The Passionists - Compassion

The United Nations at a Glance

SpacerTHE UNITED NATIONS is an international organization of 191 states, founded in 1945 following the Second World War to foster peace among the nations and promote the well-being of peoples and human rights. The UN Charter contains the basic norms of the organization.

SpacerThe United Nations is made up of six main organs: the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, the Trusteeship Council, the International Court of Justice and the Secretariat. They are all based in New York City, except for the Court which is at The Hague, The Netherlands.

SpacerThe General Assembly is where all UN member states meet from mid-September to mid-December to discuss and to attempt to reach agreement on global problems that are of concern to them all.

SpacerThe 15-member Security Council is the primary UN organ for dealing with international peace and security.

"We have to show that this organization deals not in dusty abstractions, but in crucial life-and-death matters affecting the well- being of all women, men and children, every citizen of the planet."

--Kofi Annan, 1997
Secretary General of the United Nations

Kofi Annan  

SpacerThe Economic and Social Council works through the year planning the economic and social outreach of the UN in such fields as crime preventions, human rights, narcotics and drug abuse, world agriculture, the status of women, health, housing and education. Besides its own staff, the council looks to over 1500 Non-Governmental Organizations for help in its work.

SpacerThe Trusteeship Council has been active in helping colonial territories become independent states.

SpacerThe International Court of Justice at The Hague, Netherlands, is the principal judicial organ of the UN, where legal disputes among the states are heard.

SpacerThe United Nations Secretariat is the administrative arm of the organization. It is headed by the Secretary General, who is the UN's chief administrator, appointed by the UN General Assembly, on the recommendation of the Security Council.

SpacerOther UN organizations, such as the World Health Organization, the Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Bank Group, are special agencies that work for international development.

Non-Governmental Organizations

SpacerBesides world governments, the United Nations looks for the cooperation of other groups from the civil society to achieve its goals. Among the most important of these are the Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs). Over 3,000 NGOs assist the UN, either by offering consultation on economic or social matters to the UN's Economic and Social Council, or by providing information about UN matters to the public.

SpacerMany NGOs are represented at the UN and provide the organization with valuable information about the world and its peoples. They play an important part in UN conferences and planning. NGOs helped the passage of the 1997 Convention banning land mines, and the establishment in 1998 of the International Criminal Court to deal with genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. They are particularly helpful to poor countries that seek assistance from the world body.

SpacerReligious NGOs, representing Christian churches and other groups from various faith traditions, are active at the UN. Approximately 50 Catholic religious communities of men and women are represented there.


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also in this issue:
The Johannesburg Summit, 2002The Catholic Church and the United Nations
Passionists at the United Nations
Security at the Security Council, 1947 Meet Fr David Cinquegrani

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