The United Nations (UN) was founded in 1945 with the aim of promoting peace, economic and social development through cooperation. Today, the work of realizing the global goals for sustainable development is one of the most important issues for the organization. Visit businesscarriers for UNESCO overview.
A distinction is usually made between the central UN organization on the one hand and the UN system or the UN family on the other. The Central UN today includes the Security Council, the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council, the International Court of Justice and the Secretariat with the UN’s most important post – Secretary General.
Another of the UN’s main bodies, the Council of Trustees, has today completed its tasks. The Council was formed to examine the management of colonial territories by states and to encourage the political, economic and social development of the inhabitants. The goal was for the areas to achieve independence. The last area managed by the Council, the Pacific island of Palau, became an independent republic in 1994 with special ties to the United States. At the 2005 summit, UN members decided that sections of the UN Charter relating to the Board of Trustees should be removed.
Under the UN’s main body are a number of advisory bodies as well as various commissions and other bodies. In addition to the central UN organization, the UN system also includes specialized specialist bodies. These have an independent status but are included in the UN family due to special co-operation agreements that link them to the organization.
Without the secretariat, the work of the UN would come to a standstill. The secretariat had a total of 43,000 employees worldwide in 2011, but its core includes about ten thousand people, who do everything from writing minutes from various meetings to leading and coordinating operations and mediating in international disputes.
Most of the secretariat is located at the UN headquarters in New York, but there are branches in several major cities elsewhere in the world, including Geneva, Bangkok, Vienna and Nairobi.
During the 1990’s, the secretariat has tried to meet the criticism of overstaffing and inefficiency by reorganizing, merging departments and reducing the number of employees. Former Secretary General Kofi Annan initiated a reorganization in 1997 that led to the disappearance of a thousand secretarial posts. He also introduced a new management structure and a deputy secretary general.
Some years into the 2000’s, attempts continued to make the secretariat more efficient, among other things through new changes in management and organizational structure, improved IT systems and more. In 2001, the UN staff had its own ombudsman. A major step forward in the 21st century has been to make all public UN documentation available via the Internet.
Following criticism of the UN, including the mismanagement of the oil-for-food program in Iraq and corruption in procurement, in 2005 the Secretary-General initiated measures to strengthen ethical principles, accountability and internal audit, as well as independent review within the UN. A special office for ethical issues was established at the secretariat in early 2006. From 2008, the ethical rules began to apply to employees throughout the UN organization.
Secretariat officials have all vowed not to “request or receive instructions from any government or from any authority outside the organization.” This is not to say that governments have not in many ways tried to interfere in the secretariat’s activities and the appointment of staff. In the 1950’s, when the communist terror raged in the United States, for example, the US government tried to check that the US secretariat staff did not have communist sympathies.