United Nations

United Nations

 

Basics and Background:
  • The United Nations (UN) is an international organization founded in 1945. It is currently made up of 193 Member States.
  • Its mission and work guided by the purposes and principles contained in its founding Charter and implemented by its various organs and specialised agencies.
  • Its activities include maintaining international peace and security, protecting human rights, delivering humanitarian aid, promoting sustainable development and upholding international law.
  • UN has 4 main purposes–
    • To keep peace throughout the world;
    • To develop friendly relations among nations;
    • To help nations work together to improve the lives of poor people, to conquer hunger, disease and illiteracy, and to encourage respect for each other’s rights and freedoms;
    • To be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations to achieve these goals.

 

Organs of UN:

 

  • UN Organs
    • General Assembly
    • Security Council
    • UN Secretariat
    • ICJ
    • Trusteeship Council
    • ECOSOC
  • The main organs of the UN are the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, the Trusteeship Council, the International Court of Justice, and the UN Secretariat.
  • All were established in 1945 when the UN was founded.

 

General Assembly:
  • The General Assembly is the main deliberative, policymaking and representative organ of the UN.
  • All 193 Member Statesof the UN are represented in the General Assembly, making it the only UN body with universal representation.
  • Each year, in September,the full UN membership meets in the General Assembly Hall in New York for the annual General Assembly session, and general debate, which many heads of state attend and address.
  • Decisions on important questions, such as those on peace and security, admission of new members and budgetary matters, require a two-thirds majorityof the General Assembly.
  • Decisions on other questions are by simple majority.
  • The Presidentof the General Assembly is elected each year by assembly to serve a one-year term of office.
  • 6 Main Committees: Draft resolutions can be prepared for the General Assembly by its six main committees:
    • Disarmament & International Security
    • Economic & Financial
    • Social, Humanitarian & Cultural
    • Special Political & Decolonization
    • Administrative & Budgetary
    • Legal

 

Security Council
  • It has primary responsibility, under the UN Charter, for the maintenance of international peace and security.
  • The Security Council is made up of fifteen member states,consisting of five permanent members – China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States—and ten non-permanent members elected for two-year terms by the General Assembly on a regional basis.
  • “Veto power”refers to the power of the permanent member to veto (Reject) any resolution of Security Council.
  • The unconditional veto possessed by the five governments has been seen as the most undemocraticcharacter of the UN.
  • Critics also claim that veto power is the main cause for international inaction on war crimes and crimes against humanity.
  • However, the United States refused to join the United Nations in 1945 unless it was given a veto. The absence of the United States from the League of Nations contributed to its ineffectiveness.
  • Supporters of the veto power regard it as a promoter of international stability, a check against military interventions, and a critical safeguard against U.S. domination.

 

Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)
  • It 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 has 54 Members, 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.
  • Each year, ECOSOC structures its work around an annual theme of global importance to sustainable development. This ensures focused attention,among ECOSOC’s array of partners, and throughout the UN development system.
  • It coordinates the work of the 14 UN specialized agencies, ten functional commissions and five regional commissions, receives reports from nine UN funds and programmes and issues policy recommendations to the UN system and to Member States.

 

Trusteeship Council
  • It was established in 1945 by the UN Charter, under Chapter XIII.
  • Trust territoryis a non-self-governing territory placed under an administrative authority by the Trusteeship Council of the United Nations.
  • A League of Nations mandatewas a legal status for certain territories transferred from the control of one country to another following World War I, or the legal instruments that contained the internationally agreed-upon terms for administering the territory on behalf of the League of Nations.
  • United Nations trust territorieswere the successors of the remaining League of Nations mandates, and came into being when the League of Nations ceased to exist in 1946.
  • It had 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.

 

International Court of Justice
  • The International Court of Justice is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations. It was established in June 1945 by the Charter of the United Nationsand began work in April 1946.
  • The ICJ is the successorof the Permanent Court of International Justice (PCIJ), which was established by the League of Nations in 1920.

 

Secretariat
  • The Secretariat comprises the Secretary-Generaland 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-Generalis chief administrative officer 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.

 

Funds and Programmes
  • UNICEF:
    • The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF),originally known as the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, was created by the United Nations General Assembly in 1946, to provide emergency food and healthcare to children and mothers in countries that had been devastated by World War II.
    • In 1950,UNICEF’s mandate was extended to address the long-term needs of children and women in developing countries
    • In 1953, it became a permanent part of the United Nations System, and the words “international” and “emergency” were dropped from the organization’s name, though it retained the original acronym, “UNICEF”.
    • Executive Board:A 36-member board establishes policies, approves programs and oversees administrative and financial plans. The members are government representatives who are elected by the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), usually for three-year terms.
    • UNICEF relies on contributionsfrom governments and private donors.
    • UNICEF’s Supply Divisionis based in Copenhagen (Denmark) and serves as the primary point of distribution for such essential items as vaccines, antiretroviral medicines for children and mothers with HIV, nutritional supplements, emergency shelters, family reunification, and educational supplies.
  • UNFPA:
    • The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA),formerly the United Nations Fund for Population Activities, is the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency.
    • Its mission is to deliver a world where every pregnancy is wanted, ‘every childbirth is safe’ and every young person’s potential is fulfilled.
    • In 2018, UNFPA launched efforts to achieve three transformative results, ambitions that promise to change the world for every man, woman and young person:
      • Ending unmet need for family planning
      • Ending preventable maternal death
      • Ending gender-based violence and harmful practices
  • UNDP:
    • The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is the UN’s global development network.
    • UNDP was established in 1965 by the General Assembly of the United Nations.
    • It provides expert advice, training and grants support to developing countries, with increasing emphasis on assistance to the least developed countries.
    • The UNDP Executive Boardis made up of representatives from 36 countries around the world who serve on a rotating basis.
    • It is funded entirely by voluntary contributions from member nations.
    • UNDP is central to the United Nations Sustainable Development Group (UNSDG),a network that spans 165 countries and unites the 40 UN funds, programmes, specialized agencies and other bodies working to advance the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
  • UNEP:
    • The United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment) is a global environmental authority that sets the global environmental agenda, promotes the coherent implementation of the environmental dimension of sustainable development within the United Nations system.
    • It was founded by UN General Assembly as a result of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment (Stockholm Conference) in June 1972.
    • UNEP and World Meteorological Organization (WMO)established Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 1988 to assess climate change based on the latest science.
    • Since its founding, the UNEP has played a key role for the development of multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs). The secretariats for the following nine MEAs are currently hosted by UNEP:
      • Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)
      • Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)
      • Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS)
      • Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer
      • Minamata Convention on Mercury
      • Basel Convention on the Control of Trans-boundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal
      • Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants
      • Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade

 

  • UN-HABITAT:
    • United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) is the United Nations programme working towards a better urban future.
    • Its mission is to promote socially and environmentally sustainable human settlements development and the achievement of adequate shelter for all.
    • It was established in 1978 as an outcome of the First UN Conference on Human Settlements and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat I)in Vancouver, Canada, in 1976.
    • 2ndUnited Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II) in Istanbul, Turkey, in 1996, set the twin goals of the Habitat Agenda:
      • Adequate shelter for all
      • Development of sustainable human settlements in an urbanizing world.
    • 3rdUnited Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III) was held in 2016 in Quito, Ecuador. It elaborated on Goal-11 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG): “Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable.
  • WFP:
    • World Food Programme (WFP) is the leading humanitarian organization saving lives and changing lives, delivering food assistance in emergencies and working with communities to improve nutrition and build resilience.
    • The WFP was established in 1963 by the FAO (The Food and Agriculture Organization)and the United Nations General Assembly.
UN Specialized Agencies:

Articles 57 and 63 of UN Charter provides provision of creating specialized agencies.

  • FAO
    • In 1945, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) was created in Quebec City, Canada, by the first session of the newly created United Nations.
    • FAO is a specialized agency of the United Nations that leads international efforts to defeat hunger.
    • FAO is also a source of knowledge and information, and helps developing countries in transition modernize and improve agriculture, forestry and fisheries practices, ensuring good nutrition and food security for all.

 

  • ICAO
    • Under Chicago Convention,the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) was established in 1944, as a UN specialized agency. It manages the administration and governance of the Convention on International Civil Aviation (Chicago Convention).
    • It provides the principles and techniques of international air navigation and fosters the planning and development of international air transport to ensure safe and orderly growth.

 

  • IFAD
    • The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) was established as an international financial institutionin 1977 through United Nations General Assembly Resolution as one of the major outcomes of the 1974–World Food Conference.
    • This conference was organized by the United Nations in response to the food crises of the early 1970s, when global food shortages were causing widespread famine and malnutrition, primarily in the Sahelian countries of Africa.

 

  • ILO
    • The International Labour Organization (ILO) is a United Nations agency whose mandate is to advance social justice and promote decent work by setting international labour standards.
    • It sets international labour standards, promotes rights at work and encourages decent employment opportunities, the enhancement of social protection and the strengthening of dialogue on work-related issues.
    • As an agency of the League of Nations,it was created in 1919, as part of the Treaty of Versailles that ended World War I.
    • 9 International Labour Conventions and 10 Recommendationswhich dealt with hours of work in industry, unemployment, maternity protection, night work for women, minimum age, and night work for young persons in industry were adopted in less than two years (by 1922).
    • By signing of the United Nation agreement whereby the ILO became the first United Nations specialized agencyin 1946.
    • The Organization won the Nobel Peace Prize on its 50th anniversary in 1969 for pursuing decent work and justice for workers.
    • It emphasised that the future of work is not predetermined: Decent work for all is possible but societies have to make it happen. It is precisely with this imperative that the ILO established its Global Commission on the Future of Work as part of its initiative to mark its centenary in 2019.
    • Its job is to undertake an in-depth examination of the future of work that can provide the analytical basis for the delivery of social justice in the 21st century.

 

  • IMF
    • UN Monetary and Financial Conference(1944, also called Bretton Woods Conference), Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, United States was held to regulate the international monetary and financial order after the conclusion of World War II.
    • It resulted in foundation of International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 1945.
  • WORLD BANK
    • UN Monetary and Financial Conference(1944, also called Bretton Woods Conference), was held to regulate the international monetary and financial order after the conclusion of World War II. It resulted in foundation of IBRD in 1945. IBRD is the founding institution of World Bank

 

  • IMO
    • The International Maritime Organization (IMO) – is the United Nations specialized agency with responsibility for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine and atmospheric pollution by ships.

 

  • ITU
    • International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN) that is responsible for issues that concern information and communication technologies (ICT). It is the oldest among all the specialised agencies of UN.
    • It was founded in 1865 and based in Geneva, Switzerland. It works on the principle of international cooperationbetween governments (Member States) and the private sector (Sector Members, Associates and Academia).
    • ITU is the premier global forum through which parties work towards consensus on a wide range of issues affecting the future direction of the ICT industry.
    • It allocates global radio spectrum and satellite orbits, develop the technical standards that ensure networks and technologies seamlessly interconnect, and strive to improve access to ICTs to underserved communities worldwide.
  • UNESCO
    • United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) was founded in 1945 to develop the “intellectual and moral solidarity of mankind” as a means of building lasting peace. It is located in Paris (France).
    • In this spirit, UNESCO develops educational tools to help people live as global citizens free of hate and intolerance.
    • By promoting cultural heritage and the equal dignity of all cultures, UNESCO strengthens bonds among nations.

 

  • UNIDO
    • United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) promotes industrial development for poverty reduction, inclusive globalisation and environmental sustainability.

 

  • WHO
    • The World Health Organization (WHO) is the United Nations’ specialized agency for health.
    • It was established in 1948, and is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.
    • It is an inter-governmental organization and works in collaboration with its Member States usually through the Ministries of Health.
    • The World Health Organization (WHO) is responsible for:
      • Providing leadership on global health matters,
      • Shaping the health research agenda,
      • Setting norms and standards,
      • Providing evidence-based policy options,
      • Providing technical support to countries,
      • Monitoring and assessing health trends.

 

  • UNCTAD
    • UNCTAD supports developing countries to access the benefits of a globalized economy more fairly and effectively.
    • It helps to use trade, investment, finance, and technology as vehicles for inclusive and sustainable development.

 

  • UNODC
    • United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) is a global leader in the fight against illicit drugs and international crime.
    • It was established in 1997through a merger between the United Nations Drug Control Programme and the Centre for International Crime Prevention.
    • UNODC is mandated to assist Member States in their struggle against illicit drugs, crime and terrorism.
  • UNHCR
    • The office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was created in 1950, during the aftermath of the Second World War, to help millions of Europeans who had fled or lost their homes.
    • In 1954, UNHCR won the Nobel Peace Prize for its ground-breaking work in Europe.
    • The start of the 21stcentury has seen UNHCR help with major refugee crises in Africa, the Middle East and Asia.
    • It also uses its expertise to help many internally displaced by conflict and expanded its role in helping stateless people.

 

  • ESCAP
    • United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) is the main economic and social development centre of the UN in the region, headquartered in Bangkok (Thailand) in 1947.
    • It responds to the development needs and priorities of the region through its convening authority, economic and social analysis, normative standard-setting and technical assistance.

 

Area of UN Contributions:
  • MAINTAIN INTERNATIONAL PEACE AND SECURITY
    • The United Nations came into being in 1945, following the devastation of the Second World War, with one central mission: the maintenance of international peace and security.
    • The UN does this by working to prevent conflict; helping parties in conflict make peace; peacekeeping; and creating the conditions to allow peace to hold and flourish.
    • These activities often overlap and should reinforce one another, to be effective.
    • The UN Security Council has the primary responsibility for international peace and security.
    • The General Assembly and the Secretary-General play major, important, and complementary roles, along with other UN offices and bodies.

 

  • PROTECT HUMAN RIGHTS
    • The term “human rights” was mentioned seven times in the UN’s founding Charter, making the promotion and protection of human rights a key purpose and guiding principle of the Organization.
    • In 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rightsbrought human rights into the realm of international law.
    • Since then, the Organization has diligently protected human rights through legal instruments and on-the-ground activities.

 

  • DELIVER HUMANITARIAN AID
    • One of the purposes of the United Nations, as stated in its Charter, is “to achieve international co-operation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character.”
    • The UN first did this in the aftermath of the Second World War on the devastated continent of Europe, which it helped to rebuild.
    • The Organization is now relied upon by the international community to coordinate humanitarian relief operations due to natural and man-made disasters in areas beyond the relief capacity of national authorities alone.

 

  • PROMOTE SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
    • From the start in 1945, one of the main priorities of the United Nations was to “achieve international co-operation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character and in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion.”
    • Improving people’s well-being continues to be one of the main focuses of the UN.
    • The global understanding of development has changed over the years, and countries now have agreed that sustainable development – development that promotes prosperity and economic opportunity, greater social well-being, and protection of the environment – offers the best path forward for improving the lives of people everywhere.

A SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AGENDA

  • A sustainable development portal, 2015 Time for Global Action for People and Planet, was launched by the United Nations in 2015.
  • It focuses on the UN’s post-2015 sustainable development agendaand contains information on the UN’s efforts to tackle climate change and on many other related issues.
  • The UN’s new post-2015 sustainable development agenda was launched at the Sustainable Development Summitin September 2015.
  • The Millennium Development Goals helped end poverty for some, but not for all.
  • The UN’s new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will complete the work begun with the MDGs.
  • UPHOLD INTERNATIONAL LAW
    • The UN Charter, in its Preamble, set an objective: “to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained”.
    • Ever since, the development of, and respect for international law has been a key part of the work of the Organization.
    • This work is carried out in many ways – by courts, tribunals, multilateral treaties – and by the Security Council, which can approve peacekeeping missions, impose sanctions, or authorize the use of force when there is a threat to international peace and security, if it deems this necessary.
    • These powers are given to it by the UN Charter, which is considered an international treaty.  As such, it is an instrument of international law, and UN Member States are bound by it.
    • The UN Charter codifies the major principles of international relations, from sovereign equality of States to the prohibition of the use of force in international relations.

 

India and the UN
  • India was among the original members of the United Nations that signed the Declaration by United Nationsat Washington, D.C. in October of 1944 and also participated in the United Nations Conference on International Organization at San Francisco from 25 April to 26 June 1945.
  • As a founding member of the United Nations, India strongly supports the purposes and principles of the UN and has made significant contributions in implementing the goals of the Charter, and the evolution of the UN’s specialized programmes and agencies.

 

INDIAN CONTRIBUTION TO UNITED NATIONS PEACEKEEPING

  • India has a long and distinguished history of service in UN peacekeeping, having contributed more personnel than any other country.
  • To date, more than 244,500 Indians have served in 49 of the 71 UN peacekeeping missions established around the world since 1948. India has a long tradition of sending women on UN peacekeeping missions. In 2007, India became the first country to deploy an all-women contingent for Formed Police Unit to the UN peacekeeping mission in Liberia.
  • Hailed as role models, they helped to build the capacity of the Liberian police which led to increase in the number of local women working in the Liberia’s security sector.
  • The members of Indian Women FPU also distinguished themselves through humanitarian service, including organizing medical camps.
  • Indian peacekeepers in South Sudan received prestigious UN medal.

 

REPRESENTATION IN UN BODIES

  • India enjoys strong goodwill and support at the UN and has been elected to several UN bodies. In the last few years, India was elected to the Human Right Council (HRC), Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), International Court of Justice (ICJ), UN Board of Auditors, Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR), International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS), International Law Commission (ILC) and Joint Inspection Unit (JIU), among others.
  • Currently India is represented in 22 UN Bodies.

 

INDIA ON THE UN SECURITY COUNCIL

  • India has served in the UN Security Council seven times (1950-51, 1967-68, 1972-73, 1977-78, 1984-85, 1991-92 and 2011-12). During its last term (2011- 12) on the UN Security Council, India chaired the UNSC 1373 Committee concerning Counter-Terrorism, the 1566 Working Group concerning threat to international peace and security by terrorist acts and the Security Council 751/1907 Committee concerning Somalia and Eritrea.
  • India played an active role in discussions on all issues related to international peace and security, including several new challenges which the Security Council was called upon to deal with in Afghanistan, Cote d’Ivoire, Iraq, Libya, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
  • India also worked for enhancing international cooperation in the areas of counter-terrorism, prevention of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction to non-state actors, and the strengthening of UN peacekeeping and peace building efforts.

 

TERRORISM

  • The international effort against terrorism is a key priority for India in the UN.
  • Terrorism is a global phenomenon whose destructive potential and lethal reach is enhanced by linkages to illicit trafficking in drugs and small arms, and international money laundering operations.
  • India is a party to the 13 sectoral conventions on terrorism adopted by the UN. With the objective of providing a comprehensive legal framework to combat terrorism, India took the initiative to pilot a draft Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT) in 1996.
  • India also supports strict global implementation of anti-terrorism mechanisms established by UN Security Council Resolutions, including Resolutions 1267/1989 (related to sanctions against ISIS (Da’esh) and Al-Qaeda) and 1988 (related to sanctions against Taliban), 1373 (related to Counter-Terrorism Committee), and 1540 ( pertaining to non-proliferation of WMDs), and other international mechanisms such as Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

 

HUMAN RIGHTS

  • On human rights, India advocates a holistic and integrated approach that emphasizes the inter-dependence, inter-relatedness, indivisibility and university of human rights.
  • India’s position reinforces the inter-relationship between democracy, development, human rights and international cooperation for development.
  • India played an active role in drafting the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and is fully committed to the rights proclaimed in the Universal Declaration.
  • India is party to the five core human rights covenants/conventions, namely, the International Covenant on civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).
  • India has also signed the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC).

 

REFORM & RESTRUCTURING OF THE UN

  • India strongly advocates the process of reform and restructuring of the UN to make it better equipped to effectively respond to the evolving needs of its membership, particularly developing countries.
  • The expansion of the Security Council and improvement of its working methods must be integral part of Security Council Reform.
  • It is essential that the Security Council is expanded in both the permanent and non-permanent categories.
  • The inclusion of countries who are capable of global responsibility regarding peace and security, including developing countries from Asia, Africa and Latin America, will contribute to optimal decision by the Council as well as address the concerns of the developing countries.

 

Un Global Counter Terrorism Coordination Combat:
  • It is an agreement between the UN chief, 36 organizational entities, the International Criminal Police Organisation (INTERPOL) and the World Customs Organisation, to better serve the needs of Member States when it comes to tackling international terrorism.

 

OBJECTIVE:

  • To ensure that the United Nations system provides coordinated capacity-building support to Member States, at their request, in implementing the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and other relevant resolutions.
  • To foster close collaboration between the Security Council mandated bodies and the rest of the United Nations system.
  • The UN Global Counter-Terrorism Compact Coordination Committee will oversee and monitor the implementation of the Compact which will be chaired by UN Under-Secretary-General for counterterrorism.
  • It will replace the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force, which was established in 2005.

 

UNSC Non-Permanent Seat
  • India has won the unanimous support of all countries in the 55-member Asia-Pacific Group at the United Nations in support of its bid for a non-permanent seat at the UN Security Council (UNSC) for a two-year term in 2021-22.

UNSC MEMBERSHIP

  • Along with the five permanent members, the Security Council of the United Nations has ten temporary members that hold their seats on a rotating basis by geographic region.
  • Five permanent members: China, France, Russia, UK, and the US.
  • The 10 non-permanent seats are distributed on a regional basis:
    • Five for African and Asian States;
    • One for Eastern European States;
    • Two for the Latin American and Caribbean States; and
    • Two for Western European and other States.
  • Each year the 193-member of UNGA elects five non-permanent members for a two-year term at the UNSC, with five replaced each year.
  • To be approved, a candidate must receive at least two-thirds of all votes cast for that seat, which can result in deadlock if there are two roughly evenly matched candidates.
  • A retiring member is not eligible for immediate re-election.
  • The Asia-Pacific Group gets to nominate one of its members for the 2020 elections to a non-permanent seat of UNSC.
  • Currently the 10 non-permanent members are Belgium, Cote d’Ivoire, Dominican Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Germany, Indonesia, Kuwait, Peru, Poland and South Africa.

 

UN Habitat Assembly
  • India has been elected to the Executive Board of the first UN-Habitat Assembly.
  • The first session of UN- Habitat assembly was held at the headquarters of UN-Habitat in Nairobi.
  • The special theme for the UN-Habitat assembly is “Innovation for Better Quality of Life in Cities and Communities”.

UN HABITAT

  • The United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN–Habitat) is the United Nations programme for human settlements and sustainable urban development.
  • Established in 1978 as an outcome of the First UN Conference on Human Settlements and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat I) held in Vancouver, Canada in 1976.
  • Mandate is to promote socially and environmentally sustainable towns and cities. It is the focal point for all urbanization and human settlement matters within the UN system.
  • It is a member of the United Nations Sustainable Development Group.

 

UN 75th Declaration
  • As the UN marks 75 years of its existence, the 193-member UN General Assembly adopted a forward-looking political declaration that gave a clarion call for –
    • Strengthening mechanism to combat terrorism,
    • Reformed multilateralism,
    • Inclusive development
    • Better preparedness to deal with challenges like the Covid-19 pandemic
    • Reform of the United Nations itself
  • This declaration is meant to commemorate the 75th anniversary of UN on 24th October.
  • The UN is marking its 75th anniversary at a time of great disruption for the world, compounded by an unprecedented global health crisis with severe economic and social impacts. In these hard times, the role and responsibility of the UN increase more than ever.
  • Since January 2020 the UN is holding a people’s debate UN75, through which it aims to encourage people to put their opinions together to define how enhanced international cooperation can help realize a better world by 2045.

 

Successes of UN
  • The UN defined, codified and expanded the realm of international law, governing the legal responsibilities of States in their conduct with each other, and their treatment of individuals within State boundaries.
  • The U.N. has solved many violent conflicts, prevented wars, and saved millions of lives.
  • More than 560 multilateral treaties on human rights, refugees, disarmament, trade, oceans, outer space, etc. encompassing all aspects of international affairs were negotiated by the U.N.
  • The ECOSOC continually monitors the progress of development, particularly in the light of the MDGs.
  • It has created a new UN Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management which brings together government experts from all Member States to compile and disseminate best practices and experiences on geospatial information which helps in the context of sustainable development and humanitarian assistance.
  • The ICJ has a positive effect on the development of International Law and the propagation of the principles of sovereignty, non-conquest, human rights and the rights of existence and self-defence of a state.
  • The ICJ provides an additional option for states to settle their disputes peacefully through third party intervention, and this has reduced the threat of open war.

 

Failures of UN
  • In 1970, though the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) was signed by 190 nations, all five superpowers owned nuclear weapons. Despite the NPT and Partial Test Ban Treaty, several countries – North Korea, Israel, Pakistan, and India have developed nuclear weapons. Thus the UN has failed to enforce regulations on offending nations.
  • Though the ICJ has resolved major international disputes, the N.’s veto powershave limited its effectiveness at critical times.
  • Human Rights violations are happening at conflict-prone regionslike Gaza-strip but UNSC has failed as the United States vetoes any action against Israel.
  • The Arab Spring in the Middle East which caused thousands of deaths and regime changes, the rise of ISIS, gruesome killings might have been prevented if the Member States of the U.N. had the ability to resolutely act in a timely manner.
  • But the N. is not a world government, and it does not have a standing army of peace-keepers ready for deployment.
  • NGO workers from around the world have blamed that vulnerable people are being denied representation at the UN by the dysfunctional nature of the NGO committee and its parent body, the Ecosoc.
  • The ICJ is noted for its failures to successfully resolve inter-state disputes.To date there are more than 30 unresolved frontier cases concerning land of greater value, which has never been submitted to the ICJ, because one party’s claim is not on legal grounds.
  • Major issues of peace and security between the more powerful states are rarely submitted as most governments tend to “consider the recognition of the jurisdiction of the court as infringing on their sovereignty”.
  • There is no real means of enforcing the ICJ’s verdict.

 

Overall Reforms Needed
  • The UN, in recent years, has faced a cash crunch. Hence there should be an increase in funding which is timely.
  • Once the world is on a robust path to achieve the SDGs, the need for peacekeeping and emergency-relief operations should declineas conflicts diminish in number and scale.
  • The UN needs to strengthen its expertise in areas such as ocean health, renewable energy systems, urban design, disease control, technological innovation, public-private partnerships, and peaceful cultural cooperation.
  • Some UN programs should be merged or closed,while other new SDG-related UN programs should be created.
  • UN’s governance should be mended, starting with the Security Council, the composition of which no longer reflects global geopolitical realities.
  • The Western Europe and Other Group (WEOG) now accounts for three of the five permanent members (France, the United Kingdom, and the US) but Africa or Latin America has none.
  • The rotating seats on the Security Council do not adequately restore regional balance.
  • Seats for Asia, which represents the world’s most dynamic and populous region should be increased.
  • Any substantial reform can be achieved byamending the UN Charter which requires an affirmative vote and domestic ratification by two-thirds of UN member states.
  • In addition to charter reform, procedural changes, including greater transparency and closer consultations with troop-contributing countriesis required.
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