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Title: United%20Nations

United Nations
United Nations
  • The United Nations (UN) is an international
    organization whose stated aims are to facilitate
    cooperation in (1) international law, (2)
    international security, (3) economic development,
    (4) social progress and (5) human rights issues.

United Nations
  • The UN replaced the League of Nations which
    failed to prevent World War II.
  • The term United Nations was used during WWII by
    USA President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British
    Prime Minister Winston Churchill to describe the
    Allied forces as the United Nations Fighting

United Nations
  • Starting in August 1944, representatives of
    France, the Republic of China, the United
    Kingdom, the United States and the Soviet Union
    (now Russia) met to discuss an international
    organization devoted to maintaining international
    peace, security, and economic and social

United Nations
  • On 25 April 1945, 50 nations met in San Francisco
    to negotiate the UN Charter.
  • The Charter was signed on 26 June 1945
  • The UN came into existence on 24 October 1945
    when the five permanent members of the UN
    Security Council ratified the Charter.

United Nations - Structure
  • As an organization, the UN has five organs or
  • The branches are the General Assembly, the
    Security Council, the Economic and Social Council
    (ECOSOC), the Secretariat, and the International
    Court of Justice (ICJ).
  • A six branch suspended operations in 1994.

United Nations General Assembly
  • All 192 members nations to the UN are members of
    the General Assembly.
  • All members are equal and all members have one
  • Resolutions are put forth by member states for
    General Assembly discuss, debate and vote. The
    outcome is generally symbolic since they are not
    legally enforceable. However, the outcome does
    have the weight of international opinion.
  • Voting on important issues such as peace or
    budget is by 2/3 majority.

United Nations Security Council
  • The Security Council is the branch primarily
    responsible for maintaining peace and security.
  • The Security Council is the only UN branch with
    the power to make decisions that member
    governments must carry out.

United Nations Security Council
  • The Security Council has 15 members.
  • Five are permanent members China, France, United
    Kingdom, United States and Russia. These five
    countries can veto any Security Council
    resolution. Veto power reflects that they are the
    main victors of WWII. As well, they are the only
    countries officially recognized by possessing
    nuclear weapons under the Non-Nuclear
    Proliferation Treaty.
  • Ten countries are non-permanent members. These
    countries are selected by the General Assembly
    for two-year terms.
  • Note Russia has used its veto power 122 times.
    However since 1984, Russia has only used veto
    four times while the USA has used its veto power
    43 times.

United Nations Economic and Social Council
  • ECOSOC has 54 members elected for three-year
    terms by the General Assembly.
  • ECOSOC promotes international economic and social
    cooperation and development.
  • Its groups technically include the World Bank
    and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). These
    groups have often been associated with increasing
    hardship in developing nations because of their
    strict adherence to the capitalist model (e.g.,
    To receive IMF loans, a country may be required
    to restructure and reduce social welfare, health
    and education programsin effective providing
    fewer services to the most needy.

United Nations Secretariat
  • The Secretariat provides research and
    information, as well as completes tasks requested
    by other UN branches.
  • The UN Secretariat is headed by the
    Secretary-General. The Secretary-General was
    envisioned as a world moderator.
  • The Secretary-General helps resolve international
    disputes, administers peacekeeping operations,
    organizes international conferences, gathers
    information on the implementation of Security
    Council decisions, and consults with member
    governments regarding various initiatives.
  • This position is five-year, renewable term.

United Nations International Court of Justice
  • The International Court of Justice is the UN
    legal branch. The Court settles disputes between
    nations and gives legal advice.
  • Subject to permanent member veto, the UN Charter
    authorizes the Security Council to enforce the
    Courts decisions. In 1986, the USA withdrew
    from compulsory jurisdiction and only accepts
    orders on a case-by-case basis.
  • NOTE In 2002, the International Criminal Court
    began operations. It is the first permanent
    international court charged with trying those who
    commit the most serious crimes under
    international law, including war crimes and
    genocide. The ICC is functionally independent of
    the UN.

United Nations Universal Declaration of Human
  • The UN Charter obliges all members to promote
    "universal respect for, and observance of, human
    rights" and to take "joint and separate action"
    to that end. To that end, the Universal
    Declaration of Human Rights, though not legally
    binding, was adopted in 1948 as a common standard
    of achievement for all.
  • NOTE The Declaration is not legally binding,

United Nations Universal Declaration of Human
  • Human rights refers to "the basic rights and
    freedoms to which all humans are entitled" Human
    rights include civil and political rights (e.g.,
    right to life and liberty, freedom of thought and
    expression, equality before the law, freedom from
    unwarranted persecution), and social, cultural
    and economic rights (e.g., right to participate
    in culture, the right to work, and the right to
  • Article 1 of the Declaration states All human
    beings are born free and equal in dignity and
    rights. They are endowed with reason and
    conscience and should act towards one another in
    a spirit of brotherhood.

United Nations Universal Declaration of Human
  • The Declaration does have some critics.
  • Some libertarians suggest the Declaration forces
    taxation and thus removes rights (e.g., Health
    care does not simply grow on trees. If it is a
    fundamental right, the means to provide that
    right must be confiscated from others).
  • Some Islamic countries fear the Declaration does
    not take into account their culture or religion.
    In some instances, these countries an alternative
    document that says people only have "freedom and
    right to a dignified life in accordance with the
    Islamic Shariah Law"

United Nations Is it effective?
  • Does the UN work effectively?
  • In 2002, the UN established eight Millennium
    Development Goals (MDG).
  • MDGs include eradicating extreme poverty and
    hunger, providing universal primary education,
    stopping the spread of HIV/AIDS, and promoting
    gender equality and empowering women. A complete
    list of MDGs, their numeric targets, programs and
    actions, and progress reports can be researched
    at http//www.un.org/millenniumgoals/
  • The target completion date is 2015. Do you think
    the UN will reach its MDGs by 2015?
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