United Nations’s (UN) “United Nations At A Glance” is an introductory guide to the inter-government organisations, and even though I have been involved in Model UN conferences and programmes through the UN Association of Singapore, I gleaned useful facts and information from the book. In this vein, I have compiled some of the more useful ones here.
The United Nations System
– Beyond the establishment of the League of Nations in 1919, “the ideal of a community of nations living in peace was conceived much earlier [by German philosopher Immanuel Kant”.
– The inter-government organisation has four completely distinct budget lines: a regular budget, a peacekeeping budget, a budget for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, and an approved budget for a renovation project of the UN headquarters.
Organs of the United Nations
– The UN has 15 specialised agencies and 24 programmes, funds, and institutes in specific areas.
– 11 non-self-governing territories were placed under international supervision when the UN was established in 1945. The Trusteeship Council – comprising of the five permanent members – helped these territories progress towards self-government or independence.
– Within the UN, a Special Committee on Decolonisation was set up in 1961, and helped more than 80 former colonies gain independence and eventual membership into the inter-government organisation.
The Work of the United Nations
– There are two types of peacekeeping operations: observer missions and peacekeeping forces. “Observers are not armed, while soldiers of UN peacekeeping forces carry light weapons, which they may use only in self-defence”.
– Human rights are inalienable, indivisible, interdependent, and interrelated. Having been translated into more than 380 languages and dialects, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is the most translated document in the world.
– The UDHR, together with the two International Covenants – on economic, social, and cultural rights, as well as on civil and political rights – they form the International Bill of Human Rights.
– There are different categories of forcibly displaced persons: refugees (fled home countries), asylum seekers (refugee status not definitively evaluated), internally displaced persons, stateless persons, and returnees.
– During the Second World War, London, the United Kingdom, was home of nine exiled governments.
– Declarations, principles, guidelines, standard rules, and recommendations have no binding legal effect, even if they have a strong moral force. Covenants, statutes, protocols, and conventions – however – are legally binding upon ratification.
-Most armed conflicts today happen within countries and not between countries.