75 years of connecting the world

International Civil Aviation Day, 7 December, commemorates the signing in 1944 of the Convention on International Civil Aviation. Known as the ‘Chicago Convention,’ this landmark agreement established the core principles governing international transport by air and led to the creation of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), in charge of setting civil aviation standards and policies in support of a safe, efficient, secure, and environmentally responsible civil aviation sector. This year ICAO marks 75 years of connecting the world.

Passenger aircraft at airport terminal.
Photo:Serge Davidyants
UN peacekeepers in the Mopti region of central Mali during a military operation.

UN evaluates progress in improving peacekeeping performance

6 December 2019 — The international community on Friday took stock of action to improve UN peacekeeping in line with a Security Council resolution aimed at enhancing performance at all levels,...

UN rights chief ‘extremely concerned’ over deadly crackdown on protesters in Iran

6 December 2019 — In the wake of recent protests in Iran, the top United Nations human rights official expressed alarm on Friday over multiple human rights violations which have reportedly taken...

Measles ‘misinformation campaigns’ through social media, fuel rising toll

5 December 2019 — Measles deaths and infections in 2019 are set to “substantially exceed” last year’s toll when more than 142,000 people died from the preventable disease, the World Health...

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.

Elyx

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.

SDG7 - affordable and clean energy
 
Affordable and Clean Energy

Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.

More from the
United Nations

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

collage with animation showing young people demonstrating

Stand up for human rights

We need to stand up for our rights and those of others. We can take action in our own daily lives, to uphold the rights that protect us all and thereby promote the kinship of all human beings. Wherever there is discrimination, we can step forward to help safeguard someone's right to live free from fear and abuse. The UN Human Rights Office upholds values that are the roots of peace and inclusion. Join us. It starts with each of us. This Human Rights Day and every day stand up for human rights.

DGC staff member Lonjezo Hamisi standing in front of the ancient Nubian pyramids in Meroe, northern Sudan (16 August 2019/Lonjezo Hamisi).

A staff member’s reflections on peacekeeping deployment

Like many prospective staff members, Lonjezo Hamisi envisioned serving at some point in his career in a region beset by war, injustice, poor governance and poverty, with the hope of easing the plight of the people most in need on the ground. He got his chance when he was posted to the United Nations-African Union Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), where he served as Special Assistant to the Mission Chief of Staff.

dehydrating cacao beans

Bolivia’s sweet new industry

In the Bolivian countryside an appetizing industry has taken off, bringing a sweet new business to rural communities: chocolate production. When it comes to chocolate, Bolivia might not be the first place you think of yet - but thanks to the combined efforts of FAO, smallholder farming collectives and indigenous producers, it soon will be. Over the past five years, Bolivia’s chocolate producers have been quietly racking up the achievements and gaining global recognition for the quality of their products

Teaching behind bars in Valparaiso

The Juan Luis Vives school is located in the Valparaiso Penitentiary Centre, Chile. Founded in 1999, the institution provides basic and secondary education, and vocational training for detainees. The school was awarded the UNESCO Confucius Prize for Literacy in 2015.

Greenhouse gas concentrations in atmosphere reach yet another high

The increase in CO2 from 2017 to 2018 was above the average growth rate over the last decade. 

The adaptive age

Our efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through various mitigation measures—phasing out fossil fuels, increasing energy efficiency, adopting renewable energy sources, improving land use and agricultural practices—continue to move forward, but the pace is too slow, argues IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva in this editorial.

Basque community opens its doors to welcome family from Syria

A community sponsorship pilot programme aims to provide wrap-around care to five families of refugees as they settle in the Basque Country. It stems from a collaboration between civil society groups, central and regional governments and UNHCR.

staff members compete in challenge at UNAIDs headquarters in Geneva

UNAIDS staff member breaks gruelling world record

Peter Koopmans, who has been working for UNAIDS for 10 years, began the record attempt on World AIDS Day, 1 December, to raise money for a South African charity working to support sexually abused children and to increase awareness around HIV in the province of KwaZulu-Natal. Mr. Koopmans has raised US$ 21,000 for the South African charity Bobbi Bear, which was supplemented by funds from UNAIDS World AIDS Day fundraising activities, bringing the total to well over US$ 25,000.

Wael Abu Ismael, Freeh Abu T’ema and Mossa Abu Taema

The men standing tall against early marriages in the Gaza Strip

Wael Abu Ismael, Freeh Abu T’ema and Mossa Abu Taema are ambassadors of change to end early marriages in Khan Younis, a border town in the Gaza Strip, Palestine, where early and child marriages are common. They have undergone a training delivered by a community-based organization, the Future Brilliant Society, as part of UN Women’s Regional Men and Women for Gender Equality Programme. The ambassadors have prevented early marriages in 50 families and counting.

a team exercise during assignment preparation training held in Istanbul, Turkey

Creating inclusive workplaces for people with disabilities in Belarus

In Belarus, Aliaksandr (Sasha) Audzevich serves as a UN Volunteer Inclusion and Disabilities Officer with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). He is part of the UNDP-UNV Talent Programme for Young Persons with Disabilities, which enables youth with disabilities to acquire experience and contribute to the United Nations as UN Volunteers. Sasha shares his story on the occasion of International Volunteer Day 2019.

Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, officially received the new equipment provided by the IAEA

New Equipment, New Graduates to Increase Impact of Nuclear Science in Madagascar

New equipment worth over €600,000 provided to the Government of Madagascar by the IAEA, means the country again has a functioning gamma camera for nuclear imaging, and its experts in many fields from soil science to isotope hydrology and mining research can pursue state-of-the-art research in support of the country’s development objectives.

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.

Still, many invalid opinions hold back millions of people with disabilities globally from entering and progressing in the workplace. Oftentimes, people with disabilities continue to be dismissed, judged or belittled. Mostly, these invalid opinions and comments aren’t even intended to be malicious. They’re well-meaning, but miss the mark, because the person making them assumes the person they’re addressing is weaker, more vulnerable, or less likely to succeed professionally and in life in general because of their disability. The #invalidopinions campaign puts a spotlight on a number of individuals defying these invalid opinions everyday. Your opinion matters. Make sure it’s valid.

A Teenager Takes on Restrictive Exam Rules, and Wins!

Maria Alexandrova became Bulgaria's first adolescent living with cerebral palsy to take the prestigious Cambridge Assessment in English. Her advocacy led to the local exam centre agreeing to change the timing of the test and let her use a computer. These changes pave the way for other students with physical challenges to take the exam, boosting their chances to go to university, find work and live independent lives. Maria's story is part of the UNICEF Europe and Central Asia Office's ongoing look – as the world marks the 30th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child – at young heroes using their voice to protect and promote the rights of their peers.

Harlem Globetrotters Score for Peace

The world-famous Harlem Globetrotters brought their basketball skills to the United Nations, where they scored big for its goals of peace (SDG 16), gender equality (SDG 5) and the empowerment of youth. Combining an inspirational message with dexterous skills, these players showed the power of teamwork for peace and understanding.

UN Podcasts

Ms. Naoual Driouich, chief of UN System Affairs and New York Office of UN Volunteers (UNV).

Celebrating the ‘Power and Potential’ of Volunteerism

Volunteerism opens doors and impacts peace and development throughout local communities as well as on a national and global level, according to the chief of UN System Affairs and New York Office of UN Volunteers (UNV). Particularly for those excluded, it provides a concrete way to “impact their own lives and play a constructive role in their communities," Naoual Driouich said, in an interview with UN News ahead of International Volunteer Day.

She knows her way around the UN system, having previously served with UN Women and the UN Development Programme, UNDP, in Iraq, Yemen and other hotspots, seeing “first-hand” the difference volunteering can make.

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 closeup shot of a Spoon-billed Sandpiper (critically endangered bird) as it drinks water. Also seen is a clear reflection of the bird on the water surface.
Photo:UNDP Thailand

Co-operation for Co-existence

There are less than 400 Spoon-billed Sandpiper (SBS) worldwide. The critically endangered bird is a small migratory wader that breeds in north-eastern Russia and winters in South and South-East Asia; small numbers are recorded in the inner Gulf of Thailand. The good news is mudflats in Khok Kham salt-farming community are rich in food resources for SBS. Salt farming methods have created ecosystems particularly well-suited for feeding and sheltering migratory shorebirds. The bad news is there are just 28 salt-farmers left in the Khok Kham. If salt farming disappears, it will render the return of SBS unlikely. The recognition of symbiosis between bird and farmer is key to preserving biodiversity via sustainable development.

A girl stands proud at a doorway and a colorful curtain flutters behind her as the sun shines on her face.
Photo:UNDP Angola/Cynthia R. Matonhodze

Bridging the HIV Divide

"At first they used to say 'these things are for older people; you can't be here talking.' Now they have started getting used to it and started talking to me,” Reginalda Elias (16) said. Globally, an estimated 6,000 young women and girls become infected with HIV each week. This is particularly stark in Angola where new HIV infections among women aged 15-24 are more than double those of young men. The end of the 27-year civil war in 2002 heralded a new beginning. But widespread inequalities, poverty and a climate change-induced drought in the Eastern and Southern provinces have pushed people’s coping mechanisms to the limit. Angola is one of the few countries in Africa where new HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths have risen in the last 10 years. But the next generation of female activists are fighting back.

A woman carries Bawk Ra on her back whilst a boy walks next to them sheltering them with an umbrella as they wade through floods.
Photo:UNHCR/Bawk Ra

What is it like to live with a disability when you’re displaced?

Bawk Ra from Myanmar lost the ability to walk when she was 5. Then she lost her home. With a smartphone, training and help from her family, she captured her life on camera. "I wish someone could understand my worries." As a result of ongoing conflict in Myanmar’s Kachin State, more than 107,000 people live in camps for the internally displaced. Many camps have few livelihood opportunities and limited access to health care and education. This photography project, run by UNHCR and Yangon Photo Festival, gives people like Bawk Ra the skills to share their own stories. Bawk Ra has since won an award for these photos – and a brand new Canon camera.

A black and white photo of a boy standing on tree roots that are submereged in water. In the distance, he observes tankers that are brining in drinking water.
Photo:WHO/Shanth Kumar - India

Climate Change and Health in Pictures

“The Marathwada region in India was hit by the worst drought in 40 years, affecting nearly nine million farmers and their families. With taps and wells running dry, drinking water was brought in with tankers - 17 liters per person, once every 14 days.” WHO's message: implement and monitor national policies that protect the health of your citizens from climate change. This is one of the five key WHO messages on climate and health, captured by five powerful images.