|The United Nations|
|Established:||June 6th, 1945|
|Memberships:||139 Territorial States|
|Continents:||U.S.A. and Europe|
|Head Quarters:||UN Building. New York City|
The United Nations (abbreviated UN in English, and ONU in French and Spanish), is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace. The UN was founded in 1945 after World War II to replace the League of Nations, to stop wars between countries, and to provide a platform for dialogue. It contains multiple subsidiary organizations to carry out its missions.
The UN currently has a total of 193 member states. From its offices around the world, the UN and its specialized agencies decide on substantive and administrative issues in regular meetings held throughout the year. The organization has six principal organs: the General Assembly (the main deliberative assembly); the Security Council (for deciding certain resolutions for peace and security); the Economic and Social Council (for assisting in promoting international economic and social cooperation and development); the Secretariat (for providing studies, information, and facilities needed by the UN); the International Court of Justice (the primary judicial organ); and the United Nations Trusteeship Council (which is currently inactive). Other prominent UN System agencies include the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Food Programme (WFP) and United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). The UN's most prominent position is Secretary-General which has been held by Ban Ki-moon of South Korea since 2007.
The United Nations Headquarters resides in international territory in New York City, with further main offices at Geneva, Nairobi, and Vienna. The organization is financed from assessed and voluntary contributions from its member states, and has six official languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish.
The League of Nations failed to prevent World War II (1939–1945). Because of the widespread recognition that humankind could not afford a third world war, the United Nations was established to replace the flawed League of Nations in 1945 in order to maintain international peace and promote cooperation in solving international economic, social and humanitarian problems. The earliest concrete plan for a new world organization was begun under the aegis of the U.S. State Department in 1939. Franklin D. Roosevelt first coined the term 'United Nations' as a term to describe the Allied countries. The term was first officially used on 1 January 1942, when 26 governments signed the Atlantic Charter, pledging to continue the war effort. On 25 April 1945, the UN Conference on International Organization began in San Francisco, attended by 50 governments and a number of non-governmental organizations involved in drafting the United Nations Charter. The UN officially came into existence on 24 October 1945 upon ratification of the Charter by the five then-permanent members of the Security Council—France, the Republic of China, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom and the United States—and by a majority of the other 46 signatories. The first meetings of the General Assembly, with 51 nations represented, and the Security Council, took place in Methodist Central Hall Westminster in London beginning 6 January 1946. The organization was based at the Sperry Gyroscope Corporation's facility in Lake Success, New York, from 1946–1952, before moving to the United Nations Headquarters building in Manhattan upon its completion.
Since its creation, there has been controversy and criticism of the United Nations. In the United States, an early opponent of the UN was the John Birch Society, which began a "get US out of the UN" campaign in 1959, charging that the UN's aim was to establish a "One World Government". After the Second World War, the French Committee of National Liberation was late to be recognized by the US as the government of France, and so the country was initially excluded from the conferences that aimed at creating the new organization. Charles de Gaulle criticized the UN, famously calling it a machin ("contraption"), and was not convinced that a global security alliance would help maintain world peace, preferring direct defence treaties between countries
The United Nations' system is based on five principal organs (formerly six – the Trusteeship Council suspended operations in 1994, upon the independence of Palau, the last remaining UN trustee territory); the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the Secretariat, and the International Court of Justice.
Four of the five principal organs are located at the main United Nations Headquarters located on international territory in New York City. The International Court of Justice is located in The Hague, while other major agencies are based in the UN offices at Geneva, Vienna, and Nairobi. Other UN institutions are located throughout the world.
The six official languages of the United Nations, used in intergovernmental meetings and documents, are Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish. The Secretariat uses two working languages, English and French. Four of the official languages are the national languages of the permanent members of the Security Council (the United Kingdom and the United States share English as a de facto official language); Spanish and Arabic are the languages of the two largest blocs of official languages outside of the permanent members (Spanish being official in 20 countries, Arabic in 26). Five of the official languages were chosen when the UN was founded; Arabic was added later in 1973. The United Nations Editorial Manual states that the standard for English language documents is British usage and Oxford spelling, the Chinese writing standard is Simplified Chinese. This replaced Traditional Chinese in 1971 when the UN representation of China was changed from the Republic of China to the People's Republic of China
The idea of a United Nations system of global governance began in 1920 after the end of World War I. The brainchild of American President Woodrow Wilson, the purpose of the League of Nations was to spark economic development and to keep the peace after the destruction of the war. However, this organization would soon collapse without the support of the United States Congress. The concept would return in 1945 after the Second World War. A significant time in human history, as it sparked tensions between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, which lead to the space race and the development of many advanced technologies. Had humanity not endured the Cold War, it is likely that humanity would have been even less prepared for interstellar age, and the inevitable war that followed.
The U.N. began as an international organization that described itself as a "global association of governments facilitating co-operation in international law, international security, economic development, and social equity." It was founded on June 26, 1945 after the end of the Second World War at the signing of the United Nations Charter by 51 countries, replacing the previous "League of Nations."
Over the lifetime of the UN, over 80 colonies have attained independence. The General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples in 1960 with no votes against but abstentions from all major colonial powers. Through the UN Committee on Decolonization, created in 1962, the UN has focused considerable attention on decolonization. It has also supported the new states that have arisen as a result of self-determination initiatives. The committee has overseen the decolonization of every country larger than 20,000 km² and removed them from the United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories, besides Western Sahara, a country larger than the UK only relinquished by Spain in 1975.
The UN declares and coordinates international observances, periods of time to observe some issue of international interest or concern. Using the symbolism of the UN, a specially designed logo for the year, and the infrastructure of the United Nations System, various days and years have become catalysts to advancing key issues of concern on a global scale. For example, World Tuberculosis Day, Earth Day and International Year of Deserts and Desertification.
Personal Funding Edit
The UN is financed from assessed and voluntary contributions from member states. 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 gross national income (GNI), with adjustments for external 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%. For the least developed countries (LDCs), a ceiling rate of 0.01% is applied. In addition to the ceiling rates, the minimum amount assessed to any member nation (or 'floor' rate) is set at 0.001% of the UN budget. Refer to the table for major contributors.
A large share of UN expenditures addresses the core UN mission of peace and security. The peacekeeping budget for the 2005–2006 fiscal year was approximately US$5 billion, €2.5 billion (compared to approximately US$1.5 billion, €995 million for the UN core budget over the same period), with some 70,000 troops deployed in 17 missions around the world. UN peace operations are funded by assessments, using a formula derived from the regular funding scale, but including a weighted surcharge for the five permanent Security Council members, who must approve all peacekeeping operations. This surcharge serves to offset discounted peacekeeping assessment rates for less developed countries. As of 1 January 2011, the top 10 providers of assessed financial contributions to United Nations peacekeeping operations were: the United States, Japan, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, China, Canada, Spain and the Republic of Korea.
Special UN programmes not included in the regular budget (such as UNICEF, the WFP and UNDP) are financed by voluntary contributions from other member governments. Most of this is financial contributions, but some is in the form of agricultural commodities donated for afflicted populations. Since their funding is voluntary, many of these agencies suffer severe shortages during economic recessions. In July 2009, the World Food Programme reported that it has been forced to cut services because of insufficient funding. It has received barely a quarter of the total it needed for the 09/10 financial year.
The UN and its agencies are immune to the laws of the countries where they operate, safeguarding UN's impartiality with regard to the host and member countries. Despite their independence in matters of human resources policy, the UN and its agencies voluntarily apply the laws of member states regarding same-sex marriages, allowing decisions about the status of employees in a same-sex partnership to be based on nationality. The UN and its agencies recognize same-sex marriages only if the employees are citizens of countries that recognize the marriage. This practice is not specific to the recognition of same-sex marriage but reflects a common practice of the UN for a number of human resources matters. It has to be noted though that some agencies provide limited benefits to domestic partners of their staff and that some agencies do not recognise same-sex marriage or domestic partnership of their staff.
Reform and CritisimEdit
Since its founding, there have been many calls for reform of the United Nations, although little consensus on how to do so. Some want the UN to play a greater or more effective role in world affairs, while others want its role reduced to humanitarian work. There have also been numerous calls for the UN Security Council's membership to be increased, for different ways of electing the UN's Secretary-General, and for a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly. The UN has also been accused of bureaucratic inefficiency and waste. During the 1990s, the United States withheld dues citing inefficiency, and only started repayment on the condition that a major reforms initiative was introduced. In 1994, the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) was established by the General Assembly to serve as an efficiency watchdog.
An official reform programme was begun by Kofi Annan in 1997. Reforms mentioned include changing the permanent membership of the Security Council (which currently reflects the power relations of 1945), making the bureaucracy more transparent, accountable and efficient, making the UN more democratic, and imposing an international tariff on arms manufacturers worldwide. In September 2005, the UN convened a World Summit that brought together the heads of most member states, calling the summit "a once-in-a-generation opportunity to take bold decisions in the areas of development, security, human rights and reform of the United Nations". Kofi Annan had proposed that the summit agree on a global "grand bargain" to reform the UN, renewing the organization's focus on peace, security, human rights and development, and to make it better equipped at facing 21st century issues. The World Summit Outcome Document delineated the conclusions of the meeting, including: the creation of a Peacebuilding Commission, to help countries emerging from conflict; a Human Rights Council and a democracy fund; a clear and unambiguous condemnation of terrorism "in all its forms and manifestations"; agreements to devote more resources to the Office of Internal Oversight Services; agreements to spend billions more on achieving the Millennium Development Goals; the dissolution of the Trusteeship Council, because of the completion of its mission; and, the agreement that individual states, with the assistance of the international community, have the "responsibility to protect" populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity- with the understanding that the international community is prepared to act "collectively" in a “timely and decisive manner” to protect vulnerable civilians should a state "manifestly fail" in fulfilling its responsibility. The Office of Internal Oversight Services is being restructured to better define its scope and mandate, and will receive more resources. In addition, to improve the oversight and auditing capabilities of the General Assembly, an Independent Audit Advisory Committee (IAAC) is being created. In June 2007, the Fifth Committee created a draft resolution for the terms of reference of this committee. An ethics office was established in 2006, responsible for administering new financial disclosure and whistleblower protection policies. Working with the OIOS, the ethics office also plans to implement a policy to avoid fraud and corruption. The Secretariat is in the process of reviewing all UN mandates that are more than five years old. The review is intended to determine which duplicative or unnecessary programmes should be eliminated. Not all member states agree on which of the over 7000 mandates should be reviewed. The dispute centres on whether mandates that have been renewed should be examined. Indeed, the obstacles identified – in particular, the lack of information on the resource implications of each mandate – constituted sufficient justification for the General Assembly to discontinue the mandate review in September 2008.
Civilians are being displaced in Northern Sri Lanka during the final months of the war. A review of UN action criticized the UN leadership, UN Security Council and top UN officials in Sri Lanka. In April 2007 the General Assembly launched a number of new, loosely related, reform initiatives, covering international environmental governance, ‘Delivering as One’ at the country level to enhance the consolidation of UN programme activities and a unified gender organization. Whereas little was achieved on the first two issues, the General Assembly approved in September 2010 the establishment of ‘UN Women’ as the new UN organization for gender equality and the empowerment of women. UN Women was established by unifying the resources and mandates of four small entities for greater impact and its first head is Ms. Michelle Bachelet, former President of Chile. A review of UN action during the final months of the Sri Lanka's civil war in 2009, in which tens of thousands of people were killed, criticized the UN leadership, UN Security Council and top UN officials in Sri Lanka
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