Principal Organs of UN – Headquarters and Functions of 6 Organs Of United Nations

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

The principal organs of UN assist it in accomplishing all its goals and carrying out its functions. United Nations is an intergovernmental organization founded on 24th October 1945, in San Francisco, California, United States. It is vested with the responsibility of maintaining international relations, world security, and peace and function as the centre of harmony & cooperation for all nations worldwide. The principal organs of UN are General Assembly, Security Council, UN Secretariat, ICJ, Trusteeship Council, and ECOSOC.

Principal organs of UN are a very significant topic for aspirants preparing for the UPSC exam. United Nations is known as the largest international organization in the world, with 193 member states and 2 observer states. The UN is headquartered in New York. Six principal organs of UN help in achieving its objectives. Let us look into the details of the organs of United Nations and their functions.

Principal Organs of UN

Six principal organs of the United Nations help it maintain international security, peace, and world relations, providing relief to the needy around the globe and protecting human rights while supporting the law.

All these organizations that come under the umbrella of the United Nations Organization [UNO] are given various responsibilities to fulfill the larger goal of the UN of maintaining cordial relations and harmony worldwide. All of these organs of the United Nations were also founded in 1945 when the United Nations was established. Let us discuss the organs of the UN, their functions, and their responsibilities in detail below.

Organs of United Nations and their Functions

The six principal organs of the UN play a great role in maintaining cordial relations among the various countries in the world, harboring the feeling of safety and security, conducting rescue and relief operations in times of crisis, eradicating the grave issues of mankind, etc. let us look into each of these organs of United Nations in detail. The organs of United Nations follows different function to satisfy the goals of the United Nations. The six principal organs of the UN are:

  • General Assembly
  • Security Council
  • UN Secretariat
  • International Court of Justice (ICJ)
  • Trusteeship Council,
  • Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)

General Assembly

The General Assembly is the primary policy-making body representing the United Nations. This forms one of the main principal organs of UN and carries out several functions. The General Assembly is the only body that is an example of an organization with ‘universal representation’ as all the 193 member countries of the UN are represented here.

  • All the 193 member states of the United Nations meet yearly for the annual session of the General Assembly in September in New York, where the General Assembly Hall is located.
  • The President who presides over the General Assembly is elected annually by the assembly.
  • A common debate also occurs in this annual General Assembly meeting.
  • Discussions on important security, peacemaking, and other international matters are discussed here.
  • To reach a fixed decision related to maintaining peace, security or matters related to budget or inclusion of some new members in the organization requires a majority of two-thirds in the General Assembly.
  • To make decisions on other matters only requires a simple majority.
  • Every member of the General Assembly is entitled to one vote.

The drafts of the decisions to be made are prepared by the six main committees of the General Assembly, which are mentioned below:

  • Legal,
  • Economics & Financial,
  • Disarmament & International Security,
  • Social, Humanitarian & Cultural,
  • Administrative & Budgetary, and
  • Special Political & Decolonization

Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)

The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) is one of the principal organs of the UN that is responsible for policy review, policy dialogue, maintaining coordination, and giving recommendations on environmental & social issues. It is also responsible for successfully realizing the goals that have been agreed upon internationally among various countries in the meetings.

  • One of the central organs of the United Nations, the ECOSOC acts as a platform for debate and discussions, reflection, and creative & inventive thinking on sustainable development.
  • The Economic and Social Council comprises 54 members elected by the General Assembly for three years.
  • ECOSOC is mainly responsible for coordinating the work of 14 specialized agencies of the UN like UNESCO, ILO, FAO, etc., 5 regional commissions, and 10 financial commissions.
  • This organ of the UN is also responsible for issuing policy recommendations to the member states and the UN system.

Security Council

The United Nations Security Council is mainly responsible for global peace and security as specified under UN Charter. This is one major organ of UN and is responsible for the following functions-

  • The UN Security Council comprises 15 members, out of which five are permanent, such as China, Russia, France, UK, and United States.
  • The remaining 10 temporary members of the Security Council are elected by the General Assembly for two-year terms on a regional basis.
  • The 5 permanent members of the UN Security Council possess veto power, which refers to the power to reject any resolution passed by the Security Council.
  • The United States initially refused to be a part of the UN Security Council until it received the Veto power. Its absence also resulted in certain ineffectiveness.

Trusteeship Council

As the name suggests, this organ of UN was established under the UN Charter in 1945 under Chapter XIII to regulate the 11 Trust Territories after World War II.

  • Trust Territories were non-self-governing or dependent territories, also called colonies, placed under administrative authority by the Trusteeship Council of the UN.
  • After the creation of the Trusteeship Council, some of the territories became free and self-governing.
  • Palau was the last of these territories to become independent in 1994.
  • Therefore, after all the territories had gained independence, the Trusteeship Council shunned its operations on 1st November 1994 and made a decision to gather only when the need arrived.

International Court of Justice (ICJ)

The International Court of Justice was the main organ of the United Nations involving judiciary, instituted in June 1945 by the UN Charter. It started its operations in April 1946. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) succeeded the Permanent Court of International Justice (PCIJ), established in 1920 by the League of Nations.

  • The International Court of Justice is the only principal organ of the United Nations headquartered outside New York and located in the Hague, Netherlands.
  • All the UN member states (193) are necessarily part of the International Court of Justice.
  • Its main function is to look after all the legal disputes and settlements that must be made, given the complaints made by the member states.
  • It is also responsible for legal consultations with specific international organizations.

UN Secretariat

The UN Secretariat is the last of the principal organs of UN, comprised of the Secretary-General of the United Nations and the whole UN staff who carry out various functions in the organization in its headquarters in New York.

The Secretary-General of the Secretariat is appointed by the General Assembly on the recommendation of the UN Security Council. The UN staff is appointed on an international and local level, depending on the nature of the job.

  • The term of the UN Secretary-General is for five years.
  • The current Secretary-General of the UN is Antonio Guterres, a Portuguese national.
  • The United Nations staff is responsible for carrying out various functions, such as maintaining peace and a sense of security worldwide in various stations they are deployed in.
  • They are also responsible for conducting surveys on the trends on a social and economic level.
  • To harbor peace and harmony by arranging and setting the groundwork for agreements on an international level.

The UN Secretariat also has five regional commissions as follows:

  • ESCWA – Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia
  • ECE – Economic Commission for Europe
  • ESCAP – Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific
  • ECLAC – Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean
  • ECA – Economic Commission for Africa

Principal Organs Of UN For UPSC Exam

To polish your knowledge on the above-discussed topic thoroughly and to perform well in the UPSC exam, you can download & refer to the below-mentioned PDF and keep it saved for future reference.

The candidates can refer to the previous year’s paper which will enable them to picture the types of questions expected this year. The cognizance of all the pertinents related to the principal organs of UN will lead the candidates toward the stars of success.

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