United Nations Organization [UNO] – Role, Conventions, Principal Organs

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

United Nations Organization (UNO) is a large international organization that was established in 1945. The main aim of the UNO is to ensure global peace & security. The United Nations is a large group of 193 member states & it acts as per the guidelines mentioned in its founding Charter.

The United Nations Organization works toward a common goal of the betterment of humanity & finding new solutions for the challenges along with its member states. It is the largest international organization in the world. Candidates preparing for the upcoming IAS exam must prepare for the United Nations Organization topic comprehensively.

What is United Nations Organization?

The United Nations Organization, also known as UNO is a place where all the global leaders meet and bring their heads together to work towards finding a way out of a crisis situation. The UN has been evolving through the years with the gradual changes that occur in the world around us.

United Nations Organization PDF

Membership of the United Nations Organization initially started with a group of 51 member states which went on to a total of 193 members presently. All the members are a part of the General Assembly which selects the member states based on the recommendations of the Security Council. Both of these are a part of the 6 principal organs of the UN.

  • The UN Charter was adopted on the 25th of June, 1945 & became effective on the 24th of October 1945.
  • The Chief Administrative Officer of the United Nations is the Secretary-General who acts as the representative of the entire world’s needy population.
  • The General Assembly is responsible for the appointment of the Secretary-General for a term of five years which is renewable.
  • Presently, the UN Secretary-General is Antonio Guterres who is the ninth occupant of this post.

Role of the UN in Maintaining International Peace And Security

The United Nations Organization along with its principal organs fulfills the purposes that have been clearly given in the UN Charter. One of the main functions of UNO is that it holds the responsibility of eradicating all problems that humanity has been facing and is facing until now. It is clear that with the passage of time, new challenges have arisen in front of the human race, be it the Covid-19 pandemic or any other similar issues affecting the world such as global warming, or other climate change issues.

The United Nations Organization aims to create a sustainable world for the people & all living beings on Earth. The entire UN system works together toward achieving the following goals:

  • To protect human rights.
  • To maintain global peace and security.
  • To achieve sustainable growth and development & Climate Action.
  • To endorse & ensure that International law is maintained & followed across the world.
  • To make humanitarian aid available at all times in need.

6 Organs of UNO

United Nations is an intergovernmental organization that functions alongside its six main organs that assist the UNO in achieving its goals and objectives such as maintaining international peace and security. The six principal organs of the United Nations Organization are:

  1. General Assembly
  2. Security Council
  3. UN Secretariat
  4. International Court of Justice (ICJ)
  5. Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)
  6. Trusteeship Council

The last principal organ of the United Nations, the Trusteeship Council deferred its operations on 1st November 1994 when Palau gained independence. It was the last United Nations trustee territory.

UN Specialized Agencies

To fulfill the roles and responsibilities of the United Nations Organization, the UN Charter has provided the provision for all the principal organs of the UN to set up specialized agencies in order to achieve their goals. A total number of 17 specialized agencies of the UN have been established now.

UN Specialized Agency Acronym Headquarters Year
Food and Agriculture Organization FAO Rome, Italy 1945
International Maritime Organization IMO London, United Kingdom 1948
World Health Organization WHO Geneva, Switzerland 1948
International Labour Organization ILO Geneva, Switzerland 1946
World Intellectual Property Organisation WIPO Geneva, Switzerland 1967
United Nations Industrial Development Organization UNIDO Vienna, Austria 1966
International Monetary Fund IMF Washington, United States 1945
International Civil Aviation Organization ICAO Montreal, Canada 1944
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization UNESCO Paris, France 1946
International Telecommunication Union ITU Geneva, Switzerland 1865
International Fund for Agricultural Development IFAD Rome, Italy 1977
International Telecommunication Union ITU Geneva, Switzerland 1865
International Fund for Agricultural Development IFAD Rome, Italy 1977
Universal Postal Union UPU Bern, Switzerland 1874
World Meteorological Organisation WMO Geneva, Switzerland 1950
World Bank Group WBG Washington, D.C, USA 1944
United Nations World Tourism Organization UNWTO Madrid, Spain 1974

UN Organizations: United Nations Subsidiaries

There are a number of specialized agencies that are created by each of the United Nations Organizations. Apart from those, UNO is also entitled to set up or form other organizations or agencies that assist in its functions.

There are several other such organizations that were either created earlier than the UN’s formation & were later included or were completely created after the United Nations Organization was formed.

UN Agency Year of Establishment Headquarters
United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) 1946 New York, USA
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) 1950 Geneva, Switzerland
United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) 1999 Geneva, Switzerland
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) 1965 New York, USA
United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) 1972 Nairobi, Kenya
United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) 1967 New York, USA
United Nations University (UNU) 1972 Tokyo, Japan
World Food Programme (WFP) 1961 Rome, Italy
United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) 1968 Turin, Italy
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) 1997 Vienna, Austria
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) 1957 Vienna, Austria
Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) 1994 Geneva, Switzerland
United Nations Human Settlement Programme (UN-Habitat) 1978 Nairobi, Kenya
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OCHCR) 1993 Geneva, Switzerland
United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) 1964 Geneva, Switzerland

UNO Organization Conventions

As United Nations Organization is a large group of various member countries, it meets up and holds big conferences & conventions. The objective of these UN conventions is to gather & discuss the concerns of each country & find a way out of them. Some of these meetings or conventions are mentioned below.

  • UNCBD – UN Convention on Biological Diversity
  • UNCLOS – UN Convention on the Law of the Sea
  • UNFCCC – UN Framework Convention on Climate Change
  • UNCAT – UN Convention Against Torture
  • Montreal Protocol
  • Kyoto Protocol
  • ITLOS – International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea
  • Minamata Convention
  • UNCRPD – UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
  • GEF – Global Environment Facility
  • Rio Summit (UNCED)
  • UNTOC – UN Convention on the Rights of the Child / UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime
  • Kigali Amendment
  • CEDAW – Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women
  • UNCCD – UN Convention to Combat Desertification

UN and India

In the history of the United Nations Organization, India has played an important role. India has proudly been part of the UN’s history by being one of the founding members of the United Nations Organization.

The history of India and the UN dates back to the time of British rule in India. A Declaration by the UN in Washington D.C was signed by India in 1944. It had also been a participant in the United Nations Conference in 1945.

  • Being one of the members while laying down the foundation of the United Nations, India is highly supportive of its goals and objectives.
  • India has shown complete trust and confidence in the principles of the UN and has contributed in a big way to help United Nations in achieving its goals.
  • The field networks of the UN are the largest in India compared to other countries.
  • There are several programs and funds being formed and carried out in India.
  • In all, there are 26 United Nations agencies present in India today.
  • Some of the most active UN organizations in India are WHO, FAO, UNESCO, UNAIDS, IMF, APCTT, and IFAD.

United Nations Organization Headquarters

The headquarters of the United Nations (UN) is located in New York City, United States of America. The headquarter is often used as a platform to negotiate agreements on various global issues such as peacekeeping, climate change, human rights, and sustainable development. The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization that was formed to promote international cooperation and resolve conflicts between nations.

United Nations Organization President

Since the United Nations is a significant international organization, it is headed by several officials who are elected or appointed within the organization.

Hence, there is no United Nations Organization President but high-ranking officials such as the Secretary-General, President of the UN General Assembly, and President of the UN Security Council. The first President of the UN General Assembly was Paul-Henri Spaak who was elected in 1946.

India An Eminent Part of UNO

India being one of the founding members of the United Nations has been part of the organizational structure & activities since its establishment. India was the first among all countries to protest against racism and apartheid in South Africa. Some other achievements are:

  • India has sent peacekeeping troops to various countries in need.
  • The first woman president of the UN General Assembly was an Indian.
  • India is also credited with playing a significant role in the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
  • The International Day of Non-violence was declared on 2nd October, on Gandhi Ji’s birth anniversary by the UN.
  • The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) also declared 21st June as International Yoga Day in 2014.

UN Reforms

The United Nations (UN) has undergone a series of reforms throughout its history in order to strengthen its effectiveness and efficiency. Also, the reforms have helped bring more transparency and enhance the institution’s credibility. Some of the important reforms in the history of the UN are as follows:

  • Security Council reform: The permanent membership of the UN Security Council is a frequently discussed change. The G4 nations, the Uniting for Consensus group, and former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan have all presented plans for this reform.
  • Human rights reform: In 2005, the UN established the Human Rights Council (HRC) to replace the previous Commission on Human Rights, which had been criticized for being too political and ineffective.
  • Democracy reform: Another common demand is to make the UN more democratic. However, this raises some significant questions about the role and nature of the organisation. This is because the UN is a forum or platform for the independent states of the world to debate issues and determine the unanimous course of action.
UPSC Notes
North-Atlantic Treaty Organization International Labour Organization
Association of Southeast Asian Nations South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation
International Organizations and Headquarters International Solar Alliance
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