How does the UN work? The UN is broken down into several groups. Each group has its own responsibilities to keep the UN running smoothly as a whole organization. There are currently 193 countries that are members of the United Nations.
General Assembly The General Assembly has representatives in it from all of the member countries. They discuss issues and draft resolutions (documents suggesting actions for the UN and participating countries to take). The General Assembly also includes various councils, panels, and working groups that focus on current world issues.
Security CouncilThe Security Council votes on resolutions created by theGeneral Assembly and decides whether or not to put anaction/resolution into place.Each member of the Security Council gets one vote. Five permanent members: US, Britain, France, Russia, and China. If any of these members vote against a measure it is vetoed. Ten non-permanent members: Azerbaijan, Columbia, Germany, Guatemala, India, Morocco, Portugal, South Africa, and Togo. Non-permanent members are selected from the General Assembly and serve a 2 year term on the Security Council.
Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) This group focuses on issues that impact the world and various countries economically and socially (this can be anything from drug trafficking, to rain forest destruction). There are many specialized committees within this council. Each member of this council has one vote, a simple majority is needed to pass a resolution.
International Court of Justice The court is located in the Netherlands and has 15 justices. It’s purpose is to settle disputes between nations. It also advises UN committees regarding international law. The court can only reside over states that are willing to participate in the legal proceedings.
What steps can the UN take? The General Assembly can pass a resolution which can be voted on by the Security Council to address a specific problem. The ECOSOC committee can also draft resolutions. Cases can be tried in the International Court of Justice. Sanctions can be put into place. UN Peacekeepers can be sent in to protect a group of people or a government.
Peace Keeping Operations 115 countries have contributed police/military to the UN peace keeping organization. Peace keeping operations do not use violence, but do use the presence of military to protect people or government processes. Peace keepers will not enter a country unless they have permission to do so.
Guiding Questions for the Reading What are two types of conflicts that the UN can help to prevent? How has the world changed since World War II? What kind of problems can be caused by illiteracy? What kind of problems can be caused by natural resources? How does the UN feel about nuclear weapons? What is their goal for the proliferation of nuclear weapons?
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