The Montreal Protocol started as a global agreement to protect the ozone layer, a job it has done well, making it one of the most successful environmental agreements to date. A united global effort to phase out ozone-depleting substances means that today, the hole in the ozone layer is healing, in turn protecting human health, economies and ecosystems. But, as this year’s World Ozone Day (16 September) seeks to highlight, the Montreal Protocol does so much more – such as slowing climate change and helping to boost energy efficiency in the cooling sector, which contributes to food security.
The ozone layer, a fragile shield of gas, protects the Earth from the harmful portion of the rays of the sun, thus helping preserve life on the planet.
The ActNow campaign aims to trigger individual action on the defining issue of our time. People around the world have joined to make a difference in all facets of their lives, from the food they eat to the clothes they wear.
With just 10 years to go, an ambitious global effort is underway to deliver the 2030 promise—by mobilizing more governments, civil society, businesses and calling on all people to make the Global Goals their own.
Learn more about the Sustainable Development Goals! On our student resources page you will find plenty of materials for young people and adults alike. Share with your family and friends to help achieve a better world for all.
Twelve months ago, the world came together to support COVAX, a multilateral initiative co-convened by WHO and partners, to guarantee global access to COVID-19 vaccines. With the support of the international community, COVAX began securing financing, negotiating with vaccine developers and manufacturers, and addressing the logistics associated with rolling out the largest and most complex vaccination programme in history. Yet only 20% of people in low- and lower-middle-income countries have received a first dose of vaccine compared to 80% in high- and upper-middle income countries.
The first UNEPGlobal Assessment of Air Pollution Legislation presents the findings of a study of air quality legislation in more than 194 countries. Using the Air Quality Guidelines developed by WHO, the report examines the legal measures for determining whether air quality standards are being met and what legal standards exist for failure to meet them. The Assessment provides recommendations to assist countries in strengthening air quality governance and serves as a resource for countries wishing to effectively address air pollution and contribute to the achievement of the SDGs.
Air pollution is a multifaceted problem – representing the world’s leading environmental risk to health, costing the globe an estimated $8.1 trillion in 2019. Air pollution is also deadly, causing or contributing to heart attacks, strokes, lung cancer, and respiratory diseases and killing an estimated seven million people every year. 95 percent of these deaths occur in low- and middle- income countries. As such, tackling air pollution is a component of the World Bank’s mission to eradicate poverty and promote shared prosperity. Less obvious is what can be done to address this problem.
The United Nations came into being in 1945, following the devastation of the Second World War, with one central mission: the maintenance of international peace and security. The UN does this by working to prevent conflict; helping parties in conflict make peace; peacekeeping; and creating the conditions to allow peace to hold and flourish. These activities often overlap and should reinforce one another, to be effective. The UN Security Council has the primary responsibility for international peace and security. The General Assembly and the Secretary-General play major, important, and complementary roles, along with other UN offices and bodies.
Protect Human Rights
The term “human rights” was mentioned seven times in the UN's founding Charter, making the promotion and protection of human rights a key purpose and guiding principle of the Organization. In 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights brought human rights into the realm of international law. Since then, the Organization has diligently protected human rights through legal instruments and on-the-ground activities.
Deliver Humanitarian Aid
One of the purposes of the United Nations, as stated in its Charter, is "to achieve international co-operation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character." The UN first did this in the aftermath of the Second World War on the devastated continent of Europe, which it helped to rebuild. The Organization is now relied upon by the international community to coordinate humanitarian relief operations due to natural and man-made disasters in areas beyond the relief capacity of national authorities alone.
Promote Sustainable Development
From the start in 1945, one of the main priorities of the United Nations was to “achieve international co-operation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character and in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion.” Improving people’s well-being continues to be one of the main focuses of the UN. The global understanding of development has changed over the years, and countries now have agreed that sustainable development offers the best path forward for improving the lives of people everywhere.
Uphold International Law
The UN Charter, in its Preamble, set an objective: "to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained." Ever since, the development of, and respect for international law has been a key part of the work of the Organization. This work is carried out in many ways - by courts, tribunals, multilateral treaties - and by the Security Council, which can approve peacekeeping missions, impose sanctions, or authorize the use of force when there is a threat to international peace and security, if it deems this necessary. These powers are given to it by the UN Charter, which is considered an international treaty. As such, it is an instrument of international law, and UN Member States are bound by it. The UN Charter codifies the major principles of international relations, from sovereign equality of States to the prohibition of the use of force in international relations.
The General Assembly is the main deliberative, policymaking and representative organ of the UN. All 193 Member States of the UN are represented in the General Assembly, making it the only UN body with universal representation.
The Security Council has primary responsibility, under the UN Charter, for the maintenance of international peace and security. It has 15 Members (5 permanent and 10 non-permanent members). Each Member has one vote. Under the Charter, all Member States are obligated to comply with Council decisions.
The Economic and Social Council is the principal body for coordination, policy review, policy dialogue and recommendations on economic, social and environmental issues, as well as implementation of internationally agreed development goals.
The Trusteeship Council was established in 1945 by the UN Charter, under Chapter XIII, to provide international supervision for 11 Trust Territories that had been placed under the administration of seven Member States, and ensure that adequate steps were taken to prepare the Territories for self-government and independence.
The International Court of Justice is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations. Its seat is at the Peace Palace in the Hague (Netherlands). It is the only one of the six principal organs of the United Nations not located in New York (United States of America).
The Secretariat comprises the Secretary-General and tens of thousands of international UN staff members who carry out the day-to-day work of the UN as mandated by the General Assembly and the Organization's other principal organs.
Climate change is the defining issue of our time and now is the defining moment to do something about it. There is still time to tackle climate change, but it will require an unprecedented effort from all sectors of society.
Women and girls represent half of the world’s population and, therefore, also half of its potential. Gender equality, besides being a fundamental human right, is essential to achieve peaceful societies, with full human potential and sustainable development.
While global poverty rates have been cut by more than half since 2000, one in ten people in developing regions still lives on less than US$1.90 a day — the internationally agreed poverty line, and millions of others live on slightly more than this daily amount.
The UN’s 75th anniversary in 2020 arrived at a time of great upheaval and peril. To secure a world where everyone can thrive in peace, dignity and equality on a healthy planet we need a multilateral system that is inclusive, networked and effective. "Our Common Agenda" builds on the 12 commitments contained in the UN75 Declaration.
As the world’s only truly universal global organization, the United Nations has become the foremost forum to address issues that transcend national boundaries and cannot be resolved by any one country acting alone.
Video and audio from across the United Nations and our world-wide family of agencies, funds, and programmes.
What is quality of care?
We all need health care at some stage in our life. Not only it is important to have access to health care we need, but also the health care we receive should be of high quality to improve our health. This video explains what is meant by quality of care.
Our actions are our future
There are many different kinds of journeys that food can take, some that guarantee a healthier future for people and the planet.
Pan-African Forum for the Culture of Peace
The Biennale of Luanda is back! And you don't want to miss it. The second edition will put young people front and center and focuses on the prevention of violence and the resolution of conflicts.
Build Trust and Build a Future
"We know that whenever you have these sort of atrocity crimes that happened here [Bosnia and Herzegovina], they're often preceded by hate."
Ingrid Macdonald is the UN Resident Coordinator in Bosnia and Herzegovina. She is tasked with spearheading the UN’s efforts to support development in a country still deeply scarred by ethnic divisions and the legacy of war and the 1995 genocide at Srebrenica. Ingrid, who was raised in a small New Zealand mining town, has a long record of working in humanitarian, development and human rights jobs around the world.
Since relocating to Sarajevo in early 2020, just as COVID-19 was taking hold across the world, Ingrid has been focused on finding ways to bring divided communities together, as well as tackle hate speech and genocide denial, just 26 years after Bosnian Serb forces massacred 8,000 Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica. In this episode, she talks about the challenges she faced in many of her roles and her vivid memories of trying to advocate for the vulnerable, including her time helping women in Afghanistan.
The social, economic and health impacts of COVID-19 add to the ongoing challenges faced by the Arhuaco indigenous people in the north of Colombia, including severe drought and shortage of water for agricultural production, due to climate change. WFP’s support has brought welcome relief to hundreds of indigenous families. Each family was given a toolbox for setting up a garden, with WFP’s technical assistance.
In collaboration with the renowned Magnum Photos agency, UNICEF presents an in-depth look at the pandemic experiences of children and young people across six countries. We hope you are moved by their stories and join UNICEF in advocating for a renewed global commitment to an inclusive recovery for children everywhere. The future of an entire generation is at stake.