The United Nations has devoted its attention and resources
to promoting living standards and human skills and potential
throughout the world. Since 2000, this work has been
guided by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The
UN system's annual expenditures for development, excluding
the international financial institutions, amount to
more than $10 billion. For instance, the UN Development
Programme, with staff in 166 countries, leads the UN's
work on eradicating extreme poverty and promoting good
governance in the developing world. UNICEF works in
157 countries and spends more than $1.2 billion a year,
primarily on child protection, immunization, fighting
HIV/AIDS and girls’ education. UNCTAD helps countries
make the most of their trade opportunities for development
purposes. In addition, the World Bank provides developing
countries with loans and grants totalling around $18
billion-$20 billion a year and has supported more than
9,500 development projects since 1947. Virtually all
funds for development aid come from contributions donated
The UN has helped to promote and strengthen democratic
institutions and practices around the world. It has
enabled people in many countries to participate in free
and fair elections, including in Cambodia, Namibia,
El Salvador, Eritrea, Mozambique, Nicaragua, South Africa,
Kosovo and East Timor. It has provided electoral advice
and assistance, including the monitoring of results,
to more than 90 countries, often at decisive moments
in their history, as in Afghanistan, Iraq and Burundi.
|3||Promoting human rights|
Since the General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights in 1948, the United Nations has helped to enact dozens of comprehensive agreements on political, civil, economic, social and cultural rights. By investigating individual complaints, the UN human rights bodies have focused world attention on cases of torture, disappearance and arbitrary detention and have generated
international pressure to be brought to bear on Governments
to improve their human rights records.
peace and security|
By sending a total of 60 peacekeeping and observer missions
to the world’s trouble spots, as of 2005, the United Nations has been able to restore calm sufficiently to allow the negotiating process to go forward, saving millions of people from becoming casualties of war. There are at present
16 peacekeeping operations around the world.
Since 1945, the UN has assisted in negotiating more than 170 peace settlements that have ended regional conflicts. Examples include ending the Iran-Iraq war, facilitating the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan and ending the civil wars in El Salvador and Guatemala. The United Nations has used quiet diplomacy to avert imminent wars.
The United Nations is working to solve global environmental
problems. As an international forum for building consensus and negotiating agreements, the UN is tackling global problems like climate change, ozone layer depletion, toxic waste, loss of forests and species, and air and water pollution. Unless these problems are addressed, markets and economies will not be sustainable in the long term, as environmental losses are depleting the natural "capital" on which growth and human survival are based.
The United Nations, through the International Atomic
Energy Agency (IAEA), helps to ensure that countries
using nuclear technologies are not secretly developing
nuclear weapons. Hundreds of nuclear facilities
are safeguarded by IAEA in more than 70 countries.
To date, there are 237 safeguards agreements in
force with 152 States.
self-determination and independence|
When the UN was established in 1945, 750 million
people ¡ª almost a third of the world
population ¡ª lived in Non-Self- governing
Territories dependent on colonial Powers. The United
Nations played a role in bringing about independence
in more than 80 countries that are now sovereign
UN tribunals established for the former Yugoslavia
and for Rwanda have convicted war criminals and
put them behind bars, have developed important case
law on genocide and human rights and have provided
a measure of justice that has been taken very seriously
by the people of the affected regions.
in South Africa|
By imposing measures ranging from an arms embargo
to a convention against segregated sporting events,
the United Nations was a major factor in bringing
about the downfall of the apartheid system. In 1994,
elections in which all South Africans were allowed
to participate on an equal basis led to the establishment
of a multiracial Government.
60 Ways the United Nations
Makes a Difference