevention measures are failing to keep

pace with the growth of the epidemic.

A girl in Karachi, Pakistan, masters the art of writing.

Children in a refugee camp, in Goma, Rwanda.

The Millennium

Development Goals

What are the Millennium Development Goals?

At the Millennium Summit in 2000, the Member States of the United Nations agreed on eight goals, the Millennium

Development Goals (MDGs) that call for national action, and international cooperation, to provide

access to food, education, healthcare and economic opportunities for children, women and men everywhere.

In 2005, world leaders gathered at UN Headquarters in New York for the General Assembly High-Level Summit,

at which they spoke about the progress they had made nationally in achieving the Millennium Development

Goals. United Nations Member States have vowed to work together to reduce poverty and eliminate

hunger in developing countries, and to achieve the targets set out in the MDGs by 2015.

What is the UN doing about fighting poverty?

In the Millennium Declaration, world leaders resolved to halve, by 2015, the number of people living on less

than $1 a day, and also set targets in the fight against poverty and disease.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan proposed specific actions that rich countries should take:

  1. Grant free access to their markets for goods produced in poorer countries:

Many developing countries are forced to rely on exporting unprocessed agricultural products to

earn income overseas. At the same time, world market prices for fuel and for manufactured and

processed goods have risen. Furthermore, many developed countries have imposed steep trade

restrictions on agricultural products from developing countries, making it almost impossible for

them to sell their goods.

  1. Write off foreign debts:

Over the last few years, there has been a worldwide movement pressing for the cancellation of

the debts that poor countries owe to their creditors—developed country Governments, commercial

banks, and multilateral international lending institutions, such as the World Bank and the

International Monetary Fund.

The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund launched a programme in 1996 known as

the Debt Initiative for Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC), to help the world’s poorest countries

with crippling debts. By October 2007, there were 32 countries receiving debt relief. As a

result, the money that might have been used to repay their huge debts could instead be used for

health, education and other social services.

  1. Grant more generous development assistance:

Overcoming poverty requires global efforts. In 1980, the industrialized countries pledged at the

General Assembly to devote 0.7 per cent of their gross national products (GNP) to official development

assistance. To date, only five countries – Denmark, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway

and Sweden – have consistently provided 0.7 per cent of their GNP as development assistance

to poor countries.

The Millennium Development Goals 41

  1. Work with pharmaceutical companies to develop an effective and affordable vaccine

against HIV:

Developing a vaccine to combat HIV/AIDS has been slow, mainly due to the enormous scientific,

logistical and financial challenges involved. Since the discovery of the human immunodeficiency

virus (HIV) as the cause of AIDS, multiple vaccines have been tested in scores of

human clinical trials, with moderate success.

The World Health Organization and its partners successfully implemented a global initiative

called “3 by 5”, to provide antiretroviral therapy to 3 million people with HIV/AIDS in developing

countries by the end of 2005.

: http://www.undp.org/poverty/

: http://www.un.org/cyberschoolbus

Towards eradicating poverty

The United Nations system assists Governments and civic groups in the developing world to

address various factors that contribute to poverty. Here are a few examples:

China: Improve Teacher Quality in

Poor Areas of Western China

Raising the standards of teacher qualifications,

and continuing professional development of

teachers are priorities in China’s educational

development strategy. It is especially true in

western China where poor rural teachers, particularly

women teachers and minority teachers,

find few means to improve their professional

skills. A United Nations Development Programme

(UNDP) project aims at increasing educational

equity and improving teachers’ abilities

at the primary level in three western provinces

of China through delivering high-quality, distance

teacher training. So far, 45,000 teachers

have been trained under this project.

Ethiopia: Leadership Development

Programme to combat HIV/AIDS

One of the main components of UNDP’s poverty

reduction initiative is combating HIV/AIDS. The

objective of the Leadership Development Programme

is to promote leadership at all levels, and

develop the capacity of government, civil society,

development partners, communities and individuals

to effectively respond to the epidemic. The

programme has been successful in building partnerships

through forming coalitions such as the Ethiopian

Volunteer Media Professionals against AIDS

and the National Coalition for Women against HIV/

AIDS, uniquely positioned to mobilize women at all

levels in advocating for gender equality and HIV/

AIDS issues from policy level to the grassroots.

Timor-Leste: Local Development Programme

UNDP and the UN Capital Development Fund are supporting the Government of Timor-Leste in

“piloting” decentralized assemblies at the district and sub-district level in Bobonaro and Lautem,

to test-run participatory planning processes, financial management and procurement procedures as

well as representational arrangements at the local level.

The pilot programme is resolving practical obstacles for the future transfer of funds from central

government to local governments. Simultaneously, the programme is building the capacity of local

assembly members, local technical staff and the population on how to interact and respect each

others’ responsibilities. It creates a downward accountability mechanism through the local assembly

members who are empowered as the decision makers to determine local development priorities.

42 Everything About the United Nations

The Millennium Development Goals 43

Goal 1 Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger

By 2015, reduce by half the proportion of people living on less than $1 a day.

By 2015, reduce by half the proportion of people who suffer from hunger.

Goal 2 Achieve universal primary education

By 2015, ensure a full course of primary schooling for all boys and girls.

Goal 3 Promote gender equality and empower women

By 2005, eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education, and at

all levels of education no later than 2015.

Goal 4 Reduce child mortality

By 2015, reduce by two-thirds the number of children dying under the age of five.

Goal 5 Improve maternal health

By 2015, reduce by three quarters the number of women dying from complications

of pregnancy and childbirth.

Goal 6 Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases

By 2015, halt and begin to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS.

By 2015, halt and begin to reverse the incidence of malaria and other major diseases.

Goal 7 Ensure environmental sustainability

Reverse the loss of environmental resources.

By 2015, halve the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe

drinking water.

By 2020, achieve significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million

slum dwellers.

Goal 8 Develop a global partnership for development

Address the special needs of the least developed countries, landlocked countries

and small island developing states.

Deal comprehensively with the debt problems of developing countries through

national and international measures in order to make debt repayment sustainable

in the long term.

In cooperation with the private sector, make available to developing countries

the benefits of new technologies, especially information and communications


Millennium Development Goals

to achieve by the year 2015

MDG logo by UNDP/Brazil

44 Everything About the United Nations

What is the connection between the environment and development?

The environment is everything that surrounds us. It is the air we breathe, the

water we drink, the soil that grows all our food, and all living beings. Development

is what we do with these resources to improve our lives. All over the

world we do things that we think will make our lives better, but everything we do

changes us and our environment.

Sometimes we do not see how we are connected to the Earth and to each other, but the connections are

there. Medicines that save lives in Germany may depend on plants that grow in the forests of Costa Rica.

Pollution from automobiles in London or Mexico City may affect the climate in Rabat or Tokyo. We now

know that carbon dioxide and other gases from factories and cars cause the atmosphere to heat up. This

rise in temperature may change the world’s climate. Forests help free the air of carbon dioxide, but many

forests are being cut down for their wood or to clear land for farms.

What is sustainable development?

It means that development should meet our current needs without diminishing the ability of future generations

to meet theirs. In other words, we must use our resources wisely. Sustainable development requires

us to conserve more and waste less. In industrialized countries, many people live beyond nature’s means.

For example, one person in a very rich country uses as much energy as 80 people in a very poor country.

Over-consumption leads to waste, which pollutes our environment and uses up our resources.

Crushing poverty and growing populations also create great pressure on the environment. When land and

forests, which provide food, natural resources and employment, are exhausted, people find it harder, and

sometimes impossible, to survive. Many go to cities, crowding into unhealthy and unsafe slums.

If poor people are forced to destroy their environment to survive, all countries will suffer the consequences.

What does the UN do to protect our environment?

The natural world around us is a fragile place that requires

care, respect and knowledge by all people in all nations. Air

pollution, waterborne diseases, toxic chemicals and natural

disasters are just some of the challenges the environment

presents for mankind.

The UN plays a key role in shaping international action to

protect our environment, and the United Nations Environment

Programme (UNEP) leads its global efforts. The UN conducts

research, monitors the state of the environment and advises

Governments on ways to preserve their natural resources. Most

importantly, it brings Governments together to make international

laws to solve particular environmental problems.

Some UN actions to protect the environment

 The Kyoto Protocol to the Convention on Climate Change (1997) aims to slow global warming.

It became a legally binding treaty in 2004. It requires countries to cut harmful green house gasses

by 5.2% by 2012.

 The Declaration and Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island

Developing States (1994) calls on countries to take special action in the interest of 40 small island

developing States to promote their social and economic development. Many of these small islands

have very limited resources and have been unable to reap the benefits of globalization.

The Millennium Development Goals 45

 The Convention to Combat Desertification (1994) seeks to resolve problems of overcultivation,

deforestation, overgrazing and poor irrigation. One quarter of the Earth’s land is threatened by

desertification. The livelihoods of over one billion people in more than 100 countries are jeopardized,

as farming and grazing land become less productive.

 The United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (1992) seeks to protect and conserve

the wide variety of animal and plant life that is essential for human survival.

: http://www.unep.org

Tony taps the coconut:

Making sustainable development work

In the middle of the South Pacific,

the island nation of Vanuatu has

a precious resource that could

help it overcome trouble in paradise.

Tony Deamer, an Australianborn

mechanic and environmental

entrepreneur, believes that coconuts

hold the promise of a better

future for Vanuatu’s people. There

are plenty of coconuts on the 80

beautiful tropical islands that make

up Vanuatu, but the global price for

coconuts fluctuates, and as a result, farmers cannot count on a steady income

and the local economy suffers.

Tony has a solution. He has successfully used pure coconut oil as an alternative

to petroleum in automotive diesel engines. The result is both environmentally

friendly and good for the local economy. Deamer believes that if Vanuatu

embraces coconut oil as a fuel, the local demand for copra, or dried coconut

meat, would increase, stimulate the economy and create more jobs. Copra is

an excellent animal feed, its fibre has many

uses and coconut shells can be converted into


Tony’s project has the potential to lessen the

need for imported fuel and put much needed

cash in the hands of local coconut growers.

Currently, Vanuatu has to import all of its diesel

fuel, costing $12 million a year, which is a lot of money for a tiny island

nation with limited resources and purchasing power. The Government in

Vanuatu sees his project’s potential and has given some support.


Water, water . . .

Water is such a basic necessity that it is often called the

source of life. When contaminated, water can become

dangerous and cause serious illness. In many countries,

people have limited access to safe drinking water. As a

result, at least 4 million children die every year in developing

countries from water-borne diseases. In 1980, the

United Nations launched an international campaign to

bring safe drinking water to everyone by the year 2000.

This campaign has already brought safe drinking water

to over 1.3 billion people worldwide. Another 1.9 billion

people have been helped with sanitation facilities.

Waking up to a Disaster

The United Nations jumped into action to

assist the survivors of the December 2004

tsunami in East Asia. Within three days, a

UN disaster assessment team had arrived

in the worst-affected area, the Indonesian

province of Aceh, where some 165,000

people had died and 600,000 were made

homeless. In the following six months,

the UN fed two million people, vaccinated

more than 1.2 million children and

employed more than 30,000 people in

“cash-to-work” programmes in Indonesia, Sri Lanka and other areas. More than 561,000 children

were learning again with the help of “school in a box” education start-up kits, and fishermen and

farmers were being helped to rebuild their businesses. UN agencies continue to work to promote

recovery and reconstruction.

46 Everything About the United Nations


Goodbye to Small Pox & Polio

Measles, tuberculosis, tetanus, diphtheria, whooping cough and polio are six of the deadliest diseases

affecting children in developing countries. Today, some 3 million people in the developing

world, who would have been paralysed, are walking because they have been immunized against

polio, as a result of efforts by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health

Organization (WHO).

Smallpox, another deadly disease, has now been eradicated worldwide. Ali Maalin of Merka

town, Somalia, is the last recorded case of smallpox. In October 1977, he suffered a mild

form of the disease and quickly recovered. Not sure whether this was the end of smallpox,

the WHO offered a reward of $1,000 to anyone who could identify a case of smallpox. None

was reported. Two years later, in December 1979, WHO declared that smallpox had been

eradicated from the world.

The Millennium Development Goals 47

Rethinking globalization

What is it?

Globalization is an inevitable phenomenon in human history that has brought the world

closer through the exchange of goods and products, information, knowledge and culture.

Over the last few decades, the pace of this global integration has become much faster and

dramatic because of unprecedented advancements in technology, communications, science,

transport and industry.

While globalization is a catalyst for and a consequence of human progress, it is also a messy

process that requires adjustment and creates significant challenges and problems.

Why should I care?

Globalization has sparked one of the most highly charged debates of the past decade.

When people criticize the effects of globalization, they generally refer to economic integration.

Economic integration occurs when countries lower barriers such as import tariffs and

open their economies up to investment and trade with the rest of the world. These critics

complain that inequalities in the current global trading system hurt developing countries.

Supporters of globalization say countries—like China, Vietnam, India and Uganda—that

have opened up to the world economy have significantly reduced poverty.

Critics argue that the process has exploited people in developing countries, caused massive

disruptions and produced few benefits.

For all countries to be able to reap the benefits of globalization, the international community

must continue working to reduce distortions in international trade (cutting agricultural

subsidies and trade barriers) that favour developed countries and to create a more

fair system.

Some countries have profited from globalization • India: Cut its poverty rate in half in the past two decades. • China: Reform led to the largest poverty

reduction in history. The number of rural poor

fell from 250 million in 1978 to 34 million in 1999.

But others have not • Many countries in Africa have failed to share in the gains of globalization. Their exports

have remained confined to a narrow range of primary commodities. • Some experts suggest poor policies and infrastructure, weak institutions and corrupt


governance have marginalized a number of countries. • Others believe that geographical and climatic disadvantages have locked some countries

out of global growth.

For more:

: http://www.youthink.worldbank.org

48 Everything About the United Nations

Goals and Targets

Africa Asia


Latin America

& Caribbean

Commonwealth of

Independent States

Northern Sub-Saharan Eastern South-Eastern Southern Western Europe Asia

GOAL 1 | Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger

Reduce extreme

poverty by half low poverty

very high






very high


low poverty —



low poverty low poverty

Reduce hunger by

half very low hunger

very high






high hunger







very low hunger high hunger

GOAL 2 | Achieve universal primary education

Universal primary

schooling high enrolment low enrolment high enrolment high enrolment high enrolment





high enrolment high enrolment high enrolment

GOAL 3 | Promote gender equality and empower women

Equal girls’ enrolment

in primary school close to parity

almost close

to parity

parity parity close to parity close to parity close to parity parity parity parity

Women’s share of

paid employment low share medium share high share medium share low share low share medium share high share high share high share

Women’s equal representation

in national


very low










very low


very low








GOAL 4 | Reduce child mortality

Reduce mortality of


by two thirds

low mortality

very high


low mortality



high mortality





low mortality low mortality




immunization high coverage low coverage





low coverage high coverage low coverage high coverage high coverage high coverage

GOAL 5 | Improve maternal health

Reduce maternal

mortality by three




very high


low mortality high mortality

very high




high mortality



low mortality low mortality

GOAL 6 | Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases

Halt and reverse



low prevalence

very high


low prevalence low prevalence



low prevalence







low prevalence

Halt and reverse


of malaria*

low risk high risk moderate risk moderate risk moderate risk low risk low risk moderate risk low risk low risk

Halt and reverse


of tuberculosis

low mortality high mortality







low mortality



low mortality





GOAL 7 | Ensure environmental sustainability

Reverse loss of

forests** low forest cover

medium forest


medium forest


high forest cover

medium forest


low forest cover high forest cover high forest cover high forest cover low forest cover

Halve proportion

without improved

drinking water

high coverage low coverage







high coverage low coverage high coverage high coverage



Millennium Development Goals: 2007 Progress Chart

Goals and Targets

Africa Asia


Latin America

& Caribbean

Commonwealth of

Independent States

Northern Sub-Saharan Eastern South-Eastern Southern Western Europe Asia

GOAL 7 | Ensure environmental sustainability (continued)

Halve proportion

without sanitation



very low


very low


low coverage

very low




low coverage







Improve the lives

of slum-dwellers



of slum-dwellers

very high


of slum-dwellers

high proportion

of slum-dwellers



of slum-dwellers

high proportion

of slum-dwellers



of slum-dwellers



of slum-dwellers



of slum-dwellers

low proportion

of slum-dwellers



of slum-dwellers

GOAL 8 | Develop a global partnership for development



very high










very high










Internet users moderate access very low access moderate access moderate access low access moderate access low access high access moderate access moderate


Compiled by: Statistics Division, UN DESA.

Country experiences in each region may differ significantly from the regional average. For the regional groupings and country data, see http://mdgs.un.org.


Sources: United Nations, based on data and estimates provided by: Food and Agriculture Organization; Inter-Parliamentary Union; International Labour Organization;

International Telecommunication

Unit; UNESCO; UNICEF; World Health Organization; UNAIDS; UN-Habitat; World Bank – based on statistics available as of June 2007.

The progress chart operates on two levels. The words in each box tell the current rate of compliance with each target.

The colours show the trend, towards meeting the target by 2015 or not. See legend below:

Target already met or very close to being met.

Target is expected to be met by 2015 if prevailing trends

persist, or the problem that this target is designed to

address is not a serious concern in the region.

Target is not expected to be met by 2015.

No progress, or a deterioration or reversal.

Insufficient data.

* The available data for maternal mortality and malaria do not allow a trend analysis. Progress in the chart has been assessed by the responsible agencies

on the basis of proxy indicators.

** The assessment is based on a new methodology and therefore not comparable with previous assessments.


In 2008, for the first time in history, more than half of the world’s population – 3.3 billion people –

will be living in urban areas. This number is expected to swell to almost 5 billion by 2030. In 1800,

only 2% of people lived in cities and towns. In 1950, only 30% of the world population was urban.

Though mega-cities (more than 10 million people) will continue to grow, most people will be living

in cities of 500,000 or fewer. Globally, future population growth will take place in cities, nearly all of it

in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

The battle for the Millennium Development Goals to halve extreme poverty by 2015 will be won or

lost in the cities of the developing world.

For more:

: http://www.unfpa.org

: http://www.worldbank.org

The Millennium Development Goals 49

50 Everything About the United Nations

Q&A Team Play

Team Play

When playing as team-mates (2 or more players on a team), team-mates can work together to arrive at an

answer, but must reach a consensus before declaring an answer to the other players.

  1. What is sustainable development?
  2. What are the Millennium Development Goals?
  3. How would you define poverty?
  4. What is the Kyoto Protocol?
  5. How have some countries benefitted from globalization?
  6. What does the United Nations do to reduce poverty?
  7. What is the World Heritage list?
  8. What kind of emergency relief did the UN provide to the December 2004 tsunami victims?


Saving the Temples of Nubia

Egypt is the home of many ancient temples and monuments, including those at

Nubia. The construction of the Aswan Dam on the River Nile threatened the existence

of these 5,000-year-old monuments. In 1960, the United Nations Educational,

Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNES CO) launched an international campaign

to save them from destruction. But this could be done only by removing the monuments

from the flooded area and taking them to a higher place. This is exactly

what the international experts, brought together by the United Nations, did:

they cut the monuments into blocks and then reassembled them at a safer

place. It took them 20 years of hard work to accomplish this spectacular job.

By 2008 the United Nations placed over 851 cultural, natural and mixed

properties onto its World Heritage List. Such diverse sites as the Pyramids

of Egypt, the Grand Canyon in the United States, and the Taj Mahal of

India are included in the list. Because of their outstanding universal value,

these sites are considered to be mankind’s common heritage. Some 180

nations have signed a treaty agreeing to cooperate and contribute to the

protection of these properties.

UNES CO has helped to protect many such historic monuments in over

80 countries, including the Acropolis in Greece; the Angkor Wat Temple in

Cambodia; Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park in Australia and the Borobudur

Shrine in Indonesia.

: http://www.unesco.org

Human Rights


Some facts about human rights

  • In 2007, 113 million school-age children were not in school—97% of

them in developing countries. Of the world’s estimated 854 million

illiterate adults, 544 million are women.

  • An estimated 171 million children – of whom 73 million are under

the age of 10 – are working with hazardous chemicals and pesticides

in agriculture, with dangerous machinery or in mines.

  • An estimated 8.4 million children are forced into bonded labor,

prostitution, pornography, armed conflict or other illicit activities.

  • The UN has successfully negotiated two Optional Protocols to its

1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child—by which States parties

agree to ban the participation of children under 18 in armed

conflict; and agree to prohibit the sale of children, child prostitution

and child pornography. Both came into force in early 2002

  • Women tend to face higher rates of violence because discrimination

on the basis of gender frequently renders them among the

powerless members of society. Racial discrimination often results

in violence. Women who face discrimination based on both race

and gender are thus doubly at risk of violence.

Four-year old boy on the garbage dump in Sao Paulo.

A group of children are at the International Rescue Committee kindergarden at the Hamadiya internally displaced persons (IDPs) camp in Zalingei, West Darfur,



Human Rights 53

Human Rights

What is meant by human rights?

Human rights are those rights which are essential for us to live as human beings. Without

human rights, we cannot fully develop and use our human qualities, our intelligence, our talent

and our spirituality.

The United Nations set a common standard on human rights for all nations when, in 1948,

it adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. By this Declaration, Governments

accepted the obligation to ensure that all human beings, rich and poor, strong and weak, male

and female, of all races and religions, are treated equally. The Declaration is not part of binding

international law, but due to widespread acceptance by countries in the world, it has gained

great moral weight.

The UN has also adopted many international

human rights treaties, legally

binding nations to guarantee their

citizens’ social, economic and political

rights. The most important of these

treaties are two International Covenants

— one on economic, social and cultural

rights and the other on civil and political

rights. These treaties, together with

Optional Protocols, are known as the

International Bill of Human Rights.

: http://www.un.org/rights/

Which UN body has responsibility for human rights?

The Human Rights Council was established in

June 2006 to replace the Human Rights Commission

which operated from 1946 to 2006.

Unlike the Commission, the new Council is a

subsidiary body of the General Assembly. This

makes it directly accountable to the full membership

of the United Nations. The Council is

the main United Nations forum for dialogue

and cooperation on human rights. It is administered

by the United Nations High Commissioner

for Human Rights.

Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt, former First Lady of the United

States, holds a poster-size copy of the Universal Declaration

of Human Rights. She was one of the authors of the

Declaration in 1948.

Inaugural session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in

Geneva, 19 June 2006.

Every child has the right to:

a name and a


protection from all

forms of violence,

including sexual



freedom of


Do children enjoy human rights?

Children enjoy the same rights as adults. However, because they are minors,

they need special protection. The Convention on the Rights of the Child,

adopted in 1989, sets forth the individual rights that any person under 18

years of age requires to develop his or her full potential, free from hunger and

want, neglect and abuse. More countries have ratified the Child Rights Convention

than any other human rights treaty in history – 193 States are Parties

to the Convention as of May 2010.

What other human rights laws and agreements have been

negotiated by the UN?

The United Nations has helped negotiate over 80 human rights treaties and

declarations, dealing with the rights of women, children, disabled persons,

minorities, indigenous people and other vulnerable groups. Together, these

agreements have helped create a “culture of human rights” throughout the

world, proving to be a powerful tool in curbing abuses.

Some human rights conventions :

 The Convention on the Prevention of the Crime of Genocide

(1948) defines genocide as the committing of certain acts with

the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial

or religious group;

 The Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or

Degrading Treatment or Punishment (1984) holds States responsible

for preventing torture and makes it legally punishable;

 The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of

Racial Discrimination (1966) defines racial discrimination as “any

distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour,

descent, or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect

of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on

an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the

political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life”,

and obliges States to eliminate racial discrimination;

 The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination

against Women (1979) is often described as an international bill

54 Everything About the United Nations











Human Rights 55

of rights for women. It defines discrimination against women as any distinction,

exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex and encourages

governments to take measures to stop discrimination.

 The Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (1951) defines the rights

of refugees, especially their right not to be forcibly returned to countries

where they are at risk, and makes provisions for various aspects of their

everyday lives, including their right to work, education, public assistance

and social security, as well as their right to travel documents.

Other than adopting international laws, how does the UN protect

human rights?

The UN promotes respect for human rights in several ways, including:

 Monitoring the human rights records of nations. It has set up the Human

Rights Council which has the authority to recommend that the General

Assembly suspend the rights and privileges of any Council Member that

it decides has persistently committed gross and systematic violations of

human rights. This process of suspension would require a two-thirds

majority vote by the General Assembly.

 Through its six committees, which may call upon the Governments to

respond to allegations; they may also adopt decisions and make them public,

along with criticisms or recommendations;

 Appointing experts known as special rapporteurs or representatives who

gather facts, visit prisons, interview victims, and make recommendations

on how to increase respect for human rights;

 Establishing working groups to investigate such issues as arbitrary detention.

When their reports highlight human rights violations, they help to

mobilize international attention;

 Providing technical assistance to strengthen national and regional institutions,

such as courts and school systems.

 Holding international conferences to discuss human rights issues and ask

Governments to commit themselves publicly on human rights issues.

Who are the special rapporteurs and working groups?

Special rapporteurs and working groups on human rights are on the front lines in

the protection of human rights. They investigate violations and intervene in individual

cases and emergency situations, in what are referred to as “special procedures”.

Human rights experts are independent. They serve in their personal capacity

for a maximum of six years. The number of such experts has grown steadily

over the years. There are currently over 30 special procedure mandates.

In preparing their reports to the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly,

these experts use all reliable resources, including individual complaints and infor-

All people have the right to: life,

liberty and


freedom of





fair trial;



before the


mation from non-governmental organizations (NGOs). A significant portion of their

research is done locally, where they meet both with authorities and victims, and

gather on-site evidence. Their reports are made public to emphasize the responsibility

of Governments for the protection of human rights.

: http://www.ohchr.org/

Can individuals complain about violations of their rights?

Yes. Optional protocols to some UN treaties allow individuals to lodge complaints

if the Government in question has ratified the protocols. Under a confidential communications

procedure, allegations of gross and systematic violations of human

rights can also be submitted to the UN if domestic remedies have been exhausted.

There is a Human Rights website to go to if one has human rights complaints or

concerns: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/chr/complaints.htm. The email

address is:

Who created the International Criminal Court?

Why do we need such a court?

In 1998, at a conference in Rome, 120 nations agreed to establish

a permanent International Criminal Court (ICC). The court

has the jurisdiction to prosecute individuals for some of the

most serious offences, such as genocide, war crimes and crimes

against humanity. As of 1 June 2008, 106 countries were partners

to the Rome Statute of the ICC.

There are real needs for such a court. In some countries, in times of conflict, there

may be no courts capable of dealing properly with war crimes. It may also be that

the Government in power is unwilling to prosecute its own citizens, especially if

they are high-ranking officials. The ICC provides a just option in such cases.

: http://www.icc-cpi.int/

United Nations Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples

On 13 December 2007, the General Assembly adopted the United Nations Declaration

on the Indigenous Peoples. It is a triumph for justice and human dignity

following more than two decades of negotiations between Governments and Indigenous

peoples’ representatives.

The Declaration establishes a universal framework of minimum standards for

the survival, dignity, well-being and rights of the world’s Indigenous peoples. It

addresses both individual and collective rights; cultural rights and identity; rights

to education, health, employment, language; and others. It outlaws discrimination

against Indigenous peoples and promotes their full and effective participation in

all matters that concern them. The Declaration also ensures their right to remain

distinct and to pursue their own priorities in economic, social and cultural development.

It explicitly encourages harmonious and cooperative relations between

States and Indigenous peoples.

freedom of




contract a


and found

a family;


equal pay

for equal


56 Everything About the United Nations

Human Rights 57


Sending Girls to School

Everywhere in the world, girls face discrimination. They often receive less food than boys do and, in

many countries, they work long hours even when they are only 5 or 6 years old. Eighty million girls

aged 6 to 11 do not go to school. The United Nations has adopted a treaty, the Convention on the

Rights of the Child (1989), which asks Governments to spend more money to educate girls. Thanks in

part to the United Nations, today 77 per cent of primary-school-age children are enrolled in school, a

big jump from less than 50 per cent in 1960. This is progress, but a lot remains to be done.

Children who work

Until recently, 12-year-old Leandra Cristina Da

Silva worked hard for a living. Instead of playing

in her backyard or attending school, she

laboured seven days a week, coated with dust

and grime in the filth of the Olinda garbage

dump on the outskirts of the coastal town of

Recife in northern Brazil. Although she lives

close to the sea, with Marcia, her mother, and

her brother and sister, Leandra had never

seen the Atlantic Ocean. Each day for Leandra

was the same: after finishing her chores at

home, she left every morning to work alongside

her mother for 10 hours or more each day, scavenging for cans and bottles to sell.

After an exhausting day at the dump, she returned to a home with no running water

and crawled into a bed that she shared with her mother and two siblings.

Working at the Olinda dump is mind-numbing and dangerous. When the supermarket

truck appears, men, women and children scramble to get the best garbage.

Yet for all the drudgery and hazards, Leandra barely earned the equivalent of $3 a

day selling the collected bottles to a middleman, who makes money exploiting child

workers. It is illegal for children in Brazil to work in such dangerous conditions,

but the pressures of poverty force parents to take risks to feed their families.

Recognizing that education is the best way to fight poverty, the United Nations

Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the UN International Labour Organization have joined

forces with the Brazilian Government to open new doors for children, putting them

back in school where they belong. The Bolsa Escola (“School Scholarship”) programme

makes cash and in-kind grants to families to replace the income children bring in.

Though Leandra was proud to help her family, she longed to go to school. Her

mother, Marcia, had worked all her life and did not get any schooling. She did not

really understand the bolsa and did not believe it would replace the money her

daughter earned at the dump to help support the family. But then one day, good

fortune smiled on Leandra. With the help of UNICEF Project Officer Ana Maria

Azevedo and Susan Sarandon, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, Leandra was awarded

a bolsa. She was thrilled to make a new start.

Adapted from: UN Works

: http://www.un.org/works/goingon/labor/eleandra_story.html

58 Everything About the United Nations

Helping the victims of torture

The police arrived in the middle of the night. They fired tear gas, kicked down the door and began

assaulting the people in the house. A small group of people had gathered to mourn the death of

a 15-year-old boy who had died in police custody. Everyone in the house, including three boys

between the ages of 11 and 15, was forced into police vans.

The event described above is just an illustration of torture by the State, still practiced in many

countries. The United Nations wants this to stop.

In 1984 the UN adopted the Convention against Torture. A 10-member Committee against Torture

periodically examines reports from countries that have ratified the Convention. The UN has also

set up a voluntary fund for victims of torture. It provides humanitarian, legal and financial assistance

to torture victims and their children.

The UN fights apartheid:

a crime against humanity

Apartheid, in the Afrikaans language of South Africa, means

separateness. South Africa, though 80 per cent of its people

are black, had long been ruled by the country’s tiny white

minority. They imposed the policy of apartheid, racially segregating

the country and depriving the black population of

the very basic human rights. The United Nations, condemning

apartheid as a “crime against humanity”, carried out a

sustained campaign against this policy for more than three

decades. Apartheid finally ended in April 1994 after the United

Nations assisted in and supervised the holding of the country’s first free and multiracial election. Nelson

Mandela, speaking before the United Nations (left), who was jailed for decades by the apartheid regime,

became the first President of a new, racially-integrated South Africa.

Q&A Team Play

Team Play

When playing as team-mates (2 or more players on a team), team-mates can work together to arrive at an

answer, but must reach a consensus before declaring an answer to the other players.

  1. What are human rights?
  2. When was the Convention on the Rights of the Child adopted? What does it entail?
  3. Which UN body has primary responsibility for human rights?
  4. Other than adopting international laws, how does the UN protect human rights?
  5. What is the function of a special rapporteur?
  6. What does apartheid mean?
  7. What does the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples say?

Frequently asked questions


Frequently asked questions 61

Frequently asked questions

How can individuals support the UN? Can they join the Organization as members?

No, only independent countries with international recognition can become members of the UN.

However, individuals can support the work of the United Nations through international and

local non-governmental organizations. Some of them collaborate with the UN Department of

Public Information and provide the UN with valuable links to people around the world.

For more information:

: http://www.un.org/dpi/ngosection/index.html

There are United Nations Associations (UNA-USA and WFUNA) in more than 100 countries,

often with many local chapters. The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has national committees in

many countries, spreading awareness about UNICEF’s programmes and raising the funds to help

make them a reality. Some 3,600 United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural organization

(UNESCO) clubs, centres and associations (associated with UNESCO) in over 90 countries

undertake activities in the areas of education, science, culture and communication. Major contact

points are the UN information centres and services all over the world.

If you have a skill in such fields as agriculture, medicine, education, information technology, vocational

training, the promotion of human rights, industry and population – as well as the necessary

flexibility and commitment – the UN Volunteers (UNV) programme may place you, for a one- to

two-year period, with an appropriate UN development project in a developing country.

Contact UN Volunteers, P.O. Box 260111, D-53153, Bonn, Germany • Tel: 49 (228) 815-2000;

Fax: 49 (228) 815-2001 • Email:


I want to continue my studies at a foreign university. Can the UN provide me with

financial assistance?

The United Nations does not provide financial assistance to students. You can find some information

about scholarships offered by higher education institutions and international organizations

in a guide published by UNESCO, entitled “Study Abroad”. To purchase a copy of the

Study Abroad catalogue, please write to: UNESCO Publishing, Promotion and Sales Division,

1 rue Miollis, 75732 Paris Cedex 15 (France) or order on-line at:

: http://www.unesco.org/publishing

Does the UN accept student interns?

The United Nations offers an unpaid internship programme for graduate students only at its New

York Headquarters. It consists of three two-month periods throughout the year. For more information

go to:

: http://www.un.org/Depts/OHRM/sds/internsh/index.htm

62 Everything About the United Nations

Where can I get information about a UN Member country’s position on various

current issues?

You can obtain such information from the Permanent Mission to the United Nations of the

country concerned. The list of websites for the Member States can be found at:

: http://www.un.int/index-en/webs.html

What is United Nations Day?

It is the birthday of the United Nations. It falls on 24 October, the day that the Organization

came into being in 1945 after a majority of its original Members formally accepted their

membership by agreeing to the Charter of the United Nations. Thus, 24 October is celebrated

all over the world as United Nations Day.

Is information about the UN available through the Internet?

The UN has its own home page at

: http://www.un.org

Is there anything on the UN webite designed especially

for young people?

The United Nations CyberSchoolBus has been set up to provide

materials about the Organization for children and teachers.

: http://www.un.org/Cyberschoolbus

Does the UN have an anthem?

The UN does not have an official anthem or hymn. The General

Assembly recognized the need for an official song and reserved the

right to select and adopt one. So far, no decision has been taken.

In 1970, Maestro Pablo Casals of Spain set music to a hymn written

in honour of the UN by English poet W. H. Auden. This hymn was

performed on UN Day in 1971 at UN Headquarters.

Where can I write for more information about the

United Nations?

You can write to:

Visitors Services, Department of Public Information,

GA-57, United Nations, New York, NY 10017, USA.


Phone: (212) 963-4475

Fax: (212) 963-0071

: http://www.un.org/geninfo/faq

Maestro Pablo Casals of Spain conducting

the premiere of his “Hymn to the United

Nations” at UN Headquarters,

24 October 1971.

What are some of the special days celebrated by the United Nations?

27 January International Day of Commemoration in Memory of

the Victims of the Holocaust

8 March International Women’s Day

21 March International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

25 March International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery

and the Transatlantic Slave Trade

7 April World Health Day

3 May World Press Freedom Day

15 May International Day of Families

21 May World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development

29 May International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers

31 May World No-Tobacco Day

5 June World Environment Day

20 June World Refugee Day

26 June International Day against Drug Abuse

11 July World Population Day

9 August International Day of the World’s Indigenous People

8 September International Literacy Day

21 September International Day of Peace

1 October International Day of Older Persons

2 October International Day of Non-Violence

17 October International Day for the Eradication of Poverty

24 October United Nations Day

16 November International Day of Tolerance

20 November Universal Children’s Day

25 November International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

29 November International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People

1 December World AIDS Day

3 December International Day of Disabled Persons

9 December International Anti-Corruption Day

10 December Human Rights Day

18 December International Migrant’s Day

Frequently asked questions 63

64 Everything About the United Nations

Did You Know?

NN Since 1945, the UN has assisted in negotiating more than

170 peace settlements that have ended regional conflicts.

NN The United Nations played a role in bringing about

independence in more than 80 countries that are now

sovereign nations.

NN Over 500 multinational treaties – on human rights, terrorism,

international crime, refugees, disarmament, commodities and

the oceans – have been enacted through the efforts of the

United Nations.

NN The World Food Programme, the world’s largest humanitarian

agency, reaches on average 90 million hungry people in

80 countries every year.

NN An estimated 90 per cent of global conflict-related deaths

since 1990 have been civilians, and 80 percent of these have

been women and children.

NN If each poor person on the planet had the same energy-rich

lifestyle as an average person in Germany or the United

Kingdom, four planets would be needed to safely cope with

the pollution. That figure rises to nine planets when compared

with the average of the United States or Canada.

07-26304a—DPI/1888/Rev.4—April 2010

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