United Nations

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The United Nations System

Notes: Representing the UN with a tree structure won't do, since various organs share responsibilities. Job for Draw.io, or can possibly use a MindMap - see MindNode > United Nations: UN System. Chart taken from UN:System Chart. Note it is not correct, as a simple tree cannot demonstrate shared organs very well. Could also have the relevant section opposite the text...
See also UN:Main Organs + United Nations § StructureWikipedia-W.svg
See also "The UN System", good place to start. Also UN System, and UN Directory. Note the "Chief Executives Board for Coordination" is v.important wrt the UN.
What we do, News, Annual Reports, For journalists, Dcouments, Main Organs

WIP: Fit these in where they belong:

Chief Executives Board for Coordination

The CEB brings together the executive heads of 31 specialised organisations to deliver as one at the global, regional and country levels. It is the prime instrument for strengthening the coordination role of UN inter-governmental bodies on social, economic and related matters.

The membership of the CEB includes: the United Nations; 15 specialised agencies established by intergovernmental agreement; 3 Related Organizations; and 12 funds and programmes created by the United Nations General Assembly. IOM is the newest member to join the CEB. The United Nations (the Secretariat); ILO, FAO, UNESCO, ICAO, WHO, World Bank Group, IMF, UPU, ITU, WMO, IMO, WIPO, IFAD, UNIDO, UNWTO, IAEA, WTO, IOM, UNCTAD, UNDP, UNEP, UNHCR, UNRWA, UNICEF, UNFPA, WFP, UNODC, UN-Habitat, UN-Women, UNOPS. ref
The High Level Committee on Management (HLCM) is responsible to the Chief Executives Board for coherent, efficient and cost‐effective management across the United Nations system of organisations. It is composed of the most senior managers of each CEB member organisation. See HCLM Strategic Plan ref
The Legal Advisors Network was initiated in Sept.2007, with the aim of increasing communication among legal advisers across the system, develop consultation and knowledge sharing mechanisms to address issues of common concern and ensure, where appropriate, a better dissemination of relevant guidelines, policies and practices. It also supports a better understanding of the needs of the various bodies for which the Office of Legal Affairs (OLA) provides central legal services. ref

General Assembly

The General Assembly is the main deliberative, policymaking and representative organ of the UN. All 193 Member States are represented, and each has equal weight: one nation, one vote. Every year in September, the full membership meets in the General Assembly Hall in New York for the annual General Assembly session, and general debate. Decisions on important questions, eg. on peace and security, admission of new members and budgetary matters, require a 66% majority of the General Assembly. Decisions on other questions are by simple majority. Each year, the General Assembly elects a President and 21 Vice-Presidents to serve a one-year term of office. ref, ref

Subsidiary Organs

ToDo: See http://www.un.org/en/ga/about/subsidiary/index.shtml

Funds and Programmes

UN Development Programme

UNDP works in about 170 countries and territories, focusing on helping countries in 3 main areas: Sustainable development; Democratic governance and peacebuilding; and Climate and Disaster resilience. ToDo: org.chart, 2017 report, Funding + Contributors. ref
    2018: Very Good 95.4%   2016: Very Good   2014: Very Good   2013: Very Good 

UN Capital Development Fund

UNCDF makes public and private finance work for the poor in the world’s 47 least developed countries.

Multi-Partner Trust Fund Office

MPTF allows multiple donors to pool their funding to support large-scale projects and initiatives.

UN Volunteers

UN Volunteers, ... in 2017, ~25,000 UN Volunteers in 131 countries and online.

UN Office on Drugs and Crime

UNODC is the secretariat of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its three supplementary protocols on: Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children; Smuggling of Migrants; and illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms. It is also the secretariat of the Conference of the States Parties to the UN Convention against Corruption. UNODC promotes the ratification and implementation of all of these conventions and protocols through capacity building, training and technical assistance. ref, ref

UN Children's Fund

UNICEF works in 190 countries and territories to save children’s lives, to defend their rights, and to help them fulfil their potential, from early childhood through adolescence. ref UNICEF's programmes are grounded in research; their website has an Interactive Data Visualisation page to help understand the data analysis.
    2018: Good 78.1%   2016: Very Good   2014: Good   2013: Fair 

UN Environment Programme

UNEP was founded in Jun.1972 after the UN Conference on the Human Environment. It is responsible for a number of environmental issues concerning various UN agencies. Some of these responsibilities include: developing international environmental agreements, encouraging environmental science, and creating development policies with national governments. Experts of the UNEP have contributed to guidelines of treaties and policies in terms of potential contaminants. United Nations Environment ProgrammeWikipedia-W.svg, ref

UNEP Finance Initiative

UNEP FI is a unique partnership between UNEP and the global financial sector. UNEP FI works closely with over 200 financial institutions that are signatories to the UNEP FI Statement on Sustainable Development, and a range of partner organisations, to develop and promote linkages between sustainability and financial performance. Through peer-to-peer networks, research and training, UNEP FI carries out its mission to identify, promote, and realise the adoption of best environmental and sustainability practice at all levels of financial institution operations.ref

Convention on Biological Diversity
  • Dec.03.2017: Gene Drive Files reveal covert lobbying tactics to influence UN expert group. Gene drives are a highly controversial genetic extinction technology with potential applications for agricultural, conservation or military use. New GM technologies like CRISPR are being used to have genetic modifications, like infertility, into organisms that will spread to all next generations. In this way, entire species could be wiped out. One example is mosquitoes, which idiots like Bill Gates are funding - with zero thought for the vast ecological and societal consequences. External actors with a vested interest in the development of gene drives have organised amomg themselves to influence the work of the UN expert group. Emerging Ag president and founder Robynne Anderson is a former communications director of CropLife International, an international lobby group for the biotech and pesticide industries. Sarah Lukie, a biotech lobbyist at Brussels-based Croplife International. Previously, Lukie worked for the U.S. Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), the sister organization of EuropaBio. Biotechnology lobby group Public Research and Regulation Initiative runs a similar influencing operation. The US Military is taking a leading role in pushing gene drive development - you don't need much imagination to figure out what their interests might be. The fact that gene drive development is now being primarily funded and structured by the US military should raise very alarming questions. Food and Agriculture, Corporate Europe Observatory.

Research and Training


Other Entities


Related Organisations


Security Council

The Security Council has primary responsibility, under the UN Charter, for the maintenance of international peace and security. It has 15 Members (5 permanent and 10 non-permanent members) link. Each Member has one vote. Under the Charter, all Member States are obligated to comply with Council decisions. The Security Council takes the lead in determining the existence of a threat to the peace or act of aggression. It calls upon the parties to a dispute to settle it by peaceful means and recommends methods of adjustment or terms of settlement. In some cases, the Security Council can resort to imposing sanctions or even authorize the use of force to maintain or restore international peace and security. The Security Council has a Presidency, which rotates, and changes, every month (link). ref

International Atomic Energy Agency

The International Atomic Energy Agency is the world's central inter-governmental forum for scientific and technical co-operation in the nuclear field. It works for the safe, secure and peaceful uses of nuclear science and technology, contributing to international peace and security and the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals. The Agency was set up as the world’s "Atoms for Peace" organisation within the United Nations family. It was given the mandate to work worldwide to promote safe, secure and peaceful nuclear technologies. The IAEA has a dual mission to "accelerate and enlarge the contribution of atomic energy to peace, health and prosperity", and to "ensure ... that assistance provided ... is not used in such a way as to further any military purpose". Reports to both the Security Council and the General Assembly. ref, ref. International Atomic Energy AgencyWikipedia-W.svg, https://www.iaea.org/

  • May.28.2009: Toxic link: the WHO and the IAEA. A 50-year-old agreement with the IAEA has effectively gagged the WHO from telling the truth about the health risks of radiation. Fifty years ago, the World Health Organisation's assembly voted into force an obscure but important agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency. The effect of this agreement has been to give the IAEA an effective veto on any actions by the WHO that relate in any way to nuclear power – and so prevent the WHO from playing its proper role in investigating and warning of the dangers of nuclear radiation on human health. Oliver Tickell, The Guardian.

Economic and Social Council

The Economic and Social Council is the principal body for coordination, policy review, policy dialogue and recommendations on economic, social and environmental issues, as well as implementation of internationally agreed development goals. It serves as the central mechanism for activities of the UN system and its specialized agencies in the economic, social and environmental fields, supervising subsidiary and expert bodies. It has 54 Members (link), elected by the General Assembly for overlapping three-year terms. It is the United Nations’ central platform for reflection, debate, and innovative thinking on sustainable development. ref

Specialised Agencies

Specialized agencies are legally independent international organisations with their own rules, membership, organs and financial resources, were brought into relationship with the United Nations through negotiated agreements. Some of the agencies existed before WW1, some were associated with the League of NationsWikipedia-W.svg, others were created at almost the same time as the United Nations, and yet others were created by the United Nations itself to meet emerging needs. Specialised agencies work with the UN and each other through the coordinating machinery of ECOSOC at the intergovernmental level, and through the Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB) at the inter-secretariat level. ref See also UN:Specialised Agencies + United Nations § Specialized agenciesWikipedia-W.svg + List of specialized agencies of the United NationsWikipedia-W.svg

Food and Agriculture Organisation

The aim of the FAO is to: raise levels of nutrition and standards of living; secure improvements in food production and distribution; better the conditions of rural people and; contribute toward an expanding world economy and ensure freedom from hunger. ref
The International Institute for Sustainable Development § SDG Knowledge Hub is an online resource centre for news and commentary regarding the implementation of the UN's 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It is managed by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), and is a veritable mine of information on who is keeping their word... and who isn't.

International Civil Aviation Organisation

ICAO develops the principles and techniques of international air navigation, and fosters the planning and development of international air transport to ensure the safe and orderly growth of international civil aviation throughout the world.ref

The ICAO, in charge of reducing the carbon footprint of international aviation, has little or no public scrutiny. Its agenda and discussion documents are not released to the public or the international press, and meetings are not open to the media. Anyone who leaks documents being discussed faces “unlimited liability for confidentiality breaches”.

International Labour Organisation

ILO, the only tripartite UN agency, brings together govts, employers and workers representatives of 187 member States, to set labour standards, develop policies and devise programmes promoting decent work for all women and men. The ILO accomplishes its work through 3 main bodies which comprise govts', employers' and workers' representatives. ref

UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation

UNESCO was established in 1945 to to contribute to peace and security by promoting collaboration among nations through education, science and culture.ref

World Health Organisation

WHO is the directing and coordinating authority on international health within the United Nations' system. Its objectives are "the attainment by all peoples of the highest possible level of health".ref We do this by providing leadership, shaping the research agenda, setting norms and standards, articulating ethical and evidence-based policy options; providing technical support; and monitoring the health situation and assessing health trends.ref
See main article: World Health Organisation

World Intellectual Property Organisation

ToDo: WIPO, wmo.int

World Meteorological Organisation


World Tourism Organisation



The Secretariat comprises the Secretary-General (link) and tens of thousands of international UN staff members who carry out the day-to-day work of the UN as mandated by the General Assembly and the Organization's other principal organs. The Secretary-General is chief administrative officer (link) of the Organization, appointed by the General Assembly on the recommendation of the Security Council for a five-year, renewable term. UN staff members are recruited internationally and locally, and work in duty stations and on peacekeeping missions all around the world. But serving the cause of peace in a violent world is a dangerous occupation. Since the founding of the United Nations, hundreds of brave men and women have given their lives in its service.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

UNOCHA coordinates humanitarian response to disasters; it raises awareness of forgotten crises, promotes respect for international humanitarian law, and gathers, shares and uses data and information, underpinning coordination, decision-making and advocacy. ref

    2018: Poor   2016: Poor   2014: Fair   2013: Fair 

UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

UN Human Rights has a unique mandate to promote and protect all human rights for all people. aims to ensure that the protection and enjoyment of human rights is a reality in the lives of all people. UN Human Rights helps govts to fulfil their human rights obligations, and supports individuals to claim their rights. Moreover, it speaks out objectively on human rights violations.

International Court of Justice

The International Court of Justice is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations. Its seat is at the Peace Palace in the Hague (Netherlands). It is the only one of the six principal organs of the United Nations not located in New York (United States of America). The Court’s role is to settle, in accordance with international law, legal disputes submitted to it by States and to give advisory opinions on legal questions referred to it by authorized United Nations organs and specialized agencies. ref

Trusteeship Council

The Trusteeship Council was established in 1945 by the UN Charter, under Chapter XIII, to provide international supervision for 11 Trust Territories that had been placed under the administration of seven Member States, and ensure that adequate steps were taken to prepare the Territories for self-government and independence. By 1994, all Trust Territories had attained self-government or independence. The Trusteeship Council suspended operation on 1 November 1994. By a resolution adopted on 25 May 1994, the Council amended its rules of procedure to drop the obligation to meet annually and agreed to meet as occasion required -- by its decision or the decision of its President, or at the request of a majority of its members or the General Assembly or the Security Council. ref

Non-Specialised Agencies

UN Water

There is no single UN entity dedicated exclusively to water issues. Over 30 UN organisations carry out water and sanitation programmes, reflecting the fact that water issues run through all of the UN’s main focus areas. UN-Water’s role is to coordinate so that the UN family ‘delivers as one’ in response to water related challenges. ref


UN Global Compact

Launched in 2000, the General Assembly gave the United Nations Global Compact a mandate to "advance United Nations values and responsible business practices within the United Nations system and among the global business community".

The Compact is a call to companies to align strategies and operations with Ten Principles on human rights, labour, environment and Anti-Corruption; and to take actions that advance societal goals. ref, p.5

Global Compact for Migration

The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration is an inter-governmentally negotiated agreement, prepared under the auspices of the United Nations, which is the first-ever UN global agreement on a common approach to international migration in all its dimensions. ref, ref

The UN formally endorsed the Compact in Dec.2018.refref Around 20+ countries have not signed it.(as of Dec.2018).

Affiliated Organisations

Principles for Responsible Investment

The PRI is the world’s leading proponent of responsible investment. The PRI encourages investors to use responsible investment to enhance returns and better manage risks, but does not operate for its own profit; it engages with global policymakers but is not associated with any govt; it is supported by, but not part of, the United Nations. The PRI has two UN partners – § UNEP Finance Initiative and § UN Global Compact – which play an important role in delivering the PRI’s strategy.
The six Principles for Responsible Investment, developed by investors, for investors, are a voluntary and aspirational set of investment principles that offer a menu of possible actions for incorporating ESG issues into investment practice.About, How ESG engagement creates value for both companies and investors

ToDo: This needs to be on its own page.


ToDo: See this list here, + See European Patent Office articles re complaints about the ILO-AT.
  • Dec.21.2018: British UN aid worker Ali Khamis sacked after sex claim. Ali Khamis, a British aid worker has been sacked by the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR after an inquiry into allegations that he sexually assaulted a Ugandan woman he had hired as a maid. Despite promising a zero-tolerance approach on sexual misconduct, the UNHCR took 9 months to investigate the allegations against Mr Khamis, then sacked him within days of The Times making inquiries about the case. The UN agency, which received £850m in British aid from 2012-17, said that the 22-year-old woman in the case was not... Sean O'Neill, The Times.
  • Mar.09.2018: UN moves towards recognising human right to a healthy environment. John Knox, UN special rapporteur on human rights and the environment, said the momentum for such a move was growing along with an awareness of the heavy toll being paid by those fighting against deforestation, pollution, land grabs and poaching. Formal recognition would help protect those who increasingly risk their lives to defend the land, water, forests and wildlife. The number of murders of land and environmental defenders tracked by Global Witness increased to 197 last year, compared with 147 in in 2012. Jonathan Watts, The Guardian.
  • Feb.14.2018: Charity sex scandal: UN staff ‘responsible for 60,000 rapes in a decade’. UN staff have carried out thousands of rapes around the world, former senior official Andrew MacLeod has claimed. In a report published last year by António Guterres, the secretary-general, the body said that 103 allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse by UN staff were made in 2016; 52 of them against the peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic. Nearly half of the allegations involved “one or more children”. The UN deploys 100,000 uniformed military and police professionals and 95,000 civilians around the world. Mr Guterres, a former Portuguese prime minister, said the UN had “wrestled for many years with the issue of sexual exploitation and abuse”. Henry Zeffman, The Times.
  • May.21.2017: Cash-strapped UN health agency spends about $200 million a year on travel. WHO routinely spends ~$200m a year on travel; far more than what it doles out to fight some of the biggest problems in public health including AIDS, tuberculosis or malaria. Officials have complained internally that UN staffers are breaking the rules by booking perks like business class airplane tickets and rooms in 5-star hotels. CBS News.
  • Jul.20.2003: United it falls. Never Learn to Type: A Woman at the United Nations by Margaret Joan Anstee and We Did Nothing by Linda Polman. These two contrasting but immensely powerful books will be devoured by anyone seeking to understand the body which is one of the very few institutions able to temper the present gross globalisation of greed and to control the desire of one member state for world domination. They serve at once to confound the enemies of the organisation while moderating the expectations of those who see in it a panacea for the political follies of humankind. Dame Margaret Anstee's fascinating account of the diplomatic absurdities and infighting which often surround the attempts of governments to agree on bringing order to the planet. Linda Polman writes of the many botched UN peacekeeping operations and the shameful failure of the govts of the member states to support or finance them. Both authors rightly ridicule those who call for the UN to 'reform', cut its meagre budgets and trim its operations while member govts refuse to pay their debts to it. It took the attack on the World Trade Centre to get the US to cough up $850m of overdue contributions to the United Nations. Then Bush and the Blair Ministry egregiously stabbed it in the back. The world is the poorer for Anglo-American treachery. Hugh O'Shaugnessy, The Guardian.