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UN’s Contribution to the World?

Current Affairs & Static GK
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In this article, we will discuss the UN’s contribution to the world at large in the fields of health, economy, safety, peace, social development etc.

Peace and Security

  • Maintaining Peace and Security: By sending peacekeeping and observer missions to the world’s trouble spots over the past six decades, the United Nations has been able to restore calm, allowing many countries to recover from conflict.
  • Preventing Nuclear Proliferation: For over the five decades, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has served as the world’s nuclear inspector. IAEA experts work to verify that safeguarded nuclear material is used only for peaceful purposes. To date, the Agency has safeguards agreements with more than 180 States.
  • Supporting Disarmament: UN treaties are the legal backbone of disarmament efforts:
    • the Chemical Weapons Convention-1997 has been ratified by 190 States,
    • the Mine-Ban Convention-1997 by 162,
    • and the Arms Trade Treaty-2014 by 69.
    • At the local level, UN peacekeepers often work to implement disarmament agreements between warring parties.
  • Preventing genocide: The United Nations brought about the first-ever treaty to combat genocide—acts committed with the intent to destroy a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.
    • The 1948 Genocide Convention has been ratified by 146 States, which commits to prevent and punish actions of genocide in war and in peacetime. The UN tribunals for Yugoslavia and Rwanda, as well as UN-supported courts in Cambodia, have put would-be genocide perpetrators on notice that such crimes would no longer be tolerated.
  • Uniting for Peace Resolution: About: UN General Assembly resolution 377(V) is known as the Uniting for peace resolution which was adopted in 1950.
    • The most important part of resolution is section A which states that where the Security Council, because of lack of unanimity of the permanent members, fails to exercise its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, the General Assembly shall seize itself of the matter.
    • The Uniting for Peace resolution was initiated by the United States, in October 1950, as a means of circumventing further Soviet vetoes during the course of the Korean War.

Economic Development

  • Promoting Development: Since 2000, promoting living standards and human skills and potential throughout the world have been guided by the Millennium Development Goals.
    • The UN Development Programme (UNDP) supports more than 4,800 projects to reduce poverty, promote good governance, address crises and preserve the environment.
    • The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) works in more than 150 countries, primarily on child protection, immunization, girls’ education and emergency aid.
    • The UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) helps developing countries make the most of their trade opportunities.
    • The World Bank provides developing countries with loans and grants, and has supported more than 12,000 projects in more than 170 countries since 1947.
  • Alleviating Rural Poverty: The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) provides low-interest loans and grants to very poor rural people.
  • Focusing on African Development: Africa continues to be a high priority for the United Nations. The continent receives 36 per cent of UN system expenditures for development, the largest share among the world’s regions. All UN agencies have special programmes to benefit Africa.
  • Promoting Women’s Well-being: UN Women is the UN organization dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women.
  • Fighting Hunger: The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) leads global efforts to defeat hunger. FAO also helps developing countries to modernize and improve agriculture, forestry and fisheries practices in ways that conserve natural resources and improve nutrition.
  • Commitment in Support of Children: UNICEF has pioneered to provide vaccines and other aid desperately needed by children caught in armed conflict. The Convention on the Rights of the Child-1989 has become law in nearly all countries.
  • Tourism: The World Tourism Organization is the UN agency responsible for the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism.
    • Its Global Code of Ethics for Tourism seeks to maximize the benefits of tourism while minimizing its negative impact.
  • Global Think Tank: The United Nations is at the forefront of research that seeks solutions to global problems.
    • The UN Population Division is a leading source of information and research on global population trends, producing up-to-date demographic estimates and projections.
    • The UN Statistics Division is the hub of the global statistical system, compiling and disseminating global economic, demographic, social, gender, environment and energy statistics.
    • The United Nations Development Programme’s annual Human Development Report provides independent, empirically grounded analyses of major development issues, trends and policies, including the groundbreaking Human Development Index.
    • The United Nations World Economic and Social Survey, the Word Bank’s World Development Report, the International Monetary Fund’s World Economic Outlook and other studies help policymakers to make informed decisions.

Social Development

  • Preserving Historic, Cultural, Architectural and Natural Sites: The UNESCO has helped 137 countries to protect ancient monuments and historic, cultural and natural sites.
    • It has negotiated international conventions to preserve cultural property, cultural diversity and outstanding cultural and natural sites. More than 1,000 such sites have been designated as having exceptional universal value – as World Heritage Sites.
  • Taking the lead on global issues:
    • The first United Nations conference on the environment (Stockholm, 1972) helped to alert world public opinion on the dangers faced by our planet, triggering action by governments.
    • The first world conference on women (Mexico City, 1985) put women’s right, equality and progress on the global agenda.
    • Other landmark events include the first international conference on human rights (Teheran, 1968), the first world population conference (Bucharest, 1974) and the first world climate conference (Geneva, 1979).
    • Those events brought together experts and policymakers, as well as activists, from around the world, prompting sustained global action.
    • Regular follow-up conferences have helped to sustain the momentum.

Human Rights

  • UN General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.
    • It has helped to enact dozens of legally binding agreements on political, civil, economic, social and cultural rights.
    • UN human rights bodies have focused world attention on cases of torture, disappearance, arbitrary detention and other violations.
  • Fostering Democracy: The UN promotes and strengthens democratic institutions and practices around the world, including by helping people in many countries to participate in free and fair elections.
    • In the 1990s, the UN organized or observed landmark elections in Cambodia, El Salvador, South Africa, Mozambique and Timor-Leste.
    • More recently, the UN has provided crucial assistance in elections in Afghanistan, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, Nepal, Sierra Leone and Sudan.
  • Ending Apartheid in South Africa: By imposing measures ranging from an arms embargo to a convention against segregated sporting events, the United Nations was a major factor in bringing about the downfall of the apartheid system.
    • In 1994, elections in which all South Africans were allowed to participate on an equal basis led to the establishment of a multiracial Government.
  • Promoting Women’s Rights: The 1979 UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, ratified by 189 countries, has helped to promote the rights of women worldwide.


  • Climate change is a global problem that demands a global solution. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which brings together 2,000 leading climate change scientists, issues comprehensive scientific assessments every five or six years.
    • IPCC was established in 1988 under the auspices of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization for the purpose of assessing “the scientific, technical and socioeconomic information relevant for the understanding of the risk of human-induced climate change.
    • UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) provides foundation for UN members to negotiate agreements to reduce emissions that contribute to climate change and help countries adapt to its effects. (UNFCCC-1992 is an international environmental treaty adopted and opened for signature at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) in 1992.)
    • Global Environment Facility, which brings together 10 UN agencies, funds projects in developing countries.
  • Protecting the Ozone Layer: The UNEP and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) have been instrumental in highlighting the damage caused to Earth’s ozone layer.
    • Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer-1985 provided the framework necessary to create regulatory measures for international reductions in the production of chlorofluorocarbons. Convention provided foundation for Montreal protocol.
    • The Montreal Protocol-1987 is an international environmental agreement with universal ratification to protect the earth’s ozone layer by eliminating use of ozone depleting substances (ODS) such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and halons.
      • Kigali amendment (to the Montreal Protocol)-2016: was adopted to phase down production and consumption of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) worldwide.
  • Banning Toxic Chemicals: The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants-2001 seeks to rid the world of some of the most dangerous chemicals ever created.

International Law

  • Prosecuting War Criminals: By prosecuting and convicting war criminals, the UN tribunals established for the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda have helped to expand international humanitarian and international criminal law dealing with genocide and other violations of international law.
    • The International Criminal Court is an independent permanent court that investigates and prosecutes persons accused of the most serious international crimes—genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes—if national authorities are unwilling or unable to do so.
  • Helping to Resolve Major International Disputes: By delivering judgments and advisory opinions, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) has helped to settle international disputes involving territorial questions, maritime boundaries, diplomatic relations, State responsibility, the treatment of aliens and the use of force, among others.
  • Stability and Order in the World’s Oceans:
    • The 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, which has gained nearly universal acceptance, provides the legal framework for all activities in the oceans and seas.
    • It also includes mechanisms for settling disputes.
  • Combating International Crime: The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) works with countries and organizations to counter transnational organized crime by providing legal and technical assistance to fight corruption, money-laundering, drug trafficking and smuggling of migrants, as well as by strengthening criminal justice systems.
    • It has played a key role in brokering and implementing relevant international Treaties, such as the UN Convention against Corruption-2005 and the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime-2003.
    • It works to reduce the supply of and demand for illicit drugs under the three main UN conventions on drug control:
      • the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961 (amended 1972),
      • the Convention on Psychotropic Substances-1971,
      • and the United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances-1988
  • Encouraging Creativity and Innovation: The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) promotes the protection of intellectual property rights and ensures that all countries are in a position to harness the benefits of an effective intellectual property system.

Humanitarian Affairs

  • Assisting refugees: Refugees fleeing persecution, violence and war have received aid from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
    • UNHCR seeks long-term or “durable” solutions by helping refugees repatriate to their homelands, if conditions warrant, or by helping them to integrate in their countries of asylum or to resettle in third countries.
    • Refugees, asylum-seekers and internally displaced persons, mostly women and children, are receiving food, shelter, medical aid, education, and repatriation assistance from the UN.
  • Aiding Palestinian Refugees: UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), a relief and human development agency, has assisted four generations of Palestinian refugees with education, health care, social services, microfinance and emergency aid.
  • Reducing the Effects of Natural Disasters: The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has helped to spare millions of people from the calamitous effects of natural and man-made disasters.
    • Its early warning system, which includes thousands of surface monitors, as well as satellites,
      • has made it possible to predict with greater accuracy weather-related disasters,
      • has provided information on the dispersal of oil spills and chemical and nuclear leaks and has predicted long-term droughts.
  • Providing Food to the Neediest: The World Food Programme (WFP) is fighting hunger worldwide, delivering food assistance in emergencies and working with communities to improve nutrition and build resilience.


  • Promoting Reproductive and Maternal Health: United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) is promoting the right of individuals to make their own decisions on the number and spacing of their children through voluntary family planning programmes.
  • Responding to HIV/AIDS: United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) coordinates global action against an epidemic that affects some 35 million people.
  • Wiping Out Polio: Poliomyelitis has been eliminated from all but three countries—Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan—as a result of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.
  • Eradicating Smallpox: A 13-year effort by the World Health Organization (WHO) resulted in smallpox being declared officially eradicated from the planet in 1980.
  • Fighting Tropical Diseases:
    • WHO programme – African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control reduced levels of river blindness (onchocerciasis) in 10 West African countries while opening up 25 million hectares of fertile land to farming.
      • Guinea-worm disease is on the verge of being eradicated.
      • Schistosomiasis and sleeping sickness are now under control.
      • Halting the Spread of Epidemics
    • Some of the more prominent diseases for which WHO is leading the global response for some of the more prominent diseases including Ebola, meningitis, yellow fever, cholera and influenza, including avian influenza.

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