After UN Secretary-General António Guterres’s cease-fire appeal issued by on 23 March, United Nations Messengers of Peace added their voices to entreat governments and armed groups to pull back hostilities and allow the creation of corridors for life-saving aid. As reports of the virus multiply in conflict zones, the likelihood of humanitarian catastrophe looms too large. Add your support by signing the online petition!
Messengers of Peace help focus worldwide attention on the work of the United Nations.
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 World Health Organization has played a crucial role in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic, ever since the first cases were identified in Wuhan in December. WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus outlined five ways the agency is leading the global response: helping countries to prepare and respond; providing accurate information; ensuring vital supplies reach frontline health workers; training and mobilizing health workers; coordinating the search for a vaccine.
UNESCO appeals to governments and the international community to take urgent action through international cooperation underlining the responsibility of rich countries to help poor nations. In such emergencies, political decisions need to be grounded in science and guided by ethics. Collective recognition of the emerging and growing vulnerabilities faced by many is necessary to ensure that health and social policy responses all around the world leave no one behind.
The economic consequences of the pandemic are already impacting the United States with unprecedented speed and severity. In the last two weeks in March almost 10 million people applied for unemployment benefits. Such a sharp increase has never been seen before, not even at the peak of the crisis 2009 crisis. Disruptions caused by the virus are starting to ripple through emerging markets. To overcome this pandemic, we need a global, coordinated health and economic policy effort.
UNHCR’s leading public health expert says prevention and inclusion must be at the heart of the response for displaced people, especially in areas with weak health services. The Refugee Agency is working to slow the spread of the corona virus, reduce its impact and save lives among the refugee population and internally displaced peoples. Most of the world’s 25.9 million refugees are hosted in developing countries, putting extraordinary strain on already fragile local health-care services.
The COVID-19 crisis is expected to wipe out 6.7 per cent of working hours globally in the second quarter of 2020 – equivalent to 195 million full-time workers. Huge losses are expected across different income groups especially in upper-middle income countries (7 per cent, 100 million full-time workers). This far exceeds the effects of the 2008-9 financial crisis. The sectors most at risk include accommodation and food services, manufacturing, retail, and business and administrative activities.
The global crisis brought on by the coronavirus pandemic has pushed us further into a digital world, and changes in behaviour are likely to have lasting effects. A new analysis from UNCTAD maps the changing digital landscape. It looks at how a digitally enabled world is working for some, but not all equally. According to the analysis, the coronavirus crisis has accelerated the uptake of digital solutions. However, it has also exposed the wide chasm between the connected and the unconnected.
Local and regional governments shared their experiences, initiatives, and actions to support their communities facing the COVID-19 pandemic, focusing on specific public services. The Live Learning Series, a UN-Habitat collaboration, addressed the housing crisis, and the measures that contribute towards successful #StayAtHome policies. Adequate housing is a matter of life and death at this moment and in the future. Without adequate housing, social distancing and hygiene are simply impossible.
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.
In Syria, the risk of COVID-19 couldn’t be higher
Quasai and her family of 9 are doing everything they can to keep the virus away. The UN and partners are working around the clock to mitigate the risks, but more resources are urgently needed.
Women on the frontlines of COVID-19
Millions of women in the health and social sector work tirelessly every day to care for all of us. Women make up 70 per cent of all workers in the health and social sector. Today, UN Women thanks you.
Guyana: Striving for Sustainable Wildlife
In recent years threats like increased accessibility, wildfires and new economic activities are compromising Guyana Rupununi’s rich biodiversity. Here’s their community struggle to maintain a healthy balance.
Staying fit indoors: a paralympian’s perspective
Keeping fit is an important way to cope with the self-isolation measures imposed by many governments, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. But how are elite athletes coping with being stuck indoors?
Images from across the United Nations and our world-wide family of agencies, funds, and programmes.
COVID-19: Our hungriest, most vulnerable communities face “a crisis within a crisis”
In countries whose medical systems are under-resourced, the health crisis could be compounded by a hunger crisis unless we act now to help. FAO explains how they are gearing to help with the challenges COVID-19 poses in vulnerable communities already coping with high levels of hunger due to pre-existing crises.
Photo:UN Women/Tamara Savovic
Survivors of domestic violence sew face masks for those in the front line of COVID-19
In an undisclosed location in Sombor, Serbia, a survivor of domestic violence is putting the finishing stitches on face masks. She has made hundreds of these fabric masks since Serbia declared the COVID-19 epidemic in March. She got support when she needed it most and now she is giving something back.
Photo:UNDP Peru/Mónica Suárez Galindo
Peru embarks on a comprehensive approach to COVID-19
There are between 25,000 to 45,000 Indigenous Asháninka living in Peruvian forests. Potential economic and social impact of COVID-19 is still uncertain. There is no doubt that this will be more critical for people who were already in a vulnerable situation before, including indigenous and rural populations.
Protecting vulnerable children from coronavirus: An agenda for action
Without urgent action, the coronavirus health crisis risks becoming a child-rights crisis. UNICEF is calling for swift global action to: keep children healthy; make water and sanitation accessible; continue education; protect families; keep children from abuse; and protect refugee and migrant children.