Health, ECOSOC

A Vaccine for All

As the world struggles with a pandemic of historical proportions, immense progress has been made with the launch of the first vaccines against COVID-19. The race to develop and deploy safe and effective vaccines everywhere is a top priority for the international community, especially with new contagious COVID-19 strains. But inequality in access to the vaccine is threatening to deepen further the divide between the poor and the rich countries. The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) is convening, on 16 April, a special high-level meeting on a vaccine for all. 

“I am very grateful for the vaccine,” says Aesha, 62, a Syrian refugee, with her granddaughter, receiving her COVID-19 vaccine in Za’atari Refugee Camp, where she has lived since 2013.
Photo:© UNICEF/Moises Saman
Internally displaced children paly in the Mohammed Goni International Stadium camp in Maiduguri in northeastern Nigeria.

Northeast Nigeria violence forces 65,000 to flee, humanitarians targeted by armed groups

16 April 2021 — A spate of clashes involving Government security forces and insurgent groups in northeast Nigeria has caused mass displacement and threatened humanitarian assistance, as armed...

UN envoy highlights diplomatic unity, as key to help end Yemen war

15 April 2021 — The UN Special Envoy for Yemen appealed on Thursday for warring parties to implement a nationwide ceasefire and agree a date for peace talks, in line with a plan to end their...

Alert over shortage of new drugs for ‘world’s most dangerous bacteria’  

15 April 2021 — A lack of new treatments for common infections has left people dangerously exposed to the “world’s most dangerous bacteria”, the UN health agency said on Thursday. 

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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.

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.

SDG Goal 3: Good health and wellbeing with drawing of heart monitor line and heart

 

Goal 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages

 

More from the
United Nations

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

A woman holding birth control pills. UNFPA, Women and Gender Equality

My body is my own

Bodily autonomy means that we have the power and agency to make choices over our bodies and futures, without violence or coercion. This edition of the State of World Population, UNFPA highlights why bodily autonomy is a universal right that must be upheld. The report reveals how serious many of the shortfalls in bodily autonomy are; many have worsened under the pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic. Right now, for instance, record numbers of women and girls are at risk of gender-based violence and harmful practices such as early marriage.

Protestors hold up a sign that reads: Stand Up Speak Up. UNDP, Democracy and Governance

The great transformation

Twenty first century problems cannot be tackled with 20th century institutions. There’s a growing gap between the interconnected, structural, and increasingly unpredictable and complex challenges we are facing. The climate emergency, the lack of trust in institutions, growing levels of inequality, particularly for women, highlight the need for change. UNDP calls for new policies grounded in humility that acknowledge that radical uncertainty is now our reality and that it can only be tackled with deep and wide-ranging systemic change.

People wearing facemasks in a crowded street. IMF, Democracy and Governance

Tailoring government support

The race to vaccinate against COVID-19 continues, but the pace of inoculation varies across countries, with access unavailable to many. Global cooperation must be stepped up to produce and distribute vaccines at affordable costs. The sooner vaccinations curb the pandemic, the faster economies can return to normal. Many low-income countries, even after doing their part, face challenges in dealing with the pandemic, in the near term and for development over time, as indicated in recent IMF research. They will need additional assistance.

UNEP, Human Rights

Healthy environment should be a human right

UNEP highlights at least 155 states recognize a healthy environment as a human right, either through national legislation or international accords, like the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

UNRWA, Humanitarian Aid

Be the light for Gaza

The people of Gaza are battling a pandemic, unemployment, and poverty while trying to cling to hope. UNRWA launched the 2021 Ramadan campaign so everyone has enough to eat during this holy month.

IMO

Exceptional maritime people honoured

The IMO recognizes the contributions of a maritime industry chief and presents its highest bravery accolade to two maritime pilots from Brazil and an off-duty seafarer from the Philippines.

UNESCO, Art

World Art Day

UNESCO World Art Day (15 April) reinforces the links between art and society, encourages greater diversity of expression and highlights artist contributions to sustainable development.

Thomas Pesquet wearing a space suit. FAO, Agriculture and Food

FAO Goodwill Ambassador Thomas Pesquet

European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet is named FAO Goodwill Ambassador on the observance of the International Day of Human Space Flight. Pesquet will help FAO raise awareness about the importance of transforming the world's agri-food systems, making them more resilient, inclusive, efficient, and sustainable to overcome the challenges of persisting and growing hunger, and preserving the planet's environment and biodiversity. FAO believes in the potential and contribution of space science and technology to end hunger.

A woman wearing a helmet looks at her phone. ILO, Employment

Decent work in digital labour platforms

After the COVID-19 outbreak, demand grew considerably. The government deemed delivery work as essential, next to key activities such as public health and transportation, among others. ILO features the challenges faced by digital platform workers, who have been contributing greatly during this crisis. It sounds nice to take part in essential work, but decent work would be better. Treated by the companies as independent contractors, most of us have no social protection benefits, such as pension coverage, health, or insurance plans.

An olive hangs from an olive branch. IFAD, Agriculture and Food

The promises the olive grove holds

Growing olive trees in Jordan, one of the driest countries in the world, isn’t easy. IFAD’s work in Jordan focuses on increasing the agriculture sector’s contribution to national GDP by creating jobs. This empowers rural people – especially women and youth – to turn their farming into sustainable, profitable small businesses. Local programmes help small-scale farmers become more resilient to the effects of climate change and other risks to their production, as well as on facilitating access to financial services and markets.

A goalkeeper looks up and points his two index fingers towards the sky. WHO, Health

“Give a Breath for Health”

Champion goalkeeper Alisson Becker, WHO Goodwill ambassador for health promotion, is kickstarting a new global WHO fundraising campaign, titled “Give a Breath for Health”. The initiative aims to support the delivery of oxygen and other life-saving supplies to health facilities treating patients with COVID-19 around the world. The first donation to the campaign, made by Alisson, will contribute with supplies to locations in the Amazon and collaborate with the efforts of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), and partners.

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

The UN’s 75th anniversary in 2020 arrived at a time of great upheaval and peril. To secure a world where everyone can thrive in peace, dignity and equality on a healthy planet we need a multilateral system that is inclusive, networked and effective. "Our Common Agenda" will build on the 12 commitments contained in the UN75 Declaration.

Watch and Listen

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

Around the world, only 55% of girls and women are able to make their own decisions about their bodily autonomy. But, what exactly is bodily autonomy and why is it so important? Watch this video to find out and learn more at unfpa.org/autonomy

Y-Action: COVID-19 Music-education

In this Y- Action video of UNESCO Youth response to COVID-19 music will take the main lead to connect and educate the community about barrier gestures to fight covid and create awareness about information. They inspire us by keeping the good vibes that music brings with a whisper of hope.

UN Podcasts

robot reaching for an apple handed by a human

Getting by with a little help from our (virtual) friends

By 2030, two billion people are expected to rely on so-called “assistive” technology aids in their daily lives to eat, see, hear and even get dressed, according to UN patent experts at WIPO, the World Intellectual Property Organization.

It will also be possible to flag when anyone suffering from severe depression or other degenerative brain conditions might need help from a relative or carer, as Irene Kitsara from WIPO tells UN News’s Daniel Johnson.

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.

hiker in the mountains
Photo:UNDP Bosnia and Herzogvina /Vedran Kurteš

There’s an app for that: a new way for Bosnia and Herzegovinians to avoid land mines

It is estimated that just under 2% of Bosnia and Herzegovina's territory is still contaminated by land mines, down from 8% following the war that ended in 1995. An estimated 32,000 households are exposed to direct risk. Knowing the locations of these mines can be lifesaving. Part of a European Union initiative has been to create a mobile phone application that allows citizens to be aware of and avoid the locations of mine suspected areas throughout the country. Mountaineer Thierry Joubert specializes in developing and running responsible walking and cycling trips along the Via Dinarica. “I can see right on the spot if something is suspected or not,” he says. “We didn’t have that before, you’d have to carry a map." Volunteers can also report suspected locations of unexploded ordnance through the app.

women deminers at work
Photo:UN Photo/Martine Perret

How can we get more women into mine action?

Across a range of fields, we're still having conversations about the need for gender equality. Mine action is no exception. This might be because the military and the police – both very male-dominated fields – are the traditional recruiting grounds for people to work in mine action. Members of the UNOPS Peace and Security Cluster, in their support to UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS) in Mali, took on this challenge by re-assessing the programme as it is now and where it needs to be in the future – and how that translates into the way recruitment is done. Amending the certification requirements or the number of years of military experience required, as well as recognizing non-military experience (such as work with mine action non-governmental organizations or in law enforcement) could help address this. Using a targeted and proactive approach to recruitment can also increase the diversity of the applicant pool. 

people wading through flood waters
Photo:FAO

Why the climate crisis is a humanitarian emergency

From Sudan to Afghanistan to Bangladesh, the effects of climate change are creating more need for humanitarian aid in the form of food, shelter and medical care. The impacts are unevenly weighted against the poorest people and those with the least resources to withstand climate shocks and stresses. Over half of all humanitarian crises are somewhat predictable and 20 per cent are very predictable. Yet less than 1 per cent of humanitarian appeals funding is channelled to anticipatory action. Extreme climate- and weather-related events are more common and severe, yet most humanitarian responses continue to be launched only after extreme weather events have already resulted in critical damages to the most vulnerable people. We need to prevent extreme weather events from becoming humanitarian disasters through more effective disaster risk reduction and management, including early warning, anticipatory action and early action. 

mother and baby
Photo:UNICEF/Garroway

Families trying to stay safe as Saint Vincent volcano erupts

For the past five months, Meddisha Johnson, a resident of the community of Georgetown on the Leeward side of Saint Vincent expected that she would have to leave her home at a moment’s notice as the La Soufriere Volcano in the mountains above her family’s home rumbled to life. On the afternoon of 8 April 2021, Meddesha and 20,000 residents in the designated red zone were issued with a mandatory evacuation order. They were mostly packed and waiting and speedily boarded private or government-provided transportation to journey to the 60- plus government shelters which were opened in the Eastern Caribbean country’s safe zone. For Meddesha there was additional worry for the safety of her one-month-old daughter Emily. Thankfully, Meddesha and most of the residents in the danger zone were able to  escape in time and watched from the safety of their temporary homes in shelters as the volcano erupted, sending ash plumes spewing 20,000 feet into the air, less than 12 hours after the mandatory evacuation order was given.