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THE UNITED NATIONS: ORGANIZATION In 1945, representatives of 50 countries met in San Francisco at the United Nations Conference on International Organization to draw up the United Nations Charter. The Organization officially came into existence on 24 October 1945, when the Charter had been ratified by China, France, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, the United States and a majority of other signatories. United Nations Day is celebrated on 24 October. Charter The Charter is the constituting instrument of the United Nations, setting out the rights and obligations of Member States, and establishing the Organization's organs and procedures. Purposes The purposes of the United Nations, as set forth in the Charter, are to maintain international peace and security; to develop friendly relations among nations; to cooperate in solving international economic, social, cultural and humanitarian problems and in promoting respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms; and to be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations in attaining these ends. Structure
The six principal organs of the United Nations, are the: General Assembly, Security Council, Economic and Social Council, Trusteeship Council, International Court of Justice and Secretariat.
General Assembly
It consists of all member states of the U.N. Each member nation can send five delegates but each nation has only one vote. The General Assembly meets in regular session beginning in September each year.
Security Council
It is the executive body of the U.N. It consists of total 15 members, out of which 5 members are permanent and the remaining 10 members are non-permanent. China, France, Russia, UK and USA are the permanent members. tHe non-permanent members are elected by the General Assembly for 2 years from among the member states. The permanent members of the security council have got veto power. Any matter supported by the majority of the members fails to be carried through if negative vote is cast by any of the permanent members.
Economic and Social Council
This organ of the U. N. consists of 54 representatives of the member countries elected by a two third majority of the General Assembly.
International Court of Justice
It is the principal judicail organ of the United Nations. The headquarters of the International court of justice is at the Hague (Netherland). The court consists of 15 judges.
Trusteeship Council
This organ consists of 14 members out of which five are the permanent members of the security council.
This organ of the United nations is the chief administrative office which coordnates and supervises the activites of the U. N. This secretariat is headed by a Secretary General who is appointed by the General Assembly on the recomendation of the Security Coulcil' Secretary General of the U. N. is elected for five years and eligible for re-election. The present Secretary General is Baan ki Moon
The United Nations family, however, is much larger, encompassing 15 agencies and several programmes and bodies.
Budget The budget for the two years 2000-2001 is $2,535 million. The main source of funds is the contributions of Member States, which are assessed on a scale approved by the General Assembly. The fundamental criterion on which the scale of assessments is based is the capacity of countries to pay. This is determined by considering their relative shares of total gross national product, adjusted to take into account a number of factors, including their per capita incomes. In addition, countries are assessed -- in accordance with a modified version of the basic scale -- for the costs of peacekeeping operations, which stood at around $2 billion in 2000. The United Nations family The United Nations family of organizations is made up of the United Nations Secretariat, the United Nations programmes and funds -- such as the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) -- and the specialized agencies. The programmes, funds and agencies have their own governing bodies and budgets, and set their own standards and guidelines. Together, they provide technical assistance and other forms of practical help in virtually all areas of economic and social endeavour. INTERNATIONAL PEACE AND SECURITY One of the primary purposes of the United Nations is the maintenance of international peace and security. Since its creation, the United Nations has often been called upon to prevent disputes from escalating into war, to persuade opposing parties to use the conference table rather than force of arms, or to help restore peace when conflict does break out. Over the decades, the United Nations has helped to end numerous conflicts, often through actions of the Security Council — the primary organ for dealing with issues of international peace and security. The Security Council, the General Assembly and the Secretary-General all play major, complementary roles in fostering peace and security. United Nations activities cover the areas of prevention and peacemaking, peacekeeping, peace-building and disarmament. Civil conflicts During the 1990s, there have been major changes in the patterns of conflict with more than 90 per cent of conflicts taking place within, rather than between, states. The United Nations has therefore reshaped and enhanced the range of instruments at its command, emphasizing conflict prevention, continually adapting peacekeeping operations, involving regional organizations, and strengthening post-conflict peace-building. To deal with civil conflicts, the Security Council has authorized complex and innovative peacekeeping operations. In El Salvador and Guatemala, in Cambodia and in Mozambique, the UN played a major role in ending war and fostering reconciliation. Other conflicts, however — in Somalia, Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia — often characterized by ethnic violence, brought new challenges to the UN peacemaking role. Confronted with the problems encountered, the Security Council did not establish any operation from 1995 to 1997. But the essential role of peacekeeping has once more been dramatically reaffirmed. Continuing crises in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic, East Timor, Kosovo, Sierra Leone, and Ethiopia-Eritrea led the Council to establish six new missions in 1998-2000. Peace-building The experience of recent years has also led the United Nations to focus as never before on peace-building — action to support structures that will strengthen and consolidate peace. Experience has shown that keeping peace, in the sense of avoiding military conflict, is not sufficient for establishing a secure and lasting peace. Such security can only be achieved by helping countries to foster economic development, social justice, human rights protection, good governance and the democratic process. ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT Although most people associate the United Nations with the issues of peace and security, the vast majority of its resources are devoted to economic development, social development and sustainable development. United Nations development efforts have profoundly affected the lives and well-being of millions of people throughout the world. Guiding the United Nations work is the conviction that lasting international peace and security are possible only if the economic and social well-being of people everywhere is assured. Many of the economic and social transformations that have taken place globally in the last five decades have been significantly affected in their direction and shape by the work of the United Nations. As the global centre for consensus-building, the United Nations has set priorities and goals for international cooperation to assist countries in their development efforts and to foster a supportive global economic environment. Common interests International debate on economic and social issues has increasingly reflected the common interest of rich and poor countries in solving the many problems that transcend national boundaries. Issues such as the environment, refugees, organized crime, drug trafficking and AIDS are seen as global problems requiring coordinated action. The impact of poverty and unemployment in one region can be quickly felt in others, not least through migration, social disruption and conflict. Similarly, in the age of a global economy, financial instability in one country is immediately felt in the markets of others. Coordinating development activities The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) is the principal body coordinating the economic and social work of the United Nations. It is serviced by the Department for Economic and Social Affairs. The entire family of United Nations organizations works for economic, social and sustainable development. HUMAN RIGHTS Virtually every United Nations body and specialized agency is involved to some degree in the protection of human rights. One of the great achievements of the United Nations is the creation of a comprehensive body of human rights law, which, for the first time in history, provides us with a universal and internationally protected code of human rights, one to which all nations can subscribe and to which all people can aspire. Not only has the United Nations painstakingly defined a broad range of internationally accepted rights; it has also established mechanisms with which to promote and protect these rights and to assist governments in carrying out their responsibilities. Human rights law The foundations of this body of law are the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the General Assembly in 1948. Since then, the United Nations has gradually expanded human rights law to encompass specific standards for women, children, disabled persons, minorities, migrant workers and other vulnerable groups, who now possess rights that protect them from discriminatory practices that had long been common in many societies. Rights have been extended through groundbreaking General Assembly decisions that have gradually established their universality, indivisibility and interrelatedness with development and democracy. Human rights action Education campaigns have tirelessly informed the world’s public of their inalienable rights, while numerous national judicial and penal systems have been enhanced with United Nations training programmes and technical advice. The United Nations machinery to monitor compliance with human rights covenants has acquired a remarkable cohesiveness and weight. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights works to strengthen and coordinate United Nations work for the protection and promotion of all human rights of all persons around the world. The Secretary-General has made human rights the central theme that unifies the Organization’s work. DECOLONIZATION More than 80 nations whose peoples were under colonial rule have joined the United Nations as sovereign independent states since the UN was founded in 1945. Many other Territories have achieved self-determination through political association with other independent states or through integration with other states. The United Nations has played a crucial role in that historic change by encouraging the aspirations of dependent peoples and by setting goals and standards to accelerate their attainment of independence. The Organization has also supervised elections leading to independence — in Togoland (1956 and 1968), Western Samoa (1961), Namibia (1989) and most recently a popular consultation in East Timor (1999). Self-determination and independence The decolonization efforts of the United Nations derive from the Charter principle of “equal rights and self-determination of peoples”, as well as from three specific chapters in the Charter devoted to the interests of dependent peoples. Since 1960, the United Nations has also been guided by the General Assembly’s Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, by which Member States proclaimed the necessity of bringing colonialism to a speedy end. The Organization has also been guided by General Assembly resolution 1541 (XV) of 1960, which defined the three options offering full self-government for Non-Self-Governing Territories.


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13.0 Learning Outcome

13.1 Introduction

13.2 Initiatives towards Constitutional Status to Local Governance

13.2.1 Features of 73rd Constitutional Amendment

13.2.2 Features of 74th Constitutional Amendment

13.2.3 Decentralised Planning in Context of 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendment Act

13.3 Initiatives after Economic Reforms

13.4 Functioning of PRIs in Various States after 73rd Amendment

13.5 Functioning of Local Governance after 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendment: Observations

13.6 Conclusion

13.7 Key Concepts

13.8 References and Further Reading

13.9 Activities


After studying this Unit you should be able to:

• Identify the background of revitalisation of local governance;

• Understand the features of 73rd and 74th constitutional amendment;

• Discuss the initiatives after economic reforms; and

• Outlines the functioning of local governance in various states after the amendment.


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1.0 Learning outcome

1.1 Introduction

1.2 Concept of Democratic Decentralisation

1.3 Evolution of Democratic Decentralisation

1.4 Significance of Democratic Decentralisation

1.5 Democratic Decentralisation in India

1.6 Conclusion

1.7 Key concepts

1.8 References and Further Reading

1.9 Activities


After studying this unit, you should be able to:

• Understand the concept of Democratic Decentralization;

• Know the evolution and significance of Democratic Decentralization; and

• Describe the Democratic Decentralization pattern in India.


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