The COVID-19 pandemic has created the largest disruption of education systems in history, affecting nearly 1.6 billion learners in all countries and all continents. Learning losses due to prolonged school closures threaten to erase progress made in recent decades, especially for girls and young women. A new policy brief by Secretary-General António Guterres reaffirms that education is a fundamental human right. It advises governments to strengthen the resilience of education systems by placing a strong focus on equity and inclusion.
Children get their temperature checked and use hand sanitizer before entering their kindergarten, which reopened on 2 June in Chongqing, China.
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.
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.
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.
The COVID-19 Law Lab initiative gathers and shares legal documents from over 190 countries to help states establish and implement legal frameworks to manage the pandemic. The goal is to ensure that laws protect individuals and communities and that they adhere to international human rights standards. Well-designed laws help build strong health systems; evaluate and approve safe and effective drugs and vaccines; and create healthier and safer public spaces and workplaces. The new Lab is a joint project of UNDP, WHO, UNAIDS and partners.
WIPO has launched the Madrid Application Assistant, which automatically records all the information required to complete an international application and helps reduce the risk of irregularities. The Assistant helps generate high-quality applications by importing data from the original trademarks database. The application is automatically pre-populated with contact details to a full list of goods and services. Built-in features also include verification of the classification of the list of goods and services, as well as its translation.
Corruption, the abuse of public office for private gain, is about more than wasted money: it erodes the social contract and corrodes the government’s ability to help grow the economy in a way that benefits all citizens. The COVID-19 pandemic has heightened the importance of stronger governance. During this crisis the IMF has continued its governance and anti-corruption work. Their message to all governments has been clear: spend whatever you need but keep the receipts, because we don’t want accountability to be lost in the process.
Pandemic or not, Celia Osegueda and her two sons continue to work on their vegetable farm. FAO is working with the Government of El Salvador and local authorities to minimize the impacts of COVID-19 on producer families and strengthen agricultural production in El Salvador. By strengthening the resilience of family farmers and equipping them with the tools needed to provide for their families, FAO is supporting the economic recovery of rural families in El Salvador. Celia is one of the food heroes that has worked to maintain the country’s food security during these trying times.
The enormous toll of COVID-19 on international tourism has now become clear. The latest edition of the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer shows that the near-complete lockdown imposed in response to the pandemic led to a 98 per cent fall in international tourism in May when compared to 2019. This dramatic fall places many millions of livelihoods at risk, including in developing countries. As the situation continues to evolve, the United Nations specialized agency provides the first comprehensive insight into the impact of the pandemic, both in tourist numbers and lost revenues.
Even though Coronavirus lockdowns around the globe have led to a dramatic 5% drop in greenhouse gas emissions, not all measures have had a positive impact on the environment. Our streets, beaches and ocean have been hit by a tidal wave of plastic waste including face masks, gloves, hand sanitizer bottles and food packaging. Global trade policies could play an important role in the fight against plastic pollution. Besides regulating the production and consumption of plastics, UNCTAD also urges governments and businesses to identify non-fossil fuel plastic substitutes.
While the situation is worrying, so far the number of identified COVID-19 cases amongst the Rohingya refugee population is relatively low at just 62 cases as of July. The community health volunteers’ role has become even more important since humanitarian workers have scaled back their work in the camps to reduce the risk of transmitting the virus. WHO has worked with UNHCR to train the volunteers on how to identify symptoms and make referrals for testing. But they must contend with the fear and rumours that have discouraged many people from approaching health facilities.
The United Nations came into being in 1945, following the devastation of the Second World War, with one central mission: the maintenance of international peace and security. The UN does this by working to prevent conflict; helping parties in conflict make peace; peacekeeping; and creating the conditions to allow peace to hold and flourish. These activities often overlap and should reinforce one another, to be effective. The UN Security Council has the primary responsibility for international peace and security. The General Assembly and the Secretary-General play major, important, and complementary roles, along with other UN offices and bodies.
Protect Human Rights
The term “human rights” was mentioned seven times in the UN's founding Charter, making the promotion and protection of human rights a key purpose and guiding principle of the Organization. In 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights brought human rights into the realm of international law. Since then, the Organization has diligently protected human rights through legal instruments and on-the-ground activities.
Deliver Humanitarian Aid
One of the purposes of the United Nations, as stated in its Charter, is "to achieve international co-operation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character." The UN first did this in the aftermath of the Second World War on the devastated continent of Europe, which it helped to rebuild. The Organization is now relied upon by the international community to coordinate humanitarian relief operations due to natural and man-made disasters in areas beyond the relief capacity of national authorities alone.
Promote Sustainable Development
From the start in 1945, one of the main priorities of the United Nations was to “achieve international co-operation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character and in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion.” Improving people’s well-being continues to be one of the main focuses of the UN. The global understanding of development has changed over the years, and countries now have agreed that sustainable development offers the best path forward for improving the lives of people everywhere.
Uphold International Law
The UN Charter, in its Preamble, set an objective: "to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained." Ever since, the development of, and respect for international law has been a key part of the work of the Organization. This work is carried out in many ways - by courts, tribunals, multilateral treaties - and by the Security Council, which can approve peacekeeping missions, impose sanctions, or authorize the use of force when there is a threat to international peace and security, if it deems this necessary. These powers are given to it by the UN Charter, which is considered an international treaty. As such, it is an instrument of international law, and UN Member States are bound by it. The UN Charter codifies the major principles of international relations, from sovereign equality of States to the prohibition of the use of force in international relations.
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.
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 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.
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.
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
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.
Video and audio from across the United Nations and our world-wide family of agencies, funds, and programmes.
The UN: Innovating for Peace
The UN: Innovating for Peace tells the story of a bold and revolutionary United Nations, throughout its history and for the future.
Against My Will: Child Marriage
When a girl is married, her schooling usually ends. Childbearing begins. Opportunities evaporate. Doors to the future slam shut. This harmful practice is commonly imposed on girls by family members, community members or society at large, regardless of whether the victim provides, or is able to provide, full, free and informed consent.
A chance for change: Daniel's story
In Barrio Curita, in the General San Martín municipality of Buenos Aires, an unlikely group of men and women helped connect 450 homes to water services – a lack of access to water is an all too common issue in low-income neighbourhoods.
There’s a Lot We Can Do
Matshidiso Moeti is the first female Regional Director for Africa for the World Health Organisation. Now she’s the face of the COVID-19 fight in Africa, but she says facing the pandemic is easier than where she started her career as a doctor - fighting the HIV/AIDS epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa in the 1990s. In this third episode of season 3 of Awake at Night with host Melissa Fleming, she says, we’re willing to talk about inequalities and tackle stigma about disease. Matshidiso talks to Melissa about her childhood in South Africa and Botswana, and her fears about the effect of Covid-19, especially on women’s lives.”The impact on women economically is going to make them even more vulnerable to many things, not just to COVID itself", she says.
Images from across the United Nations and our world-wide family of agencies, funds, and programmes.
Photo:UNDP Cuba/Manglar Vivo Project
“This village needed this project, and it arrived in the right moment.”
María Teresa is the administrator of the protected area of the Gulf of Batabanó, in Mayabeque, Cuba. She knows that loss and damage to mangroves makes coastal communities vulnerable. Mangroves occupy 5.1 percent of Cuba’s land area and are found on 70 percent of its coasts. To restore Cuba’s mangroves, the ‘Reduction of vulnerability to coastal flooding through ecosystem-based adaptation in the south of Artemisa and Mayabeque Provinces’ project focusses on an 84 kilometre stretch of coastline between Punta Sucia and Punta Mora on the southern coast. It’s backed by the Adaptation Fund and implemented by UNDP.
The World Food Programme is running out of money to support families like Oppah’s — a single mother, who lives in the capital, Harare, receives US$48 a month to feed her three children. Overnight, the mother raising three children alone saw her entire means of subsistence — selling towels, socks and ice lollies — evaporate. “I didn’t know how I would feed my family the next day,” she says. Now, Oppah’s only income is a monthly cash payment of US$ 48 from WFP: US$ 12 for each of the four family members — enough to meet two-thirds of their food needs. Here, one of her children, Onward (right) plays with a friend outside their home in Harare.
Photo:UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe
Four ways to make your house of worship eco-friendly
Around the world, there are an estimated 37 million churches, 4 million mosques, 20,000 synagogues and hundreds of millions of temples. Experts say many of these houses of faith could become models of sustainability by practicing eco-friendly worship, embracing green buildings, and offering environmentally-friendly sermons. To help in that process, the United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) Faith for Earth Initiative has just published guidelines for congregations that want to go green.
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted education for an estimated 1.2 billion children forcing schools across the world to learn new ways of educating children. Yoga for children is being broadcast on television in North Macedonia to help with the impact the lockdown is having on children’s mental health. Twin brothers give it a try. See what other countries are doing in our photo story.