The UN system [fr]

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View from the UN headquarters in new York - 9 September 2019
© UN Photo/Evan Schneider

The United Nations is an international organization founded on 24 October 1945, the date of entry into force of its Charter, signed by 50 States including the Republic of China, the United States, France, the United Kingdom and the USSR.

Through its universal vocation and competence, open to all States, the United Nations constitutes a unique forum where its members can exchange views on all subjects, a "permanent diplomatic conference" (to use the expression of former Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld) enabling us to find areas of agreement and resolve together the problems and challenges we face.

The UN now has 193 member states, with South Sudan joining in 2011.

A state that becomes a member of the UN thus accepts the obligations imposed by the UN Charter, a legal text that sets out the basic principles of international relations.

Under the Charter (Article 1), there are four purposes of the United Nations:

* to maintain international peace and security
* to develop friendly relations among nations
* to achieve international cooperation
* to be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations

Article 2 sets out the principles:

* sovereign equality of Member States
* compliance with Charter obligations
* peaceful settlement of international disputes
* renouncing aggression
* assistance by Member States to actions taken by the Organization
* non-interference

The Organization uses six official languages in its intergovernmental meetings and documents: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish. The two working languages of the Secretariat are English and French.

The United Nations system, which is sometimes also referred to as the "United Nations family", includes :

- Six principal organs:

• the Security Council
• the General Assembly
• the Economic and Social Council
• the Trusteeship Council
• the International Court of Justice (ICJ)
• the Secretariat

They all sit in New York, with the exception of the ICJ, which is based in The Hague (Netherlands).

- United Nations programmes and funds, such as the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) or the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which work in the service of development, humanitarian assistance and human rights.

- Specialized agencies, independent but working with the UN, whose activities target a wide range of sectors, from health (WHO) and agriculture (FAO) to international aviation (ICAO) and meteorology (WMO). Linked to the United Nations by special agreements, the specialized agencies coordinate their activities with the United Nations, but are separate from it and maintain their autonomy.

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The United Nations System charter
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Dernière modification : 23/03/2020

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