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The United Nations


In modern international relations a significant role play international organizations, since processes of globalization, internationalization and global cooperation necessitated the creation of new forms of international cooperation. A new stage in the development of the international community was the establishment of the first international universal organizations – the World Telegraph Union in 1865 and the Universal Postal Union in 1874. Currently there are more than 4 thousands of organizations that have different legal status, that suggests about a the system of international organizations, which center is the UN (United Nations Organization official homepage).

The aim of this paper is to study the characteristics of goals, objectives and structure of the UN.

The role, mission, and work of the UN and its membership

UN is a universal international organization, which was established to maintain international peace and security, and to promote cooperation among nations. The UN Charter is mandatory for all states and its preamble reads: “We the peoples of the United Nations determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind; and to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, and to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom; to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbours, and to unite our strength to maintain international peace and security, and to ensure, by the acceptance of principles and the institution of methods, that armed force shall not be used, save in the common interest, and to employ international machinery for the promotion of the economic and social advancement of all peoples, have resolved to combine our efforts to accomplish these aims”. (United Nations Organization official homepage)

The steps towards creation of UN were made on the UN conference in Washington in September-October 1944, where the United States, United Kingdom, the Soviet Union and China have agreed on the objectives, structure and functions of the future international organization. April 25, 1945, delegates of 50 countries gathered in San Francisco at the Meeting of the United Nations (the name was first proposed by Roosevelt), and adopted the Charter, which consisted of 19 chapters and 111 articles. October 24, The Charter was ratified by 5 permanent Security Council members, a majority of signatory states and came into force. Since that time October 24 in the international calendar is called the Day of the UN. (Fasulo, 2009)

Representatives of the Western states viewed the UN as an organization of general jurisdiction, called to facilitate cooperation in the field of economy, social welfare, science, culture, etc. In other words, according to the proposals of state member the United Nations should combine control over the integration of member states in political and socio-economic issues.

During the operation of the UN system there was rapid development and expansion of competences and areas of UN activities, which led to the emergence of executive bodies and specialized agencies. Nowadays the UN has formed a stable system, which includes the main bodies:

  • UN General Assembly,
  • UN Security Council,
  • The Economic and Social Council,
  • The Trusteeship Council UN
  • The International Court of Justice, the UN Secretariat.

The system also included and specialized agencies:

  • International Monetary Fund,
  • International Bank for Reconstruction and Development
  • The International Finance Corporation,
  • The International Development Association,
  • International Maritime Organization,
  • International Civil Aviation Organization,
  • International Labour Organization,
  • International Telecommunication Union,
  • Universal Postal Union
  • United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization,
  • World Health Organization,
  • The World Intellectual Property Organization
  • United Nations Industrial Development Organization,
  • The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations,
  • World Meteorological Organization,
  • The International Fund for Agricultural Development,
  • International Atomic Energy Agency.( United Nations Organization official homepage)

Activities of the UN are determined to a greater extent by competencies of various bodies and agencies, so functions of the UN can only be viewed in the context of the powers and activities of each of them. This activity is carried out jointly by more than 30 affiliated organizations that make up the United Nations system. Day by day the United Nations and its system of organizations work to promote human rights, environmental protection, fight with diseases and reduce poverty. United Nations agencies develop standards for safe and efficient air travel, help to improve telecommunications and enhance consumer protection. The United Nations leads the international campaigns against drug trafficking and terrorism. Throughout the world, the United Nations and its agencies assist refugees, set up mine-clearing programs, help to expand food production and play a leading role in the fight against AIDS.( Baehr, 2006)

Membership in the UN can get only states; all members have equal status and rights, that is, each state, regardless of its size and economic development, has one vote in the General Assembly. Each Member State must respect the Charter of the United Nations, and promote fully its peacekeeping activities.



Fasulo, Linda Ms. An Insider’s Guide to the UN. Yale University Press, 2009
Weiss, Thomas G. and Daws S. The Oxford Handbook on the United Nations. Oxford University Press, 2007
Baehr, Peter R. The United Nations, 4th Edition: Reality and Ideal. Palgrave Macmillan; 4th edition, 2006
“UN at a glance”. United Nations Organization official homepage. http://www.un.org/en/aboutun/index.shtml (accessed 25 March, 2011)
“UN structure and organization”. United Nations Organization official homepage. http://www.un.org/en/aboutun/structure/index.shtml (accessed 25 March, 2011)