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United Nations. United Nations. The United Nations (UN) is an international organization whose stated aims are to facilitate cooperation in (1) international law, (2) international security, (3) economic development, (4) social progress and (5) human rights issues. United Nations.

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united nations1
United Nations
  • The United Nations (UN) is an international organization whose stated aims are to facilitate cooperation in (1) international law, (2) international security, (3) economic development, (4) social progress and (5) human rights issues.
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United Nations
  • The UN replaced the League of Nations which failed to prevent World War II.
  • The term “United Nations” was used during WWII by USA President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill to describe the Allied forces as the “United Nations Fighting Forces.”
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United Nations
  • Starting in August 1944, representatives of France, the Republic of China, the United Kingdom, the United States and the Soviet Union (now Russia) met to discuss an international organization devoted to maintaining international peace, security, and economic and social cooperation.
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United Nations
  • On 25 April 1945, 50 nations met in San Francisco to negotiate the UN Charter.
  • The Charter was signed on 26 June 1945
  • The UN came into existence on 24 October 1945 when the five permanent members of the UN Security Council ratified the Charter.
united nations structure
United Nations - Structure
  • As an organization, the UN has five organs or branches.
  • The branches are the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the Secretariat, and the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
  • A six branch suspended operations in 1994.
united nations general assembly
United Nations – General Assembly
  • All 192 members nations to the UN are members of the General Assembly.
  • All members are equal and all members have one vote.
  • Resolutions are put forth by member states for General Assembly discuss, debate and vote. The outcome is generally symbolic since they are not legally enforceable. However, the outcome does have the weight of “international opinion.”
  • Voting on important issues such as peace or budget is by 2/3 majority.
united nations security council
United Nations – Security Council
  • The Security Council is the branch primarily responsible for maintaining peace and security.
  • The Security Council is the only UN branch with the power to make decisions that member governments must carry out.
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United Nations – Security Council
  • The Security Council has 15 members.
  • Five are permanent members: China, France, United Kingdom, United States and Russia. These five countries can veto any Security Council resolution. Veto power reflects that they are the main victors of WWII. As well, they are the only countries officially recognized by possessing nuclear weapons under the Non-Nuclear Proliferation Treaty.
  • Ten countries are non-permanent members. These countries are selected by the General Assembly for two-year terms.
  • Note: Russia has used its veto power 122 times. However since 1984, Russia has only used veto four times while the USA has used its veto power 43 times.
united nations economic and social council
United Nations – Economic and Social Council
  • ECOSOC has 54 members elected for three-year terms by the General Assembly.
  • ECOSOC promotes international economic and social cooperation and development.
  • Its groups “technically” include the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). These groups have often been associated with increasing hardship in developing nations because of their strict adherence to the capitalist model (e.g., To receive IMF loans, a country may be required to restructure and reduce social welfare, health and education programs…in effective providing fewer services to the most needy.
united nations secretariat
United Nations – Secretariat
  • The Secretariat provides research and information, as well as completes tasks requested by other UN branches.
  • The UN Secretariat is headed by the Secretary-General. The Secretary-General was envisioned as a “world moderator.”
  • The Secretary-General helps resolve international disputes, administers peacekeeping operations, organizes international conferences, gathers information on the implementation of Security Council decisions, and consults with member governments regarding various initiatives.
  • This position is five-year, renewable term.
united nations international court of justice
United Nations – International Court of Justice
  • The International Court of Justice is the UN legal branch. The Court settles disputes between nations and gives legal advice.
  • Subject to permanent member veto, the UN Charter authorizes the Security Council to enforce the Court’s decisions. In 1986, the USA withdrew from compulsory jurisdiction and only accepts orders on a case-by-case basis.
  • NOTE: In 2002, the International Criminal Court began operations. It is the first permanent international court charged with trying those who commit the most serious crimes under international law, including war crimes and genocide. The ICC is functionally independent of the UN.
united nations universal declaration of human rights
United Nations – Universal Declaration of Human Rights
  • The UN Charter obliges all members to promote "universal respect for, and observance of, human rights" and to take "joint and separate action" to that end. To that end, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, though not legally binding, was adopted in 1948 as a common standard of achievement for all.
  • NOTE: The Declaration isnot legally binding
united nations universal declaration of human rights1
United Nations – Universal Declaration of Human Rights
  • Human rights refers to "the basic rights and freedoms to which all humans are entitled" Human rights include civil and political rights (e.g., right to life and liberty, freedom of thought and expression, equality before the law, freedom from unwarranted persecution), and social, cultural and economic rights (e.g., right to participate in culture, the right to work, and the right to education.
  • Article 1 of the Declaration states “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”
united nations universal declaration of human rights2
United Nations – Universal Declaration of Human Rights
  • The Declaration does have some critics.
  • Some libertarians suggest the Declaration forces taxation and thus removes rights (e.g., Health care does not simply grow on trees. If it is a fundamental right, the means to provide that right must be confiscated from others).
  • Some Islamic countries fear the Declaration does not take into account their culture or religion. In some instances, these countries an alternative document that says people only have "freedom and right to a dignified life in accordance with the Islamic Shari’ah Law"
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United Nations – Universal Declaration of Human Rights
  • The Declaration has not stopped events of genocide or abuses of human rights worldwide. Some of the recent horrific events include the early-1990s ethnic cleansing in the former Yugoslavia, 1994 Rwanda Genocide, the present abuses in the Darfur region of Sudan, the continued genital mutilation of women and child labour practices in many poorer nations, and the present internal armed struggles in the Congo and Uganda.
  • Is the Declaration meetings its own goals?
united nations is it effective
United Nations – Is it effective?
  • Does the UN work effectively?
  • In 2002, the UN established eight Millennium Development Goals (MDG).
  • MDGs include eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, providing universal primary education, stopping the spread of HIV/AIDS, and promoting gender equality and empowering women. A complete list of MDGs, their numeric targets, programs and actions, and progress reports can be researched at http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/
  • The target completion date is 2015. Do you think the UN will reach its MDGs by 2015?