You are on page 1of 21

The United Nations and its history

Submitted by:
Villar, Mary Grace L.
I - Block B
Submitted to:
Atty. Manuel Torrecampo

The United Nations is an international organization founded in 1945 after the

Second World War by 51 countries committed to maintaining international peace
and security, developing friendly relations among nations and promoting social
progress, better living standards and human rights.
The UN has 4 main purposes

To keep peace throughout the world;

To develop friendly relations among nations;
To help nations work together to improve the lives of poor people, to
conquer hunger, disease and illiteracy, and to encourage respect for each
others rights and freedoms;
To be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations to achieve these

Due to its unique international character, and the powers vested in its founding
Charter, the Organization can take action on a wide range of issues, and provide a
forum for its 193 Member States to express their views, through the General
Assembly, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council and other bodies
and committees.
The work of the United Nations reaches every corner of the globe. Although best
known for peacekeeping, peacebuilding, conflict prevention and humanitarian
assistance, there are many other ways the United Nations and its System
(specialized agencies, funds and programmes) affect our lives and make the world a
better place. The Organization works on a broad range of fundamental issues, from
sustainable development, environment and refugees protection, disaster relief,
counter terrorism, disarmament and non-proliferation, to promoting democracy,
human rights, gender equality and the advancement of women, governance,
economic and social development and international health, clearing landmines,
expanding food production, and more, in order to achieve its goals and coordinate
efforts for a safer world for this and future generations.

The name "United Nations", coined by United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt
was first used in theDeclaration by United Nations of 1 January 1942, during the
Second World War, when representatives of 26 nations pledged their Governments
to continue fighting together against the Axis Powers.
States first established international organizations to cooperate on specific matters.
The International Telecommunication Union was founded in 1865 as the
International Telegraph Union, and the Universal Postal Union was established in
1874. Both are now United Nations specialized agencies.
In 1899, the International Peace Conference was held in The Hague to elaborate
instruments for settling crises peacefully, preventing wars and codifying rules of
warfare. It adopted the Convention for the Pacific Settlement of International
Disputes and established the Permanent Court of Arbitration, which began work in
The forerunner of the United Nations was the League of Nations, an organization
conceived in similar circumstances during the first World War, and established in
1919 under the Treaty of Versailles "to promote international cooperation and to
achieve peace and security." The International Labour Organization was also created
under the Treaty of Versailles as an affiliated agency of the League. The League of
Nations ceased its activities after failing to prevent the Second World War.

Signature page of UN Charter, San Francisco, 1945

History of the United Nations Charter

The United Nations Charter is the treaty that established the United Nations.
The following series of events led to the writing of the Charter, and the UN's
12 June 1941 - The Declaration of St. James's Palace

In June 1941, London was the home of nine exiled governments. The great British
capital had already seen twenty-two months of war and in the bomb-marked city,
air-raid sirens wailed all too frequently.
Practically all Europe had fallen to the Axis and ships on the Atlantic, carrying vital
supplies, sank with grim regularity. But in London itself and among the Allied
governments and peoples, faith in ultimate victory remained unshaken.
And, even more, people were looking beyond military victory to the postwar future.
Would we win only to live in dread of yet another war? Should we not define some
purpose more creative than military victory? Is it not possible to shape a better life
for all countries and peoples and cut the causes of war at their roots?
Such were the anxious questions which troubled many minds, not only in Britain,
but in all Allied countries.
On the twelfth of that month the representatives of Great Britain, Canada, Australia,
New Zealand and the Union of South Africa and of the exiled governments of
Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Greece, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland,
Yugoslavia and of General de Gaulle of France, met at the ancient St. Jamess Palace
and signed a declaration.
These sentences from this declaration still serve as the watchwords of peace:
The only true basis of enduring peace is the willing cooperation of free peoples in a
world in which, relieved of the menace of aggression, all may enjoy economic and
social security;
It is our intention to work together, and with other free peoples, both in war and
peace, to this end.

14 August 1941 - The Atlantic Charter

Two months after the London Declaration came the next step to a world
organization, the result of a dramatic meeting between President Roosevelt and
Prime Minister Churchill.
In August 1941, the Axis was still very much in the ascendant, or so it seemed, and
the carefully stage-managed meetings between Hitler and Mussolini, inevitably
ending in perfect accord, sounded grimly foreboding. Germany had flung herself
against the USSR but the might of this new ally was yet to be disclosed. And the
United States, though giving moral and material succor, was not yet in the war.

President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill on the U.S.S. Augusta, 14 August
Then, one afternoon, came the news that President Roosevelt and Prime Minister
Churchill were in conference somewhere at seathe same seas on which the
desperate Battle of the Atlantic was being fought and on August 14 the two
leaders issued a joint declaration destined to be known in history as the Atlantic
This document was not a treaty between the two powers. Nor was it a final and
formal expression of peace aims. It was only an affirmation, as the document
declared, of certain common principles in the national policies of their respective
countries on which they based their hopes for a better future for the world.
Of the eight points of the Atlantic Charter, two bear directly on world organization.
After the final destruction of Nazi tyranny, reads the sixth clause, they hope to
see established a peace which will afford to all nations the means of dwelling in
safety within their own boundaries, and which will afford assurance that all the men
in all the lands may live out their lives in freedom from fear and want.
The seventh clause stated that such a peace should enable all men to traverse the
high seas without hindrance, and the eighth concluded the document with this
outline of peace organization:
They believe that all of the nations of the world, for realistic as well as spiritual
reasons, must come to the abandonment of the use of force. Since no future peace
can be maintained if land, sea or air armaments continue to be employed by
nations which threaten, or may threaten, aggression outside of their frontiers, they
believe, pending the establishment of a wider and permanent system of general
security, that the disarmament of such nations is essential. They will likewise aid
and encourage all other practicable measures which will lighten for peace-loving
peoples the crushing burden of armaments.
Other points of the Atlantic Charter also affirmed the basic principles of international
justice: no aggrandizement; no territorial changes without the freely-expressed

wishes of the peoples concerned; the right of every people to choose their own form
of government; and equal access to raw materials for all nations.
A constructive purpose for the future international organization was also
foreshadowed in the fifth clause, which declared that the two statesmen desired to
bring about the fullest collaboration between all nations in the economic field with
the object of securing, for all, improved labor standards, economic advancement
and social security.
Coming from the two great democratic leaders of the day and implying the full
moral support of the United States, the Atlantic Charter created a profound
impression on the embattled Allies. It came as a message of hope to the occupied
countries, and it held out the promise of a world organization based on the enduring
verities of international morality.
That it had little legal validity did not detract from its value. If, in the ultimate
analysis, the value of any treaty is the sincerity of its spirit, no affirmation of
common faith between peace-loving nations could be other than important.
Support for the principles of the Atlantic Charter and a pledge of cooperation to the
utmost in giving effect to them, came from a meeting of ten governments in London
shortly after Mr. Churchill returned from his ocean rendezvous. This declaration was
signed on September 24 by the USSR and the nine governments of occupied
Europe: Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Greece, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway,
Poland, Yugoslavia and by the representatives of General de Gaulle, of France.
1 January 1942 - The Declaration of the United Nations

On New Years Day 1942, President Roosevelt, Prime Minister Churchill, Maxim
Litvinov, of the USSR, and T. V. Soong, of China, signed a short document which
later came to be known as the United Nations Declaration and the next day the
representatives of twenty-two other nations added their signatures. This important
document pledged the signatory governments to the maximum war effort and
bound them against making a separate peace.
The complete alliance thus effected was in the light of the principles of the Atlantic
Charter, and the first clause of the United Nations Declaration reads that the
signatory nations had
. . .subscribed to a common program of purposes and principles embodied in the
Joint Declaration of the President of the United States of America and the Prime
Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland dated August
14, 1941, known as the Atlantic Charter .
Three years later, when preparations were being made for the San Francisco
Conference, only those states which had, by March 1945, declared war on Germany
and Japan and subscribed to the United Nations Declaration, were invited to take

The original twenty-six signatories were: the United States of America, the United
Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the Union of Soviet Socialist
Republics, China, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Costa Rica, Cuba, Czechoslovakiam,
Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Greece, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India,
Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Poland, Union
of South Africa, Yugoslavia
Subsequent adherents to the Declaration were (in order of signature): Mexico,
Philippines, Ethiopia, Iraq, Brazil, Bolivia, Iran, Colombia, Liberia, France, Ecuador,
Peru, Chile, Paraguay, Venezuela, Uruguay, Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syria,

1943 - Moscow and Teheran Conference

Thus by 1943 all the principal Allied nations were committed to outright victory and,
thereafter, to an attempt to create a world in which men in all lands may live out
their lives in freedom from fear and want. But the basis for a world organization
had yet to be defined, and such a definition came at the meeting of the Foreign
Ministers of Great Britain, the United States and the Soviet Union in October 1943.
The United States Secretary of State, the venerable Cordell Hull, made the first
flight of his life to journey to Moscow for the conference. On October 30, the Moscow
Declaration was signed by Vyaches Molotov, Anthony Eden, Cordell Hull and Foo
Ping Shen, the Chinese Ambassador to the Soviet Union.
The Declaration pledged further joint action in dealing with the enemies surrender
and, in clause 4, proclaimed:
That they [the Foreign Ministers] recognize the necessity of establishing at the
earliest practicable date a general international organization, based on the principle
of the sovereign equality of all peace-loving states, and open to membership by all
such states, large and small, for the maintenance of international peace and

In December, two months after the four-power Declaration, Roosevelt, Stalin and
Churchill, meeting for the first time at Teheran, the capital of Iran, declared that
they had worked out concerted plans for final victory.
As to peace, the Declaration read:
We are sure that our concord will win an enduring peace. We recognize fully the
supreme responsibility resting upon us and all the United Nations to make a peace
which will command the goodwill of the overwhelming mass of the peoples of the
world and banish the scourge and terror of war for many generations.

1944-1945 - Dumbarton Oaks and Yalta

The principles of the world organization-to-be were thus laid down. But it is a long
step from defining the principles and purpose of such a body to setting up the
structure. A blueprint had to be prepared, and it had to be accepted by many
For this purpose, representatives of China, Great Britain, the USSR and the United
States met for a business-like conference at Dumbarton Oaks, a private mansion in
Washington, D. C. The discussions were completed on October 7, 1944, and a
proposal for the structure of the world organization was submitted by the four
powers to all the United Nations governments and to the peoples of all countries for
their study and discussion.
According to the Dumbarton Oaks proposals, four principal bodies were to constitute
the organization to be known as the United Nations. There was to be a General
Assembly composed of all the members. Then came a Security Council of eleven
members. Five of these were to be permanent and the other six were to be chosen
from the remaining members by the General Assembly to hold office for two years.
The third body was an International Court of Justice, and the fourth a Secretariat. An
Economic and Social Council, working under the authority of the General Assembly,
was also provided for.
The essence of the plan was that responsibility for preventing future war should be
conferred upon the Security Council. The General Assembly could study, discuss and
make recommendations in order to promote international cooperation and adjust
situations likely to impair welfare. It could consider problems of cooperation in
maintaining peace and security, and disarmament, in their general principles. But it
could not make recommendations on any matter being considered by the Security
Council, and all questions on which action was necessary had to be referred to the
Security Council.
The actual method of voting in the Security Council -- an all-important question -was left open at Dumbarton Oaks for future discussion.
Another important feature of the Dumbarton Oaks plan was that member states
were to place armed forces at the disposal of the Security Council in its task of

preventing war and suppressing acts of aggression. The absence of such force, it
was generally agreed, had been a fatal weakness in the older League of Nations
machinery for preserving peace.
The Dumbarton Oaks proposals were fully discussed throughout the Allied countries.
The British Government issued a detailed commentary, and in the United States, the
Department of State distributed 1,900,000 copies of the text and arranged for
speakers, radio programs and motion picture films to explain the proposals.
Comments and constructive criticisms came from several governments, e.g.,
Australia, Belgium, Canada, Czechoslovakia, France, the Netherlands, New Zealand,
Norway, Poland, the Union of South Africa, the USSR, the United Kingdom and the
United States.
Extensive press and radio discussion enabled people in Allied countries to judge the
merits of the new plan for peace.
Much attention was given to the differences between this new plan and the
Covenant of the League of Nations, it being generally admitted that putting armed
forces at the disposal of the Security Council was a notable improvement.
One important gap in the Dumbarton Oaks proposals had yet to be filled: the voting
procedure in the Security Council. This was done at Yalta in the Crimea where
Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin, together with their foreign ministers and chiefs of
staff, met in conference. On February 11, 1945, the conference announced that this
question had been resolved, and it summoned the San Francisco Conference.
We are resolved, the three leaders declared, upon the earliest possible
establishment with our Allies of a general international organization to maintain
peace and security We have agreed that a Conference of United Nations should
be called to meet at San Francisco in the United States on the 25th April, 1945, to
prepare the charter of such an organization, along the lines proposed in the formal
conversations of Dumbarton Oaks.
The invitations were sent out on March 5, 1945, and those invited were told at the
same time about the agreement reached at Yalta on the voting procedure in the
Security Council.
Soon after, in early April, came the sudden death of President Roosevelt, to whose
statesmanship the plans for the San Francisco Conference owed so much. There was
fear for a time that the conference might have to be postponed, but President
Truman decided to carry out all the arrangements already made, and the
conference opened on the appointed date.

1945 - San Francisco Conference

Forty-five nations, including the four sponsors, were originally invited to the San
Francisco Conference: nations which had declared war on Germany and Japan and
had subscribed to the United Nations Declaration.

The Conference Hall in San Francisco

One of these, Poland, did not attend because the composition of her new
government was not announced until too late for the conference. Therefore, a space
was left for the signature of Poland, one of the original signatories of the United
Nations Declaration. At the time of the conference there was no generally
recognized Polish Government, but on June 28, such a government was announced
and on October 15, 1945 Poland signed the Charter, thus becoming one of the
original Members.
Fifty Nations, Soon To Be United
France suggested that Syria and Lebanon be invited and these two states were
asked to attend. The conference itself invited four other states the Byelorussian
Soviet Socialist Republic, the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, newly-liberated
Denmark and Argentina. Thus delegates of fifty nations in all, gathered at the City
of the Golden Gate, representatives of over eighty per cent of the world's
population, people of every race, religion and continent; all determined to set up an
organization which would preserve peace and help build a better world. They had
before them the Dumbarton Oaks proposals as the agenda for the conference and,
working on this basis, they had to produce a Charter acceptable to all the countries.
Delegations And Staff Number 3,500
There were 850 delegates, and their advisers and staff together with the conference
secretariat brought the total to 3,500. In addition, there were more than 2,500
press, radio and newsreel representatives and observers from many societies and
organizations. In all, the San Francisco Conference was not only one of the most
important in history but, perhaps, the largest international gathering ever to take
place. The heads of the delegations of the sponsoring countries took turns as
chairman of the plenary meetings : Anthony Eden, of Britain, Edward Stettinius, of
the United States, T. V. Soong, of China, and Vyacheslav Molotov, of the Soviet

Union. At the later meetings, Lord Halifax deputized for Mr. Eden, V. K. Wellington
Koo for T. V. Soong, and Mr Gromyko for Mr. Molotov.
Plenary meetings are, however, only the final stages at such conferences. A great
deal of work has to be done in preparatory committees before a proposition reaches
the full gathering in the form in which it should be voted upon. And the voting
procedure at San Francisco was important. Every part of the Charter had to be and
was passed by a two-thirds majority.
This is the way in which the San Francisco Conference got through its monumental
work in exactly two months.
One Charter, Four Sections
The conference formed a "Steering Committee," composed of the heads of all the
delegations. This committee decided all matters of major principle and policy. But,
even at one member per state, the committee was fifty strong, too large for
detailed work; therefore an Executive Committee of fourteen heads of delegations
was chosen to prepare recommendations for the Steering Committee.
Then the proposed Charter was divided into four sections, each of which was
considered by a "Commission." Commission one dealt with the general purposes of
the organization, its principles, membership, the secretariat and the subject of
amendments to the Charter. Commission two considered the powers and
responsibilities of the General Assembly, while Commission three took up the
Security Council.
Commission four worked on a draft for the Statute of the International Court of
This draft had been prepared by a 44-nation Committee of Jurists which had met in
Washington in April 1945. All this sounds over-elaborate especially when the four
Commissions subdivided into twelve technical committees but actually, it was the
speediest way of ensuring the fullest discussion and securing the last ounce of
agreement possible.
Clashes Of Opinion
There were only ten plenary meetings of all the delegates but nearly 400 meetings
of the committees at which every line and comma was hammered out. It was more
than words and phrases, of course, that had to be decided upon. There were many
serious clashes of opinion, divergencies of outlook and even a crisis or two, during
which some observers feared that the conference might adjourn without an
There was the question, for example, of the status of "regional organizations." Many
countries had their own arrangements for regional defence and mutual assistance.
There was the Inter-American System, for example, and the Arab League. How were
such arrangements to be related to the world organization? The conference decided
to give them part in peaceful settlement and also, in certain circumstances, in
enforcement measures, provided that the aims and acts of these groups accorded
with the aims and purposes of the United Nations.

The League of Nations had provided machinery for the revision of treaties between
members. Should the United Nations make similar provisions?
Treaties And Trusteeship
The conference finally agreed that treaties made after the formation of the United
Nations should be registered with the Secretariat and published by it. As to revision,
no specific mention was made although such revision may be recommended by the
General Assembly in the course of investigation of any situation requiring peaceful
The conference added a whole new chapter on the subject not covered by the
Dumbarton Oaks proposals: proposals creating a system for territories placed under
United Nations trusteeship. On this matter there was much debate. Should the aim
of trusteeship be defined as "independence" or "self-government" for the peoples of
these areas? If independence, what about areas too small ever to stand on their
own legs for defence? It was finally recommended that the promotion of the
progressive development of the peoples of trust territories should be directed
toward "independence or self-government."
Debates And Vetos
There was also considerable debate on the jurisdiction of the International Court of
Justice and the conference decided that member nations would not be compelled to
accept the Court's jurisdiction but might voluntarily declare their acceptance of
compulsory jurisdiction. Likewise the question of future amendments to the Charter
received much attention and finally resulted in an agreed solution.
Above all, the right of each of the "Big Five" to exercise a "veto" on action by the
powerful Security Council provoked long and heated debate. At one stage the
conflict of opinion on this question threatened to break up the conference. The
smaller powers feared that when one of the "Big Five" menaced the peace, the
Security Council would be powerless to act, while in the event of a clash between
two powers not permanent members of the Security Council, the "Big Five" could
act arbitrarily. They strove therefore to have the power of the "veto" reduced. But
the great powers unanimously insisted on this provision as vital, and emphasized
that the main responsibility for maintaining world peace would fall most heavily on
them. Eventually the smaller powers conceded the point in the interest of setting up
the world organization.
This and other vital issues were resolved only because every nation was determined
to set up, if not the perfect international organization, at least the best that could
possibly be made.
The Last Meeting
Thus it was that in the Opera House at San Francisco on June 25, the delegates met
in full session for the last meeting. Lord Halifax presided and put the final draft of
the Charter to the meeting. "This issue upon which we are about to vote," he said,
"is as important as any we shall ever vote in our lifetime."
In view of the world importance of the occasion, he suggested that it would be
appropriate to depart from the customary method of voting by a show of hands.

Then, as the issue was put, every delegate rose and remained standing. So did
everyone present, the staffs, the press and some 3000 visitors, and the hall
resounded to a mighty ovation as the Chairman announced that the Charter had
been passed unanimously.
The Charter Is Signed
The next day, in the auditorium of the Veterans' Memorial Hall, the delegates filed
up one by one to a huge round table on which lay the two historic volumes, the
Charter and the Statute of the International Court of Justice. Behind each delegate
stood the other members of the delegation against a colorful semi-circle of the flags
of fifty nations. In the dazzling brilliance of powerful spotlights, each delegate
affixed his signature. To China, first victim of aggression by an Axis power, fell the
honour of signing first.
"The Charter of the United Nations which you have just signed," said President
Truman in addressing the final session, "is a solid structure upon which we can build
a better world. History will honor you for it. Between the victory in Europe and the
final victory, in this most destructive of all wars, you have won a victory against war
itself. . . . With this Charter the world can begin to look forward to the time when all
worthy human beings may be permitted to live decently as free people."
Then the President pointed out that the Charter would work only if the peoples of
the world were determined to make it work.
"If we fail to use it," he concluded, "we shall betray all those who have died so that
we might meet here in freedom and safety to create it. If we seek to use it selfishly for the advantage of any one nation or any small group of nations we shall be
equally guilty of that betrayal. "

The Charter Is Approved

The United Nations did not come into existence at the signing of the Charter. In
many countries the Charter had to be approved by their congresses or parliaments.
It had therefore been provided that the Charter would come into force when the
Governments of China, France, Great Britain, the Soviet Union and the United States
and a majority of the other signatory states had ratified it and deposited notification
to this effect with the State Department of the United States. On October 24, 1945,
this condition was fulfilled and the United Nations came into existence. Four years of
planning and the hope of many years had materialized in an international
organization designed to end war and promote peace, justice and better living for
all mankind.

In 1945, representatives of 50 countries met in San Francisco at the United Nations

Conference on International Organization to draw up the United Nations Charter.
Those delegates deliberated on the basis of proposals worked out by the
representatives of China, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom and the United
States at Dumbarton Oaks, United States in August-October 1944. The Charter was

signed on 26 June 1945 by the representatives of the 50 countries. Poland, which

was not represented at the Conference, signed it later and became one of the
original 51 Member States.
The United Nations officially came into existence on 24 October 1945, when the
Charter had been ratified by China, France, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom,
the United States and by a majority of other signatories. United Nations Day is
celebrated on 24 October each year.

The General Assembly

Forum for multilateral negotiation
Established in 1945 under the Charter of the United Nations, the General Assembly
occupies a central position as the chief deliberative, policymaking and
representative organ of the United Nations. Comprising all 193 Members of the
United Nations, it provides a unique forum for multilateral discussion of the full
spectrum of international issues covered by the Charter.
It also plays a significant role in the process of standard-setting and the codification
of international law. The Assembly meets in regular session intensively from
September to December each year, and thereafter as required.
Functions and powers of the General Assembly
According to the Charter of the United Nations, the General Assembly may:

Consider and approve the United Nations budget and establish the financial
assessments of Member States;
Elect the non-permanent members of the Security Council and the
members of other United Nations councils and organs and, on the
recommendation of the Security Council, appoint the Secretary-General;
Consider and make recommendations on the general principles of
cooperation for maintaining international peace and security, including
Discuss any question relating to international peace and security and,
except where a dispute or situation is currently being discussed by the Security
Council, make recommendations on it;
Discuss, with the same exception, and make recommendations on any
questions within the scope of the Charter or affecting the powers and functions
of any organ of the United Nations;
Initiate studies and make recommendations to promote international
political cooperation, the development and codification of international law, the
realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms, and international
collaboration in the economic, social, humanitarian, cultural, educational and
health fields;
Make recommendations for the peaceful settlement of any situation that
might impair friendly relations among nations;
Consider reports from the Security Council and other United Nations
The Assembly may also take action in cases of a threat to the peace, breach of
peace or act of aggression, when the Security Council has failed to act owing to the
negative vote of a permanent member. In such instances, according to its Uniting
for Peace resolution of November 1950 (resolution 377 (V)), the Assembly may
consider the matter immediately and recommend to its Members collective
measures to maintain or restore international peace and security.

The Assembly has initiated actions political, economic, humanitarian, social and
legal which have affected the lives of millions of people throughout the world.
The landmark Millennium Declaration, adopted in 2000, and the 2005 World Summit
Outcome Document reflect the commitment of Member States to reach specific
goals to attain peace, security and disarmament along with development and
poverty eradication; safeguard human rights and promote the rule of law; protect
our common environment; meet the special needs of Africa; and strengthen the
United Nations.
The search for consensus
Each of the 193 Member States in the Assembly has one vote. Votes taken on
designated important issues such as recommendations on peace and security,
the election of Security Council and Economic and Social Council members, and
budgetary questions require a two-thirds majority of Member States, but other
questions are decided by simple majority.
In recent years, an effort has been made to achieve consensus on issues, rather
than deciding by a formal vote, thus strengthening support for the Assemblys
decisions. The President, after having consulted and reached agreement with
delegations, can propose that a resolution be adopted without a vote.

The Security Council

The UN Charter established six main organs of the United Nations, including the
Security Council. It gives primary responsibility for maintaining international peace
and security to the Security Council, which may meet whenever peace is
According to the Charter, 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.

All members of the United Nations agree to accept and carry out the decisions of
the Security Council. While other organs of the United Nations make
recommendations to member states, only the Security Council has the power to
make decisions that member states are then obligated to implement under the

Maintaining Peace and Security

When a complaint concerning a threat to peace is brought before it, the Councils
first action is usually to recommend that the parties try to reach agreement by
peaceful means. The Council may:

set forth principles for such an agreement;

undertake investigation and mediation, in some cases;

dispatch a mission;

appoint special envoys; or

request the Secretary-General to use his good offices to achieve a pacific

settlement of the dispute.

When a dispute leads to hostilities, the Councils primary concern is to bring them to
an end as soon as possible. In that case, the Council may:

issue ceasefire directives that can help prevent an escalation of the


dispatch military observers or a peacekeeping force to help reduce

tensions, separate opposing forces and establish a calm in which peaceful
settlements may be sought.

Beyond this, the Council may opt for enforcement measures, including:

economic sanctions, arms embargoes, financial penalties and restrictions,

and travel bans;

severance of diplomatic relations;


or even collective military action.

A chief concern is to focus action on those responsible for the policies or practices
condemned by the international community, while minimizing the impact of the
measures taken on other parts of the population and economy.
A representative of each of its members must be present at all times at UN
Headquarters so that the Security Council can meet at any time as the need arises.

The Economic and Social Council

The worlds economic, social and environmental challenges are ECOSOCs concern.
A founding UN Charter body established in 1946, the Council is the place where
such issues are discussed and debated, and policy recommendations issued.
At the 2005 World Summit, Heads of State and Government mandated the
Economic and Social Council to hold Annual Ministerial Reviews (AMR) and a
biennial Development Cooperation Forum (DCF).
Annual Ministerial Review
The objective of the AMR is to assess progress in achieving the internationally
agreed development goals (IADGs) arising out of the major conferences and
summits. It consists of an annual thematic review and national voluntary
presentations on progress and challenges towards achieving the IADGs, including
those contained in their national MDG-based development strategies. More...
Development Cooperation Forum
The objective of the DCF is to enhance the coherence and effectiveness of activities
of different development partners. By reviewing trends and progress in international
development cooperation, the Forum is to provide policy guidance and
recommendations to improve the quality and impact of development cooperation.

The Trusteeship Council

The Trusteeship Council suspended operation on 1 November 1994, with the
independence of Palau, the last remaining United Nations trust territory, on 1
October 1994. By a resolution adopted on 25 May 1994, the Council amended
its rules of procedure to drop the obligation to meet annually and agreed to
meet as occasion required -- by its decision or the decision of its President, or
at the request of a majority of its members or the General Assembly or the
Security Council.
In setting up an International Trusteeship System, the Charter established the
Trusteeship Council as one of the main organs of the United Nations and assigned to
it the task of supervising the administration of Trust Territories placed under the
Trusteeship System. Major goals of the System were to promote the advancement of

the inhabitants of Trust Territories and their progressive development towards selfgovernment or independence. TheTrusteeship Council is made up of the five
permanent members of the Security Council --China, France, Russian Federation,
United Kingdom and United States. The aims of the Trusteeship System have been
fulfilled to such an extent that all Trust Territories have attained self-government or
independence, either as separate States or by joining neighbouring independent
Functions and powers
Under the Charter, the Trusteeship Council is authorized to examine and discuss
reports from the Administering Authority on the political, economic, social and
educational advancement of the peoples of Trust Territories and, in consultation with
the Administering Authority, to examine petitions from and undertake periodic and
other special missions to Trust Territories.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ)

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is the principal judicial organ of the United
Nations (UN). It was established in June 1945 by the Charter of the United Nations
and began work in April 1946.
The seat of the Court is at the Peace Palace in The Hague (Netherlands). Of the six
principal organs of the United Nations, it is the only one not located in New York
(United States of America).
The Courts role is to settle, in accordance with international law, legal disputes
submitted to it by States and to give advisory opinions on legal questions referred
to it by authorized United Nations organs and specialized agencies.
The Court is composed of 15 judges, who are elected for terms of office of nine
years by the United Nations General Assembly and the Security Council. It is
assisted by a Registry, its administrative organ. Its official languages are English
and French.

The Secretariat
The Secretariat an international staff working in duty stations around the world
carries out the diverse day-to-day work of the Organization. It services the other
principal organs of the United Nations and administers the programmes and policies
laid down by them. At its head is the Secretary-General, who is appointed by the
General Assembly on the recommendation of the Security Council for a five-year,
renewable term.
The duties carried out by the Secretariat are as varied as the problems dealt with by
the United Nations. These range from administering peacekeeping operations to
mediating international disputes, from surveying economic and social trends and
problems to preparing studies on human rights and sustainable development.
Secretariat staff also inform the world's communications media about the work of
the United Nations; organize international conferences on issues of worldwide
concern; and interpret speeches and translate documents into the Organization's
official languages.
As international civil servants, staff members and the Secretary-General answer to
the United Nations alone for their activities, and take an oath not to seek or receive
instructions from any Government or outside authority. Under the Charter, each
Member State undertakes to respect the exclusively international character of the
responsibilities of the Secretary-General and the staff and to refrain from seeking to
influence them improperly in the discharge of their duties.

The United Nations Website