Structure Of United Nations, ITS Organizations & Agencies Of United Nations

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Structure Of UNO, ITS Organizations & Agencies Of United Nations

( UN ) UNITED NATIONS & ITS ORGANS

  • It is an international organization founded in 1945 after the World War II.
  • Its charter was signed in San Francisco on June 26, 1945 and came into existence on October 24, 1945 after 51 countries have signed the charter.
  • Its predecessor, the League of Nations, created by the Treaty of Versailles in 1919 was disbanded in 1946.
  • Its mission is to maintain international peace and security, developing friendly relations among nations and promoting social progress, better living standards and human rights. 

1. UN HQ - New York 
2. UN Official Languages - Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Spanish, Russian 
3. UN Members - 193 (Latest Member South Sudan) 
4. UN Secretary General - Antonio Guterres (Portugal)

UN System is made up of the 

1. Main Organs established by the Charter of the United Nations

2. Specialized agencies provided for in Article 57 of the Charter & 

3. Funds & Programmes established by the General Assembly under its authority derived from Article 22 of the Charter. 

Indian Members in the UN

  • Soumya Swaminathan, director general of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), was appointed as the Chief Scientist at the WHO.
  • An Indian Justice Dalveer Bhandari was re-elected as a judge to the International Court of Justice
  • International law expert Neeru Chadha was elected to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea.
United Nations


Main Organs

UN-General Assembly

  • It is the main deliberative organ and composed of all member states, each of which has one vote.
  • The mandate of UNGA is to discuss, debate, and make recommendations on subjects pertaining to international peace and security, including development, disarmament, human rights, international law, and the peaceful arbitration of disputes between nations.
  • It considers reports from the other four organs of the United Nations, assesses the financial situations of member states, and approves the UN budget, its most concrete role. 
  • Sessions - The assembly meets in Regular session (annually from Sep to Dec), Special session and Emergency Special Session (within 24 hours) at the request of UN security council or majority of members or one-member state if the majority of states concur.
  • Appointments by UNGA - It appoints Secretary General of UN based on the recommendations given by Security Council.
  • General Assembly elects Non-Permanent members in Security Council and elects Members for Social and Economic Council.
  • Along with Security Council, General Assembly elects Judges to International Court of Justice.
  • Membership - There are 193 UN member states, each with a vote in the General Assembly. 
  • The assembly‟s president changes with each annual session and is elected by the body itself.
  • The membership can be contentious. Taiwan has been denied UN membership for more than two decades due to objections from China. Palestine‟s status has also been controversial. 
  • At the 2012 General Assembly passed a resolution to upgrade Palestine from a non-member observer entity to non-member observer state.
  • Palestine and Vatican City are the United Nations‟ two non-member observer states, which have the right to speak at assembly meetings but cannot vote on resolutions.
  • Assembly Actions - Decision on important questions such as those on peace and security, UN budget, admission, suspension and expulsion of members to various organs of UN requires special majority
  • Make recommendations on any matters within the scope of the UN, except matters of peace and security that are under consideration by the Security Council.
  •  In 1948, it promulgated the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which contained 30 articles outlining global standards for human rights.
  • In 1950, it initiated “Uniting for Peace” resolution which states that if UNSC fails to exercise its primary responsibility” for maintaining international peace and security, UNGA should take up the matter itself and urge collective action.
  • In 2000, it set forth the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), a time bound and measurabletargets for reducing poverty, halting the spread of HIV/AIDS, and improving access to primary education followed by Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
  • It has the power to censure states for violating UN Charter principles.
  • In 2012, UNGA voted to denounce the Syrian government for atrocities since the start of the Syrian uprising in March 2011.
  • In 2014, Crimea‟s referendum to leave Ukraine and join Russia was held invalid by the UNGA by adopting a nonbinding resolution. It also held that Russia‟s annexation of Crimea is illegal.
  • UN budget - United Nation is funded by its member states through compulsory and voluntary contributions. 
  • The size of each state‟s compulsory contribution depends mainly on its economic strength, though its state of development and debt situation are also considered.
  • Member countries can make voluntary contribution to UNESCO, WHO, UN Programmes and Funds such as Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the UN Children‟s Fund (UNICEF).

Adoption of UN Resolution


  • Resolution in GA can be adopted in two ways i.e reaching consensus among member states and by voting on the resolution.
  • Consensus - All member states have agreed to adopt the text of a draft resolution without taking a vote.
  • Consensus is not reached, even if just one Member State requests a vote.
  • It is important to note that consensus does not mean that all Member States agree on every word in the draft resolution and they still have reservation about certain parts.
  • Thus, the viewpoint of every member countries is taken into consideration. This process is inclusive in nature.
  • Voting - It need to get a simple majority to agree on the text of a resolution.
  • There is no need to care about the perspectives of the minority who disagree.
  • Those countries that did not vote in favour of a resolution on a particular agenda item will be less likely to implement the actions on an agenda item that are recommended in a resolution, hence it is divisive.

UN Recent developments

  • UNGA held a first ever high-level meeting on the fight against Tuberculosis, under the theme “United to endTuberculosis: an urgent global response to a global epidemic”.
  • The special session aims at accelerating efforts in ending TB and reaching all affected people with preventionand care.
  • The declaration marks the endorsement of the Resolution by all Member States of the UN.
  • India has pledged to eliminate the disease five years before the UN Development Goal of 2030
  • Venezuela and Libya have been suspended from voting in the UN General Assembly for the third time in 3 years because of millions of dollars in unpaid dues to the world body.

United Nations Security Council

  • It has primary responsibility for the maintenance of International peace and security.
  • The council has 15 members: 5 Permanent - US, UK, Russia, France & China and 10 members elected by the General Assembly for 2-year terms.
  • The main criterion for eligibility is contribution “to the maintenance of international peace and security”, often defined by financial or troop contributions to peacekeeping operations or leadership on matters of regional security.
  • Equitable geographical distribution is also taken in to account for membership - African Group (3), AsiaPacific Group (2), Latin American and Caribbean Group (2), Western European and Others Groups (WEOG)(2)and Eastern European Group (1).
  • Arab states are given 1 seat alternately drawn from either Africa‟s quota or Asia‟s by informal agreement.
  • Turkey and Israel, which has never served on the council, is represented in WEOG.
  • Current non-permanent members (with end of term) are Côte d‟Ivoire (2019), Equatorial Guinea (2019), Kuwait (2019), Peru (2019), Poland (2019), Belgium (2020), Dominican Republic (2020), Germany (2020), Indonesia (2020) and South Africa (2020).
  • While other organs of the UN can only make recommendations to member states, the Security Council has the power to make binding decisions on member states.
  • All the members have one vote and permanent members have veto power.
  • Decisions on procedural matters should have vote of at least 9 of the 15 members and decision on substantive matters require nine votes and the absence of negative vote by any of the 5 permanent members.
  • Veto powers of P5 countries have been used most frequently by Russia, blocking more than 100 resolutions since the council‟s founding.
  • Most recently, in 2018, the U.S vetoed a resolution condemning Israel for Palestinian civilian deaths during border protests in Gaza.
  • The presidency of the Security Council rotates alphabetically each month.
  • G4 Nations - 4 countries bids for permanent seats in UNSC. They are Brazil, Germany, India, and Japan.
  • Uniting for Consensus (Coffee Club) - These are group of countries who are opposing the expansion of permanent seats in the UNSC under the leadership of Italy.
  • Members - Italy, Spain, Malta, San Marino, Pakistan, South Korea, Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Colombia & Turkey.
  • Despite drastic changes in geopolitics and international relations the Council has not been reformed yet.

Proposed Reforms in UNSC

  • The demands for reform of the UNSC is based on five key issues:
1. Categories of membership (permanent, non-permanent).
2. The question of the veto held by the five permanent members.
3. Regional representation.
4. The size of an enlarged Council and its working methods.
5. The relationship between Security Council and General Assembly.

  • Notably, any reform of the Security Council would require the agreement of at least two-thirds of UN member states.
  • Importantly, the agreement of all the permanent members of the UNSC enjoying the veto right is also required.

UN Economic & Social Council

  • It is the principal organ that guides sustainable development policies and coordinates the activities of several UN units and organisations working on development and social and economic issues.
  • It is the principle body for the implementation of internationally agreed development goals.
  • It has 54 members, which are elected by the General Assembly for a three-year term.
  • Seats in the council are allocated based on geographical representation. 11 of them are allotted to Asian states.
  • For the nations to be the elected as members of ECOSOC for a three-year term, it needs 2/3rd majority of UN General Assembly votes.
  • Each member of the council has one vote and generally voting in the council is by simple majority.
  • The president is elected for a one-year term.

India & ECOSOC

  • In 2017, UNGA re-elected India to another 3-year term starting from Jan,2018 (as its previous term was set to expire in 2017).
  • India received backing of the Asian and Pacific group of nations and secured 183 of the 188 votes to serve again.
  • In 2018, India got elected to various crucial subsidiary bodies working under ECOSOC such as
i. Committee on Non-Governmental Organisations for a term of 2019-2023 and India got the highest number of votes followed by Pakistan,

ii. Commission on Population and Development for a term of 2018 – 2021,

iii. Commission for social development for a term of 2018-2022,

iv. Commission on crime prevention and criminal justice for a term of 2019 – 2021,

v. Council to the Executive Board of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) for a term of 2019-2021,

vi. Executive Board of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women  (UN-Women) for a term of 2019-2021.

  • Election to committee on NGO is considered as crucial, because it scrutinises the NGOs applying for consultative status with ECOSOC and can recommend or block them.

Secretariat

  • It undertakes the day-to-day work of the UN, administering the programmes and policies of the organization.
  • It is headed by the Secretary-General, assisted by a staff of international civil servants worldwide.

International Court of Justice 

  • It is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations also called the “World Court”. 
  • It is seated at the Peace Palace, Hague (Netherlands), and the only principal organ of UN to be not located in New York.
  •  It settles legal disputes between states and gives advisory opinions to the UN and its specialized agencies.
  •  It hears cases related to war crimes, illegal state interference, ethnic cleansing, and other issues.
  • It is presided over by 15 judges elected to 9 year terms by the UNGA and the UNSC from a list of people nominated by the national groups in the Permanent Court of Arbitration.
  • A candidate needs to get an absolute majority in both the chambers i.e. the UNGA and the UNSC.
  • 5 judges are elected every 3 years to ensure continuity within the court and are eligible for re-election.
  • No two judges can be the nationals of the same country.
  • Of the 15 judges, the composition is mandated to be as follows -
i. 3 from Africa
ii. 2 from Latin America and the Caribbean
iii. 3 from Asia
iv. 5 from Western Europe and other states
v. 2 from Eastern Europe

  • The President and Vice-President are elected by secret ballot to hold office for 3 years.
  • The P5 members of the UNSC always have a judge on the Court.
  • The exception was China, which did not have a judge on the Court from 1967 to 1985 because it did not put forward a candidate.
  • Judges may deliver joint judgments or give their own separate opinions.
  • The Court settles legal disputes between nations only and not between individuals, organizations and private enterprises in accordance with international law.
  • The Court can only hear a dispute when requested to do so by one or more States. It cannot deal with a dispute of its own motion.
  • If a country does not wish to take part in a proceeding it does not have to do so, unless required by special treaty provisions. Once a country accepts the Court's jurisdiction, it must comply with its decision.
  • Decisions and Advisory Opinions are by majority, and, in the event of an equal division, the President's vote becomes decisive always have a judge on the Court.
  • Other existing international thematic courts, such as the International Criminal Court (ICC) are not under the umbrella of the ICJ and it is legally and functionally independent from United Nations.
  • India and ICJ - An Indian Justice Dalveer Bhandari was re-elected as a judge to the ICJ.
  • India recently won the plea against Pakistan to grant counsellor access to Indian national Kulbhushan Jadhav and ICJ has directed to Pakistan to stop carrying out the execution of Jadhav.

Trusteeship Council

  • It was formed to provide international supervision for 11 Trust Territories that had been placed under the administration of Member States, and to prepare the territories for self-government and independence. 
  • By 1994, all Trust Territories had attained self-government or independence, with the last nation being Palau.
  • So, UN suspended its operation on 1994, and it continues to exist only on paper.
  • By a resolution adopted in 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.
  • Its future role and existence remain uncertain.
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