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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Activities of United Nations

Tuesday, March 23, 2010 - 0 Comments


The United Nations plays a large role in the field of global social activities. The UN actively encourages international human rights (see Universal Declaration of Human Rights). The United Nations has focused considerable attention on decolonisation and supporting the new states that have arisen as a result. The organisation occupies itself at present in the fields of economic development, world health, and the state of the environment, the health of animals, education, and refugee work.


The Berlin born polar bear Knut wills is the official mascot animal for the Conference on Biological Diversity held in Bonn 2008. He is the symbol figure for global climate change.

When an issue is considered particularly important, the General Assembly may convene an international conference to focus global attention and build a consensus for consolidated action. Examples include: International Conference on Assistance to Refugees in Africa (ICARA 2) established in 1984; The UN Conference on Environment and Development (the 1992 Earth Summit) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil discussed issues including climate change, biological diversity, and sustainable development and led to the creation of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development; The International Conference on Population and Development, held in Cairo, Egypt, in 1994, approved a programme of action to address the critical challenges between population and sustainable development over the next 20 years; The Fourth World Conference on Women, held in Beijing, China in 1995, sought to accelerate implementation of the historic agreements reached at the Third World Conference on Women; The Second UN Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II), convened in 1996 in Istanbul, Turkey, considered the challenges of human settlement development and management in the 21st century; and in 1998, the General Assembly called a conference to establish an International Criminal Court (ICC), where it adopted the “Rome Statue”. The ICC became operational in 2002 and began its first case in 2006.

Composition and Functions of General Assembly and Security Council

Organizational Structure

The United Nations system is based on five principal organs 1) UN General Assembly, (2) UN Security Council, (3) UN Economic and Social Council, (4) UN Secretariat, and (5) International Court of Justice.

1. UN General Assembly

the UN General Assembly is the main deliberative organ of the United Nations. It is made up of all United Nations member states and meets in regular yearly sessions. As the only UN organ in which all members are represented, the assembly serves as a forum for members to discuss issues of international law and to make decisions regarding the functioning of the organization.

2. UN Security Council

The UN Security council is charged with maintaining peace and security among nations. While other organ of the United Nations only make recommendations to member governments, the Security Council has the power to make decisions those member governments must carry out under the United Nations Charter. The decisions of the Council are known as United Nations Security Council Resolutions. The Security Council is made up of 15 member states, consisting of five permanent seats and ten temporary seats. The permanent five are China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States. These members hold veto power over substantive but not procedural resolutions allowing a permanent member to block adoption but not debate of a resolution unacceptable to it. The ten temporary seats are held for two-year terms with member states voted in by the UN General Assembly on a regional basis. The presidency of the Security Council is rotated alphabetically each month.

The Security Council has been criticized for being unable to act in a clear and decisive way when confronted with a crisis. The veto power of the five permanent members has been cited as the cause of this problem. The makeup of the security council back to the end of World War II, and this division of powers no longer represents the state of the world. Critics question the effectiveness and relevance of the Security Council because enforcement relies on the member nations and there usually are no consequences for violating a Security Council resolution.

3. UN Economic and Social Council

4. UN Secretariat

The United Nations Secretariat is headed by the Secretary-General assisted by a staff of international civil servants worldwide. It provides studies, information, and facilities needed by United Nations bodies for their meetings. It also carries out tasks as directed by the UN Security Council, the UN General Assembly, the UN Economic and Social Council, and other UN bodies. The United Nations Charter provides that the staff be chosen by application of the “highest standards of efficiency, competence, and integrity,” with due regard for the importance of recruiting on a wide geographical basis.

5. International Court of Justice

Netherlands, is the main court of the UN. Its purpose is to adjudicate disputes among states. The court has heard cases related to war crimes, illegal state interference and ethnic cleansing, among others. The ICJ was created in 1946 and continues to hear cases.

A related court, the International Criminal Court (ICC), began operating in 2002 through international discussions initiated by the General Assembly. It is the first permanent international court charged with trying those who commit the most under international law, including war crimes and genocide. The ICC is functionally independent of the UN in terms of personnel and financing, but some meetings of the ICC governing body, the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute, are held at the UN. There is a “relationship agreement” between the ICC and the UN that governs how the two institutions regard each other legally.

Contribution of United Nations

Major contributors to the regular UN budget for 2006

United States (22%)

Japan (19.47%)

Germany (8.66%)

United Kingdom (6.13%)

France (6.03%)

Italy (4.89%)

Canada (2.81%)

Spain (2.52%)

China (2.05%)

Mexico (1.88%)

The UN is financed from assessed and voluntary contributions from member states. The regular two-year budgets of the UN and its specialized agencies are funded by assessments. The General Assembly approves the regular budget and determines the assessment for each member. This is broadly based on the relative capacity of each country to pay, as measured by their GrNational Income (GNI)), with adjustments forexternal debt and low per capita income. The Assembly has established the principle that the UN should not be overly dependent on any one member to finance its operations. Thus, there is a ‘ceiling’ rate, setting the maximum amount any member is assessed for the regular budget. In December 2000, the Assembly revised the scale of assessments to reflect current global circumstances. As part of that revision, the regular budget ceiling was reduced from 25% to 22%. The US is the only member that meets the ceiling. In addition to a ceiling rate, the minimum amount assessed to any member nation (or ‘floor’ rate) is set at 0.001% of the UN budget. Also, for the least developed countries (LDC), a ceiling rate of 0.01% is applied. The current operating budget is estimated at $4.19 billion (see table for major contributors). Some member nations are overdue on their payments, most notably the United States (see United States and the United Nations).

Special UN programmes not included in the regular budget (such as UNICEF and UNDP) are financed by voluntary contributions from member governments. Most of this, is financial contributions, but some is in the form of agricultural commodities donated for afflicted populations.

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