United Nations

United Nations

The United Nations is an organization of sovereign States, which voluntarily join the UN to work for world peace. It formally came into being on 24 October 1945. At that time, it had 51 countries as Members. Currently, 193 countries are UN members; the most recent to join was South Sudan in July 2011.

There are six main organs of the United Nations as follows:

1. General Assembly: The main deliberative organ of the United Nations comprised of all Member States, each of which has one vote, no matter its size or influence. It may discuss any matter arising under the UN Charter.

2. Security Council: Unlike the General Assembly, the Security Council does not hold regular meetings. The Council has 15 members, including 5 permanent members: China, France, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

3. Economic and Social Council: It is the central body for coordinating the economic and social work of the United Nations and the UN System. The Council has 54 members which are chosen for equal geographical representation and serve a three-year term. Voting in the Council is by simple majority; each member has one vote.

4. Trusteeship Council: The Trusteeship Council was assigned under the UN Charter to supervise the administration of 11 Trust Territories (former colonies or dependent territories) which were placed under the International Trusteeship System.

5. International Court of Justice: The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is the UN’s main judicial organ, located in the Hague, Netherlands. Established in 1945, the ICJ, or “World Court” assumed its functions in 1946. The Court settles legal disputes only between nations and not between individuals, in accordance with international law.

6. The Secretariat: The Secretariat is made up of an international staff working at UN Headquarters in New York, as well as UN offices in Geneva, Vienna, Nairobi and other locations. It consists of departments and offices with a total staff of 16,000 drawn from most Member States.

Note: The Court has its seat at the Hague, Netherlands. All other organs are based at United Nations Headquarters in New York.

UN Security Council:

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is one of the organs of the United Nations and is charged with the maintenance of international peace and security. Its powers include the establishment of peacekeeping operations, the establishment of international sanctions, and the authorization of military action through Security Council resolutions; it is the only UN body with the authority to issue binding resolutions to member states.

Members: Fifteen members with Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, and the United States—serve as the body’s five permanent members. These permanent members can veto any substantive Security Council resolution, including those on the admission of new member states or candidates for Secretary-General.

The Security Council also has 10 non-permanent members, elected on a regional basis to serve two-year terms. The body’s presidency rotates monthly among its members.

Proposed reforms:

Reform of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) encompasses five key issues: categories of membership, the question of the veto held by the five permanent members, regional representation, the size of an enlarged Council and its working methods, and the Security Council-General Assembly relationship. There is also a proposal to admit more permanent members.

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