Funding COVID-19 response in the world’s poorest countries

The United Nations is calling for solidarity and increased funding, as some of the world’s most vulnerable countries scale up their efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic. United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, together with three senior officials, launched a $2 billion global humanitarian response plan to fund the fight against COVID-19 in the world’s poorest countries. This inter-agency plan brings together existing appeals from the World Health Organization and other UN partners, and identifies new needs as well.

UN Secretary-General launches global humanitarian appeal.
Photo:UN Photo
Economic duress has been compounding the impact of the conflict in Syria – even before the COVID-19 pandemic touched the country.

‘Immediate nationwide ceasefire’ needed for all-out effort to counter COVID-19 in Syria

30 March 2020 — Syria is at “high risk” of being unable to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, the UN Special Envoy for the country said on Monday, reiterating calls for a “complete, immediate...

$2.5 trillion COVID-19 rescue package needed for world’s emerging economies

30 March 2020 — The economic fallout from COVID-19 is likely to get “much worse” before it gets better for some six billion people living in developing economies, the UN said on Monday, in an...

COVID-19: UN donates 250,000 face masks to NYC health workers

29 March 2020 — On behalf of the city, the Mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio, was on hand to receive 250,000 face masks donated by the UN on Saturday, destined for health workers in the metropolis...

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.

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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.

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

girl learning online

As school closures expand, ministers scale up multimedia approaches

As school closures impact more than 80% of the world’s student population, UNESCO convened an online meeting of education ministers, to share information on measures deployed to support teachers, parents and students in coping with home learning. They also pointed to emerging challenges that require global cooperation. UNESCO is launching a global education coalition to support countries in scaling up their best distance learning practices and reaching children and youth who are most at risk.

hand holding up box of medicine in front of building

Chains of solidarity and kindness during the COVID-19 outbreak

Getting calls at all hours of the day is not unusual for Liu Jie, the Community Mobilization Officer in the UNAIDS Country Office in China. Because of the COVID-19 outbreak in China, the whole office has been active in helping people living with HIV to continue to access treatment, especially in Hubei Province, where the pandemic was first reported. Recently, Ms Liu was surprised when she had a call from Poland. UNAIDS country offices and the Community Mobilization Team in Geneva, Switzerland came to the rescue.

husband and wife work on gemstones with machine

Empowering Iran’s desert villagers

It is not long since Abolghasem, a 36-year old resident of Se-Qale Town in the eastern province of South Khorasan, used to mine black stones for the cobbled streets that adorn cities. He still works with stones – but of the multi-coloured kind that adorn people. Encouraged by his wife, Fatemeh, he took a course on gemstone work held by the FAO.  The spouses acquired all the skills and purchased all the equipment needed to start their gemstone business with a loan also supported by the project.

WIPO Translate

WIPO Translate is a market-leading translation software for specialized text. Once trained in a specific subject area, it has been shown to out-perform other paid and free translation tools.

Call to accelerate tourism recovery

Along with WHO, the UN tourism agency launches the “Healing Solutions” challenge and calls entrepreneurs and innovators to submit ideas to help the tourism kickstart recovery efforts.

Teach your children about plastic pollution

It may be difficult to occupy your children as you also work from home. Here are some ideas to engage your children to teach them about the plastic pollution problem. 

COVID-19 threatens great ape conservation

Both humans and great apes are susceptible to infectious diseases; and introducing human pathogens to the great ape population could result in catastrophic losses. 

UNHCR staff in the field

UNHCR seeks US$255 million to respond to COVID-19 outbreak

As the coronavirus pandemic accelerates, at greatest risk include some 70 million children, women and men uprooted by war and persecution. Among them are some 25.9 million refugees, more than three quarters of whom live in developing countries in the Americas, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. With weak health systems, some of those countries are already facing humanitarian crises. The UN Refugee Agency seeks US$255 million for its urgent push to curb the impact of COVID-19 outbreaks in these vulnerable communities.

woman in protective gear

Gender equality matters in COVID-19 response

Beyond a health issue, the COVID-19 pandemic is a profound shock to our societies and economies, with women at the heart of care and response efforts. As frontline responders, health professionals, community volunteers, transport and logistics managers, scientists and more, women make critical contributions to address the outbreak. The majority of caregivers, at home and in our communities, are also women. UN Women is bringing up-to-date information and analysis on how and why gender matters in COVID-19 response.

view from above of worker sewing masks

Armenian apparel manufacturer starts producing masks

To help counter the fast-spreading Covid-19 virus in Armenia, the TOSP apparel manufacturer is diversifying production to include medical masks. The TOSP Knitting Factory, located in the Malatia-Sebastia district in the western part of the capital, Yerevan, has set up a sterile area on the factory floor and has adjusted production lines to ramp up supplies of medical face masks for health care workers and vulnerable citizens. TOSP is currently manufacturing around 2,000 masks a day.

people working on laptops

Benin takes business registration online at critical time

Benin this month took its business registration processes 100% digital, setting up an efficient, new online single window that houses all regulatory processes needed to open a business in record time. allows businesspeople – in Benin or abroad – start a business in two hours and from the comfort and safety of the office or home. The Government of Benin is committed to helping businesses launch efficiently and to lowering barriers of entry into the business world.

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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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

The world of work is being profoundly affected by the global virus pandemic. In addition to the threat to public health, the economic and social disruption threatens the long-term livelihoods and wellbeing of millions. The ILO and its constituents – Governments, workers and employers – will play a crucial role in combating the outbreak, ensuring the safety of individuals and the sustainability of businesses and jobs. Read more about ILO's response to the crisis.

Wastewater is not a waste

Worldwide, 80% of the wastewater is released to the environment untreated. Wastewater is often seen as a burden rather than a valuable resource. The World Bank works to advance sustainable sanitation services toward a circular economy in which wastewater is considered a valuable resource rather than a liability. Energy, clean water, fertilizers, and nutrients can be extracted from wastewater — and used to help achieve the SDGs.

Women impacted by COVID-19

Paying attention to women’s needs and leadership will strengthen the COVID-19 response. Globally, women make up 70 per cent of workers in the health and social sector, and they do three times as much unpaid care work at home. But they are also hit harder by the health, economic and social impacts of the outbreak. Find out more on the gender aspects of the coronavirus pandemic from UN Women.

UN Podcasts

Street in Delhi

ILO: COVID-19 pandemic could increase global unemployment by around 25 million

A new assessment by the International Labour Organization (ILO) shows the COVID-19 pandemic could increase global unemployment by around 25 million.

ILO is calling for an internationally coordinated policy response, which would be of particular benefit to South Asian countries like India, since a large part of its work force lacks social security and employment benefits.

UN News’s Anshu Sharma spoke to Dagmar Walter, ILO India.


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

Urban scene, Kibae Park
Photo:UN Photo

Including migrants in efforts to roll back impact of COVID-19

As the world confronts the COVID-19 pandemic, the United Nations Network on Migration salutes the immense efforts to date to combat this crisis and urges that all – including migrants regardless of migratory status – are included in efforts to mitigate this illness’s impact. To that end, migrants must be seen as both potential victims and as an integral part of any effective public health response. Migrants and people on the move face the same health threats from COVID-19 as host populations.

Butterflies cover a tree
Photo:UNDP Mexico

In the path of the monarch butterfly

The Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve in the Mexican state of Michoacán is known around the world for an extraordinary migratory phenomenon. Each autumn millions of butterflies arrive here from the United States and Canada. Mexico has long recognized the vital importance of the forest. It was declared a Biosphere Reserve in 1980. UNESCO made it a World Heritage Site in 2008. UNDP Mexico promotes initiatives to adapt to climate change and protect biodiversity in 17 areas, covering 7.8 million hectares.

Girl in science class

Access to a quality education

The Eastern Partnership European School Scholarship Programme, funded by the European Union (EU) and administered by UNOPS, gives bright, motivated students the chance to study for an International Baccalaureate Diploma with a European studies focus. Many of the students chosen for the scholarship programme are from areas with limited educational opportunities. Others come from a low-income background. Without the scholarship programme, some wouldn’t have the same access to a high-quality education.

Woman with fishing net
Photo:SGP Turkey, Zafer Kizilkaya, Mediterranean Conservation Society

The Fisherwomen of Turkey

In Turkey, fishing has traditionally been regarded as a male domain. As a result, many women’s contributions in the fisheries sector have been considered a part of domestic work, and therefore undervalued, undocumented, and under-represented or overlooked in official statistics. Through their various programmes, the Global Environmental Facility Small Grants Programme (SGP) ensures women are included in decision-making processes around sustainable small-scale fisheries and conservation in Turkey.