World Toilet Day: Leaving no one behind

A toilet is not just a toilet. It’s a life-saver, dignity-protector and opportunity-maker. Whoever you are, wherever you are, sanitation is your human right. And yet, today, 4.2 billion people live without safely managed sanitation. World Toilet Day is celebrated on 19th November every year to inspire action to tackle the global sanitation crisis and expand access to safe toilets. How can anyone lift themselves out of poverty without sanitation? We must expand access to safe toilets and leave no one behind.

Students, members of the Health Brigade outside the latrines of Dikolelayi Primary School in Kananga, Kasai-Occidental province, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), 2018.
Photo:© UNICEF/UN0326757
A view of the sculpture - Good Defeats Evil - on the UN Headquarters grounds, presented to the UN by the Soviet Union on the occasion of the Organization’s 45th anniversary.

At UN, Middle East countries discuss steps towards regional nuclear-free zone

18 November 2019 — Representatives from across the Middle East are meeting at UN Headquarters this week in efforts to negotiate a legally binding treaty establishing a regional zone free of...

UNICEF reports uneven progress in 30 years of child rights treaty

18 November 2019 — Although the world has made historic gains over the past three decades in improving children’s lives, urgent action is required if the poorest children are to feel the impact, a...

ICC gives greenlight for probe into violent crimes against Rohingya

15 November 2019 — Judges of the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Thursday authorized an investigation into alleged crimes against humanity, namely deportation, which have forced between 600,...

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.


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.

Thomas the Tank engine

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.

children holding up books

Reading and learning are essential to children’s growth and development; stories can fuel their imagination and raise awareness of new possibilities. The SDG Book Club aims to encourage them to learn about the Goals in a fun, engaging way, empowering them to make a difference.

SDG 6 Clean Water and Sanitation


Clean Water and Sanitation

Clean, accessible water for all is an essential part of the world we want to live in and there is sufficient fresh water on the planet to achieve this.

More from the
United Nations

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

mother and daughter in Myanmar carrying firewood

The Economic Cost of Devaluing “Women’s Work”

As much as half of the world’s work is unpaid.  And most of it is done by women. This imbalance not only robs women of economic opportunities. It is also costly to society in the form of lower productivity and forgone economic growth. It follows that a fairer allocation of unpaid work would not only benefit women, but would also lead to more efficient work forces and stronger economies. An IMF study finds that unpaid work declines as economic development increases particularly because there is less time spent on domestic chores.

Locust infestation

eLocust3: solving an age-old problem with new technology

They may be small, but they are mighty. Wreaking havoc on crops, locusts are one of the oldest migratory pests in the world and a serious threat to agricultural production and food security. FAO’s eLocust3 is a handheld tablet and custom app that records and transmits data in real time via satellite to the national locust centres and to the Desert Locust Information Service (DLIS) in Rome. FAO’s around-the-clock monitoring of data and satellite imagery allows for the creation of forecasts up to six weeks in advance. 

A round-table meeting taking place during the tenth session of the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. United Nations Headquarters, New York, 14 June 2017. UN Photo/Kim Haughton.

Leaving No One Behind

Persons with disabilities should have a representative voice, chosen by persons with disabilities themselves, in every platform that has an impact on their interests, for they are best positioned to identify their own needs and the most suitable policies for meeting those needs. At the start of the current session of the UN General Assembly, the UN Chronicle asked Gopinathan Achamkulangare of the Joint Inspection Unit of the UN System about the current state of accessibility within the United Nations system and the prospects for addressing the situation comprehensively.

10 ways to reduce food loss: lessons from the field

Food losses occurring between harvest and retail sale, also known as post-harvest losses, are a key challenge undermining food security and income generation in many developing countries and one that IFAD is committed to alleviate.

Advocating for Somali marginalised communities’ inclusion via radio

A 2-day training workshop on media strategy and engagement was organized by the Human Rights and Protection Group (HRPG) with the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM).

illustration of a bathroom

What’s in your bathroom?

Many people are not aware of just how much plastic is hidden in their beauty and personal care routine. Switch to plastic-free packaging where possible, pledge to stop using products that contain hidden plastics, and demand change from the beauty brands that use them excessively.

woman with tissue

Five simple steps to protect against flu

Each year, millions of people come down with flu. Most recover within a week, but for an unlucky few, flu can be deadly. Here’s how you can protect yourself, and those around you.

Racha Haffar

I am Generation Equality: Racha Haffar, anti-trafficking activist

I am Generation Equality because... I want to create a better world where everyone is living equally and is respected, regardless of their gender, sex and sexual orientation.

virtual exhibit

Virtual exhibit by UNIDO

The United Nations Industrial Development Organization together with the United Arab Emirates, present this special platform to share information, exchange knowledge and tell the human stories related to inclusive and sustainble industrial development.

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.

A Geographical Indication (GI) is a label used on goods that have a specific geographical origin, highlighting their unique local features, history or distinctive characteristics. Parmigiano-Reggiano and Colombian coffee are famous examples. GI initiatives empower farmers to preserve and promote their territory and ensure their access to markets. GIs help create jobs, while preserving food heritage, local know-how and biodiversity. They also contribute to dietary diversity.

100 Years of Maternity Protection

100 years ago, the ILO adopted the first-ever international standard on maternity protection. Since that Convention, the definition of maternity protection has expanded and its importance has become more widely appreciated – including as an essential element in achieving the SDGs of good health, gender equality, decent work and economic growth. But, despite this progress, many mothers and mothers-to-be still face serious challenges in the workplace. Find out if your country ratified the Maternity Protection Convention, 2000 (No. 183).

Changing Climate, Changing Tides

“There used to be so much fish, but things are changing.” Roza, a fisherwoman, has worked for over 20 years in the Danube river basin. In the last decade, rising temperatures and lower water levels are forcing Roza to question the changing nature of her job. Increase in extreme weather events is causing more frequent flooding and a decline in the water quality. These changes are especially tough on laborers who depend on nature to make a living. UNDP and GEF are supporting the government of Serbia to find new, cost-effective and socially inclusive solutions to address the challenges of climate change.

UN Podcasts

Meinolf Schlotmann, Police Commissioner of UNSOM, poses for the camera in the audio booth.

Important ‘lessons learned’ could help other UN missions: Somalia police chief

Somalia could provide valuable "lessons learned for other mission set ups," according to the UN police commissioner there. In New York for UN Police Week, Meinolf Schlotmann, Police Commissioner of the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) said that the country is on "a very positive trajectory." 

He spoke of the close collaboration between UNSOM officers and their counterparts in the African Union Mission in the country (AMISOM), saying the two were working on the ground 'shoulder-to-shoulder." He began by telling Liz Scaffidi about the current situation in Somalia.

More UN podcasts

Live Now

United Nations meetings, events, and press conferences live and on demand

The United Nations in Pictures

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

A man stands in an open space and draws an abstract face on a school black board.
Photo:© IOM/ Monica Chiriac

Art Summer Camp for Youth in Niger

“When I was five, I started to draw with a piece of coal because we were too poor to afford pencils. At the time, I didn’t even know what drawing meant.” says Seyni Hima, co-founder of the NGO Art Monde. The workshop "Art Vacances," organized by Seyni’s local NGO, is meant as an educative space through visual arts for Nigerian youth and an opportunity to explore the children’s hidden talents. More than anything, the art summer camp is intended as a place of sharing and exchange between young people from different social backgrounds.

A woman wearing bright yellow stands in a lush green tea mountainous filed, holding a basket where she stores the tea leaves she plucked.
Photo:© UNICEF/UNI213237/Rudakubana

Tea and Day Care in Rwanda

When you sip your next green tea, you might stop to take in the aroma of the leaves. Chances are, you won’t be thinking about a small family in the hills of Rwanda. This is a story of work and leaving no child behind. High up in the mountains of Rwanda’s Western Province, Josephine Nyirakarenga works on a tea plantation in one of the hardest-to-reach areas, 2,400 metres above sea level. She was often late since she had to care for her twin children before heading to work. Not any more, thanks to the UNICEF-supported day care centre on the plantation.

Nuns and monks, with shaved heads and dressed in crimson robes, sit in organized rows as they look ahead in unison.
Photo:© UNFPA Bhutan/Nilanjana Bose

Bhutan's Changemakers in Crimson Robes

"There was a time when I would be menstruating and didn’t know what to do," said one of the Anims [nuns] and Lopens Gelongs [monks] in Bhutan who have taken charge of their own lives and bodies, empowered by the education they've received. They were some of the most venerable people in the kingdom. Today, they are agents of social change. They talk about issues one may generally not associate with spiritual leaders: menstruation, gender-based violence (including sexual violence), and the right to be who they want to be. Buddhism is linked with the lives of people in the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan. Spiritual leaders, Anims, and Lopens play a large role in framing people's mindsets and beliefs. 


An elderly man smiles ear to ear while tending to sheep with his grandson who is hugging one as large as himself.
Photo:© UNDP Armenia/Jodi Hilton

Caught in the Cross Fire, Armenia's Border Communities Reinvent Themselves

Traditionally, it was known as the "Little Switzerland of Armenia." Nowadays, the existing insecurity affects every aspect of life in borderline communities of the Tavush region. Most families left. Those who remain are resilient. Instead of despairing over an uncertain future, they are taking control. Farmers, workers, mayors decided to team up, their meetings quickly evolving into a breeding ground of ideas. They proposed retrofitting greenhouses with modern drip irrigation, buying tractors, and restoring schools and cultural centers. Projects financed by UNDP were chosen based on their potential for success and spread to neighboring communities. This and more in Voyages' Issue#3: Boundaries.