THE UNITED NATIONS ORGANISATION
ORIGIN OF U.N.O.
The United Nations Organisation came into existence in 1945. This was as a result of the failure of the League of Nations, formed in 1919, after the First World War(1914-18), to prevent the outbreak of another war e.g. the Second World War of (1939-45). U.S.A ., Britain, China, Soviet Union and France and about 50 other states came together to draw a charter on 24 october 1945, at San Francisco in U.S.A. The essence of this charter was the desire to maintain peace and security among Nations of the world.
Admission into U.N.O is open and currently there are about 193 Nations making up the body. Nigeria was the 99th member and was admitted after her Independence. It is open to all peace loving nations of the world.
THE PRINCIPLES OF U.N.O
- Settlement of disputes: International disputes are to be settled by peaceful means and it must be done in such a way as to avoid endangering international peace and security.
- Principle of sovereign equality: United Nations Organisation is based on the principle of sovereign equality of member states.
- Military Assistance: The organization has the capacity to provide military assistance when it is called to do so.
- Speaking with one voice: Members of the body has to agree in good faith to fulfill the obligation as obtained in the charter.
- Unity and cooperation among Nations: This is to be harmonized in the areas of solving international problems, eradication of threats and causes of wars.
- Promotion of democratic principles: Democratic principles should be promoted through observing elections held in member states, donation of election materials, and military rule to be discouraged in its entirety.
- Maintenance of international peace and security: The organization is to ensure that members and non-members do not comport themselves in a manner that could be detrimental to the maintenance of international peace and security.
- Loyalty among members: Members are to refrain from assisting any state or nation that the organization is enforcing or taking compelling obedience, but to assist the body in any action it takes that are in conformity with the organisation’s charter.
- The use of force: This should be discouraged among the members in their international relations as such may be contrary to the workings and purposes of the world body.
AIMS AND OBJECTIVES OF THE U.N.O
- To maintain international peace and security.
- To promote and encourage respect for Human Rights and fundamental freedom for all races internationally.
- To promote economic and social advancement of all people.
- To develop friendly relations among states based on mutual respect, equal rights and self-determination of people.
- To encourage and achieve international . cooperation in solving international problems economic, social, cultural and humanitarian.
- To accelerate the independence of trust territories.
- To settle disputes: Disputes must be settled among member states by peaceful means.
- Total respect: Total respect to the Sovereignty of members state must be put in place.
THE ORGANS OF THE U.N.O
The following are the main organs ofU.N.O.
- The General Assembly.
- The Security Council.
- The Secretariat.
- The Trusteeship Council.
- The International Court of Justice.
- The Economic and Social Council.
a) The General Assembly
The General Assembly is made up of all member states. Five representatives are drawn from each member state into the Assembly. They meet once in a year but there could be a special session, if the security council or a majority of member states request for it. Consensus on issues or matters are achieved by simple majority. A president is elected from one of the member states to head the Assembly for a term of one year and it is rotated among member states.
Aims of the General Assembly
- Peace and security: To maintain international peace and security.
- Respect fo Human Right: To promote and encourage respect for Human Rights and fundamental freedom for all.
- Economic advancement: To promote economic and social advancement of all peoples.
- To develop friendly relations among states based on mutual respect, equal rights and self-determination.
- To encourage international cooperation in solving international problems.
Functions of the General Assembly
- Deliberative functions: It discusses issues pertaining to world peace and security, passes resolutions and recommends same to the security council.
- Voting: It has the power to vote on issues of international importance.
- Approval of annual budget: It discusses and approves the annual budget of the U.N.O.
- Approval of key appointments: It can approve key appointments e.g. the Secretary-General of the organization.
- Controls of all activities: It controls the activities of the specialized agencies of the U.N.O. e.g. UNESCO and WHO.
- Considers annual reports: It considers the annual reports of various commissions and specialized agencies.
- Admission: It admits new members into the organization.
- Election: It elects non-permanent members into the security council and judges of International Court of Justice.
- Amendment: It can amend the U.N.O. charter.
- It initiates studies and makes recommendations concerning development and codification of international law.
- Review of issues: The General Assembly reviews issues that relate to the functions and the power of the other organs of the organization.
- Suspension: It has the power to suspend or expel any erring member state of U.N.O.
- Election of members: In conjunction with the Security Council, it elects members of other organs and agencies of the organization. For e.g. non-permanent members into the Security Council, judges of International Court of Justice (ICJ) and Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)
- Peace and security: It alerts the Security Council of any situation likely to endanger international peace and security.
b) The Security Council
The Security Council is one of the organs of U.N.O. and it is assumed to be the most powerful of all the organs, making up the organisation. Formerly, it was made up of 5 permanent and 6 non-permanent members, but it was enlarged in 1965, bringing 6 non-permanent members to 10, making it 15 members. The permanent members are; U.S.A ., Britain, Russia, China and France. The 10 non-permanent members are elected for a term of two years from among the member states. A retiring member is not eligible for immediate re-election.
Functions of the Security Council
- Peace and security: It’s main responsibility is to ensure world peace and security.
- It investigates disputes and suggests ways of finding solutions to them.
- It selects candidates for the post of Secretary-General and recommends him to the General Assembly for approval.
- Judges of the world court: They are elected by the security council in conjunction with the General Assembly.
- It approves application from nations: The security council ratifies application from state seeking membership of the organization.
- The security council calls upon states to settle their disputes by negotiation mediation, conciliation, arbitration or judicial settlement or other peaceful means.
- The council recommends to states appropriate procedures of adjudication of disputes which will likely endanger the maintenance of international security.
- The council determines whether any situation threatens world peace and to take necessary measures of restoring international peace.
- The security council takes diplomatic, economic and other measures that can give effects to its decisions, and to employ air, naval or land forces to maintain and restore international peace.
The Veto: Each of the 5 permanent members of the security council, has a veto. The veto is a “No” vote. A veto by any of the 5, blocks any issue under discussion.
IMPORTANCE OF VETO POWER TO THE FIVE PERMANENT MEMBERS OF THE SECURITY COUNCIL
- Agreement: To bring the 5 permanent members into agreement on important security and world issues and ensures universality of interest.
- Collective responsibility: To give the five permanent members collective responsibility for world peace.
- Prevention: To prevent action of one permanent member resulting to wars of world wide dimension.
- Compensation: To compensate the permanent members for their financial, military and human investments to the United Nations Organisation (UNO).
- Effectiveness: To make for the effectiveness of the Security Council.
c) The Secretariat
The Secretariat is the administrative unit of the U.N.O. The U.N.O headquarters is in New York. It is headed by the Secretary-General of the organisation. He stays in office for 5 years term and could be re-elected. The following are the past Secretary-Generals of the organisation: Trygie Lie of Norway (1946-53), Dag Hammarskjold of Sweden (1953-61), U. Thant of Burma (1961-72), Kurt Waldeim of Austria (1972-82), Javier Perez de Cuellar of Peru (1982-92), Boutros, Boutros Ghali of Egypt (1993-98). Dr. Koffi Annan of Ghana (1998-2006). He was succeeded by Mr. Ban ki moon of Korea as the next Secretary-General.
Functions of the Secretariat
- Correspondence: It handles all correspondence of the organisation.
- Administrative functions: It performs the administrative functions of the U.N.O.
- Preparation of annual reports: It prepares the annual reports on the activities of the organisation, and implements the programme and budget of the fiscal year.
- Provision of the administrative and technical services needed, by the specialized commissions of the U.N.O.
- It makes available all the facilities needed for all meetings of the organisation.
Functions of the Secretary-General
- Chief Administrative Officer: He is the chief administrative officer of the organisation.
- Agenda: He prepares the agenda for the General Assembly.
- Annual Reports: He makes the annual report to the General Assembly on the work of the United Nations.
- Appointment of staff: The Secretary General appoints other members of staff under the guidance of the General Assembly.
- Peace-Keeping: He administers peacekeeping operations world-wide.
- Conferences: He organises international conferences on problems of world wide concern. e.g. UNICEF.
- Annual budget: The annual budget of the organisation is prepared by the Secretary General.
- Maintenance of international peace and security: He brings to the attention of the Security Council any matter which, in his opinion may threaten the maintenance of world peace and security.
d) The Trusteeship Council
This council is made up of the following members of the United Nations:
- Member-nations of U.N.O responsible for administering trust territories.
- France, China, USSR, Britain and the U.S.A. which are not part of the nations administering trust territories.
- Other member-nations of the U.N.O. elected for a three year term by the General Assembly. Trust territories are therefore territories placed under the international trusteeship system and which may take the following form:
- Voluntarily by states responsible for their administration.
- Detached from enemy states as a result of the last war( 1939-45) and placed in that category.
- Held under mandate and placed under the trusteeship system by means of agreements. e.g. Namibia got her independence in 1989 but until then was a trust territory administered by South Africa. At the expiration of the administering period, South Africa refused granting Namibia its Independence. The South West Africa People’s Organisation (SWAPO) under the leadership of Sam Nujoma ( now the president of Namibia) then, had to start fighting South Africa before the U.N.O. came in and Namibia was able to gain her independence.
Functions of the Trusteeship Council
- Supervision of the trust territories: To guarantee the supervision, and the administration of the trust territories.
- Promotion of the advancement of the people: This council helps in promoting the economic, social, political and educational development of these people.
- Self-government: To work towards encouraging them for a sustainable self-government.
- Reports: To receive reports from states administering these trust territories and petitions from the administered territories and to study these reports for consideration.
- Assessment visits: The council pays regular visit to territories officially for assessment.
e) International Court of Justice
This is the World Court with its headquarters in the Hague, Netherlands. It has 15 judges elected by the General Assembly and the Security council. A candidate is elected on securing a majority of the votes of both the Assembly and Security Council. Judges are elected for a term of nine years and could be re-elected. The decisions of this court are always binding on member-states in dispute. However, in the charter, all member nations of U.N.O. have agreed to comply with the decisions of the court, and if a party to a case refused to comply, the. matter would be referred to the Security Council for necessary action. A president is elected by members of the court. Two Nigerians – Taslim Elias and Daddy Onyeama, were one time members of the body. Another Nigerian, Bola Ajibola was also appointed to complete Taslim Elias’ term, after his demise.
Functions of the International Court of Justice
- Main judicial organ: This court is the paramount judicial organ of U.N.O.
- It settles disputes: It hears and settles disputes between states on international level.
- Provision of legal advice: The court gives legal advice to the U.N.O. and the specialised agencies.
- It makes the decisions of the court binding on member-states in dispute.
f) The Economic and Social Council
This council is made up of 27 members of the U.N.O. They are elected by the General Assembly. Members serve for nine years and settlement of issues or matters are reached by simple majority vote.
Functions of the Economic and Social Council
- Conduct research: They carry out studies on issues like education, health, economic, cultural, social, etc and recommend same to the General Assembly and to the U.N.O.
- Preparation of reports: They are also responsible for the preparation of reports on the activities of all U.N. agencies.
- It makes recommendation for promoting respect for Human Rights and freedom for all.
- International conferences: It calls international conferences on economic and social matters.
- It involves in co-ordinating the activities of specialized agencies e.g. Food and Agricultural Organisation.
SPECIALISED AGENCIES OF U.N.O
These are agencies that are autonomous and are existing under the banner or umbrella of the U.N.O. The existence of these organisations are mostly based on agreements and cooperation among a good number of states. Membership varies from one agency to another. Most of the activities of these agencies are coordinated by the Economic and social council. Examples of these specialized Agencies are:
- I.L.O – International Labour Organisation.
- FAO – Food and Agricultural Organisation.
- WHO – World Health Organisation.
- IBRD – International Bank for Reconstruction and Development(World Bank).
- UNESCO – United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation.
- UPU – Universal Postal Union.
- UNICEF – United Nations International Children Emergency Fund.
- IMF – International Monetary Fund.
PURPOSES OF THE AGENCIES
- To reduce international conflict: As a result of the activities of these agencies, international conflicts are reduced to the barest minimum.
- Integration of Interests: Another purpose is to integrate the interests of the various nations.
- To promote world peace: There was the general belief that world peace would be promoted and maintained if there were common interests, shared by these agencies.
- To bring nations together: There was also the belief that these Agencies would go beyond national boundaries and harmonize interests of diverse nature.
- Creation of a world community: Also that through these agencies a world community would emerge and nations would no more resort to war to resolve conflicts.
A) United Nations International Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF)
- As children are worst victims from attack of major diseases, this body supplies drugs and equipment to combat such.
- Coordination: It helps in the coordination and in setting up of health activities, nutrition and welfare of children in developing countries.
- Cooperation: To work cooperatively with I.L.O (International Labour Organisation) in the areas of occupational health.
- Supplies materials to schools: It supplies materials and equipments that can help in training of children.
- Assistance in time of emergencies: It makes available funds to assist in times of emergencies.
B) The World Health Organisation (WHO)
This body was established in 1948 with the headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. It was established for the following reasons:
- Training of medical personnel: In order to assist member nations in training of medical personnel.
- Method of teaching: To improve on the methods of teaching and training of health personnel.
- To improve the health sector: To contribute in sending medical team to countries in need and also help to improve the health sector of such countries.
- Creation of standard: To assist in creating standards for the quality and dosage of drugs.
- To improve on the knowledge people have about health and creating a standard world wide.
- Drug Administration and control: To control the modalities used by drug manufacturers and the distribution channel of dangerous drugs.
- Disease monitoring: To report the outbreak of infectious and killer diseases like small pox, AIDS, measles, cholera, etc, to countries of the world.
- Control: To suggest ways of controlling the spread of such infectious killer diseases.
- Life improvement: To improve the condition of people and their life-style in the areas of sanitation, recreation, economies, nutrition, housing, etc.
- Coordination: To assist in coordinating the activities ofhealth workers, globally.
- Epidemic diseases: To assist in the eradication of epidemic diseases world wide.
- Unity of nations: To unite the strength of nations of the world in the area ofhealth.
- Provision of materials: To provide materials and other aids to countries to help in developing their health sector.
C) International Labour Organisation (I.L.O)
This Agency was established in 1919 by the League of Nations with headquarters in Geneva.
Aims of the Organization
- Improvement of workers: To see to the improvementofworkers’ condition world wide.
- Standard of living: To assist in some ways in improving workers standard ofliving.
- Rights of workers: To encourage most governments of the world on the need to respect workers’ rights, liberties and freedom.
- Child labour: International labour organization campaigns against injustice, slavery and child-labour.
- To advice on Labour: Experts drawn from this body are of assistance to advise third world countries on matters relating to labour.
- Training: Training is organised especially in technical areas.
- Representatives: Workers, governments and employers of labour have their representatives in this agency.
- Celebrate workers day: It celebrates may 1st of every year as workers’ day world wide. Every government is therefore, encouraged to respect this.
- Promotion of economic and social stability: The other function of this body is to enhance the promotion of economic and social stability.
- Research: It conducts research in the fields of man power and vocational training.
- Information: It mobilizes employers of labour, workers and government representatives, to inform and deliberate on labour issues.
D) Food and Agricultural Organization (F.A.O)
- Production of food: This organization helps the members to grow more food.
- Provide advice: The organization provides useful advice on food storage, fertilizer usage and soil erosion.
- Relief materials: It sends relief materials in form of food and money to disaster areas.
- Co-ordination of efforts: Food and Agricultural Organization co-ordinates the efforts of some technical agencies, governments, etc, in developing forestry, agriculture and fisheries.
- Credit facilities: This is made available to farmers for agricultural production.
- Conservation of natural resources: It helps in the conservation of natural resources e.g. environment, lakes and forests.
- It equally gives advice: The organization gives advise on the content of animal pests and diseases.
- Provision of Technical Assistance: This body sends experts to developing countries in need of assistance of such technocrats.
ACHIEVEMENTS OF THE U.N.O
- Settlement of disputes: The World Court, an organ of U.N.O. has settled disputes among nations. e.g. Libya and Chad. The case involving Nigeria and Cameroun was settled in favour of Cameroun.
- Prevention of another world war: The U.N.O. as an organisation and since its formation, has been able to prevent the outbreak of a 3rd world war. For e.g. the annexation of Kuwait by Irag was quickly contained by the major powers by collectively expelling Iraq from Kuwait.
- The Trusteeship council: This council has helped some territories that have not gained independence to do so. For example Namibia got her independence through the efforts of the U.N.O.
- UNESCO: Member nations of U.N.O. have benefited immensely from UNESCO in the areas of education, science, etc. UNESCO, is one of the specialised agencies of U.N.O.
- Technical assistance: Through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), many member states have been receiving technical assistance.
- Conducting of Researches: The World Health Organisation (WHO) conducts researches into causes of some diseases like, small pox, cancer, etc, and the findings are made available to member states.
- High Commission for Refugees: This body is responsible for taking care ofpeople fleeing their countries to other countries, as a result of war, famine, etc. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees has been alleviating the suffering of refugees in this area.
- Peace-keeping: The U.N.O. has been sending peace-keeping force in areas of conflict world wide. e.g. Yugoslavia, Somalia and Lebanon.
- UNICEF: The United Nations International Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF) is a specialised agency ofU.N.O. Children of the member states have benefited immensely from this body.
- Provision of grants and loans: U.N.O provides grants and loans through the World Bank for development.
- Promotion of Human Rights: Through, the declaration of 1948, fundamental Rights of man by the General Assembly, U.N.O. has maintained consistency in promoting these rights. Governments all over the world have been called upon to guarantee such rights for their citizens.
- Promotion of peace and security: U.N.O. has collectively succeeded in the promotion of peace and security world wide, by halting conflicts that would have assumed international dimension. e.g. Iraqi-Kuwaiti war, Israel-Palestine, etc.
PROBLEMS OR FAILURES OF THE U.N.O
- Shortage of fund: The involvement of this organisation in large scale operation affects its financial resources. This has created over time, shortage of funds,
- Sovereignty of Nations: The U.N.O. cannot effectively enforce its decision because member states are not ready to surrender their sovereignty to the authority of the organisation.
- The veto power: Each of the five permanent members of the Security Council has a veto power. This could be used at times to satisfy their selfish interest at the expense of fulfilling the objectives of the organization.
- Differences in ideology: There are differences in ideology, culture, politics and methods used in pursuing economic goals This may negate the evolution of lasting peace in the world.
- Difficulty in achieving the goals of the organisation: The Big powers – U.S.A ., Russia, Britain, France and China are the ones determining the direction of events in the world. This can affect the achievement of the goals of collective security.
- No permanent military force: The inability of the organization, to create a permanent military force, is affecting its peace keeping operations world wide. The idea of countries providing troops only when called upon may not augur well for a lasting peace.
- Problem of arms race: The U.N.O. has failed to find a permanent solution to this. Many nations are spending so much in manufacturing weapons ofwar. e.g. U.S.A ., Russia, France and Britain. Even some countries like Iraq and Iran, are equally spending so much in procuring war heads and weapons of mass destruction e.g biological weapons. The failure of the U.N Arms Inspectors to find a lasting solution to Iraqi’s arm’s build up is a case in point.
- The presence of some regional/subregional groupings: Some of these groupings like, AU, ECOWAS and EEC. and the presence of some military pacts or alliances e.g. NATO, WARSAW and ECOMOG, have weakened commitment to the ideal and objectives of the U.N.O.
- International Monetary Fund (IMF): It is an agency of the U.N.O. It’s neocolonialist policies and conditionalities have crippled the economies of most states globally, especially, the developing ones.
- Constant border clashes/disputes: Among member nations e.g. India and Pakistan.
- Excesses of some member states: Inability of the United Nations Organisation to curtail the excesses of some member states is a weakness on its part.
- Poverty: The inability of the United Nations to effectively address the issue of poverty among member-states.
- Over-reliance of the United Nations on the United States of America: This is especially in the areas of military strength for peace-keeping operations and financial contribution.
- Resolution of Conflicts: Inability of U.N.O. to resolve conflicts among some member-nations e.g. Israel and Palestine.