Influences in Africa (the United Nations) - Part Two

By Fr. Bill Turnbull W.F.

Link to a Diagram of the United Nations Setup

This is the second part of a series of articles on ‘Influences in Africa’. Here we take a look at the United Nations and the United Nations Children’s Fund. Both organisations have been in existence since the end of the last World War and have worked extensively in many parts of Africa.

The UN is a complicated structure so it may be helpful to refer to the information boxes at the bottom of these pages and to the diagram in the centre of the magazine. These are not exhaustive but give a basic outline of the UN’s structure, how it fits together and some of the major Agencies and Commissions. If you still have issue number 327, of February-March, 1996, the map and information in the first part of this series may also be of use.

The figures in the tables on pages five and six show how things have improved in Africa over the last few decades. From the life expectancy and literacy data it may be seen that not all is gloomy, there is progress.

The League of Nations

The ‘League of Nations’ was established in 1920, after the First World War in an attempt to keep world peace. It grew from the points which Woodrow Wilson, President of the United States, put forward on the 8th. January, 1918, as a basis for armistice negotiations. The whole organisation was weakened by the refusal of the United States to join. Despite this Woodrow Wilson did a great deal to help the League develop. Gradually the ‘Covenant of the League of Nations’ was formulated and this was to become the first Section of the ‘Treaty of Versailles’. The League came into existence with its ratification on 10th. January, 1920. The first Assembly was on 15th. November, 1920, with forty one countries present, later a further twenty joined.

The aims of the League, which were outlined in its ‘Covenant’, were to help settle international disputes, disarmament, to stop the causes of war, and to encourage interests in all fields of human work. To this end there was the Secretariat, with a secretary-general; the Council of fourteen members; and the Assembly. At the same time the ‘Permanent Court of International Justice’, or ‘World Court’, was also set up at The Hague, in The Netherlands.

The League established some stability and unity after the First World War and helped bring relief to the victims of the War. It was successful to a certain degree but gradually it’s authority was undermined by members withdrawing and the major disputes of the 1930’s. Such events as when Japan invaded Manchuria and China, Germany over-ran Austria and Czechoslovakia, and Italy took Ethiopia and Albania made it impossible to continue such an organisation. All these developed into the hostilities of the Second World War.

The United Nations

Despite the failure of the League of Nations it set the course for many world events and laid the foundations for the ‘United Nations’ (UN). Many of the League’s structures were adopted by the UN but diplomacy in solving disputes and non-political development work were extended to a much wider membership.

The basic groundwork to form the UN was done during the Second World War by the British and American governments. In 1944 they met along with representatives of the USSR and China, at Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, to draw up plans for forming the UN. These countries were later joined by France to become the ‘Security Council’, playing the lead role. Some of the problems which arose from the first meeting were resolved at the ‘Yalta Conference’, in February, 1945, which was attended by Britain, the Soviet Union, and the United States. The UN’s Charter was formally adopted by fifty nations at the San Francisco Conference the following April. On 24th. October that year it was ratified and this date became known as United Nations Day.

The UN Structure

The UN Charter created six principal organs to carry out the organisations work. They are the Security Council, the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the Trusteeship Council, the International Court of Justice (or World Court) and the Secretariat. Each part has a different role yet they all interconnect and compliment each other.

The Security Council - has eleven members, five of them - the United States, Britain, the USSR, China, and France - being permanent members and the others elected each year. In 1965 an amendment added four more elected members. They have the primary responsibility for keeping peace and security and using sanctions against aggressors. Their actions were often vetoed by the Super-Powers and so what was agreed was sometimes not carried out. The Council enforces the UN’s aims and in practice is the supreme organ. The power held by the permanent members, and the way in which they often use it, has led to some non-members accusing them of running a dictatorship.

The General Assembly - is seen as a place of equality among member nations, numbering 184, with each having one vote and decisions taken on a simple two-thirds majority. In the 1950’s it was pro-West, often being manipulated by the USA, but gradually this changed as African and Asian countries were admitted in the 1960’s and 1970’s. It became more a place of dialogue between East and West and a forum where poorer countries could have a voice. It has seven main committees and all members can have representatives on them. These committees are: Disarmament and related topics (with a Special Political Committee to assist); Economic and Financial Affairs; Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Affairs; Decolonisation; Administrative and Budgetary Affairs; and Legal Affairs.

The Assembly meets in regular annual sessions and in special sessions as required. It has fostered aid and development and international law. The Assembly has also helped in making various Conventions such as on genocide (1948), the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), the outer space treaty (1967), the nuclear nonproliferation treaty (1968), and the seabed treaty (1971).

The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) - was set up to improve economic and social co-operation between nations. ECOSOC does not operate its own programmes but co-ordinates commissions and agencies which are under its control. These deal with such issues as transportation, statistics, population, social matters, health, education, human rights, the status of women, commodity trade, and drugs. ECOSOC is the major policy-making and co-ordinating umbrella part of the UN. It oversees the activities of the Specialised Agencies which are international, independent, and self-governing organisations. The various Commissions have been set up to advise the UN on different issues and fall into the two general categories of ‘Regional’ and ‘Functional’ Commissions. Originally ECOSOC had eighteen members. It was enlarged to twenty seven members in 1966, and to fifty four in 1980. The council meets at least twice a year and makes decisions by a simple majority, with each member having one vote. Its members are elected by the General Assembly.

The Trusteeship Council - was set up under the UN Charter to ‘end colonial competition’ and to help various member states prepare for independence and to protect their rights. The Council originally oversaw twelve territories consisting of former Axis colonies or League of Nations mandates. Now only parts of the Pacific Islands trusteeship, Palau, are not self-governing.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) - was set up to settle disputes between member states. It has no automatic jurisdiction. Cases are brought before it when the General Assembly or the Security Council ask for advice, or when the states involved in a dispute agree to submit their case for adjudication. The court has fifteen judges who are elected by the General Assembly and the Security Council, and who serve for nine years. All UN members have signed the statues of the ICJ.

The Secretariat - is divided into twenty departments and provides the staff for the daily functioning of the UN around the world and at its New York headquarters. The staff of more than four thousand specialists are drawn from over 140 nationalities and are headed by the Secretary-General, who is appointed by the General Assembly on the recommendation of the Security Council. To date the UN has had six Secretaries-General. The first one was Trygve Lie (Norway, 1946), then came Dag Hammarskjöld (Sweden, 1953-61), U Thant (Burma (Myanmar), 1961-72), Kurt Waldheim (Austria, 1972), Javier Pérez de Cuéllar (Peru, 1982) and Boutros Boutros-Ghali (Egypt, 1992) the first African to serve as Secretary-General.

Fifty Years of the UN

Last year, 1995, the UN celebrated its fiftieth anniversary. For virtually the whole year the media criticised the organisation for being ineffective, especially in the cases of the former Yugoslavia and Somalia. In many respects such a global institution is fair game but it is good to remember that it can only be as strong and effective as its member states allow it to be. When we criticise the UN as an institution we criticise ourselves.

In the last fifty years the UN claims to have negotiated 172 peaceful settlements. For most of this time though it’s activities were restricted because of the Cold War. The battle between the Super-Powers were carried out on the UN stage as well as around the world. It is also starved of funds because many members, especially the USA, owe it billions of dollars - America alone owes US$1.5 billion in dues and assessments. The budget for 1996-97 is US$2.5 billion, which is US$98 million less than the previous year. As a result there have been many cut backs in Secretariat and the future of some of the UN’s operations are in question.

In 1960’s, as the developing countries joined, they used their bloc-voting power to fight American dominance. Despite the fights in the General Assembly there is a great deal of consensus. Often resolutions are passed without a vote being taken, or without any negative votes. With the end of the Cold War, and the beginning of what George Bush called the ‘New World Order’, the UN had the possibility of taking on a new lease of life. Once again the influences of the major powers came into play. Probably the greatest operation the UN had launched since Korea, in 1950, took place in the Gulf War of 1991. This showed how countries could co-operate to fight a common enemy, though to some it appeared that the UN was used as a cover for protecting one of the world’s major oil sources - a war launched for economic rather than humanitarian reasons.

So far the 1990’s have been a great time of change in world politics. Unfortunately the optimistic creation of a ‘New World Order’ seems to have melted away. What we have been left with is a great deal of indecision and apportioning of blame for failures. America, the only remaining Super-Power, attempted to be the world’s policeman but ended up being out of its depth in many situations. Perhaps a classic example of this is the role played by both the UN and USA in Somalia.

The UN and Africa

The UN’s founders never really envisaged its peace-keeping role, especially in the way it has developed. Strangely enough this is probably the aspect of all the organisation’s activities which comes to mind and on which it is judged most. In this respect, and in helping countries towards ‘democracy’, the UN’s history in Africa has been long and testing.

The first UN venture in Africa was during the Suez Crisis, in 1956, when the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF) helped British, French and Israeli forces to withdraw. Not long after, in 1961, they were also involved in the the Congo (now Zaire), as the United Nations Congo Force (UNOC), when Belgium began to leave. For the first time UN troops were used to enforce peace when they fought Moise Tshombe’s Katangese secession movement. The situation was made worse by the death of Dag Hammarskjöld, then Secretary-General, and Patrice Lumumba, the Congo Premier. This coincided with the on-set of the Cold War and the ‘Wind of Change’ in Africa, which saw many countries gain independence but become pawns in the Super-Powers game.

Over the next few years the UN kept out of Africa’s wars in Algeria, Angola, Nigeria, Chad, Mozambique, Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), but various countries played major roles. France based troops in different parts of the continent and intervened in the internal affairs of countries. The Soviet-Cuban alliance did the same and their influence was seen strongly in Angola and Ethiopia. America also worked behind the scenes. The 1990’s have certainly brought a change for Africa. The eyes of the West are now turned more towards the former Soviet Bloc and there is less ideological conflict in the continent. There have been successes and failures but perhaps the UN will be forever haunted by Somalia and Rwanda.

As UNOSOM the UN went into Somalia in 1992. Before the UN sent 30,000 soldiers there had been very little fighting the country. The original UN proposal was to send about 500 troops, as a type of police force, to stop looting and assist with humanitarian aid. The Warlords were against this from the beginning but many community leaders agreed with such a scheme. When the UN did go in to many Somalis it looked like an invasion force. Their role changed from humanitarian to hunting Aideed, one of the Mogadishu Warlords. The main UN forces only withdrew when several American soldiers were killed. In the end 6,000 people died in the clashes and Somalia was no nearer peace on UN’s departure as when they arrived.

UN troops went to Rwanda in November, 1993, to keep the peace between RPF and the government and to monitor the situation in the time of transition. It had no power to enforce law and order, only to supervise. When the genocide began in April, 1994, there were 2,500 UNAMIR, troops in the country but they were helpless to stop the killing. The UN commander, General Romeo Dallaire, asked the New York HQ for more weapons and authority to try and halt the atrocities the Security Council voted not to augment the troops but to scale the operation down. As the massacres continued the UN troops were airlifted out of Kigali. By May ,1994, the UN began to take some action. The Council voted to send more troops but by then it was too late. France directly intervened in June.

The UN has had successes in Africa. UNTAG oversaw the Namibia elections in 1990 and helped bring about an independent country. UNOMSA played a great part in the 1994 South Africa elections. MINURSO has helped to hold a ceasefire in Western Sahara since September, 1991, and is paving the way for a Referendum. In Mozambique ONUMOZ demobilised and retrained soldiers before the elections of 1994. UN activity in Angola has been long and daunting: UNAVEM I (UN Angola Verification Mission) oversaw the withdrawal of Cuban troops in 1988, UNAVEM II, in 1991, failed to conduct elections but that is being carried out by UNAVEM III.

The role of the UN in Africa has certainly evolved over the decades and is still developing. The ECOSOC ‘System-wide Special Initiative on Africa’ which was launched on 15th. March, 1996 (see the last issue of June-July, page 22) hopefully heralds another step forward. What has been taking place in Liberia, despite the recurrence of fighting earlier this year, is seen by many as a way forward. ECOMOG *, the West African peace-keeping force, has enforced peace, to a degree, over the last five years. The UN has had a presence in the shape of the observers of UNOMIL. Many see that the way forward for Africa is not by UN intervention but by the UN, and individual countries, supporting African initiatives. There is need for permanent peace-keeping forces on a regional level, similar to ECOMOG, under the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) and UN funded. In this way Africans can bring peace to their own continent and can work out their own destiny.

UNICEF

The UN has a multitude of Agencies and other bodies as part of its vast structure and most of these have some connection with, or work in, Africa. There are also about 2,500 NGOs which have consultative or associate status with the UN. One of the UN’s best known Agencies is the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). It was established as the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund on 11th. December, 1946, at the General Assembly’s first session. Originally it helped with child welfare programmes in countries affected by the Second World War. It became a permanent part of the UN in 1953. Later UNICEF’s role was expanded to take in developing countries and help found nutrition programs, and child health and welfare services. It also gives direct aid, such as food and medical supplies, to children in emergency situations. UNICEF is financed by voluntary contributions from UN member governments, organisations and individuals.

Child Health Care and Rights

UNICEF is probably best known in the area of child health care and children’s rights where it does its greatest work. A myriad of projects, such as in the areas of health education, vaccinations programmes and improved nutrition, save lives and improve people’s daily existence. What makes these projects so effective is that they are usually quite simple to implement and are done on such a vast scale crossing international boundaries.

In 1955 UNICEF and the World Health Organisation (WHO) embarked upon a worldwide campaign to eradicate malaria. The campaign saved many lives. Malaria still exists and has developed different strains but the fight continues. By the end of the 1950’s UNICEF was well established and, in 1959, the General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child. UNICEF’s contribution to the world was acknowledged in 1965 when it received the Nobel Peace Prize. 1979, the twentieth anniversary of the declaration, was declared the ‘International Year of the Child’ and global attention was given to children’s needs. UNICEF launched the ‘child survival and development revolution’ in 1982. This was an attempt to reduce high infant mortality rates by using low cost methods such as immunisation and oral rehydration therapy.

In 1989 the UN General Assembly adopted the ‘Convention on the Rights of the Child’, which became international law, in 1990. The same year the ‘World Summit for Children’ was held in New York - with representatives from more than 150 countries, 71 Heads of State or Government. All committed themselves to the goals of child survival and development and endorsed a ‘World Declaration and Plan of Action’ for children for the year 2000. By 1995 more than a hundred countries had adopted plans of action from the World Summit and the ‘Convention on the Rights of the Child’ had been ratified by 181 by November.

Children and War

Each year UNICEF brings out a report called the ‘State of the World’s Children Report’. In the 1996 report, on its fiftieth anniversary, UNICEF has returned to its roots by launching an ‘Anti-war Agenda’. Since the last World War the situation of children in war zones has become more precarious. Before they were badly affected by the fighting and the devastation which it created, now they are often specific targets of aggression. World wide, in conflicts over the last decade two million children have been killed, twelve million have been left homeless, four to five million disabled, one million have been orphaned or separated from their parents, and ten million psychologically traumatised.

The concerns UNICEF expressed in the agenda are echoed by many governments and organisations. Based on the ‘Convention on the Rights of the Child’ the main ten points of the UNICEF agenda may be summarised as follows:

Prevention - more should be done to address the causes of war, to promote mediation and conflict resolution.

Girls and women - the situation and needs of girls and women should be monitored during conflicts. Education, counselling and other resources should be available to those traumatised.

Child soldiers - the minimum age of military recruitment should be raised from 15 to 18 years. There is a great need to rehabilitate child soldiers.

Landmines - there should be a specific international law against the production, stockpiling, sale, use, and export of landmines.

War crimes - those who commit acts of violence against all civilians must be brought to justice and international war crimes tribunals must have the resources to do so.

Children as zones of peace - children should be seen as zones of peace during a conflict so that they may receive attention. This concept should be pursued more vigorously.

Sanctions - when economic sanctions are imposed on a regime they should be monitored for ‘child impact assessment’.

Emergency relief - in long-term conflicts aid should be part of the process of rebuilding society.

Rehabilitation - more effort is needed to demobilise and rehabilitate child and adult soldiers, and help given in the reconciliation and rebuilding of communities.

Education for peace - methods of conflict resolution, that promote peace, mutual understanding and tolerance, should be on school curricula.

The Cost of War

At present there are more than fifty countries caught up in some sort of armed conflict. Africa, and its civilian population, has probably suffered more than any other continent. In the post Cold War years there have been wars in Angola, Burundi, Liberia, Mozambique, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Somalia, and Sudan. Some of these have continued for thirty years or more bringing great hardship to the civilian population. The knock on effects have resulted in shortages of food, water and health care, and the displacement of people, causing many more indirect deaths than the actual wars. Typical is what was seen in part of Uganda, during the war in 1980, when it was estimated that 78% of deaths were due to hunger, and 20% to diseases, while 2% due to the actual fighting.

The consequences of such conflicts on civilian populations are well known to all of us. It is estimated that the lack of basic facilities in war zones contributed to 333,000 children dying in Angola from 1980 to 1988, and 490,000 in Mozambique between 1982 and 1986. Not only were people killed but the infrastructures of many countries were ruined. Throughout the 1970’s and 1980’s the ‘scorched-earth’ policy of the Ethiopian Government devastated huge areas of arable land in Tigray. The combination of the war and drought brought the famine and has left both Ethiopia and Eritrea open to the possibility of future food shortages. In Somalia up to three quarters of children under five years are believed to have died in 1992, the majority from malnutrition or disease caused or made worse by the war. The list is almost endless but at long last peace has come to many parts of Africa and people are returning home to rebuild their lives and communities.

More children are becoming victims of conflicts. Schools, hospitals and churches are no longer considered as places of refuge in war. This was especially so in the Rwandan massacres of 1994 when tens of thousands of children were killed. They are used as conscript soldiers, labourers, are targets of brutality and girls are known to be have been systematically raped. Many children are left on their own and become permanent refugees from their homes, such as with Sudanese children in northern Kenya. In 1993 children under the age of sixteen were used as soldiers in twenty five countries, in 1988 they numbered 200,000. For example when the civil war was raging in Mozambique, Renamo forcibly recruited at least 100,000 children, some as young as six, into their ranks. The story is repeated in Angola, Uganda, Sierra Leone, Liberia and many other countries.

At long last many nations are beginning to see the futility of using anti-personnel landmines. The UN estimates of the number of mines still in the ground is staggering: fifteen million in Angola (31 per square mile); twenty three million in Egypt (60 per square mile); and a quarter of a million in Rwanda (25 per square mile); some 110 million in sixty four countries. The problem will remain with us all for many years as it takes such a long time to clear the minefields. In time of war mines are probably the most cost-effective weapon at as little as US$3 to produce, but in peace each can cost US$1,000 to clear. It is an endless job. In 1993, for example, 100,000 mines were cleared while two million were laid. A hundred million are believed to be stockpiled all over the world. The irony of it all is that when peace comes, from Bosnia to Mozambique, often the soldiers involved in clearing landmines are from the country where they are manufactured.

The Future of the UN

Up until the collapse of the Soviet Bloc developing countries had often been supported by them in the General Assembly, especially against America. When the Bloc collapsed they were left without an ally. The Non-Aligned Movement has not developed into the strong force it was hoped to become. Now we see that more power has been left in the hands of the IMF and World Bank, which is even the case for the West but more so with developing countries.

The future of the UN is unsure. Some say that perhaps, as with the League of Nations, it has outlived its usefulness. This would certainly be the case if it is not open to potential evolution and reform. Much of this depends on the five permanent members of the Security Council. The Council, if it is viewed cynically, is run by the Second World War victors and ex-colonial powers. Many believe that more permanent members should be added, such as at least Japan and Germany, to reflect the present world situation. The five permanent members also have power of veto and they often use it to stall the majority decisions taken by the General Assembly in favour of the few.

The UN finances also need some reform. At present the US are supposed to contribute about 25% of the budget, though most of the time they are in arrears. It would be fairer if their costs were lessened and the burden spread more evenly amongst the richer countries.

The UN as an organisation is more prepared to react to situations, such as when supplying peace-keeping troops, but does not have a preventative policy. There should be more attention paid to advanced conflict resolution than to patching up once events have taken place. If such a safety net had been in place it is possible that many lives would have saved in both Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia.

Perhaps such implementations as the above would also lead to a fairer hearing for poorer countries. What is sure is that the time is right for the UN to begin to change and for its major players to allow it to do so. Maybe it is wishful thinking but let us hope that the major powers do allow this and then a true ‘New World Order’ may come about for the benefit of all.

_______________________ To be continued.


Information Tables

Population

Life Expectancy

(in years)

Adult Literacy

(over 15 yrs.)

Country

1973

1993

1960

1993

1970

1992

Algeria

15,065,000

26,700,000

47

68

25%

62%

Angola

5,830,000

10,276,000

33

47

12%

43%

Benin

2,875,000

5,100,000

35

48

16%

26%

Botswana

700,000

1,400,000

46

65

41%

76%

Burkina Faso

5,959,000

9,800,000

36

48

8%

21%

Burundi

3,591,000

6,000,000

41

51

20%

53%

Cameroon

7,022,000

12,500,000

39

57

33%

58%

Cape Verde

275,000

370,000

52

65

50%

66%

Cen. African Rep.

1,950,000

3,200,000

39

50

16%

41%

Chad

3,871,000

6,000,000

35

48

11%

33%

Comoros

285,000

471,000

43

56

---

---

Congo

1,369,000

2,400,000

42

51

35%

59%

Djibouti

180,000

557,000

36

48

15%

19%

Egypt

34,886,000

56,400,000

46

64

35%

51%

Equatorial Guinea

302,000

379,000

37

48

35%

52%

Ethiopia

31,274,000

51,900,000

36

48

5%

50%

Gabon

578,000

1,000,000

41

54

33%

63%

Gambia, The

502,000

1,000,000

32

46

21%

31%

Ghana

9,388,000

16,400,000

45

57

31%

64%

Guinea

4,031,000

6,300,000

34

45

14%

27%

Guinea-Bissau

572,000

1,000,000

34

44

10%

39%

Ivory Coast

6,234,000

13,300,000

39

51

18%

55%

Kenya

12,773,000

25,300,000

45

59

32%

71%

Lesotho

1,135,000

1,900,000

43

62

62%

78%

Liberia

1,515,000

2,845,000

41

55

18%

42%

Libya

2,247,000

5,044,000

47

63

37%

65%

Madagascar

7,230,000

13,900,000

41

58

50%

82%

Malawi

4,936,000

10,500,000

38

46

30%

45%

Mali

5,678,000

10,100,000

35

47

8%

37%

Mauritania

1,307,000

2,200,000

35

52

18%

35%

Mauritius

860,000

1,100,000

59

71

68%

80%

Mayotte

--

89,920

--

--

---

---

Morocco

16,511,000

25,900,000

47

64

22%

52%

Mozambique

10,087,000

15,100,000

37

47

22%

34%

Namibia

877,000

1,500,000

43

60

30%

40%

Niger

4,453,000

8,600,000

35

47

4%

31%

Nigeria

57,835,008

105,300,000

40

51

25%

52%

Reunion

477,000

633,000

--

--

79%

79%

Rwanda

4,093,000

7,600,000

42

48

32%

53%

Sahara Western

--

206,705

--

--

---

---

Saint Helena

--

6,718

--

--

---

---

Sao Tome/Principe

77,000

122,000

--

--

58%

60%

Senegal

4,535,000

7,900,000

37

50

12%

41%

Seychelles

56,800

72,000

--

--

58%

77%

Sierra Leone

2,815,000

4,500,000

32

40

13%

24%

Somalia

4,690,000

8,954,000

36

47

3%

29%

South Africa

24,426,000

39,700,000

49

63

80%

80%

Sudan

15,612,000

26,641,000

39

53

17%

29%

Swaziland

454,000

880,000

40

58

56%

71%

Tanzania

14,572,000

28,000,000

41

52

33%

55%

Togo

2,173,000

3,900,000

39

56

17%

46%

Tunisia

5,389,000

8,700,000

48

68

31%

68%

Uganda

10,666,000

18,000,000

43

45

41%

51%

Zaire

21,985,010

41,231,000

41

53

42%

75%

Zambia

4,567,000

8,900,000

42

48

52%

75%

Zimbabwe

5,737,000

10,700,000

45

53

55%

69%

All Africa

386,507,818

678,478,343

40.56

53.50

30.56%

52.21%

Source: The above table is made up from information compiled at
Catholic Missionary Education Centre [CAMEC]
Holcombe House, The Ridgeway, London NW7 4HY
Tel: **-44-(0)181-906 1642 Fax: **-44-(0)121-378 4761

 

Various Parts of the United Nations

Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)

ECOSOC Specialised Agencies

Established

HQ

Aims/Role

Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO)

16 Oct. 1945

Rome

To improve food production and distribution, nutrition, and standards of living.

International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD)

22 July 1944

Washington

Part of the ‘World Bank’ with IDA, furthers development through financial loans and technical advice.

International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO)

07 Dec. 1944

Montreal

Encourage cooperation, use of uniform safety measures and regulations in operations.

International Development Association (IDA)

26 Jan. 1960

Washington

Part of the ‘World Bank’ with IBRD, lends money on more flexible terms than the IBRD to developing countries.

International Finance Corporation (IFC)

25 May 1955

Washington

Affiliated with the ‘World Bank’, underwrites and invests in private industry in developing countries

International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)

Nov. 1974

Rome

Funds projects to improve food production and nutrition in developing countries.

International Labour Organisation (ILO)

11 April

Geneva

Helps in all kinds of dealings with labour issues and the promotion of social justice.

International Monetary Fund (IMF)

22 July 1944

Washington

Promotes international monetary cooperation and stabilises currencies.

Intergovernmental Maritime Consultation Organisation (IMCO) (former IMO)

17 March 1959

London

Encourages safety measures, works for removal of shipping restrictions.

International Telecommunication Union (ITU)

09 Dec. 1932

Geneva

Promotes international cooperation in telecommunications, allocates radio frequencies.

United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO)

16 Nov. 1945

Paris

To broaden educational, scientific and cultural base and to encourage exchange.

United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO)

17 April 1966

Vienna

Helps developing countries to improve industry through contacts, technology and advice.

Universal Postal Union (UPU)

09 Oct. 1974

Bern

Unites member countries as one postal territory, fixes international postal rates.

World Health Organisation (WHO)

22 July 1946

Geneva

Focal point for medical information, sets international standards, fights diseases.

World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO)

14 July 1967

Geneva

Protects the rights of authors of literary, artistic and scientific works.

World Meteorological Organisation (WMO)

11 Oct. 1947

Geneva

Promotes international weather networks and weather data exchange.

 

ECOSOC Related Organisations

Established

HQ

Aims/Role

General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT)

30 Oct. 1948

Geneva

Helps to set, negotiate and liberalise trade rules and to promote commerce.

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)

26 Oct. 1956

Vienna

Autonomous agency, furthers the peaceful use of atomic energy.

 

ECOSOC Regional Commissions

Established

HQ

Economic Commission for Africa (ECA)

29 April 1958

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Economic Commission for Europe (ECE)

28 March 1947

Geneva

Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC)

25 Feb. 1948

Santiago, Chile

Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP)

28 March 1947

Bangkok, Thailand

Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA)

9 Aug. 1973

Beirut, Lebanon

 

The General Assembly

Agencies

Established

HQ

Aims/Role

United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (UNCHS or HABITAT)

12 Oct. 1978

Nairobi

Focal point for human settlement action, activities and problem solving.

United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)

11 Dec. 1946

New York

The health and welfare of children, mainly in developing countries.

United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)

30 Dec. 1964

Geneva

Negotiates and promotes international trade, economic cooperation and development.

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

22 Nov. 1965

New York

Multilateral technical and investment cooperation and coordinates development.

United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

15 Dec. 1972

Nairobi

To monitor the environment and coordinate common ecological practices.

United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA)

July 1967

New York

To study population related issues and advise Council, under UNDP since 1972

Conference on Disarmament (CD)

1962

Geneva

Multilateral disarmament negotiating forum.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

03 Dec. 1949

Geneva

To protect refugees (legal rights, identification, asylum), find permanent solutions.

United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)

08 Dec. 1949

Vienna

To help Palestinian refugees after the 1948 and other conflict in the region.

United Nations World Food Council (WFC)

17 Dec. 1974

Rome

Studies world food problems and recommends solutions.

World Food Program (WFP)

24 Nov. 1961

Rome

Provides food as part of disaster relief and development.

 


 This article first appeared in "White Fathers - White Sisters" (UK),
issue 329, of August-September, 1996.
The article may be published freely with due acknowledgements to the
"White Fathers - White Sisters" magazine.

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