Basic course 4
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United Nations

Basic Course 4: What Does the United Nations System Look Like?

The United Nations was founded in 1945 to "to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war", as the central task of the new organisation was described in the famous first line of the UN Charter. However, an absence of war was not just understood under peace here, but also questions of further development and justice in the sense of a positive understanding of peace. The advancement of economic and social development counted as task fields for the world organisation from the very beginning [see Basic Course 1 for more information on tasks and aims].

In order to be able to fulfill
this broad range of tasks, the Charter chooses that the principal organs of the United Nations create ancillary and special organs and that it cooperate with other organs in pursuing these aims. The six principal organs forming the kern of the organisation of the United Nations have made wide use of this practice. Hence, during the course of time, a network of organs and cooperations has differentiated out around this kern, for which the term United Nations System has come into being.Gareis and Varwick divide the elements of this system up into two categories:

bullet"First, those which have been created by the UNO itself, the special organs, programmes and regional institutions assigned to the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council or the Secretariat,
bullet and secondly, the specialist institutions, independent bodies and organisations with their own legal status linked to the UN via agreements, which unite to form a family of organisations, an image which is very frequently used."

[taken from: Sven Gareis/Johannes Varwick, Die Vereinten Nationen. Aufgaben, Instrumente und Reformen; Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung Schriftenreihe Band 403, Bonn 2003, P. 34]

As the diagram attempts to make clear, multifarious links to commerce (above all global players, for instance within the framework of the "Global Compact") need to be added to this in addition to science and international civil society. More than 1,500 NGO (non-governmental organisations) are registered with the Economic and Social Council! "The United Nations System which has been set up is a dynamic creation, and is difficult to limit in strict terms. A complete overview of its widely branching tasks is hardly possible anymore, even for experts."

[taken from: Sven Gareis/Johannes Varwick, Die Vereinten Nationen. Aufgaben, Instrumente und Reformen; Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung Schriftenreihe Band 403, Bonn 2003, P. 35]

The United Nations has published a broad overview under detailing the special organs and specialist institutions of the United Nations in an alphabetical index. The index also serves as a link list at the same time, and makes the website a good starting point for Internet research into the widely branching system of the United Nations.

More sections within the framework of Basic Course 4:


The Special Organs of the United Nations (Status, foundation, overview)


Specialist Institutions of the United Nations (Status, overview)


... go to Basic Course 5: Which Problems is the United Nations Confronted with?

[Author: Ragnar Müller]

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SubjectsHuman Rights  I  Examples  I  Democracy  I  Parties  I  Europe  I  Globalisation  I  United Nations  I  Sustainability

Methods:    Teaching Politics    II    Peace Education    II    Methods



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