UN Links on Africa



I. UN Secretariat


United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA): Within the United Nations Secretariat, the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) promotes international cooperation for development to improve the lives of people everywhere, by pursuing the key objectives of poverty eradication, sustained economic growth and sustainable development. The following divisions of DESA provide rich and useful online information on Africa:

Statistics Division

The Statistics Division provides unrestricted free data access on the Millennium Indicators that include the classification on Northern Africa and sub-Saharan Africa for the years around 1990 and 2000.

Population Division

The Population Division is responsible for monitoring and evaluating the broad range of areas in the field of  population. Under the auspices of the division, the Population Information Network, POPIN, serves as a useful guide to access population information, including those on the African continent, from UN system web sites. The Division organized a workshop on HIV/AIDS and Adult Mortality in Developing Countries on 8-13 September 2003.

Division for Public Administration and Development Management (DPADM)

DPADM executes and manages the United Nations Online Network in Public Administration and Finance, or UNPAN in close partnership with a group of international, regional and sub-regional institutions devoted to public administration and finance, including those in Africa. UNPAN promotes the sharing of knowledge, experiences and best practices throughout the world in sound public policies, effective public administration and efficient civil services, through capacity-building and cooperation among the United Nations Member States, with emphasis on south-south cooperation and UNPAN's commitment to integrity and excellence.

Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW)

DAW promotes women as equal participants and beneficiaries of sustainable development, peace and security, governance and human rights. As part of its mandate, it strives to stimulate the mainstreaming of gender perspectives both within and outside the United Nations system.  Among its many other publications, one study of great relevance to the conflict situations in Africa is Women, Peace and Security.

Division for ECOSOC Support and Coordination (DESC)

DESC, through its ECOSOC and Interorganizational Cooperation Branch, coordinates the substantive servicing of the recently established Ad Hoc Advisory Group(s) on African countries emerging from conflict.

Division for Sustainable Development (DSD)

The Division for Sustainable Development serves as the substantive secretariat responsible for servicing the Commission on Sustainable Development; for follow-up of the implementation of Agenda 21 as well as the Plan of Implementation (POI) of the World Summit on Sustainable Development.

Development Policy and Planning Office (DPPO)

DPPO has the three core functions of (i) formulation of advice for development policy (including serving as substantive secretariat for the Committee on Development Planning) and preparation of major cross-sectoral departmental reports; (ii) intra-Department policy coordination and interface; and (iii) external policy interface.

Financing for Development Office (FfD)

The objective of the Financing for Development Office is to provide effective secretariat support for sustained follow-up within the United Nations system to the agreements and commitments reached at the International Conference on Financing for Development, as contained in the Monterrey Consensus, as well as financing for development-related aspects of the outcomes of major United Nations conferences and summits in the economic and social fields, including the development goals set out in the United Nations Millennium Declaration. 

United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO): DPKO's mission is to plan, prepare, manage and direct UN peacekeeping operations, so that they can effectively fulfil their mandates under the overall authority of the Security Council and General Assembly, and under the command vested in the Secretary-General.DPKO provides political and executive direction to UN peacekeeping operations, and maintains contact with the Security Council, troop and financial contributors, and parties to the conflict in the implementation of Security Council mandates. The current peacekeeping operations are as follows:

United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL)

United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC)

United Nations Mission in Côte d'Ivoire (MINUCI) 

United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE)

United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL)

United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO)

United Nations Department of Political Affairs (DPA): The primary responsibility within the UN for conflict prevention, peace-building and peacemaking rests with DPA. It provides advice and support on all political matters to the

Secretary-General in the exercise of his global responsibilities under the UN Charter relating to the maintenance of peace and security. The Secretary-General, through his special representatives and special envoys is actively engaged in implementing political mandates in a number of countries. 


Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict: Since the World Summit for Children in 1990, the United Nations has increasingly sought to draw international attention to the horrendous plight of children affected by armed conflict, prompting its release of the report "Impact of armed conflict on children"  (A/51/306 and Add.1) during the fifty-first session of the General Assembly in 1996. The visits by the Special Representative to countries such as Angola, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Liberia, Mozambique, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, and Sudan have served as an effective advocacy tool, helping to draw significant attention to the situation of children affected by armed conflicts (CAAC). 


Office of the High Representative for Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Countries and Small Island Developing States (OHRLLS): OHRLLS was established on the recommendation of the Secretary-General of the United Nations by the General Assembly in its resolution 56/227 of 24 December 2001. OHRLLS aims at enhancing the mobilization and galvanization of international support for - and ensuring the effective coordination, monitoring and review of - the implementation of the Brussels Declaration and Programme of Action (POA). As of October 2003, there are 49 LDCs of which the majority are African countries.



II. Funds and Programmes

International Trade Centre (ITC)

ITC is engaged in a number of activities geared towards helping African countries to strengthen enterprise competitiveness and to develop new trade promotion strategies.  It does so by working with these countries in  product and market development and helping to establish trade support services and trade information.  It assists countries with international purchasing and supply management, provides needs assessment and designs programmes for trade promotion.  ITC also collaborates with other international organizations in providing technical assistance to African and least developed countries.

United Nations Capital Development Fund  (UNCDF)

UNCDF seeks to reduce poverty in least developed countries, the majority of which are in Africa, through a variety of innovative approaches in both local governance and microfinance initiatives. 

United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (UNCHS)

Habitat's goals are to assist African countries to develop institutional capacity for  sustainable social, economic and environmental urban development.  It does so by providing advisory services and project identification and formulation at the request of interested Governments and local authorities.

United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF)

UNICEF programmes in Africa (West and Central Africa , Eastern and Southern Africa and North Africa)seek to ensure that children have the best possible care from birth.  Much of its resources are devoted to immunization and feeding programmes. It also supports humanitarian interventions to help meet emergency needs of children and women in crisis countries and also seeks to have the rights of children embedded in the laws of all countries.

  United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)

UNCTAD supports the development of trade and investment in Africa and the Least Developed Countries, paying particular attention to the expanding supply capacity. It is also has the responsibility for the monitoring and follow-up of the Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries.

  United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)

The Convention to Combat Desertification acknowledges that the problem of desertification and drought is the severest in Africa.  Consequently, the Secretariat of the Convention devotes a substantial part of its resources to, among other things, assisting African countries in setting up their national plans to combat desertification and promoting inter-regional cooperation and exchange of experiences.

United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM)

UNIFEM's regional programme in Africa seeks to strengthen women's economic capacity as entrepreneurs and producers, especially in the context of the new trade agenda and the emergence of new technologies.  It also seeks to increase women's participation in decision making processes that shape their lives and promotes women's human rights in order to eliminate all forms of violence against women.

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

Through its resident coordinator system, the UNDP is actively involved at the field level in assisting African countries in implementing their national development strategies, focussing in particular on Democratic Governance, Pro-Poor Policies, Crisis Prevention and Recovery, Energy and Environment, Information and Communications, Technology, HIV/AIDS.  Along with the Economic Commission for Africa, the UNDP shares the Secretariat and coordinating functions of the United Nations System-wide Special Initiative for Africa (). UNDP's regional bureau for Africa located at Headquarters in New York, assists in this task.

  United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

Through its regional office in Nairobi, UNEP coordinates advisory services on environmental machinery and technical requirements, reviews project proposals, and recommends action by governments and other organizations to deal with the serious environmental problems facing Africa. The regional office also assists in implementing the decisions of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (ACMEN).

United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR)

UNHCR leads and coordinates international action for the world-wide protection of refugees and the resolution of refugee problems.  UNHCR’s primary purpose is to safeguard the rights and well-being of refugees.  UNHCR strives to ensure that everyone can exercise the right to seek asylum and find safe refuge in another state, and to return home voluntarily.  As Africa has the most refugees of any region, the UNHCR is very active on the continent.

United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNOHCHR)

UNOHCHR is assisting African countries in strengthening their capacities for the promotion and protection of human rights by organizing human rights training for the police and the military, supporting the introduction of human rights curricula in primary and secondary schools, and providing assistance in revising penal codes.

United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)

UNFPA devotes much of its resources in Africa towards reducing high levels of maternal and infant mortality and low use of modern contraceptives. It does so by providing assistance for reproductive health care services, procurement and distribution of contraceptives, training of health-care providers, and information to the public on ways that they can achieve desired family size and protect the health of mothers and babies. UNFPA is also an active participant in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

United Nations Programme on Human Immune Deficiency Syndrome  (UNAIDS)

UNAIDS is a joint secretariat of the WHO, World Bank, UNDP, UNFPA, UNICEF, UNDCP, and UNESCO, which seeks to mobilize resources for the fight against HIV/AIDS.  It supports the International Partnership Against AIDS in Africa, which is a coalition working under the leadership of African countries to save and improve the lives of those living with HIV/AIDS. It is made up of African governments, the United Nations, donors, and the private and community sectors.

United Nations University (UNU)

UNU is undertaking research work on a number of policy issues of importance to Africa, including peace and governance, development, environment, and science and technology with a view to advancing human security in and development of the region.

World Food Programme (WFP)

WFP's country programmes in Africa are devoted to providing food for victims of man-made and natural disasters.  It also provides food in exchange for work to help build assets and promote the self-reliance of poor people and communities, particularly through labour-intensive works programmes.

III. Specialised Agencies

Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)

In Africa, FAO continues to work on issues related to water; food production; soil quality improvement; food security, (paying particular attention to the Horn of Africa), land degradation; and, desertification control.  The FAO is also paying particular attention to HIV/AIDS in the context of rural development, particularly its impact on agricultural development.

International Atomic Energy Agency  (IAEA)

In the context of Africa, the IAEA focuses its work on the applications of nuclear technologies for health and agricultural development, for example in the eradication of the Tsete fly, improving productivity of certain staples and improving water resources.

International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)

From its regional offices in Nairobi and Dakar, IACO promotes the safe and orderly growth of international civil aviation in Africa by promoting ICAO policies and standards. 

International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)

IFAD plays a key role in combating rural hunger and poverty in Africa. It does so providing direct funding and mobilizing additional resources for programmes specifically designed to promote the economic advancement of the rural poor, mainly by improving the productivity of on and off-farm activities.

International Labour Office (ILO)

In addition to promoting the fundamental principles and rights at work and the ratification of international labour standards, the ILO's work in Africa focuses on the elimination of child labour, HIV/AIDS and the workplace, and the reconstruction of the economies of countries emerging from crisis situations.  From its regional office in Cote d' Ivoire, ILO also gives support to African countries on labour market information systems, human resources development and training, small and medium-sized enterprises and job creation as well as upgrading informal sector activities.

International Marine Organization (IMO)

The IMO's programme in Africa focuses on three priorities that, together, can ensure sustainable maritime development, efficient and safe maritime transport services, as well as effective environmental protection.  These priorities include strengthening maritime Administrations, up-grading of key regional maritime training institutions, and human resource development. The 2002-2003 International Technical Cooperation Programme gives priority to Africa, being the region with the largest proportion of least developed countries and the priority region for the United Nations System’s development activities.

International Telecommunication Union (ITU)

ITU's work in Africa focuses on organizing and coordinating technical cooperation and assistance activities that  promote standardization and rural access.  As part of its efforts to help Africa bridge the digital divide, ITU, in collaboration with the South African Government will be hosting ITU TELECOM AFRICA 2001 from 12 to 16 November 2001.

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)

UNESCO is actively engaged in promoting basic education in Africa.  Its regional office for education, located in Dakar, is helping to implement the statement adopted by the Seventh Conference of African Ministers of Education on extending and improving basic education for all African children.  UNESCO's office in South Africa  is assisting the Intergovernmental Committee to follow-up the recommendations of the Dakar Framework for Action of the World Education Forum.  A subregional office for Southern Africa, located in Zimbabwe also contributes to the implementation of UNESCO's programme in Africa. UNESCO is also engaged in many projects in the culture and science and technology sectors.

United Nations Industrial Development Organization  (UNIDO)

UNIDO helps African countries to pursue sustainable industrial development through the Alliance for Africa's Industrialization (AAI). It provides tailor-made solutions to today's industrial problems by offering a package of integrated services addressing three key concerns, namely, enhancing competitiveness, creating a sound enabling environment, and achieving productive employment, at policy, institutional and enterprise levels.

Universal Postal Union (UPU)

UPU provides technical cooperation and advisory services to African countries in training and management of postal operations.  It also takes an active part in follow-up initiatives arising from global conferences organized under United Nations auspices such as the Conference on Environment and Development, the World Summit for Social Development and the Fourth Conference on Women.

World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)

In promoting the use of industrial property (including patents), information technology, biotechnology and traditional knowledge, WIPO focuses its programme in Africa on technical assistance and strengthening institutional capacity.

World Health Organization (WHO)

From its regional office in Harare, WHO is engaged on a number of fronts in Africa in the prevention and control of communicable and non-communicable diseases, promoting a healthy environment (water, sanitation and issues related to poverty and its impact on health) and supporting the development of health systems. 

World Meteorological Organization  (WMO)

The WMO is assisting African countries in using meterological applications for development and protecting the environment by monitoring droughts through its regional centres in Nairobi and Harare. National meteorological centres in Cairo, Casablanca , Algiers and Pretoria also serve as regional specialized metorological centres for assisting in the coordination and distribution of prompt and accurate weather information and other services for public, private and commercial use, including international airline and shipping industries.

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29 October 2003