Por: BNC Colombo Americano
The name “United Nations”, coined by United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt, was first used in the “Declaration by United Nations” of 1 January 1942, during the Second World War, when representatives of 26 nations pledged their governments to continue fighting together against the Axis Powers.
States first established international organizations to cooperate on specific matters. The International Telecommunication Union was founded in 1865 as the International Telegraph Union, and the Universal Postal Union was established in 1874. Both are now United Nations specialized agencies.
In 1899, the first International Peace Conference was held in The Hague to elaborate instruments for settling crises peacefully, preventing wars and codifying rules of warfare. It adopted the Convention for the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes and established the Permanent Court of Arbitration, which began work in 1902.
The forerunner of the United Nations was the League of Nations, an organization conceived in similar circumstances during the First World War, and established in 1919 under the Treaty of Versailles “to promote international cooperation and to achieve peace and security.”
The International Labour Organization was also created under the Treaty of Versailles as an affiliated agency of the League. The League of Nations ceased its activities after failing to prevent the Second World War.
In 1945, representatives of 50 countries met in San Francisco at the United Nations Conference on International Organization to draw up the United Nations Charter. Those delegates deliberated on the basis of proposals worked out by the representatives of China, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom and the United States at Dumbarton Oaks, United States, in August-October 1944. The Charter was signed on 26 June 1945 by the representatives of the 50 countries. Poland, which was not represented at the Conference, signed it later and became one of the original 51 member states.
The United Nations officially came into existence on 24 October 1945, when the Charter had been ratified by China, France, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, the United States and a majority of other signatories. United Nations Day is celebrated on 24 October each year.
THE UNITED NATIONS: ORGANIZATION
In 1945, representatives of 50 countries met in San Francisco at the United Nations Conference on International Organization to draw up the United Nations Charter. The United Nations officially came into existence on 24 October 1945, when the Charter had been ratified by China, France, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, the United States and a majority of other signatories.
The Charter is the constituting instrument of the Organization, setting out the rights and obligations of member states, and establishing the United Nations organs and proprocedures.
The purposes of the United Nations, as set forth in the Charter, are to maintain international peace and security; to develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples; to cooperate in solving international economic, social, cultural and humanitarian problems and in promoting respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms; and to be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations in attaining these ends.
The Charter established six principal organs of the United Nations, are the: General Assembly, Security Council, Economic and Social Council, Trusteeship Council, International Court of Justice and Secretariat. The United Nations family, however, is much larger, encompassing 15 agencies and several programmes and bodies.
The budget approved for the biennium 2006-2007 is $3.8 billion - representing nominal growth in real terms from the 2004-2005 biennium. The budget covers the costs of United Nations programmes in areas such as political affairs, international justice and law, international cooperation for development, public information, human rights and humanitarian affairs. The main source of funds for the budget is the contributions of member states.
The fundamental criterion on which the scale of assessments is based is the capacity of countries to pay. This is determined by considering their relative shares of total gross national product, adjusted to take into account a number of factors, including their per capita incomes. In addition to the regular budget, member states are assessed for the costs of the international tribunals and, in accordance with a modified version of the basic scale, for the costs of peacekeeping operations.
The United Nations family
The United Nations family of organizations (the “United Nations system”) consists of the United Nations Secretariat, the United Nations funds and programmes (such as UNICEF and UNDP), the specialized agencies (such as UNESCO and WHO) and related organizations. The funds and programmes are subsidiary bodies of the General Assembly. The specialized agencies are linked to the United Nations through special agreements and report to the Economic and Social Council and/or the General Assembly. The related organizations — including IAEA and the World Trade Organization — address specialized areas and have their own legislative bodies and budgets. Together, the organizations of the UN system address all areas of economic and social endeavour.
WHAT DOES THE UNITED NATIONS DO?:
INTERNATIONAL PEACE AND SECURITY
One of the primary purposes of the United Nations is the maintenance of international peace and security. Since its creation, the UN has often been called upon to prevent disputes from escalating into war, to persuade opposing parties to use the conference table rather than force of arms, or to help restore peace when armed conflict does break out. Over the decades, the UN has helped to end numerous conflicts, often through actions of the Security Council — the primary organ for dealing with issues of international peace and security.
The Security Council, the General Assembly and the Secretary-General all play major, complementary roles in fostering peace and security. . United Nations activities cover the principal areas of conflict prevention, peacemaking, peacekeeping, enforcement and peacebuilding.
ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
Although most people associate the United Nations with the issues of peace and security, the vast majority of the Organization’s resources are in fact devoted to advancing the Charter’s pledge to “promote higher standards of living, full employment, and conditions of economic and social progress and development”. United Nations development efforts have profoundly affected the lives and well-being of millions of people throughout the world. Guiding the United Nations endeavours is the conviction that lasting international peace and security are possible only if the economic and social well-being of people everywhere is assured.
Many of the economic and social transformations that have taken place globally since 1945 have been significantly affected in their direction and shape by the work of the United Nations. As the global centre for consensus-building, the UN has set priorities and goals for international cooperation to assist countries in their development efforts and to foster a supportive global economic environment.
Virtually every United Nations body and specialized agency is involved to some degree in the protection of human rights.
One of the great achievements of the United Nations is the creation of a comprehensive body of human rights law — a universal and internationally protected code to which all nations can subscribe and to which all people can aspire.
Not only has the United Nations painstakingly defined a broad range of internationally accepted rights; it has also established mechanisms with which to promote and protect these rights and to assist governments in carrying out their responsibilities
Since it first coordinated humanitarian relief operations in Europe following the devastation and massive displacement of people in the Second World War, the United Nations has been relied on by the international community to respond to natural and man-made disasters that are beyond the capacity of national authorities alone. Today, the UN is a major provider of emergency relief and longer-term assistance, a catalyst for action by governments and relief agencies, and an advocate on behalf of people struck by emergencies.
Among the United Nations most pervasive achievements has been the development of international law - conventions, treaties and standards - that play a central role in promoting economic and social development, as well as international peace and security. Many of the treaties brought about by the United Nations form the basis of the law that governs relations among nations. While the United Nations work in this area does not always receive attention, it has a daily impact on the lives of people everywhere.
Over the years, the United Nations has sponsored over 500 multilateral agreements, which address a broad range of common concerns among states and are legally binding for the countries that ratify them.
Nearly 100 nations whose peoples were formerly under colonial rule or a trusteeship arrangement have joined the United Nations as sovereign independent states since the world Organization was founded in 1945. Additionally, many other Territories have achieved self-determination through political association or integration with an independent state. The United Nations has played a crucial role in that historic change by encouraging the aspirations of dependent peoples and by setting goals and standards to accelerate their attainment of independence. United Nations missions have supervised elections leading to independence - in Togoland (1956 and 1968), Western Samoa (1961), Namibia (1989) and, most recently, in Timor-Leste (formerly East Timor).
What is United Nations Day?
Simply put, it is the birthday of the United Nations. On 24 October 1945, the United Nations was formally established after a majority of its founding members ratified a treaty setting up the world body. In 1971, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution recommending that the day be observed as a public holiday by Member States. Traditionally, it has been marked throughout the world by meetings, discussions and exhibits on the goals and achievements of the Organization.
How is the Day observed at United Nations Headquarters?
Traditionally, UN Day is marked by an international concert in the General Assembly Hall. Sometimes, special events are arranged, electronically linking the UN with cities around the world.
The Day is also notable for messages issued by the UN Secretary-General and the President of the General Assembly. A video taped message of the Secretary-General is often shown by national TV stations around the world.
In addition, special briefings are arranged for non-governmental organizations on UN-related topics. Sometimes schools and civic groups arrange “peace marches” and other celebratory events.