As instances of hate speech, stigma, discrimination and xenophobia continue to rise as a result of COVID-19, the United Nations works to ensure that solidarity prevails during the pandemic. According to the IOM, stigmatization during crisis situations is not new. Migrants have often been scapegoated for endangering native populations. Therefore, efforts by the IOM include follow-up calls to migrant communities returning home to check on their wellbeing. Additionally, the UN has issued guidance to address COVID-19 related hate speech to also fight the virus of hate.
Thousands of jobless migrant workers from Myanmar return home from Thailand.
Photo:International Organization for Migration (IOM)
The ActNow Climate Campaign aims to trigger individual action on the defining issue of our time. People around the world will be engaged 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.
As countries fight their own battles against the same virus, WHO’s presence has never been more essential. WHO works to connect the best minds from around the world to solve this crisis together. The Organization’s work is focussed on promoting the roles of evidence-based science, guided by the United Nations’ principles of neutrality, impartiality, human rights and equity. WHO is working to gather data and continue educating the world on the virus as the situation evolves.
The World Bank is committed to help countries respond to the health emergency, contain economic damage, and start planning for long-term recovery. We have set up fast-track financing for COVID-19 response efforts and have these underway already in over 60 client countries. Through a combination of new projects, restructuring and emergency components of existing projects, and deployment of our disaster finance instruments, we expect our COVID-19 work to reach 100 countries.
UNESCO and the International Council of Museums confirm that museums have been especially affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, with nearly 90% of them, or more than 85,000 institutions, having closed their doors. Nearly 13% of museums around the world may never reopen. The two studies were aimed at assessing the impact of COVID-19 on museums. They also aimed to find out how the sector had adapted to the pandemic and explore ways to support institutions in its aftermath.
The African continent looks like it could be the worst hit from the economic fallout of the crisis: 80 million Africans could be pushed into extreme poverty if action is not taken. And disruptions in food systems raise the prospect of more Africans falling into hunger. Rural people, many of whom work on small-scale farms, are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of the crisis. IFAD therefore urges that the COVID-19 response address food security and target the rural poor.
As the Coronavirus pandemic spreads through Latin America, the UN Refugee Agency is warning that many displaced indigenous communities are now dangerously exposed and at risk. National lockdowns have also ground to a halt many of their livelihood activities, such as farming, the selling of produce and handicraft production. UNHCR works with national governments to ensure COVID-19 prevention measures and assistance reaches remote areas where these groups have found safety.
UNDP’s focus on inequality and poverty makes them uniquely positioned to help countries to prepare, respond, and fully recover from the pandemic. UNDP conducts quick assessments of the social and economic blowback from COVID-19, so governments can ensure urgent recovery measures and longer-term social protection, especially for the disadvantaged and marginalized. The US$30 million Rapid Response Facility provides funds within 72 hours, and more than 83 countries have benefitted.
The COVID-19 crisis has exposed gaps in social protection coverage in developing countries, and recovery will only be sustained, and future crises prevented if they can transform their ad hoc crisis response measures into social protection systems, according to the ILO. While the virus does not discriminate between rich and poor, its effects are highly uneven. The brief also warns policymakers to avoid a singular focus on COVID-19 and not reduce access to care for other conditions.
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.
In 2020, the United Nations turns 75. UN75 aims to build a global vision for the year 2045, the UN's centenary; to increase understanding of the threats to that future; and to drive collective action to realize that vision. #Join the Conversation #Be the Change
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.
Biodiversity in Colombia - A champion in protected areas
A celebration of the incredible biodiversity in the national parks of Colombia, the host of World Environment Day 2020. Colombia is one of the most biodiverse countries on Earth, home to over 51,000 species. To preserve them Colombia has over the last decade more than doubled the size of its protected areas.
WHO: A global response to a global pandemic
WHO is uniting across borders to speed up the development of tests, treatments and a vaccine for COVID-19, while continuing our work to promote health and serve the vulnerable. Now more than ever the world needs WHO.
COVID-19 Response: 5 Women on the Front Lines
Women are at the heart of care and response efforts for the #COVID19 pandemic. As front-line responders, health professionals, community volunteers, transport and logistics managers, scientists and more, women are making critical contributions to address the outbreak every day. UN Women is working to provide support to all women on the front lines of the fight against this pandemic.
Technology for Good: Cybersecurity
COVID-19 has made the world a more challenging place than ever for many of us, but have all the physical precautions we are taking made us forget about keeping connected online in a safe manner? Listen to our exclusive technological expert interviewees share their stories and their views, in this latest episode of our new podcast series.
This podcast is the fourth episode of “Technology for Good”- an ITU podcast series that focuses on how technology is helping to shape the world around us. Listen now...and don't forget to like and subscribe to be the first to hear the next episode! Available on Soundcloud, Spotify, Apple Podcasts and more.
Any views and opinions expressed by interviewees in this series are expressed independently and are not linked to ITU.
Images from across the United Nations and our world-wide family of agencies, funds, and programmes.
School feeding at home
Almost 1.6 billion children and youth in 197 countries are missing school as classes have been suspended to restrain the spread of COVID-19. Some 370 million among them are no longer receiving school meals — often the only meals they could count on. The goal of the ‘school feeding at home’ initiative is reaching vulnerable children to prevent the COVID-19 health pandemic turn into a hunger pandemic.
Yemen: COVID-19 through the eyes of a health-care worker
Just months after the start of the conflict, a mass exodus of health-care professionals occurred in Yemen. Doctors, midwives, nurses and surgeons fled to other countries seeking safety, and the communities formed worldwide are now known as the “Yemeni diaspora.” Despite this, a large group of health-care workers stayed behind, dealing with a plethora of outbreaks, emergencies and injuries. They are the backbone of Yemen’s health system, the unsung heroes in this war.
Deafening silence and uncertainty in Afghanistan
As parts of the country have locked down to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the situation has become even more dire for internally-displaced children. Crowded living quarters, limited to no access to clean water and sanitation, and severely curtailed health care all increase the risk of the coronavirus spreading among displaced communities, yet all are a daily reality for many displaced Afghan families. UNICEF and partners are on the ground helping to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and reducing the devastation to these already fragile communities.
Photo:UNDP/Sarawak Biodiversity Centre
Our solutions are in nature
One way to protect biodiversity and ecosystems is to find symbiotic solutions that work for people and for the planet. An exemplar of such a win-win solution is found in Long Kerebangan, located in the Malaysian state of Sarawak on the island of Borneo. Here indigenous communities are harvesting a local plant, Litsea cubeba for its essential oil to make a locally produced soap.