This article is written by A. Jonah Elisa Shiny.
Table of Contents
For 70 years, the United Nations has worked on the frontlines everyday around the world on the pillars of Human Rights, Peace, Security and development. In its 75th year, however, the United Nations is in a difficult moment as the world faces climate crisis, a global pandemic, great power competition, trade wars, economic depression and a wider breakdown in International cooperation. In addition to maintaining International peace and security, the United Nations protects human rights, delivers humanitarian aid, promotes Sustainable development and upholds International law. This article explains the chronological events for the establishment of the United Nations, the major principles, legality and achievements of the United Nations, its major contribution towards the world and other developing countries like India for the betterment of the society at the global level.
Yaadum Oore Yaavarum Kelir (To us, all villages are one, all people are kin)
-Kaniyan Poongundranar (Tamil Philosopher)
The main idea behind the creation of the United Nations is to promote peace, dignity and Equality on a healthy planet and it is similar to the ideas of Kaniyan Poongundranar from the Sangam Age (6th Century BCE- 1st CE), an influential Tamil Philosopher who had Quoted in his literature ‘Purananuru’ that all the people are kith and kin, all people are World Citizens. The failure of the League of Nations on the one hand and the horror ruthless destruction caused by the second world war on the other hand disturbed many minds, especially in allied countries.
They expressed the desire to establish peace even when the war was in progress. The first ‘Declaration by United Nations’ dates back to January 1, 1942, when representatives of twenty –six nations pledged their governments to continue fighting together to defeat the Axis Powers and to obtain a “ just “ peace. Deliberations became intense after the termination of the war which resulted in the creation of the United Nations Organization on October 24,1945.
The United Nations was therefore founded in the ashes of a war that brought untold sorrow to mankind. The Basic issue with which the drafters of the United Nations charter dealt was, in essence, unchanged from the one Woodrow Wilson and his European counterparts had faced in 1918-1919. They wanted to create an Organizations that would, indeed, be a definite guaranty of Peace.
WORLD WAR –II (GLOBAL CONFLICT)
THE GRAND ALLIANCE
The United States
The Great Britain
The Soviet Union
THE AXIS POWERS
- World war II was simply, deadly.
- The estimated Civilian and Military death tolls ran as high as 72 million.
- The deeper impact of the war on global and national economies, as well as on political structures around the globe, was profound.
- European empires collapsed either during or as a result of the war.
- The United Nations and the Soviet Union emerged as the strongest nations on earth.
- Germany and Japan were occupied and militarily emasculated.
- In sum, the world was transformed.
- The United Nations was created, in part, to manage that transformation.
Chronological events towards the establishment of the United Nations
The important events leading to the establishment of the United Nations are as follows:
- Declaration of St. James Palace (1941).
- Atlantic Charter (1941).
- United Nations Declaration(1942).
- Moscow Declaration (1943).
- Tehran Declaration (1943).
- Dumbarton Oaks Conference (1944).
- Yalta Conference (1945).
- San Francisco Conference (1945).
Importance of the United Nations Charter
The preamble of the United Nations is preceded by the words ‘Charter of the United Nations’. It indicated the title of that legal instrument and the name of the Organization constituted by it. The Charter is a multilateral treaty, albeit a treaty having certain special characteristics. The term ‘ Charter’ was regarded as more appropriate designation of the constitution of the International Community than the covenant, the name given to the Statute of the league of Nations. The term ‘ charter ‘ refers to the contents of the treaty whereas the term Covenant refers to the contract form of the contents.
The preamble of the United Nations Charter has set forth the basic aims of the United Nations which are:
- To save succeeding generations from the scourge of war.
- To reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights.
- To establish Justice and respect for International Obligations
- To promote social progress and better standard of life.
The purposes for which the United Nations was established are laid down in Article 1 of the Charter. They are as follows:
- To maintain international peace and security.
- To develop friendly relations among Nations.
- To achieve International Cooperation.
- To make the United Nations on International forum for Harmonisation.
When the United Nations was established, the principle of Self- determination was invoked within it to end colonialism. The United Nations Charter under Article 1 (para 2), Article 55 laid down that to develop friendly relations among nations based on the Principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples shall be one of its purposes.
The International Court of Justice in the case concerning East Timor (Portugal v Australia) has also observed that the principle of Self- determination of peoples has been recognized by the United Nations charter and in the Jurisprudence of the Court, it is one of the essential principles of Contemporary International law.
Self –determination of peoples used in Article 1, para 2 means only sovereignty of states. Thus, in the general sense, Self-determination involves accession to independent statehood for those people who were subjected to colonial domination or to people who inhabit a non- self-governing territory.
The principle of Self-determination has two aspects, viz; External and Internal. By virtue of external aspect, the people of a nation determine their International political status themselves either by Secession or by the formation of an independent State. The internal aspect recognizes their right in their economic, social and cultural fields.
The United Nations Declaration on the granting of Independence to colonial countries and People’s addressed the right to self-determination to territories under colonial possession. The International Court of Justice endorsed this view in the Namibia case (1970) and in the Western Sahara Case (1975).
In both cases, the court found that the declaration of the General Assembly only affirmed the Principle of Equal rights and self-determination as a policy in relation to trust and non-self-governing territories. This principle has also been endorsed by the Court in the east Timor case.
During the Second half of the twentieth Century the International law of Self –determination developed in such a way as to create a right to independence for the peoples of non-self-governing territories and peoples subject to alien subjugation, domination and exploitation.
Article 1, Para 3 of the Charter lays down two purposes of the United Nations which are closely related to each other.
- To achieve ‘International co-operation in Solving International Problems of an economic, social, cultural or humanitarian character’ and;
- International Co-operation in Promoting and encouraging respect for human rights, and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction to race, sex, language or religion.
Essential principles of the United Nations
The Charter laid down the basic principles under Article 2 on which the Organisation is founded. These principles are the general obligations which bind each member State,a nd the Organisation as a whole. They are as follows:
- The Principle of Sovereign Equality.
- The Principle of the fulfillment of Obligation.
- The Principle of Peaceful Settlement of International Disputes.
- The Principle of Non-use of force.
- The Principle of Assistance to the United Nations.
- The Principle for Non-member States.
- The Principle of Non- Intervention in Domestic Matters of a state.
United Nations- a distinct legal personality
The United Nations possess a distinct legal personality. The International Court of Justice in an advisory opinion on Reparation for Injuries Suffered in the Service of the United Nations considered the Judicial nature of the United Nations. The Court was of the opinion that the States which set it up had the Power, in conformity with International law to bring into being an entity Possessing objective International Personality.
The United Nations possess only those Special capacities as conferred upon it by particular Provisions of the Charter. These provisions clearly show that the United Nations Possess Juridical Personality in the field of International law as well as in the field of the national laws of the member States.
1. Juridical personality under International law
Article 26, Article 43(3), Article 57(1), Article 63(1), Article 75, Article 77, Article 79 – all these articles of the United Nations Charter signifies the juridical personality of the United Nations under International law.
2. Juridical personality under National laws of the members
Article 104, Article 105 signifies that the United Nations possess the Juridical Personality in the field of the national laws of the members. The Convention on Privileges and Immunities gives a detailed enumeration of the Privileges and Immunities which shall be granted to the representatives of the members of the United Nations.
Major Achievements of the United Nations
- Avoidance of the Third World War.
- Promotion and Protection of Human Rights.
- Conclusion of Conventions & Treaties.
- Thinking for the Third Generation.
- Economic, Social and Cultural Development.
- Respect for International law.
The Charter of the United Nations in order to meet the challenges of the Present time is required to be amended. Reforms in the structure of the United Nations and its working system is desirably to be made so that all the member states may participate in all the decisions of the Organization. The Principle of Sovereign Equality of member States and the democratization of the United Nations system as a whole should be followed. It may be stated that reforms may be made by making amendments in the Charter.
Organs of the United Nations
The United Nations (U.N) is an International Organization founded in 1945. It is currently made up of 193 member states. It’s mission and work guided by the purposes and principles contained in its founding charter and implemented by its various organs and specialized agencies. Its activities include maintaining International peace and security, Protecting human rights, delivering humanitarian aid, Promoting Sustainable development and upholding International law. The forerunner of the United Nations was the League of Nations, an organization conceived in circumstances of the First World War, and established in 1919 under the Treaty of Versailles to promote International Cooperation and to achieve Peace and Security.
The name “United Nations” coined by the United States, President Franklin D. Roosevelt. A document called the declaration by United Nations was signed in 1942 by 26 nations, pledging their Governments to continue fighting together against the Axis Powers (Rome- Berlin- Tokyo Axis) and bound them against making a Separate peace. The United Nations Conference on International Organization (1945) held in San Francisco (U.S.A) was attended by representatives of 50 countries and signed the United Nations charter. The United Nations Charter of 1945 is the foundational treaty of the United Nations, as an Intergovernmental Organization.
The main organs of the United Nations are:
- The General Assembly;
- The Security Council;
- The Economic and Social Council;
- The trusteeship Council;
- The International Court of Justice;
- The United Nations Secretariat.
Here are the functions of the main organs of the United Nations :
- The General Assembly is the main deliberative, policymaking and representative organ of the United Nations.
- The Security Council has primary responsibility under the United Nations Charter, for the maintenance of international peace and security.
- The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) 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. Each year, ECOSOC structures its work around an annual theme of global importance to Sustainable development.
- The Trusteeship Council was established in 1945 by the UN charter, under Chapter XIII. Trust territory is a non-self governing territory placed under an administrative authority by the Trusteeship Council of the United Nations.
- The International Court of Justice is the principal Judicial Organ of the United Nations.
- The Secretariat comprises the Secretary-General and tens of thousands of International U.N staff members who carry out the day-to-day work of the United Nations as mandated by the General Assembly and the Organizations other Principal Organs.
The UN System, also known unofficially as the U.N. family is made up of the United Nations itself (6 main Organs) and many affiliated programmes, funds and specialized agencies, all with their own membership, leadership and budget.
United Nations’ funds and programmes
- UNICEF- United Nations Children’s Educational Fund.
- UNFPA – United Nations Population Fund.
- UNEP – United Nations Environment Programme.
- UN-HABITAT – United Nations Human Settlements Programme.
UNITED NATION’S SPECIALIZED AGENCIES
United Nations’ contribution to the world
- Peace and Security;
- Economic Development;
- Human Rights;
- International law;
- Humanitarian Affairs;
PEACE AND SECURITY
- Maintaining Peace and Security.
- Preventing Nuclear Proliferation.
- Supporting disarmament.
- Preventing Genocide.
- Promoting Development Millennium Development.
- Alleviating Rural Poverty.
- Focusing on African Development.
- Promoting Women’s Wellbeing.
- Fighting Hunger.
- Commitment in Support of Children.
- Global Think Tank.
- Preserving Historic, Cultural, Architectural & Natural sites.
- Taking the lead on global issues.
United Nations Human Rights bodies have focused World attention on cases of torture, disappearance, arbitrary detention and other violations.
- Fostering Democracy.
- Ending Apartheid in South Africa.
- Promoting Women’s Rights.
- Climate change is a global problem that demands a global solution.
- Protecting the Ozone layer.
- Banning Toxic Chemicals.
- Prosecuting War Criminals.
- Helping to resolve major International disputes.
- Stability and order in the World’s Oceans
- Combating International Crime.
- Encouraging Creativity and Innovation.
- Assisting Refugees.
- Aiding Palestinian Refugees.
- Reducing the Effects of Natural Disasters.
- Providing food to the Neediest.
- Promoting Reproductive & Maternal Health.
- Wiping out Polio.
- Eradicating Smallpox.
- Fighting Tropical Diseases.
United Nations’ contribution to India
United Nations agencies, Offices, Programmes and funds working in India comprise one of the largest United Nations Field networks anywhere in the World. India’s Consistently strong voice for the developing world has made it a major player with the United Nations. Here are the list of committees that are functioning in India for the welfare of the society at large along with the United Nations.
APCTT- The Asian and Pacific Centre for Transfer of Technology.
FAO– Food and Agriculture Organization.
IFAD- International fund for Agricultural Development.
ILO- International labour Organization.
IOM- International Organization for Migration.
UN WOMEN– United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women.
UNDP- United Nations Development Programme.
ESCAP– United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific.
UNESCO– United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation.
UNPA- United National Progressive Alliance.
UN-HABITAT- United Nations Commission on Human Settlements.
UNCF- United Nations Children Fund.
UNIDO- United Nations Industrial Development Organisation.
WFP- World Food Programme.
WHO- World Health Organization.
UNHCR- United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
UNMOGIP- United Nations Military Observer group in India & Pakistan.
UNODC- United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
UNCTAD- United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.
WORLD BANK GROUP
IMF- International Monetary Fund.
ICAO- International Civil Aviation Organisation.
IMO- International Maritime Organisation.
ITU- International Telecommunication Union.
WTO- World Trade Organisation.
UPU- Universal Postal Union.
WMO- World Meteorological Organisation.
WIPO- World Intellectual Property Organisation.
India’s contribution to United Nations
- India has actively cooperative with various principal organs and specialized agencies of the United Nations. India has served a number of two year terms as a agencies of the United Nations.
- Mrs. Vijay Lakshmi Pandit was elected the first Women President of the United Nations General Assembly in 1953.
- India pleaded strongly for speeding up the process of de-colonization in Asia & Africa.
- India, along with other like minded countries played a significant role in the release of French colonies of Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco.
- India is a strong supporter of the United Nations efforts for Protection of Human Rights.
- India has played a consistently Positive and energetic role in United Nations efforts for disarmament and arms control.
- India has always actively supported peace-keeping activities of the United Nations.
- India was considered neutral in the Suez-related Crisis.
United Nations, being the World’s largest democratic body of all nations. It has played a crucial role making this human society more civil, peaceful and secure. Its responsibility towards humanity provides stability in the world. It aims to build a democratic society by preserving the Earth’s Ecosystem in Concern with climate change. The United Nations is a Unique International Character, who can take action on the Issues Confronting humanity in the 21st century such as peace and security, Climate Change, Sustainable Development, human rights, Disarmament, Terrorism, humanitarian and health Emergencies.
Like the human body comprises of the basic organs such as the Heart, Lungs, Liver, Kidneys, Stomach, Intestines, Pancreas for the Proper functioning of the homo sapiens. The United Nations body comprises of important organs such as the General Assembly, Security Council, Trusteeship Council, Secretariat, ECOSOC. The essential and proper functions of the organs in a human body lead to the healthy growth of homo sapiens in the world. The mandatory and proper functions of the United Nations Organs in a United Nations body leads to the development and growth of Homo-economicus in the World.
- Dr. H.O. Agarwal, International Law and Human Rights (365-562), Central Law publications,18th edition 2011
- Dr. S.K. Kapoor, International law and Human Rights(481-624), Central law Agency, 19th edition 2014
- Rashee Jain, Textbook on Human Rights Law and Practice (6-60), Universal law Publishing co. Pvt. Ltd, Second edition, 2014
- Weiss, T. Forsythe, D (1997), The United Nations and Changing World Politics Boulder, co; West view Press
- Richmond, O.P (2007) The Transformation of Peace, London: Palgrave Macmillan
- Diehl, P.F (1994) International Peacekeeping Baltimore, John Hopkins Press
- Charter of the United Nations (1945)
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