Our Work

The United Nations coordinates its work with the funds, programmes, specialized agencies and other organizations of the UN System.

 

The United Nations itself is one part of the UN System. Cooperation between the UN and the other entities of the UN system is essential in order to achieve the purposes of the Organization laid out in the UN Charter.

Since its Charter was written, the United Nations has been mandated to do new work which was not envisioned at the time of its creation. The Organization has set goals to build a more sustainable world, and it has agreed to collective action to slow down climate change.

As the problems facing humanity have grown, the work of the United Nations has also grown.

Explainer: What is the UN?

UN's 'work plan'

At UN Headquarters in New York, the General Assembly, Security Council, and Economic and Social Council pass resolutions, which set what could informally be called the UN's 'work plan.'

The UN Secretariat carries out this work along with UN system entities.

UN Secretariat

The UN Secretariat, based in New York City, has offices in Geneva, Vienna, and Nairobi.

Also part of the UN Secretariat are the Regional Economic Commissions in Addis Ababa, Bangkok, Beirut, Geneva, and Santiago.

UN System

All of the funds, programmes, specialized agencies, and other entities of the UN system have their own budget, mandate, leadership, and headquarters. They have regional and local offices in all the main geographic areas of the world, as does the UN.


The United Nations and the UN system work together in five areas that can, and often do overlap.

What We Do

The work of the United Nations covers five main areas:

A collage of images depicting various UN staff at work and also showing children.

Left to right: ©UN Photo/Marco Dormino, ©UN Photo/Mark Garten, ©OCHA/Iason Athanasiadis, ©UNEP/Patrick Kihara, ©UN Photo/Sylvain Liechti

globe

As an international organization with 193 Member States, the United Nations is uniquely positioned to address and solve global issues.

Global Issues

Documents

Bird's Eye view of the library with study desks and book shelves.

©UNOG Library Photo

The UN has been publishing documents since its founding. UN documents include records of meetings and resolutions that have been passed by a legislative body, such as the General Assembly, Security Council, or the Economic and Social Council, which often contain a work mandate for the United Nations. Reports of the UN Secretary-General assess the state of the Organization and announce new work initiatives.

Explore UN documents

 

Official Languages

Interpreters at work in a booth at the General Assembly hall.

©UN Photo/Laura Jarriel

There are six official languages of the UN: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish. The correct interpretation and translation of the six languages, in both spoken and written form, is very important to the work of the Organization, as this enables clear and concise communication on issues of global importance.

More on the 6 official UN languages

 

Observances

The existence of international days predates the establishment of the United Nations, but the UN has embraced them as a powerful advocacy tool. The UN observes designated days, weeks, years, and decades, each with a theme, or topic.