Funds, Programmes, Specialized Agencies and Others

The UN system, also known unofficially as the "UN family", is made up of the UN itself and many affiliated programmes, funds, and specialized agencies, all with their own membership, leadership, and budget.  The programmes and funds are financed through voluntary rather than assessed contributions. The Specialized Agencies are independent international organizations funded by both voluntary and assessed contributions.

UNDP: Tom Cheatham
UNDP subsidized school fees and building repairs in Chin State, Myanmar.

Programmes and Funds


The United Nations Development Programme works in nearly 170 countries and territories, helping to eradicate poverty, reduce inequalities and build resilience so countries can sustain progress. As the UN’s development agency, UNDP plays a critical role in helping countries achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.


The United Nations Children's Fund provides long-term humanitarian and development assistance to children and mothers.


The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees – UNHCR protects refugees worldwide and facilitates their return home or resettlement.


The World Food Programme aims to eradicate hunger and malnutrition.  It is the world’s largest humanitarian agency. Every year, the programme feeds almost 80 million people in around 75 countries.


The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime – UNODC helps Member States fight drugs, crime, and terrorism.


The United Nations Population Fund – UNFPA is the lead UN agency for delivering a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, and every young person's potential is fulfilled.


The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development is the United Nations body responsible for dealing with development issues, particularly international trade – the main driver of development.


The United Nations Environment Programme established in 1972, is the voice for the environment within the United Nations system. UNEP acts as a catalyst, advocate, educator and facilitator to promote the wise use and sustainable development of the global environment.


The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees has contributed to the welfare and human development of four generations of Palestine refugees. It’s services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, microfinance and emergency assistance, including in times of armed conflict.  It reports only to the UN General Assembly.

UN Women

UN Women merges and builds on the important work of four previously distinct parts of the UN system, which focus exclusively on gender equality and women’s empowerment.


The mission of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme is to promote socially and environmentally sustainable human settlements development and the achievement of adequate shelter for all.

UN Specialized Agencies

The UN specialized agencies are autonomous organizations working with the United Nations. All were brought into relationship with the UN through negotiated agreements. Some existed before the First World War. Some were associated with the League of Nations. Others were created almost simultaneously with the UN. Others were created by the UN to meet emerging needs.

World Bank

The World Bank focuses on poverty reduction and the improvement of living standards worldwide by providing low-interest loans, interest-free credit, and grants to developing countries for education, health, infrastructure, and communications, among other things. The World Bank works in over 100 countries.


The International Monetary Fund fosters economic growth and employment by providing temporary financial assistance to countries to help ease balance of payments adjustment and technical assistance. The IMF currently has $28 billion in outstanding loans to 74 nations.


The World Health Organization is the directing and coordinating authority on international health within the United Nations system. The objective of WHO is the attainment by all peoples of the highest possible level of health. Health, as defined in the WHO Constitution, is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.


The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization focuses on everything from teacher training to helping improve education worldwide to protecting important historical and cultural sites around the world. UNESCO added 28 new World Heritage Sites this year to the list of irreplaceable treasures that will be protected for today's travelers and future generations.


The International Labor Organization promotes international labor rights by formulating international standards on the freedom to associate, collective bargaining, the abolition of forced labor, and equality of opportunity and treatment.


The Food and Agriculture Organization leads international efforts to fight hunger. It is both a forum for negotiating agreements between developing and developed countries and a source of technical knowledge and information to aid development.


The International Fund for Agricultural Development, since it was created in 1977, has focused exclusively on rural poverty reduction, working with poor rural populations in developing countries to eliminate poverty, hunger and malnutrition; raise their productivity and incomes; and improve the quality of their lives.


The International Maritime Organization has created a comprehensive shipping regulatory framework, addressing safety and environmental concerns, legal matters, technical cooperation, security, and efficiency.


The World Meteorological Organization facilitates the free international exchange of meteorological data and information and the furtherance of its use in aviation, shipping, security, and agriculture, among other things.


The World Intellectual Property Organization protects intellectual property throughout the world through 23 international treaties.


The International Civilian Aviation Organization sets international rules on air navigation, the investigation of air accidents, and aerial border-crossing procedures


The International Telecommunication Union is the United Nations specialized agency for information and communication technologies. It is committed to connecting all the world's people – wherever they live and whatever their means. Through our work, we protect and support everyone's fundamental right to communicate


The United Nations Industrial Development Organization is the specialized agency of the United Nations that promotes industrial development for poverty reduction, inclusive globalization and environmental sustainability.


The Universal Postal Union is the primary forum for cooperation between postal sector players. It  helps to ensure a truly universal network of up-to-date products and services.


The World Tourism Organization is the United Nations agency responsible for the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism.

Other Entities


The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS is co-sponsored by 10 UN system agencies: UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP, UNDP, UNFPA, UNODC, the ILO, UNESCO, WHO and the World Bank and has ten goals related to stopping and reversing the spread of HIV/AIDS.


The United Nations Office for Disaster Reduction serves as the focal point in the United Nations system for the coordination of disaster reduction.


The United Nations Office for Project Services is an operational arm of the United Nations, supporting the successful implementation of its partners' peacebuilding, humanitarian and development projects around the world.

Related Organizations


The International Atomic Energy Agency, is the world's centre for cooperation in the nuclear field. The Agency works with its Member States and multiple partners worldwide to promote the safe, secure and peaceful use of nuclear technologies.


The World Trade Organization is a forum for governments to negotiate trade agreements, and a place where member governments try to sort out the trade problems they face with each other.


The Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization promotes the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (which is not yet in force) and the build-up of the verification regime so that it is operational when the Treaty enters into force.


The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons is the implementing body of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), which entered into force in 1997. OPCW Member States work together to achieve a world free of chemical weapons.


The International Organization for Migration works to help ensure the orderly and humane management of migration, to promote international cooperation on migration issues, to assist in the search for practical solutions to migration problems and to provide humanitarian assistance to migrants in need, including refugees and internally displaced people.

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