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Essay, Paragraph or Speech on “The United Nations: Origin: Organs and Functions” Complete Essay, Speech for Class 10, Class 12 and Graduation and other classes.

The United Nations: Origin: Organs and Functions

The preparatory meetings and conferences of the UN greatly helped to visualise the shape of the world organisation to come, provided the principal ideals and ideas which could form the basis of such an organisation and put forward valuable blueprints for such would-be agencies of the organisation as the Food and Agriculture Organisation, International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. International Monetary Fund, and the International Court of Justice. The following were the principal meetings of the conferences:

  1. The London Declaration, 1941

While World War II was in full swing, the representatives of the allied nations—Britain, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa and the 9 European governments in exile (Belgium. Czechoslovakia, Free France, Greece, Luxembourg, the Netherlands. Norway, Poland, and Yugoslavia) met at St. James’ Palace in London (on 12 June 1941) and approved the declaration known as the London Declaration. According to it, the nations announced their resolve to work in cooperation with free peoples everywhere to create a world which would be free from the menace of aggression and which would provide social and economic security to individuals.

  1. The Atlantic Charter, 1941

The Charter was a result of the talks between British Prime Minister Churchill and American President Roosevelt held on a battleship in the Atlantic. The Charter which is said to have marked the birth of the United Nations contained 8 general principles on which the proposed world organisation was to be founded.

  1. The Declaration of the United Nations, 1942

The declaration which was issued a few weeks after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour embodied the determination of 26 nations to cooperate with one another in times of war and peace.

  1. The Casablanca Conference, 1943

In the conference held in the city of Casablanca, Prime Minister Churchill and President Roosevelt conferred with the French representatives, discussed the terms of peace, and the role of their countries in the post-war world.

  1. The Food and Agriculture Conference, 1943

The representatives of the nations met at Hot Springs, Virginia, and completed the groundwork for the eventual establishment of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (of the United Nations).

  1. The Moscow Conference, 1943

In this conference held it Moscow, representatives of Britain, the United States, the erstwhile USSR, and China resolved that an international organisation based on the principle of sovereign equality of states should be established at the earliest practicable date.

  1. The Teheran Conference, 1943

In this conference, Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin resolved “that large and small nations would be invited to join a world organisation.”

  1. The Bretton Woods Conference, 1944

In this conference, representatives of 44 nations drew up agreements for the establishment of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the International Monetary Fund (of the United Nations).

  1. The Dumbarton Oaks Conference, Washington, 1944

In this conference, representatives of Britain, the United States, the USSR, and China prepared the first draft of the United Nations Charter which was later amplified and adopted as the Charter.

  1. The Yalta Conference, 1945

In this conference held in Yalta (Russia), Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin drew up plans for occupation and control of (defeated) Germany, took decisions of far-reaching importance affecting Eastern Europe and the Far East, and also agreed on the veto formula which was to be adopted by the United Nations later.

  1. Committee of Jurists’ Meeting, Washington, 1945

In this meeting jurists of 44 nations prepared a draft which formed the basis of the Statute of the International Court of Justice.

  1. The San Francisco Conference, 1945

This was the final conference held after all the preparatory conferences and background work. After this conference, the United Nations formally came into existence on 24 October 1945.

UNO and Its Principal Organs:

The United Nations Organisation (UNO) or simply the United Nations (UN) is an international organisation whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace. The UN was founded in 1945 after World War II to replace the League of Nations, to stop wars between countries, and to provide a platform for dialogue. It contains multiple subsidiary organisations to carry out its missions.

For the realisation of these objectives the Charter envisaged the following principal organs:

(1) The General Assembly,

(2) The Security Council,

(3) The Economic and Social Council,

(4) The Trusteeship Council,

(5) The International Court of Justice, and

(6) The Secretariat.

The General Assembly

All the members of the UN are the members of the General Assembly. Each member nation has one vote and can send maximum 5 representatives to the Assembly. The functions of the Assembly include study and discussion of international problems and giving its advice or recommendations on them. It can consider issues of global concern and make recommendations practically on all problems except those which are already before the Security Council. The Assembly is clothed with broad supervisory and investigative powers and has corresponding responsibilities. It has powers and responsibilities in regard to the UN finances; election of members of the Security Council, Economic and Social Council, the Trusteeship Council; admission of nation to the UN; and elections of judges to the International Court of Justice. In respect of the last two matters, it exercises its powers along with the Security Council. At the time of the Korean crisis in 1950 the Assembly came to acquire one more important power, power of taking, by a majority vote, (even) military action to meet an international crisis when the Security Council is paralyzed by veto.

Currently, 192 countries are its members. The UN’s most visible public figure is the Secretary-General, currently Ban-Ki-moon of South Korea, who attained the post in 2007. The organisation is financed from assessed and voluntary contributions from its member states. It has six official languages: Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), English, French, Russian, and Spanish.

 The Security Council

From the point of view of promotion of peace and peaceful settlement of international disputes, the Security Council is the most important organ of the UN. It is charged with the responsibility of maintaining international peace and security. It has the authority to call upon the nations which are parties to the disputes to employ peaceful means of settlement like negotiation, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement and so on. In pursuing its aims, the Council can call upon the member nations to apply sanctions of different kinds—complete or partial interruption of economic relations; rail, sea, air, postal, telegraph, radio and other means of communications: severance of diplomatic relations and so en—against the defaulting or the non-compliant nations. Against such nations it can also take action by making use of the air, sea, or land forces and other facilities of member nations.

The Economic and Social Council

The general responsibility of the Council is to work to improve the living conditions of people and to help solve international problems—economic, social, educational, health, and other related problems. It is also charged with the promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all. Since its work is so wide in scope, the Council is mainly a central policy-making coordinating body. Its subsidiary Nodes do much of the detailed technical work, and most of the Council’s recommendations are based on their reports.

The Trusteeship Council

The aim of the Council is to fulfill the UN responsibility for the welfare and advancement of territories not having Self-government yet. The scope of the Council’s work extends to the different colonies, protectorates, and trust territories in varying stages of social, economic and political development. The interests of the inhabitants of the trust territories are to be of paramount importance in the work of the Council. The Council is charged with the task of providing measures of the welfare of the inhabitants of the trust territories and assisting their progress towards self-government or independence, consistent with their interests.

The International Court of Justice

The International Court of Justice is modeled on the League’s Permanent Court of International Justice. Fifteen eminent jurists of different nations in the world constitute the Court with its seat at the Hague. The member nations of the UN undertake to comply with the decisions of the Court, though they are free to use other tribunals. The Court can give its opinion or advice on matters referred to it by the General Assembly the Security Council, and the other organs or agencies of the UN (with the authorisation of the Assembly).

‘The Secretariat

Like the League Secretariat the UN Secretariat also is charged with a variety of functions—providing clerical, research, drafting, and publication services, serving as an instrument of coordination: registering treaties; keeping records; arranging international conferences and so on. The head of the Secretariat which is staffed by over 4,000 advisers, experts, administrators, and clerks is the Secretary-General who is assisted by deputy secretaries. A considerable portion of the UN budget is spent on the secretariat. The Secretary-General has the authority to bring to the notice of the Security Council any matter which, in his opinion, threatens international peace and security.

Role of the United Nations in Promotion of Peace

The role of the United Nations can be divided into two parts: the non-political role played by it in promoting peace through its various agencies, and the political role played by it in promoting peaceful settlement of international disputes and avoidance of war.

The UN’s non-political role consists in its trying to create better economic, social, and intellectual conditions in the world through its agencies—the Economic and Social Council and the Trusteeship Council.

The aim of the Economic and Social Council has been to eliminate evils of poverty, disease, and illiteracy from the world, and to create an atmosphere conducive to the enjoyment of human freedom and exercise of fundamental rights. The UN has been doing commendable work to realise this aim through its various agencies some of which are as follows:

  1. International Labour Organisation
  2. World Health Organisation
  3. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation
  4. Food and Agriculture Organisation
  5. International Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
  6. International Monetary Fund
  7. International Civil Aviation Organisation
  8. International Telecommunication Union
  9. Universal Postal Union

Through the 4 regional commissions (for Europe, Latin America, Asia and the Far East, and Africa) and a number of specialised agencies like the above mentioned ones, the United Nations has been making worldwide and phenomenal efforts to make the world a better place to live in economically, socially, educationally, culturally and so on. The Food and Agriculture Organisation, the World Bank. the International Monetary Fund. the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and the International Labour Organisation help the countries in the world—particularly the developing countries—to solve their economic, financial, agricultural, and labour problems. The World Health Organisation has been helping to solve health problems and raise health standards of the peoples of different nations. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has been doing an immensely useful work through its campaigns for mass health maternal and child welfare, and child nutrition. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has been doing impressive work of functioning as an agency for cooperation and encouragement in respect of educational, scientific and cultural activities and achievements in the world.

Through its Trusteeship Council, the United Nations has been functioning as an instrument of peaceful change for a number of colonies, protectorates, and trust territories in various stages of development. Taking its stand on the principle of self-determination and keeping in view the paramount interests of the inhabitants of different territories. it has been working to assist their progress towards the goal of self-government or independence. Originally, the United Nations had 11 such territories to look after. By 1962, only 3 remained. The rest of them attained independence or merged with the neighbouring territories which had become independent. Thus, the Italian Somaliland and the British Somaliland united (1960) to become the independent Somali Republic which is now a member of the United Nations. Similarly, the Begin administered trust territory of Rwanda Urundi became independent as two separate sovereign States of Rwanda and Burundi (1962). The British trust territory. Togoland, united (1957) with the Gold Coast to become the independent State of Ghana. Thus, the United Nations’ record in the matter of assisting the progress of backward territories in the world has been impressive.

Through the International Court of Justice the United Nations has been trying to develop respect for law and the solution of international disputes through peaceful means. Fifteen judges representing the different legal systems in the world constitute the court: and their 9-years term of office helps to maintain continuity and increase efficiency in its functions. Nearly half the number of members of the UN have accepted the compulsory jurisdiction of the court. The court has given a number of significant decisions and thereby helped to solve international problems such as the Corfu Channel dispute between Britain and Albania. the fisheries dispute between Britain and Norway and so on. The court has also given its advisory opinion on such problems as reparations for injuries suffered during the service of the UN the General Assembly’s competence in respect of the new nations’ admission to the UN, international status of South-west Africa and so on. The court can function to ensure that more and more nations accept its jurisdiction and submit to it their disputes without retaining them within their “domestic jurisdiction’. The UN has also been working towards the goal of international law which is vitally connected with the working and success for the international Court. In 1947, the UN set up a commission to assist the (UN) members in the progressive development of international law. The commission has covered such subjects as arbitral procedure, statelessness the law of the sea, the law of diplomatic and consular relations, the law of treaties and state responsibility. This work of the commission has been instrumental in the conclusion of conventions on the Law of the Sea, Diplomatic Relations and Consular Relations.

The step of taking military action to prevent international crises from developing into major conflicts was taken first in 1950 in respect of the Korean War. This step is of great significance in the history of the UN, because it established a most valuable precedent of what came to be known, formally, as “Uniting for Peace” Resolution); when the Security Council is paralysed by a veto action, the General Assembly would assume authority to raise a kind of action force by raising from the member nations contribution in terms of men and materials and move in to establish peace threatened by a crisis or aggression. This also meant that the United Nations came to develop a kind of military force to enforce its decision—a success which the predecessors of the UN could not achieve. When peace in Korea was threatened by the communist aggression from North Korea, this technique of collective action was first employed. Later, this technique has been employed with remarkable success to check the Suez crisis (1956). The Middle East crisis—crisis arising in Lebanon from the events in Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon (1958) and the Congo crisis (1960). During these crises, the UN set up its emergency force known as UNEF (United Nations Emergency Force—for the Suez crises), and ONUC (United Nations Observer Group for Israel and Lebanon), and UNOGIL (United Nations Observation Group in Lebanon) established to ensure that there was no illegal infiltration of personnel or supply of arms or other materials across the Lebanese borders.

Related to the above function is the police function which has performed in the different parts of the world to maintain peace and to help create an atmosphere in whirl peaceful solution of the problems leading to the crisis would be possible. For example, the UN forces have been performing police functions in order to maintain peace on the border between Isreal and the Arab countries. We have already mentioned above the UN’s preventive military action in respect of the Suez crisis, the Middle East, Lebanese crisis, and the Congo crisis. Following the preventive military action, the UN force performed the task of maintaining law and order while peaceful solution to the problems leading to these crises was found. The UN forces also performed peacekeeping operations in Cyprus (1963-64) when peace in this island was violently disturbed by the conflict resulting in riots and killing between the two communities—the Greed Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot. The UN force, constituted to keep peace in Cyprus known as UNYOM (United Nations Yemen Observation Mission), was sent to Yemen to establish peace disturbed by the fighting between the royalist and the republican forces supported by Saudi Arabia and the UAR respectively.

The diplomatic role of the United Nations, though not spectacular, has been very valuable in the promotion of peace and the peaceful settlement of’ international disputes. The UN has often served as a forum for negotiation, compromise, arbitration; and other peaceful means of solving disputes, Its conference diplomacy which brings the parties to the dispute round the table for discussion or negotiation has proved valuable for creating an atmosphere for communication and appreciation of one another’s points of view and thus helping in the solution of disputes. The problem of the withdrawal of the erstwhile Soviet troops from Iran after a certain date laid down in the 1942 treaty signed by Iran, the erstwhile Soviet Union, and Britain was solved (troops were withdrawn) by discussion at UN. forum. in 1947 following the breakdown of negotiations between the Netherlands and the Indonesian nationalist leaders, the Netherlands took “police action” in Indonesia, When the matter was referred to the: Security Council, a good offices committee was appointed which was later transformed into the United Nations Commission for Indonesia. Under the auspices of the Commission, negotiations were conducted in The Hague and agreement ‘for the establishment of the independent United States of Indonesia was reached. In 1963, in course of the formation of the Federation of Malaysia consisting of Malaya, Singapore, Sarawak, and Sabah, the UN made available its good offices in determining, as insisted by Indonesia and the Philippines, the wishes of the people of Sarawak and Sabah (formerly North Borneo), A 9-men team of investigators appointed by the UN went into action and prodded report which established that the people of Sarawak and Sabah wished to join the Federation of Malaysia. Thus, the UN’s good offices helped in the formation of Malaysia in 1963.

The UN has been trying to realise its goal of promoting peace and avoiding war through its progamme of disarmament. The programme is based on the conviction that lasting peace in the world cannot be established unless nations accept disarmament. The programme began in 1946 and since then has tried to tackle a variety of issues such as nuclear weapons, the nuclear tests and inspection systems, the relative priority of _disarmament- and collective security and so on. While the distrust among the big nations and their inability to agree to one another’s disarmament proposals have often made progress towards disarmament difficult, the increasingly effective and useful role played by the uncommitted nations certainly constitutes the, redeeming feature of the situation. The Limited Test Ban Treaty signed by the nuclear powers in 1963 has constituted a significant, though admittedly limited, advance in the direction of disarmament.

In the light of the above discussion of the role of the UN in the political field, we can say that while the UN has not succeeded invariably and in every case, it has not fared too badly either in discharging its primary responsibility of establishing peace, promoting peaceful settlement of international disputes, and avoiding war, particularly when we consider the handicaps or the limitations under which it has to function. After all, the UN or any other international organisation can be as much successful or unsuccessful as the member nations are prepared to make it. The member nations, governed as they are in their policies and activities by the logic of power politics, have sometimes pursued such policies as have bypassed or impaired the authority of the UN. The reluctance of some nations to submit some of their problems to the jurisdiction of the UN or the International Court on the plea—that they fall within their “domestic jurisdiction”, the readiness with which the veto power is used by some nations to impede the working of the Security Council, the refusal of some nations like the erstwhile USSR and France to share the expenses of the peacekeeping operations (as those incurred in the Congo), on the ground that they did not agree to the policies of peacekeeping operations, the distrust and the unwillingness with which the big powers have approached the disarmament conference tables—all these have often undermined the strength and the working of the UN. The fact that the difficulties and limitation like the above- mentioned ones have often impeded the course of the UN should not be viewed as constituting. a reproach to the UN. Rather, the fact that the UN has, in spite of the difficulties and limitations, functioned with remarkable success, should command our praise and support. For, as Mr. Hammarskjold the Secretary-General of the UNO, said, “The UN is an admittedly imperfect but indispensable instrument of nations, in working for a peaceful evolution towards a more just and secures world order.”

The United Nations is faltering in its attempts to create a new Security Council aimed at better reflecting post-Cold War realities. Italy has broken away from the European Union (EU) by opposing the creation of any new permanent members to a revamped Security Council. The United States, France and Britain—who, along with China and Russia, hold veto-wielding permanent seats, are asking for two new permanent members in the Council—Japan and Germany.

But developing nations are opposing this move. They are of the view that any restructuring of the Security Council should involve more than the addition of Japan and Germany, so that poor nations also get representation among the major powers.

“The United Nations is ‘going round and around’ and moving ‘too far away from anything definite’,’ observes James Paul of the New York-based Global Policy Forum. “Nothing will happen because there is quite a lot of opposition to any kind of movement,” ho says. A proposal to add five permanent members—including one each from Asia, Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean—is also in trouble. Nigeria, Brazil and India would like to become permanent members, and they have campaigned actively for seats, ‘but the regional rivals are staunchly opposed,’ according to Mr. Paul. Egypt and South Africa wonder about Nigeria’s special qualifications as a representative of Africa, while Argentina and Mexico and Indonesia and Pakistan question the choice of Brazil and India respectively. “Smaller countries in turn are unhappy about any system that will strengthen the powerful at their expense adds James Paul.

 A UN working group consisting of all 192 members is now breaking up into smaller units in a last-ditch attempt to produce a formula acceptable to all.

But the group, which has been meeting since 1995, is now being accused of holding informal consultations among only a select few countries. “Of course, we realise that ‘within the framework of the United Nations, there have always been closed meetings designed to give strong impulse to specific exercises,” the Italian envoy said. ‘However, the reform of the Security Council is too vital, too fundamental a question, for all member states of the United Nations, none of whom should feel excluded.” he said. “Unfortunately, this system with inclusions, exclusions and replacement of some countries—with apparently no rhyme or reason—can make one feel the proceedings have lost transparency,” he told the working group.

The Global Policy Forum, which has set up its own NGO working group on the Security Council, insists that the discussion should be open to non-governmental organisations (NGOs) as well. Mr. Paul maintains that civil society has an important role in the restructuring of the Security Council.

But UN diplomats, who do not share his views, say the restructuring exercise is too complicated already. The involvement of the NGOs will make things even more difficult, they say. Mr. Paul said the prevailing view at the United Nations in the restructuring should be “done quietly…we disagree with this view’, he says.

“The only changes so far,” says Mr. Paul, “are mostly procedural; the council president now holds regular meetings to keep all member states informed about the activities of the council. The agenda and resolutions are also circulated as part of new procedures in the Council,” he added.

The United Nations is contributing to the peaceful settlement of global challenges. For example, it provided invaluable support to the United States in laying the groundwork for a political transition in Iraq, most recently by providing assistance in conducting the elections and acknowledging their legitimacy. The Security Council also is investigating Syria’s involvement in the assassination of Rafiq Hariri and helping to free the Lebanese from Syrian control.

Like the world, the United Nations is imperfect, but it is being reinvented to meet the challenges of the 21st century.


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