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This article is written by Sachi Ashok Bhiwgade, B.A.LLB (Hons.) student of Hidayatullah National Law University, Raipur. This article discusses the importance of the United Nations in the current time and the role it assumes while dealing with international concerns. 


The United Nations is an International organization, concerned with global issues and having a primary objective of maintaining peace and security, cooperation and maintaining friendly relations among the nations. When the League of Nations failed and World War II ended, the United Nations Organization was formed. The United Nations was originally founded by 51 countries at the San Francisco Conference and officially came into existence on 24th October 1945. At present, there are 193 members of the United Nations.

The UN works through its six principal organs- the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Trusteeship Council, the Economic and Social Council, the International Court of Justice, and the Secretariat. In order to ensure that the principles of the UN charter are being followed, each of these organs is vested with a specific role and responsibility that they adhere to. Chapter 1 of the UN Charter mentions the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

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All the member states of the UN are also obliged to follow the principles laid down in the UN Charter. Since its inception, this international organization has been making efforts to prevent conflict and creating conditions that help nations in maintaining tranquillity. 

What does the UN do?

The UN performs five main functions 

  • Maintaining peace and security: The UN was founded with the mission of maintenance of peace and security does so by preventing conflicts in the first place.  
  • Protection of Human Rights: Protecting human rights has been the key purpose of UN, the Preamble and Article 1(3) of the UN Charter provides that the UN shall protect the human rights of all.
  • Provide humanitarian aid: UN provides humanitarian relief operations in areas that are beyond the capacity of the national authority alone. The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is vested with the responsibility to coordinate responses to emergencies.  
  • Upholds International Law. This has been an essential part of the working of the UN organization. The UN Charter is an instrument of International Law and all the member states are bound by it. 
  • Promoting sustainable development: Sustainable development ensures improvement in the quality of life of people. The main focus of the UN is to bring social, economic and environmental development in the world.    

Why the UN is needed?

The United Nations along with its specialized agencies assumes a significant job in keeping up harmony and security of the world nations. The UN specialized agencies like the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), UNICEF, World Health Organization, etc have done noteworthy work in the growth and development of the developed and developing countries. The UN and its Members are continuously taking effective measures for tackling global challenges of the present times. It is a stage that provides a forum for discussion for the members to come to a common understanding. 

The President of the UNGA, Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces in the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly has emphasised the need for humanitarian assistance and funding to curb the critical challenges that the world is facing in contemporary times.

She stated that the multilateral approach that the UN has is essential for the building and maintenance of peace and security and as a President of the UN General Assembly she intends to strengthen the approach of the UN in dealing with these critical issues. In this context, she also discussed the tremendous challenges that are faced by the international community and the role played by the UN. To state a few in regard to the issues of environment and climate change leading to the displacement of millions of people: 

  • 2.8 million people in South Asia have suffered because of weather-related displacement. 
  • Forceful displacement of 68.5 Million people, most affected being the developing nations.   

She told that dialogue, negotiation, and international cooperation gives the most reasonable platform for discussion and reaching agreements of a common understanding. She also emphasized that dialogue and concerted efforts have led to exceptional gains by the international community in development, maintaining peace and security.   

To quote Garces, “the international community, through dialogue and concerted efforts, has made remarkable gains in peacekeeping, peacebuilding, human rights, women peace, and security, youth peace, and security and climate change. Both the Paris Agreement on climate change and Agenda 2030’s Sustainable Development Goals stand as a testament to what the world can deliver when called upon to do so. We need more of this, not less.”

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Specialized Agencies of the UN and their role

Some important specialized agencies of the UN have been discussed below:

  1. United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

UNDP works to achieve Sustainable Development Goals and is funded by voluntary contributions of the member-states.  Presently it is operating in 177 countries. UNDP helps in:

  • Eradicating poverty and improving the quality of life for all;  
  • Reducing inequalities;
  • Reducing the risk of crisis and promotes recovery after the crisis is over;
  • Builds resilience in order to make countries sustain progress;
  • Advances sustainable development growth;
  • Reducing environmental degradation.   

Impact made UNDP

  • 31 million people have better access to services to tackle poverty
  • 20 million people have gained access to financial services
  • There has been a cut 256 million tonnes of carbon emission 

2. United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

UNEP coordinates environmental activities and strengthens environmental standards. Main functions performed by UNEP are: 

  • It enables the nations in improving their quality of life by encouraging them to participate in caring for the environment; 
  • It mainly facilitates the management and restoration of the ecosystem; 
  • supporting the governments in establishing and implementing necessary laws, policies, and programs for achieving sustainable development at the nation and country-level;
  • It aims to minimize the harmful impact of hazardous waste on humans and the environment.
  • It aims to produce, process and use natural resources in an environmental-friendly way.  

3. United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)

UNICEF was established in 1946 and is currently working in 190 countries with the objective of providing every child with a healthy environment and ensuring their education so that they reach their full potential. It is responsible for:

  • Providing development aid to children around the globe;
  • To save children’s lives around the world;
  • To ensure the safety of children from exploitation, abuse and violence;
  • Protecting the rights of migrants and displaced children;
  • Protecting the rights of disabled children and ensuring that they do not face discrimination.

4. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)

The FAO is currently operating in 130 countries and was formed with the objective to fight hunger. The primary functions of FAO are :

  • Eliminating hunger;
  • Ensuring nutrition and  food security; 
  • Ensuring that high-quality food is accessible to all;
  • Ensuring that agriculture is made more productive, sustainable and enable an efficient agricultural system;
  • Sustaining natural resources.

5. World Health Organization (WHO)

The WHO focuses mainly on international public health and nutrition-related issues. Its main functions are:  

  • To attain the highest possible level of health for all.
  • To protect people from health emergencies;
  • Provide access to essential medicines;
  • Detecting and responding to acute health emergencies;
  • Monitoring health situations.

Recently WHO has declared a public health emergency of international concern on the outbreak of coronavirus. 

6. International Monetary Fund (IMF)

The International Monetary Fund was founded in 1944 and has 189 countries as its members. It focuses on providing financial stability to nations and monitors the policies of the member states through the system of Surveillance. The IMF carries out functions necessary to:  

  • To ensure worldwide economic growth;
  • To ensure financial stability by providing loans to countries that are facing financial problems;
  • To encourage global trade;
  • To reduce global poverty;
  • To provide technical assistance to the member countries for building a better economic institution. 

Currently, the IMF has $28 billion in outstanding loans to 74 countries. 

Whether India should get a permanent seat in the UN Security Council?

India joined the United Nations in 1945, two years before its independence under British rule and had also taken an active part in the drafting and preparing the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. Presently there are 5 permanent members in the UN Security Council i.e., the United States, United Kingdom, China, France, and Russia.

In the past, four nations of these five permanent members, except China have supported India to become a permanent member of the UN Security Council. Around July 2011 China expressed its support to India by becoming a member of the UNSC provided ‘India did not associate its bid with Japan’. 

Germany’s ambassador to India Walter J Linder expressed that India is having a population of 1.4 billion and still it is not a permanent member of the UN Security Council. This hurts the credibility of the UN system. India must become a permanent member of the Security Council. France also expressed a similar view, French envoy to the UN said that “India is absolutely needed as a permanent member of the UN Security Council to better reflect contemporary realities.”

Reasons why India Deserve a permanent seat in the UN Security Council

  • India is the second-most populous country in the world with a current population of 1.5 billion. It is the largest democratic and secular nation in the world.
  • After China, India has the largest active armed forces in the world and is a nuclear-weapon country. 
  • India is the 2nd fastest growing economy in the world and in terms of PPP, India is the third-largest in the world.
  • India has made the largest troop contributions to the United Nations Peacekeeping Mission (UNPKO). Today, India has over 5000 peacekeepers deployed in the field. So far, more than 2 lakh Indian troops have served in UNPKO. India has lost the highest number of peacekeepers who had given their lives amongst the countries who have sent their troops for the UNPKO i.e., 164 and has taken part in 46 Peacekeeping missions. 
  • The UN Security Council consists of 15 members (5 permanent, 10 non-permanent) and India has been elected seven times as a non-permanent member in the UN Security Council.


From the above article, it may be concluded that the United Nations is as relevant in the present time as it was at the point when it was established. It is the only organization to have universal membership. 70 years ago UN was created with a vision to make the world a better place than what was before it (UN) was established. 

We do not want to live in a world where military capacity is the only way of protection against aggression. Nations around the globe need an organization that is devoted to the worldwide harmony and wellbeing of people and where important international concerns can be discussed. Still, there are economic, social, gender inequality, poverty and many more challenges in the world that need to be addressed for the purpose of international cooperation which is indispensable. 

The UN since its inception is actively working in this regard for maintaining peace, ensuring development, and cooperation among nations and has devised various initiatives to prevent conflict. From many years arguments criticizing the ideology, policy, and administration are being raised. Rather than questioning the existence of the United Nations, the focus should be on the solution of international issues. No doubt, United Nations is very much relevant and hence, it has been rightly said that “if the United Nations did not exist, then we would have to invent it, so why not use our analytical toolkits to repair it”.


To know more about history, objectives & Principles of UN, please Click Here.

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