UN Family of Organizations

The International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and 13 other independent organizations known as “specialized agencies” are linked to the UN through cooperative agreements. These agencies, among them the World Health Organization and the International Civil Aviation Organization, are autonomous bodies created by intergovernmental agreement. They have wide-ranging international responsibilities in the economic, social, cultural, educational, health and related fields. Some of them, like the International Labour Organization and the Universal Postal Union, are older than the UN itself.

Secretary-General visits UNICEF's Seoul Headquarters Secretary-General visits UNICEF's Seoul Headquarters

In addition, a number of UN offices, programmes and funds — such as the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) — work to improve the economic and social condition of people around the world. They report to the General Assembly or the Economic and Social Council.

All these organizations have their own governing bodies, budgets and secretariats. Together with the United Nations, they are known as the UN family, or the UN system. Together, they provide technical assistance and other forms of practical help in virtually all economic and social areas.

Autonomous organizations linked to the UN through special agreements include:

FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN) Works to improve agricultural productivity and food security, and to better the living standards of rural populations.

IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) An autonomous intergovernmental organization under the aegis of the UN, it works for the safe and peaceful uses of atomic energy.

ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) Sets international standards for the safety, security and efficiency of air transport, and serves as the coordinator for international cooperation in all areas of civil aviation.

IFAD (International Fund for Agricultural Development) Mobilizes financial resources to raise food production and nutrition levels among the poor in developing countries.

ILO (International Labour Organization) Formulates policies and programmes to improve working condition and employment opportunities, and sets labour standards used by countries around the world.

IMF (International Monetary Fund) Facilitates international monetary cooperation and financial stability and provides a permanent forum for consultation, advice and assistance on financial issues.

IMO (International Maritime Organization) Works to improve international shipping procedures, raise standards in marine safety and reduce marine pollution by ships.

ITU (International Telecommunication Union) Fosters international cooperation to improve telecommunications of all kinds, coordinates usage of radio and TV frequencies, promotes safety measures and conducts research.

UNESCO (UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization)Promotes education for all, cultural development, protection of the world’s natural and cultural heritage, international cooperation in science, press freedom and communication.

UNIDO (UN Industrial Development Organization) Promotes the industrial advancement of developing countries through technical assistance, advisory services and training.

UPU (Universal Postal Union) Establishes international regulations for postal services, provides technical assistance and promotes cooperation in postal matters.

WHO (World Health Organization) Coordinates programmes aimed at solving health problems and the attainment by all people of the highest possible level of health. It works in such areas as immunization, health education and the provision of essential drugs.

WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) Promotes international protection of intellectual property and fosters cooperation on copyrights, trademarks, industrial designs and patents.

WMO (World Meteorological Organization) Promotes scientific research on the Earth’s atmosphere and on climate change, and facilitates the global exchange of meteorological data.

World Bank Group Provides loans and technical assistance to developing countries to reduce poverty and advance sustainable economic growth.

WTO (World Tourism Organization) Serves as a global forum for tourism policy issues and a practical source of tourism know-how.