72 million deaf people use 300 different sign languages

The International Day of Sign Languages (23 September) is a unique opportunity to support and protect the linguistic identity and cultural diversity of all deaf people and other sign language users. The Day also emphasizes the principle of “nothing about us without us” in terms of working with deaf communities. In 2020, the World Federation of the Deaf is issuing a Global Leaders Challenge. The challenge promotes the use of sign languages by local, national, and global leaders in partnership with national associations of deaf people in each country, as well as other deaf-led organisations.

Maleni Chaitoo, representative of the International Disability Alliance, addresses the meeting using sign language during the special event in observance of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (2015).
Photo:UN Photo/Amanda Voisard
A person browsing through social media on their laptop computer (content blurred to protect privacy). File Photo: World Bank

Countries urged to act against COVID-19 ‘infodemic’

23 September 2020 — The UN and partners have urged countries to take urgent action to address what they have described as the “infodemic” that has surfaced in tandem with the COVID-19 pandemic,...

Guterres advocates for digital world that ‘strengthens human rights, advances peace’

23 September 2020 — Amidst a technological era that “beckons with vast opportunity”, new risks exist to global peace, stability and development, the UN chief told a side event of the General...

Put ‘people before politics’ in Lebanon, urges Guterres, following Beirut disaster

23 September 2020 — It’s time that leaders across Lebanon put “people before politics” following last month’s explosions in Beirut port, said the UN chief on Wednesday, which must serve as a wake-...

UN Sustainable Development Goals

17 Goals to transform our world

The Sustainable Development Goals are a call for action by all countries — poor, rich and middle-income — to promote prosperity while protecting the planet.

Act Now

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.

Decade of Action

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.

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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.

Icons of all 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
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The 17 Sustainable Development Goals address the global challenges we face. Find out more and learn how they are all connected.

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United Nations

Featured stories from across the United Nations and our world-wide family of agencies, funds, and programmes.

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Follow the United Nations General Assembly UN75

Everything the United Nations stands for and works for – peace, progress and human rights – has been shaken to the core by the coronavirus. As we strive to recover, international cooperation has never been more important. On its 75th anniversary, and amidst the global COVID-19 pandemic, the UN will for the first time convene world leaders in a virtual format to seek solutions for a world in crisis. Several major events and the General Debate are expected to highlight action and solutions needed to secure healthy, peaceful and prosperous lives for all. Watch it unfold on UN Web TV. #UNGA

A health worker checking tying her facemask.

UN Plan to save lives, protect societies and recover better

COVID-19 has taken more than 900,000 lives and infected more than 27 million people. The updated UN Comprehensive Response to COVID-19 report provides an overview of the data, analysis, policy recommendations and concrete support that the UN has made available to cope with the health, socio-economic, humanitarian and human rights impacts of COVID-19. The report outlines the steps needed to save lives, protect societies and recover better. As the Secretary-General presented the report to the media he highlighted the importance of making a COVID-19 vaccine affordable and accessible for all.  

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SDG Moment 2020

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a blueprint for fighting poverty and hunger, confronting the climate crisis, achieving gender equality and much more. At a time of great uncertainty, the SDGs show the way forward to a strong recovery from COVID-19 and a better future for all on a safe and healthy planet. Convened by the UN Secretary-General, the first SDG Moment of the Decade of Action is the curtain raiser to UNGA 75. It is a moment to consider the challenges we face in meeting the SDGs and responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and set out what is needed to progress at scale.

New big data tool for all

Anyone anywhere can access multidimensional maps and statistics showing key climate and environmental trends wherever they are, thanks to a new tool developed by Google and FAO.

SDGs today

COVID-19 has torn a hole through society and shown us how closely health and a sustainable future are linked. UNDP calls to rise to the challenges and opportunities of the pandemic.

Women leadership not in the headlines

The question is not whether women can lead as capably as men. Instead UN Women asks why is women’s leadership invisible? How women lead for the wellbeing of all, in just five stories. 

Governments, smart data and wildfires

UNEP looks at the some of the different types of wildfires, assesses their impact and what is causing them, and why accurate, real-time data is so important for action to curb them.

Two men in the middle of a protest with burning tires, one carries many cameras.

Surge in attacks against journalists covering protests

A new UNESCO report highlights a sharp increase in the global number of protests during which the police and security forces violated media freedom. Between January and June this year, 21 protests around the world were marred by violations of press freedom, including protests in which journalists were attacked, arrested and even killed. The report suggests that a troubling new threshold has been crossed, revealing a growing threat to media freedom and freedom of access to information.

Close-up of a man.

Sudanese scholar defies all odds and secures a scholarship

There is only one word to describe Mohtas Anwar Modier’s current mood – overjoyed. The 28-year-old Sudanese refugee arrived in Italy to advance his education. In June, he learned he received a scholarship to study at the prestigious Luiss University in Rome. The initiative, with support from UNHCR and partners, offers refugee students the opportunity to pursue their academic goals. For refugees like Mohtas, graduating from university is a triumph over the odds and an inspiration to others.

Woman walking by a store with a sign that reads “Send money here”.

Supporting migrants and remittances during COVID-19

COVID-19 has had an oversized negative impact on migrant workers. Perhaps surprisingly, despite the bleak experience for foreign overseas workers during the pandemic, the effect on remittances—the flow of money they send back home—has, in many cases, proven resilient. But that trend may yet be upended. The predicament of migrant workers over the last few months has highlighted the pressing need—now greater than ever—to support them and their families back home. IMF offers some suggestions.

Hand handwriting on paper.

How to boost Ukraine’s economic recovery

The COVID-19 pandemic had a drastic impact on the industrial sector of Ukraine. Approximately 700,000 small businesses in the service sector have closed - leading to the loss of between 3.5 to 4 million jobs. This is a particularly concerning figure given that Ukraine's small and medium-sized enterprises SME sector includes a high proportion of women-led micro-enterprises and female employees. In response, UNIDO joined partners in a new initiative to bolster the nation’s economic recovery.

What we do

Due to the powers vested in its Charter and its unique international character, the United Nations can take action on the issues confronting humanity in the 21st century, including:

Structure of the
United Nations

The main parts of the UN structure are the General Assembly, the
Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, the Trusteeship Council, the International Court of Justice, and the UN Secretariat. All were established in 1945 when the UN was founded.

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.

Learn more

The Middelgrunden Off Shore Windturbines located in the Øresund Straight separating Denmark and Sweden. UN Photo

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 at UN CSW63 Side Event - “Take the Hot Seat”. Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown

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.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres is greeted on his visit to the Central African Republic

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.

young children smiling at camera

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

Did you know?

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.

Watch and Listen

Video and audio from across the United Nations and our world-wide family of agencies, funds, and programmes.

In 2010, the General Assembly adopted a landmark resolution to merge four parts of the United Nations system into UN Women. As we celebrate our tenth anniversary during the COVID-19 pandemic, the human rights of women and girls have more prominence, universality and more urgency than ever before. We thank all those who have made this journey with. We thank all those who support us with resources of all kinds, who work with us, walk with us, talk and tweet with us. We are proud to be the global champion and an ally for women and girls. We are ten years strong and ready for the next ten.

Climate Change Action Plan Delivers $83 Billion and Results

The World Bank Group is helping countries tackle a fast-changing climate. We are going big, being creative, and, above all, helping people and countries re-imagine a climate-smart future. Be ambitious with us! Learn more.

Debating the Futures of Education : The new normal

“Debating the Futures of Education” is a video series produced by UNESCO, within the framework of an initiative that seeks to reimagine the futures of education. Here UNESCO asks viewers to think about how COVID-19 has made us reassess what we used to accept as “normal”. Learn about ways to contribute to the Futures of Education initiative.

UN Podcasts

Winnie is wearing a beautiful pink head-wrap and is seated, leaning forward, as she listens intently with children seen in the background.

These Battles are Worth Fighting

"...[P]eople living with HIV need to go to the clinic to collect their ARVs. Now many are afraid because they think they're going to catch Corona there. Others are prohibited because lockdowns include restrictions on movement. So we had to move in quickly to help governments to know how to apply public safety measures that don't take away the opportunity for people living with HIV and are vulnerable to seek their treatments. Then there's also human rights, that when public safety measures are applied evenly and forcefully that certain groups of people whose human rights are contested tend to suffer even more. So you found gay people, you found sex workers, you found people who inject drugs, transgender people, facing particular difficulties, more discrimination, more stigmatisation in the context of Corona."

Winnie Byanyima recently became the Director-General of UNAIDS, the UN organization leading the global effort to end HIV AIDS as a public health threat by 2030. Appointed in February, the start of her journey has been full on with the rise of COVID-19. She talks with USG Melissa Fleming, in this episode of Awake At Night, about what it's been like having to deal with the complexities of two pandemics at once and what she has learnt so far.

Latest Audio from UN News

The United Nations in Pictures

Images from across the United Nations and our world-wide family of agencies, funds, and programmes.

Children collect water in a neighborhood devastated by the floods.
Photo:WFP/Massoud Hossaini

‘My family was destroyed’: Flash floods devastate community in Afghanistan

“We lost our house and all our belongings. Right now, we cannot even buy a box of matches. This food is very important for us and will help us survive.” To date, 15,000 people have received food in Parwan and four other Afghani provinces affected by floods, which came at a time when the country was already grappling with the impact of COVID-19. WFP plans to reach an additional 3 million people by the end of this year, who are affected by increasing food insecurity exacerbated by loss of jobs and income imposed by the pandemic.

A densely populated, low-lying country dominated by floodplains, Bangladesh is exceptionally vulnerable to flooding.
Photo:UNDP Bangladesh/ICBA-AR Project

Giving vulnerable Bangladeshis the resources to cope with climate change

A densely populated, low-lying country dominated by floodplains, Bangladesh is exceptionally vulnerable to flooding. Long subject to frequent cyclones, extreme weather and storm surges, climate change is now supercharging those events. Meanwhile, rising sea levels are driving a slow onset disaster in salinization. In earlier days, river and pond water was safe to drink. Now, the water tastes salty, and residents feel abdominal pain all the time, often suffering from diarrhea, dysentery and jaundice. Find out how UNDP is supporting Bangladesh in battling these changes.

A farmer is seen walking through a green field, buried up to his shoulders by tall crops.
Photo:©FAO/Giulio Napolitano

Fuel not Fire: from burning crop waste to bioenergy - Finding sustainable uses for crop waste in India and worldwide

The problem? Burning crop residues. Although it causes a variety of health issues and significantly raises levels of pollution, it is a common practice in India and many other countries around the world. The solution? Turn the crop residues into something useful, such as bioenergy. Through its Bioenergy and Food Security (BEFS) approach, FAO provides countries with the guidance, tools and support to implement bioenergy strategies in a sustainable way, with minimal impact on the environment. For example, residues from rice crops could be turned into compressed biogas and ethanol; new and more sustainable forms of energy.

Farmers in rice fields.
Photo:©FAO/Fanilo Randriatsizafy

A higher-yield rice variety moves Madagascar further on the path to self-sufficiency

Madagascar has a rich history of rice cultivation. Outside of Asia, Madagascar has the longest tradition of rice production, and this staple is cultivated in almost all districts of the country. In Madagascar, however, people earn less than US 1.90 per day on average, and the Malagasy population is severely affected by food insecurity, including food shortages. Domestic production of rice, for example, still does not meet the needs of the island, and the country has to rely heavily on imported rice to help ensure national food security. Through FAO’s South-South Cooperation project between China and Madagascar, participants are hoping that a better-yielding variety of rice will help ensure the country’s food security and reduce its reliance on imports of this staple.