Committee Against Torture to hear country reports

The eradication of the practice of torture in the world was one of the major challenges taken up by the United Nations only a few years after its establishment. This culminated in the adoption of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Countries that have signed the Convention have to report on a regular basis to its monitoring body on the measures they have taken to prevent torture on their territory. The Committee Against Torture meets in Geneva (11 Nov-6 Dec 2019).

Children stand inside a cell at the Police Station in Gao, Mali, that was used by jihadists to torture victims during the occupation.
Photo:UN Photo/Marco Dormino
An Indian dance is performed at the United Nations Mission in South Sudan.

From Prince to Picasso, the arts can be just the tonic, new UN health agency study shows

11 November 2019 — From before birth, to the end of life, taking to the dance floor or sketching a still life, can positively affect our health and even prove more cost-effective than conventional...

UN chief calls for Bolivians to ensure credible elections as Morales resigns; protection for diplomatic missions

10 November 2019 — United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has urged all concerned parties in Bolivia to “refrain from violence, reduce tension and exercise maximum restraint” in the...

60,000 young refugees and migrants who arrived in Italy alone lack support

8 November 2019 — United Nations agencies on Friday highlighted the dire needs of thousands of unaccompanied and separated children who have arrived in Italy as refugees, lacking the proper...

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.

handle antibiotics with care

World Antibiotic Awareness Week 2019

Each November, World Antibiotic Awareness Week (18 – 24 November) aims to increase global awareness of antibiotic resistance and to encourage best practices among the general public, health workers and policy makers to avoid the further emergence and spread of antibiotic resistance. Since their discovery, antibiotics have served as the cornerstone of modern medicine. However, the persistent overuse and misuse of antibiotics in human and animal health have encouraged the emergence and spread of antibiotic resistance, which occurs when microbes, such as bacteria, become resistant to the drugs used to treat them.

Two women and a man are tending to their tomatoes inside a green house.

Growing Food Brings a Solution to an Indigenous Community’s Problems

For as long as he could remember, Benito González, from the indigenous Wixáritari community in western Mexico, had struggled to make ends meet and lived on the margins of society - as many indigenous peoples anywhere do. Since jobs were hard to find, and since his community lacked access to basic services and amenities (including health, education, drinking water, and decent housing), Benito, like many others, was forced to rely on social programmes and seek temporary work far from home. But life began to change when, with the help of FAO, it became possible for them to grow their own food.

A resident of Dabeiba, Colombia, is gifted a football at a match between former FARC-EP combatants and members of the Colombian Armed Forces, organized by the UN Verification Mission in Colombia. 19 June 2018. UN Photo/Jennifer Moreno Canizales.

Is Kindness the Secret to Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals?

"With the introduction of the SDGs, we have started to recognize the strong interdependency among all beings living on this planet, and how one person’s or country’s actions can affect others living thousands of kilometres away," argues Anantha Duraiappah. "Climate change is one example of this interdependency. One country’s actions can trigger extreme events such as droughts and floods, thus hindering the entire world’s progress towards achieving the SDGs." The author is Director of the Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development (UNESCO).

Tackling the leading causes of urban deaths

A new report by the World Health Organization offers guidance and tools for urban leaders to tackle some of the leading causes of death in cities, including non-communicable diseases and traffic injuries.


Join the global solidarity movement for gender equality. Millions of people like you have already made the HeForShe commitment globally. Commit to take action for a gender equal world.

Fostering gender equality in education

School director Tarekegn Degefu led the creation of a gender club and started a day care service at the school for teachers and staff after attending a gender-responsive pedagogy and assessment training organized as part of a UNESCO project in Ethiopia. 

The Convention on the Rights of the Child: The children’s version

The Convention on the Rights of the Child explains who children are, all their rights, and the responsibilities of governments. All the rights are connected, they are all equally important and they cannot be taken away from children. 

Nairobi Summit on ICPD25

On the 25th anniversary of the ground-breaking International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), the Nairobi Summit (12-14 November) will seek actionable commitments to address gender-based violence and uphold the right to sexual and reproductive health care.

A disabled man poses for a photo in the middle of a neighborhood street.

Guidelines: Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action

The Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Guidelines on the Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action will be launched 12 November 11:00am-12:30pm (UNICEF House, 3 United Nations Plaza). The Guidelines are the first of their kind and will be a key contribution to the Disability Inclusion Strategy launched by the Secretary-General last June.

A poster with an illustration of 2 boys facing each other with red hearts floating between them.

Award Ceremony: PLURAL+ Youth Video Festival

For the past 11 years, the IOM and UNAOC have invited youth filmmakers to submit short videos exploring the topics of migration, diversity, social inclusion, and the prevention of xenophobia. This year, PLURAL+ received a record number of entries from 68+ countries. RSVP to attend the award ceremony taking place 13 November 10:00am-1:00pm (ECOSOC Chamber, NY). Press Release ->>

Mobile voter identification application, presidential run-off election, Liberia, 2017.

Winning Magnanimously, Losing Graciously

The latest UN report on elections examines the erosion of trust in elections in different countries around the world in recent years, with accusations of manipulation via the Internet and social media and reports of foreign interference in polls becoming increasingly common. 

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.

Major Seynabou Diouf of the Senegal National Police has been selected as the 2019 United Nations Female Police Officer of the Year.

Twenty-five years ago, the world made a promise

Twenty-five years ago, the world was a different place. Incredible progress has been made in so many areas. So why haven’t we seen as much progress for women’s health and rights?

Sex Education in China

Families in China talk about comprehensive sex education for UNESCO’s Foundation of Life and Love campaign. What does CSE mean for you? Join the conversation at #CSEandMe

UN Podcasts

We see a dark room with laundry hung to dry in one corner, while a girl stands facing away from the camera and looks out towards the light that is shining through a shuttered glass door.

Contemporary Slavery Often 'Invisible and Clandestine'

Slavery is perpetuated by traditional practices such as child and forced marriage, and by the fact that almost 1/2 the countries in the world have yet to criminalize it. According to the latest UN figures, 40 million people were living in a state of modern slavery in 2016. One in 4 children are in forced labour, and about 98% of women who are in forced labour have also been subjected to sexual exploitation.

Deeply rooted in fear, with victims often “not realizing” they’re enslaved, it becomes "invisible", and "clandestine”, leaving victims unprotected, said Urmila Bhoola, Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Slavery, who sat down with UN News's Ana Carmo to talk through its causes and consequences.

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.

Irada holds a basket as she tends to the greenery in her hydroponic farm.

Palestinian Refugee Engineer Pioneers Hydroponic Farm in Northern Gaza

“Luckily, I was one of 200 people to receive training on green technology and environmentally friendly farming techniques," said Irada al-Zaáneen, 24-year-old agricultural engineer from Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip. After graduating from Al Azhar University, the crippling economic situation in the Strip greatly limited her job opportunities, but she didn't give up. Al-Zaáneen volunteered with many institutions and finally decided to bring her graduate research project to life by opening her very own hydroponics farm.

Troops cross a make-shift bridge made of tree trunks, which are placed over a stream of water in a dense green terrain.
Photo:©UNMIL/Christopher Herwig

Strengthening Protection: 20 Years of Protection of Civilians in UN Peacekeeping

Troops from the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) cross a make-shift bridge during a patrol in Gbarnga, Liberia. Patrols, particularly foot patrols such as this, enhance the UN’s visibility, thereby serving as a confidence building tool for communities to feel secure, while also deterring potential threats. In commemoration of the 20 years (1999–2019) during which protection of civilians has been included in the mandates of UN peace operations, we highlight the work of our peacekeepers in this photo essay.

A grim photo of cuffed hands holding onto prison bars.
Photo:©UNDP/Allan Gichigi

The True Cost of Discrimination

Discriminatory attitudes and punitive laws, policies and practices are fueling the HIV and tuberculosis (TB) epidemics in Africa, despite advances in prevention and treatment, which have saved millions of lives. It is the most vulnerable paying the price. HIV rates in prison, for example, are as high as 50%, while TB incidence rates are on average 23x higher than in the general population. Overcrowding and inadequate sanitation and nutrition contribute to a dangerous prison environment. “A human rights approach is important for one simple reason. Regardless of being a prisoner you are still a human being,” says Isaac Zimba. 

A young woman paints a mural on the wall of a bridge.
Photo:©UNDP Kosovo/Dardan Rushiti

Building Bridges - Young People Bring Color to Kosovo Heritage

Infusing modern art in an urban landscape can be a complex task. However, in Gjakovë/Đakovica, Kosovo, 18 young adults rose up to the challenge under a bridge through the grace of murals as a part of the UNDP’s restoration camps project together with Cultural Heritage without Borders. Six murals were designed on the 3 pillars facing the renowned Tabak bridge. The idea was to do some research about cultural heritage and interpret it through murals and drawings. This event is the fifth of its name, following other restorations of renowned cultural locations in Prizren, Pejë/Peć and Letnicë/Letnica.