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The United Nations is born

The United Nations is born



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On October 24, 1945, the United Nations Charter, which was adopted and signed on June 26, 1945, is now effective and ready to be enforced.

The United Nations was born of perceived necessity, as a means of better arbitrating international conflict and negotiating peace than was provided for by the old League of Nations. The growing Second World War became the real impetus for the United States, Britain, and the Soviet Union to begin formulating the original U.N. Declaration, signed by 26 nations in January 1942, as a formal act of opposition to Germany, Italy, and Japan, the Axis Powers.

The principles of the U.N. Charter were first formulated at the San Francisco Conference, which convened on April 25, 1945. The conference laid out a structure for a new international organization that was to “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war…to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights…to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, and to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom.”

Two other important objectives described in the Charter were respecting the principles of equal rights and self-determination of all peoples (originally directed at smaller nations now vulnerable to being swallowed up by the Communist behemoths emerging from the war) and international cooperation in solving economic, social, cultural, and humanitarian problems around the world.

Now that the war was over, negotiating and maintaining the peace was the practical responsibility of the new U.N. Security Council, made up of the United States, Great Britain, France, the Soviet Union and China. Each would have veto power over the other. Winston Churchill called for the United Nations to employ its charter in the service of creating a new, united Europe-united in its opposition to communist expansion-East and West. Given the composition of the Security Council, this would prove easier said than done.

READ MORE: 10 Memorable Moments in United Nations History


History and Principles of the United Nations

  • M.A., Geography, California State University - East Bay
  • B.A., English and Geography, California State University - Sacramento

The United Nations is an international organization designed to make the enforcement of international law, security, and human rights economic development and social progress easier for countries around the world. The United Nations includes 193 member countries and two permanent observer entities that cannot vote. Its main headquarters is in New York City.


History of UNESCO

When that conference began in 1945 (shortly after the United Nations officially came into existence), there were 44 participating countries whose delegates decided to create an organization that would promote a culture of peace, establish an "intellectual and moral solidarity of mankind," and prevent another world war. When the conference ended on November 16, 1945, 37 of the participating countries founded UNESCO with the Constitution of UNESCO.

After ratification, the Constitution of UNESCO came into effect on November 4, 1946. The first official General Conference of UNESCO was then held in Paris from November 19-December 10, 1946 with representatives from 30 countries. Since then, UNESCO has grown in significance across the globe and its number of participating member states has grown to 195 (there are 193 members of the United Nations but the Cook Islands and Palestine are also members of UNESCO).


In the end, it comes down to values [. ] We want the world our children inherit to be defined by the values enshrined in the UN Charter: peace, justice, respect, human rights, tolerance and solidarity.

António Guterres
United Nations Secretary-General

The Secretary-General is Chief Administrative Officer of the UN – and is also a symbol of the Organization's ideals and an advocate for all the world's peoples, especially the poor and vulnerable.

The Secretary-General is appointed by the General Assembly on the recommendation of the Security Council for a 5-year, renewable term.

The current Secretary-General, and the 9 th occupant of the post, is António Guterres of Portugal, who took office on 1 January 2017.

On the 18 th of June, 2021, Guterres was re-appointed to a second term, pledging as his priority to continue helping the world chart a course out of the COVID-19 pandemic.


A Brief History Of The United Nations

The United Nations—a sometimes controversial, but often under-appreciated global institution—turns 71 years old today.

The day marks what is now known as United Nations Day, which promotes the work of the international body and reminds us how much more needs to be done to achieve peace and security.

“On United Nations Day, we reflect on the progress we have made in the time since, resolve to carry this progress forward, and reaffirm our commitment to international cooperation rooted in the rights and responsibilities of nations across the globe,” the White House said in a press release.

The United Nations has been around for nearly three quarters of a century and we are now two generations removed from World War II—the war that inspired the world to come together to tackle international disputes in a global forum rather than on the battlefield. This has led to us forgetting how the United Nations came about and how it became the institution it is today.

The United Nations, which is now mainly based in New York and Geneva, was the second iteration of an international organization that was meant to settle issues of war and peace and protect the most vulnerable nations through collective security.

The League of Nations, created in the aftermath of the brutal first World War, was a disaster from the start. While ambitious in scope, it was rejected by the United States Senate, it didn’t represent those living under colonial powers, and it showed itself unable to deal with Japanese and Nazi aggression. The League, which was based in Geneva, dissolved quickly during the onset of World War II, which killed tens of millions of people around the globe and saw some of the most horrific mass murder in recorded history.

After the war, representatives of 50 countries, with the leadership of the United States and its president Franklin D. Roosevelt, met in San Francisco at the United Nations Conference on International Organization. There and at Dumbarton Oaks in Washington D.C., they created the United Nations Charter, which was signed by 50 member states on June 26, 1945. T he United Nations was born in October of that year, after being ratified by the world’s largest powers.

In essence, the United Nations was created with the belief that only a multilateral institution could guarantee world peace. Talking to each other was better than the behind-the-scenes horse trading for power and prestige that was an essential part of foreign relations beforehand. It also rejected the balance of power-politics that characterized international relations a century before.

The United Nations was primarily a security institution with the Security Council—along with the General Assembly—as its leading body. The United Nations’ role has expanded since then to include refugees, environment, weapons, health, and even global criminal justice.

There were 50 initial member of the United Nations. Decolonization, war, and independence movements have helped to create the current 193 member states.

The United Nations’ history has been turbulent at times. Here are a few of the major events since its creation:

The U.N.General Assembly passed its first resolution to commit to the elimination of nuclear weapons.

The United Nations voted to partition Palestine with Jewish and Arab sectors.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is adopted by the General Assembly. Two other covenants on civil, political, social, and cultural rights would follow in the 1960s and 1970s.

The tension between Jews and Arabs in Palestine led to the first U.N. peacekeeping mission.

The World Health Organization was created under the auspices of the United Nations to deal mainly with communicable diseases like smallpox, tuberculosis, malaria and HIV.

After the invasion of South Korea by the North, the U.N. Security Council voted in favor of stemming the aggression—without a vote from the Soviet Union, which was boycotting the forum at the time. It is one of the only times the Security Council agreed on major military action during the Cold War.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees was created to deal with the millions of Europeans displaced after the second World War. This organization is now on the front lines of the struggle to feed and house millions of refugees fleeing Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, and other countries affected by war and poverty.

Dozens of former colonies joined the organization upon independence.

At a Security Council meeting, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations shows evidence that the Soviet Union is putting missiles in Cuba, kicking off the Cuban Missile Crisis.

The U.N. Environment Programme was created to deal with global environmental issues.

The Cambodian genocide began, with the United Nations powerless to stop it. It would face similar controversy for its failure in Rwanda in 1994.

Treaty on the Protection of the Ozone Layer is signed in Montreal.

The Soviet Union collapsed and many of its satellites states become independent countries and members of the United Nations

The United Nations established the first war crimes court for perpetrators of mass atrocities during the war in Yugoslavia.

The U.N. Millenium Development Goals were created to encourage progress against poverty and malnutrition, while promoting human rights, gender equality, environmental sustainability, and education. The goals have largely been considered a success and were recently replaced by the Sustainable Development Goals.

The United Nations established the International Criminal Court to try suspects who are alleged to have committed war crimes, genocide, and other atrocities. The United States is not a member of the court.

Currently, there are 16 U.N. peacekeeping operations and over 100,000 U.N. peacekeepers from 123 countries.

Over the years, the United Nations has shifted from a multilateral organization focused on security to one that has taken more responsibility for problems that can only be solved globally: refugee flows, the spread of weapons, environmental damage, emergency humanitarian crises, and public health. These missions have met mixed success, but perhaps more so than if they had been faced alone by individual countries or regional efforts.

However, the United Nations is only as effective as the sum of its constituent parts, the member states. Without them, the United Nations is powerless to act.


UN Charter

The Charter of the United Nations is the founding document of the United Nations. It was signed on 26 June 1945, in San Francisco, at the conclusion of the United Nations Conference on International Organization, and came into force on 24 October 1945.

The United Nations can take action on a wide variety of issues due to its unique international character and the powers vested in its Charter, which is considered an international treaty. As such, the UN Charter 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.

Since the UN's founding in 1945, the mission and work of the Organization have been guided by the purposes and principles contained in its founding Charter, which has been amended three times in 1963, 1965, and 1973.

The International Court of Justice, the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, functions in accordance with the Statute of the International Court of Justice, which is annexed to the UN Charter, and forms an integral part of it. (See Chapter XIV, Article 92)

Visit the UN Dag Hammarskjöld Library's collection of translations of the UN Charter.

Buy the UN Charter

A brand new design is available for purchase. This redesigned edition for the UN’s 70th anniversary features a new introduction titled “From War to Peace,” exclusive archival photos and the Statute of the International Court of Justice.

UN Audiovisual Library

Watch historical footage of the signing of the UN Charter Documentary about the founding of the United Nations Organization and the San Francisco Conference in 1945

Fanfare for All Peoples

This film, set against the stirring words of the Preamble of the United Nations Charter, premiered to an audience of Heads of States from around the world. Fanfare incorporates six languages and incorporates cutting-edge drone footage and breathtaking aerial photography with an inspiring original symphonic score.


History of the Declaration

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 10 December 1948, was the result of the experience of the Second World War. With the end of that war, and the creation of the United Nations, the international community vowed to never again allow atrocities like those of that conflict to happen again. World leaders decided to complement the UN Charter with a road map to guarantee the rights of every individual everywhere. The document they considered, and which would later become the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, was taken up at the first session of the General Assembly in 1946.

The Assembly reviewed this draft Declaration on Fundamental Human Rights and Freedoms and transmitted it to the Economic and Social Council "for reference to the Commission on Human Rights for consideration . . . in its preparation of an international bill of rights." The Commission, at its first session early in 1947, authorized its members to formulate what it termed "a preliminary draft International Bill of Human Rights". Later the work was taken over by a formal drafting committee, consisting of members of the Commission from eight States, selected with due regard for geographical distribution.

The Commission on Human Rights was made up of 18 members from various political, cultural and religious backgrounds. Eleanor Roosevelt, widow of American President Franklin D. Roosevelt, chaired the UDHR drafting committee. With her were René Cassin of France, who composed the first draft of the Declaration, the Committee Rapporteur Charles Malik of Lebanon, Vice-Chairman Peng Chung Chang of China, and John Humphrey of Canada, Director of the UN’s Human Rights Division, who prepared the Declaration’s blueprint. But Mrs. Roosevelt was recognized as the driving force for the Declaration’s adoption.

The Commission met for the first time in 1947. In her memoirs, Eleanor Roosevelt recalled:

Dr. Chang was a pluralist and held forth in charming fashion on the proposition that there is more than one kind of ultimate reality. The Declaration, he said, should reflect more than simply Western ideas and Dr. Humphrey would have to be eclectic in his approach. His remark, though addressed to Dr. Humphrey, was really directed at Dr. Malik, from whom it drew a prompt retort as he expounded at some length the philosophy of Thomas Aquinas. Dr. Humphrey joined enthusiastically in the discussion, and I remember that at one point Dr. Chang suggested that the Secretariat might well spend a few months studying the fundamentals of Confucianism!

The final draft by Cassin was handed to the Commission on Human Rights, which was being held in Geneva. The draft declaration sent out to all UN member States for comments became known as the Geneva draft.

The first draft of the Declaration was proposed in September 1948 with over 50 Member States participating in the final drafting. By its resolution 217 A (III) of 10 December 1948, the General Assembly, meeting in Paris, adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights with eight nations abstaining from the vote but none dissenting. Hernán Santa Cruz of Chile, member of the drafting sub-Committee, wrote:

I perceived clearly that I was participating in a truly significant historic event in which a consensus had been reached as to the supreme value of the human person, a value that did not originate in the decision of a worldly power, but rather in the fact of existing—which gave rise to the inalienable right to live free from want and oppression and to fully develop one’s personality. In the Great Hall…there was an atmosphere of genuine solidarity and brotherhood among men and women from all latitudes, the like of which I have not seen again in any international setting.

The entire text of the UDHR was composed in less than two years. At a time when the world was divided into Eastern and Western blocks, finding a common ground on what should make the essence of the document proved to be a colossal task.


Harold Stassen and the Birth of the United Nations

In San Francisco in the summer of 1945, representatives from 50 countries signed the charter of the United Nations, establishing a new, international body tasked with upholding the human rights of citizens the world over. This was in the wake of World War II, and the hope was that the U.N. might help resolve conflicts before they spun into the sort of devastating global wars that had twice afflicted humankind in the 20th century.

The idea that nations needed a forum in which to work out their differences existed long before the U.N. took center stage. After World War I, President Woodrow Wilson led an attempt to establish a League of Nations with similar intentions. But, the treaty was shot down in the U.S. Senate by a contingent of Republicans who felt the organization would cede too much American independence to international powers. The League would be established, but in a weakened form and without U.S. participation.

During World War II, the Allied nations once again began discussing the necessity of a powerful, communal body to keep the peace. President Franklin Roosevelt championed the new effort, planning the San Francisco meeting and even giving the U.N. its name. Understanding that this was tricky business—the U.N. treaty would have to be ratified by the U.S. Senate—Roosevelt took pains to avoid Wilson’s errors. He made sure the effort had Republican backing.

That is how Minnesota’s own former governor, Harold Stassen, came to be one of three Republicans among the eight U.S. delegates sent to that first conference in San Francisco to help write the U.N. charter.

In early 1945, Stassen (B.L. ’27, J.D. ’29) was still considered a bit of a wunderkind in Minnesota politics, though he was now pushing 40 and fast losing his hair. A tall, lumbering man, son of a farmer and former mayor of West St. Paul, Stassen had shone in all phases of college life at the University of Minnesota—including as one of the best marksmen the college rifle team ever produced, winning three national intercollegiate championships. Ambitious to a fault, he ran for Dakota County attorney soon after graduating from the U Law School at age 22, won, and quickly set his sights on higher office.

After disastrous presidential, gubernatorial, and legislative elections in 1932 and 1936, the Republican party of Minnesota was in desperate need of new blood, and with more than a little moxie, Stassen, just 31, put his name forward as a gubernatorial candidate in 1938. By dint of talent and hustle, he not only won the primary, he upset Democratic candidate Elmer Benson in the general election to become the youngest governor in the country and the youngest in the state’s history.

The political rise of the progressive young Republican continued. In 1940, he aligned himself with presidential candidate Wendell Willkie, became Willkie’s floor manager at the Republican convention, and gave the keynote speech for the party. He was reelected governor of Minnesota in 1942 and was an obvious future star of the party when war came. In early 1943, Stassen resigned his office and volunteered to serve in the U.S. Navy, where he was assigned as administrative assistant to Admiral William “Bull” Halsey.

For a generation, Midwestern Republicans were, almost by definition, isolationists. Stassen, however, had been advocating for a U.N.-type organization since before Pearl Harbor. When Roosevelt began searching for Republicans to serve as delegates in the winter of 1945, he thought of Stassen and sent a dispatch to Halsey’s cabin on a ship in the Pacific. Would Halsey give Stassen leave to attend the upcoming conference in San Francisco, and would Stassen be interested in going? Yes and yes. Soon, Stassen was on his way to Washington for a preparatory conference with Roosevelt and other members of the delegation.

From their first moments, the charter discussions were fraught with drama. Roosevelt died within the first few days of the gathering. Then Hitler died and Germany surrendered. Delegations that had been trapped by war demands in Europe began to arrive in San Francisco to participate in the deliberations, until the number of attendees swelled to 3,500, including delegates, staff, and translators. Meanwhile, the war with Japan continued toward its fearsome conclusion.

The most contentious issues at the conference were also the most contentious in global politics. How would the remaining major powers—the U.S., the Soviet Union, China, Great Britain, and France—use their veto powers within the newly created Security Council? Could smaller countries trust them when peace was menaced? And how would the U.N. safeguard the rights of people living in emerging nations who were or would soon be released from colonial rule?

This last issue became Stassen’s specialty. He led the U.S. delegation’s deliberations on the matter, with the assistance of his aide, future Nobel laureate and U.N. Ambassador Ralph Bunche.

Following weeks of dawn-to-midnight meetings, on June 25, the full assembly of delegates was presented with the charter to be voted on. The preamble read, “We the peoples of the United Nations [resolve] to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind and to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small. . . .”

Lord Halifax of Great Britain asked the delegates for a show of hands and the vote was unanimous. The Charter of the United Nations was passed and the U.N. was born.

“Somehow in the atmosphere of that room, as you looked from face to face,” Stassen would say a few days later in a speech broadcast across the nation, “as you thought of the billion and a half of the world’s peoples that were represented, of all colors and of many races, tongues, and creeds as you realized that most of them had stood together through extremely difficult years of bitter fighting and suffering in the war, there was a definite inner feeling that the conference had been a real success, that this United Nations charter might well become one of the truly great documents of all time.”

Just months after the conference, and subsequent to his release from the Navy, the ever-ambitious Stassen announced he would run for president. He did well in the early stages of the campaign, but his chief rivals, New York’s Thomas Dewey and Robert Taft of Ohio, had the backing of establishment Republicans and finished ahead of him in voting at the 1948 national convention. Harry Truman would ultimately win the election.

As is well known in Minnesota, this was the first of many attempts at the presidency by Stassen. And it was as close as he ever came to the office.

Tim Brady is the author of five books, including His Father's Son: The Life of General Ted Roosevelt, Jr. He lives in St. Paul.


History and development

Despite the problems encountered by the League of Nations in arbitrating conflict and ensuring international peace and security prior to World War II, the major Allied powers agreed during the war to establish a new global organization to help manage international affairs. This agreement was first articulated when U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill signed the Atlantic Charter in August 1941. The name United Nations was originally used to denote the countries allied against Germany, Italy, and Japan. On January 1, 1942, 26 countries signed the Declaration by United Nations, which set forth the war aims of the Allied powers.

The United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union took the lead in designing the new organization and determining its decision-making structure and functions. Initially, the “Big Three” states and their respective leaders (Roosevelt, Churchill, and Soviet premier Joseph Stalin) were hindered by disagreements on issues that foreshadowed the Cold War. The Soviet Union demanded individual membership and voting rights for its constituent republics, and Britain wanted assurances that its colonies would not be placed under UN control. There also was disagreement over the voting system to be adopted in the Security Council, an issue that became famous as the “veto problem.”

The first major step toward the formation of the United Nations was taken August 21–October 7, 1944, at the Dumbarton Oaks Conference, a meeting of the diplomatic experts of the Big Three powers plus China (a group often designated the “Big Four”) held at Dumbarton Oaks, an estate in Washington, D.C. Although the four countries agreed on the general purpose, structure, and function of a new world organization, the conference ended amid continuing disagreement over membership and voting. At the Yalta Conference, a meeting of the Big Three in a Crimean resort city in February 1945, Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin laid the basis for charter provisions delimiting the authority of the Security Council. Moreover, they reached a tentative accord on the number of Soviet republics to be granted independent memberships in the UN. Finally, the three leaders agreed that the new organization would include a trusteeship system to succeed the League of Nations mandate system.

The Dumbarton Oaks proposals, with modifications from the Yalta Conference, formed the basis of negotiations at the United Nations Conference on International Organization (UNCIO), which convened in San Francisco on April 25, 1945, and produced the final Charter of the United Nations. The San Francisco conference was attended by representatives of 50 countries from all geographic areas of the world: 9 from Europe, 21 from the Americas, 7 from the Middle East, 2 from East Asia, and 3 from Africa, as well as 1 each from the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic and the Belorussian Soviet Socialist Republic (in addition to the Soviet Union itself) and 5 from British Commonwealth countries. Poland, which was not present at the conference, was permitted to become an original member of the UN. Security Council veto power (among the permanent members) was affirmed, though any member of the General Assembly was able to raise issues for discussion. Other political issues resolved by compromise were the role of the organization in the promotion of economic and social welfare the status of colonial areas and the distribution of trusteeships the status of regional and defense arrangements and Great Power dominance versus the equality of states. The UN Charter was unanimously adopted and signed on June 26 and promulgated on October 24, 1945.


Contents

In the 1970s, the need for environmental governance at a global level was not universally accepted, particularly by developing nations. Some argued that environmental concerns were not a priority for nations in poverty. The leadership of Canadian diplomat Maurice Strong convinced many of the developing nations' governments that they needed to prioritize this issue. In the words of Nigerian professor Adebayo Adedeji, "Mr. Strong, through the sincerity of his advocacy, soon made it clear that all of us, irrespective of the stage of our development, have a large stake in the matter." [9]

After developing organisations such as the International Labour Organization, the Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization, the 1972 United Nations Conference on the Human Environment (the Stockholm Conference) was convened. In this conference various topics were discussed such as pollution, marine life, protection of resources, environment change, disasters related to nature and biological change. This conference resulted in a Declaration on the Human Environment (Stockholm Declaration) and the establishment of an environmental management body, which was later named the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). UNEP was established by General Assembly Resolution 2997. [10] Headquarters were established in Nairobi, Kenya, with a staff of 300, including 100 professionals in a variety of fields, and with a five-year fund of more than US$100 million. At the time, US$40 million were pledged by the United States and the remainder by 50 other nations. The 'Voluntary Indicative Scale of Contribution' established in 2002 has the role to increase the supporters of the UNEP. [11] The finances related to all programs of UNEP is voluntarily contributed by Member states of the United Nations. The Environmental Fund, which all nations of UNEP invest in, is the core source of UNEP's programs. [10] Between 1974 and 1986 UNEP produced more than 200 technical guidelines or manuals on environment including forest and water management, pest control, pollution monitoring, the relationship between chemical use and health, and management of industry. [12]

The location of the headquarters proved to be a major controversy, with developed countries preferring Geneva, where several other UN offices are based, while developing countries preferred Nairobi, as that would be the first international organization headquartered in the Global South. At first, Mexico City, New Delhi, and Cairo were also competing to be the headquarters, but they pulled out to support Nairobi in an act of "Third World solidarity". [9] Many of the developing countries were "not particularly supportive of creating a new formal institution for environmental governance", but supported its creation as an act of "Southern solidarity". [13] The location of UNEP in Nairobi was taken as "an explicitly political decision". [9]

Executive Director Edit

In December 1972, the UN General Assembly unanimously elected Maurice Strong to be the first head of UN Environment. He was also secretary-general of both the 1972 United Nations Conference on the Human Environment and the Earth Summit (1992).

The position was then held for 17 years (1975–1992) by Mostafa Kamal Tolba, who was instrumental in bringing environmental considerations to the forefront of global thinking and action. Under his leadership, UN Environment's most widely acclaimed success—the historic 1987 agreement to protect the ozone layer—the Montreal Protocol was negotiated. He was succeeded by Elizabeth Dowdeswell (1992–1998), Klaus Töpfer (1998–2006), Achim Steiner (2006–2016), and Erik Solheim (2016–2018).

UNEP's acting executive director Joyce Msuya took office in November 2018, following the resignation of Erik Solheim. Prior to that appointment, she was UNEP's deputy executive director. [14] Inger Andersen was appointed Executive Director of UNEP by UN secretary-general António Guterres in February 2019. [15]

List of executive directors Edit

# Picture Name
(birth–death)
Nationality Took office Left office
1 Maurice Strong [16]
(1929–2015)
Canada 1972 1975
2 Mostafa Kamal Tolba
(1922–2016)
Egypt 1975 1992
3 Elizabeth Dowdeswell
(born 1944)
Canada 1992 1998
4 Klaus Töpfer
(born 1938)
Germany 1998 2006
5 Achim Steiner
(born 1961)
Brazil 2006 2016
6 Erik Solheim
(born 1955)
Norway 2016 2018
7 Joyce Msuya

Environment Assembly Edit

The United Nations Environment Assembly is UNEP's governing body. Created in 2012 to replace the Governing Council, it currently has 193 members and meets every two years. [17] [18]

Structure Edit

UNEP's structure includes eight divisions: [19]

  • Science Division: aims to provide scientifically credible environmental assessments and information for sustainable development. It reports on the state of the global environment, assesses policies, and aims to provides an early warning of emerging environmental threats. It is in charge of the monitoring and reporting of the environment regarding the 2030 Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Policy and Programme Division: makes the policy and programme of the UNEP. This division ensures other divisions are coordinated.
  • Ecosystems Division: supports countries in conserving, restoring and managing their ecosystems. It addresses the environmental causes and consequences of disasters and conflicts. It helps countries to reduce pollution from land-based activities, to increase resilience to climate change, and think about the environment in their development planning.
  • Economy Division: tries to get large businesses to be more environmentally conscious. It has three main branches: Chemicals and Health, Energy and Climate, and Resources and Markets.
  • Governance Affairs Office: engages member states and other relevant groups to use UNEP's work. The office serves UNEP's governing body, the United Nations Environment Assembly, and its subsidiary organ, the Committee of Permanent Representatives, and manages their meetings. It helps strengthen the visibility, authority and impact of the Assembly as an authoritative voice on the environment.
  • Law Division: helps to develop environmental law. Works with countries to combat environmental crime and to meet international environmental commitments. The law division aims to improve cooperation between lawmakers around the world who are making environmental laws.
  • Communication Division: develops and disseminates UNEP's messages. It delivers them to governments to individuals through the digital and traditional media channels.
  • Corporate Services Division: handles UNEP's corporate interests such as management and exposure to financial risk.

UNEP's main activities are related to: [20]

    • including the Territorial Approach to Climate Change (TACC)
    • UNEP has endeavored to lighten the influence of emergencies or natural disasters on human health and to prepare for future disasters. It contributes to the reduction of the origin of disasters by controlling the balance of ecosystems and actively support Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction which aims to reduce the risk of disasters (DRR). As well as preventing natural disasters, the UNEP supports countries such as to make laws or policies which protect the countries from getting serious damage by disasters. Since 1999 it has helped 40 countries to recover from the effect of disasters. [21]
    • UNEP provides information and data on the global environment to stakeholders including governments, non-governmental organizations and the public for them to engage in realizing the Sustainable Development Goals. The information which UNEP shares is based on the latest science and is collected in a proper way. This makes policy makers find reliable information effectively. Through this The Environment Outlook and the Sustainable Development Goals Indicators stakeholders can have access to information easily. In addition, the UN environment Live Platform and Online Access to Research in Environment (OARE) provide transparent information collected by UNEP. [22]

    Awards programs Edit

    Several awards programs have been established to recognize outstanding work in the environmental field. The Global 500 Roll of Honour was initiated in 1987 and ended in 2003. Its 2005 successor, Champions of the Earth, and a similar award, Young Champions of the Earth, are given annually to entrepreneurs, scientists, policy leaders, upcoming talent, individuals and organizations who make significant positive impacts on resources and the environment in their areas.

    Notable achievements Edit

    UNEP has registered several successes, such as the 1987 Montreal Protocol for limiting emissions of gases blamed for thinning the planet's protective ozone layer, and the 2012 Minamata Convention, a treaty to limit toxic mercury. [23]

    UNEP has sponsored the development of solar loan programmes, with attractive return rates, to buffer the initial deployment costs and entice consumers to consider and purchase solar PV systems. The most famous example is the solar loan programme sponsored by UNEP helped 100,000 people finance solar power systems in India. [24] Success in India's solar programme has led to similar projects in other parts of the developing world, including Tunisia, Morocco, Indonesia and Mexico.

    In 2001, UNEP alerted about the destruction of the Marshlands when it released satellite images showing that 90 percent of the marsh had been lost. The UNEP "support for environmental management of the Iraqi Marshland" began in 2004, to manage the marshland area in an environmentally sound manner. [25]

    UNEP has a programme for young people known as Tunza. Within this programme are other projects like the AEO for Youth. [26]

    International Environmental Education Programme (1975–1995)

    For two decades, UNESCO and UNEP led the International Environmental Education Programme (1975-1995), which set out a vision for, and gave practical guidance on how to mobilize education for environmental awareness. In 1976 UNESCO launched an environmental education newsletter Connect as the official organ of the UNESCO-UNEP International Environmental Education Programme (IEEP). Until 2007 it served as a clearinghouse to exchange information on environmental education in general and to promote the aims and activities of the IEEP in particular, as well as being a network for institutions and individuals interested and active in environment education. [27]

    UNEP in 1989, 31 years ago, predicted "entire nations could be wiped off the face of the Earth by sea level rise if the global warming trend is not reversed by the year 2000". [28] [29]

    UNEP in 2005, 16 years ago, predicted "50 million people could become environmental refugees by 2010, fleeing the effects of climate change". [30]

    Glaciers are shrinking at record rates and many could disappear within decades, the UNEP said in 2008. The scientists measuring the health of almost 30 glaciers around the world found that ice loss reached record levels in 2006. On average, the glaciers shrank by 4.9 feet in 2006. Norway's Breidalblikkbrea glacier shrank 10.2 feet in 2006. Glaciers lost an average of about a foot of ice a year between 1980 and 1999, but since the turn of the millennium the average loss has increased to about 20 inches. [31]

    At the fifth Magdeburg Environmental Forum held in 2008, in Magdeburg, Germany, UNEP and car manufacturer Daimler AG called for the establishment of infrastructure for electric vehicles. At this international conference 250 politicians and representatives of non-government organizations discussed future road transportation under the motto of "Sustainable Mobility–the Post-2012 CO2 Agenda". [32]

    UNEP is the co-chair and a founding partner (along with groups such as the Ellen MacArthur Foundation) for the Platform for Accelerating the Circular Economy, which is a public-private partnership of over 50 global organizations and governments seeking to support the transition to a global circular economy. [33]

    The Regional Seas Program Edit

    Established in 1974, this is the world's only legal program for the purpose of protecting the oceans and seas at the regional level. More than 143 countries participate in 18 regional programs including the Caribbean region, East Asian seas, East African region, Mediterranean Basin, Pacific Northwest region, West African region, Caspian Sea, Black Sea region, Northeast Pacific region, Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, ROPME Sea Area, South Asian seas, Southeast Pacific region, Pacific region, Arctic region, Antarctic region, Baltic Sea, and Northeast Atlantic region. Each program consists of countries which share the same sea and manages this sea at the regional level. The programs are controlled by secretariats or Regional Coordinating Units and Regional Activity Centers. [34] UNEP protects seas by promoting international conventions through education and training. [35]

    International years Edit

    International Patron of the Year of the Dolphin was H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco, with Special Ambassador to the cause being Nick Carter of the Backstreet Boys musical group. [36]

    • 2010 – International Year of Biodiversity
    • 2011 – International Year of Forests
    • 2012 – International Year for Sustainable Energy for All
    • 2013 – International Year of Water Cooperation
    • 2014 – International Year of Family Farming
    • 2015 – International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies
    • 2016 – International Year of Pulses
    • 2017 – International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development

    Following the 2007 publication of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fourth Assessment Report, the Paris Call for Action, presented by French president Jacques Chirac and supported by 46 countries, called for the UNEP to be replaced by a new and more powerful "United Nations Environment Organization", to be modeled on the World Health Organization. The 46 countries included the European Union nations, but notably did not include the United States, Saudi Arabia, Russia, and China, the top four emitters of greenhouse gases. [37]

    In December 2012, following the Rio+20 Summit, a decision by the General Assembly of the United Nations to "strengthen and upgrade" the UNEP and establish universal membership of its governing body was confirmed. [38]

    The European Investment Bank and the United Nations Environment Programme created the Renewable Energy Performance Platform (REPP) in 2015 to assist a United Nations project dubbed Sustainable Energy for All. Renewable Energy Performance Platform was established with $67 million from the United Kingdom's International Climate Finance initiative, administered by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, in 2015, and $128 million in 2018. REPP was established with a five-year goal of improving energy access for at least two million people in Sub-Saharan Africa. It has so far invested around $45 million to renewable energy projects in 13 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. Solar power and hydropower are among the energy methods used in the projects. [39] [40]

    2018 funds withholding Edit

    In September 2018, the Dutch government announced it would withhold $8 million in funding to UNEP until nepotism issues with regard to the head of the U.N. Environment Programme. [41] Sweden and Denmark stopped funding as well. A spokesman for the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs said the freezing of funds was probably unprecedented. [42]

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