Read to Know

Read to Know: United Nations

After facing the nuisance and pain caused by two world wars, all the countries of the world were in a state of shock and wanted a true relief from all the troubles and hatred among the powerful countries. The world demanded peace. After the First World War, in 1920, League of Nation was formulated as part of Treaty of Versailles. The aim of League of Nation was to prevent wars through collective security and disarmament. But it proved to be a failure when the Second World War took place.

The name “United Nations”, coined by United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt was first used in the Declaration by United Nations on 1 January 1942, during the Second World War, when representatives of 26 nations pledged their Governments to continue fighting together against the Axis Powers. And finally, on 24th October, 1945 the United Nations came into existence, with its headquarters in New York City, United States. The aim of the organization was to maintain international peace and security; economic growth and sustainable development; humanitarian assistance; human rights; to maintain international justice and law; and counter- terrorism. Initially, it started with 51 member countries and by now the count has risen to 193 countries, with the 193rd member as South Sudan.

United Nations have six main organs, viz.

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

All the 6 organs have their defined role to follow.

General Assembly

The General Assembly (GA) is the main deliberative, policymaking and representative organ of the UN. Decisions on important questions, such as those on peace and security, admission of new members and budgetary matters, require a two-thirds majority. Decisions on other questions are by simple majority. It also plays a significant role in the process of standard-setting and the codification of international law. The Assembly meets from September to December each year, and thereafter as required.

Security Council

Under the Charter, the Security Council has primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. It has 15 Members, and each Member has one vote. Under the Charter, all Member States are obligated to comply with Council decisions. The Security Council takes the lead in determining the existence of a threat to the peace or act of aggression. It calls upon the parties to a dispute to settle it by peaceful means and recommends methods of adjustment or terms of settlement. In some cases, the Security Council can resort to imposing sanctions or even authorize the use of force to maintain or restore international peace and security. The Security Council also recommends to the General Assembly the appointment of the Secretary-General and the admission of new Members to the United Nations. And, together with the General Assembly, it elects the judges of the International Court of Justice.

Economic and Social Council

It is dedicated to sustainable development, providing overall guidance and coordination. The entities include regional economic and social commissions, functional commissions facilitating intergovernmental discussions of major global issues, and specialized agencies, programmes and funds at work around the world to translate development commitments into real changes in people’s lives. It has 54 member nations elected from all regions. As much as 70% of the work of the UN systems is devoted to promoting higher standards of living, full employment, and conditions of economic and social progress and development.

Trusteeship Council

In 1994, the Council was suspended and it was decided that it will meet as and when occasion might require.

International Court of Justice

The Court is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations.  It was established by the United Nations Charter, signed in 1945 at San Francisco (United States), and began work in 1946 at the Peace Palace, The Hague (Netherlands).

The Court, which is composed of 15 judges, has a dual role:  in accordance with international law, settling legal disputes between States submitted to it by them and giving advisory opinions on legal matters referred to it by duly authorized United Nations organs and specialized agencies.


The Secretariat comprises the Secretary-General and tens of thousands of international UN staff members who carry out the day-to-day work of the UN as mandated by the General Assembly and the Organization’s other principal organs.  The Secretary-General is chief administrative officer of the Organization, appointed by the General Assembly on the recommendation of the Security Council for a five-year, renewable term. UN staff members are recruited internationally and locally, and work in duty stations and on peacekeeping missions all around the world.  But serving the cause of peace in a violent world is a dangerous occupation. Since the founding of the United Nations, hundreds of brave men and women have given their lives in its service.

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