The purposes of the United Nations are spelt out in Article 1 of the U.N- Charter. These purposes are: (i) to maintain international peace and security- (ii) to develop friendly relations among nations, (iii) to achieve international co-operation in solving international problems, and (iv) to become a centre for Harmonizing the actions of nations in the attainment of these common ends.
The United Nations Organisation (U.N.O.) comprises 192 members. Seven new members joined the United Nations in 1991. These were the three Baltic States – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Micronesia, the Marshall Islands and South Korea were also admitted. East Timor is the 191 member of the U.N.O. Montenegro is the 192 member of the U.N.O. which joined U.N.U. on June 28, 2006.
The U.N.O. has six major organs, viz. (1) General Assembly, (2) Security Council, (3) Economic and Social Council, (4) Trusteeship Council, (5) International Court of Justice and (6) U.N.O. Secretariat. There are some Inter- Governmental agencies also. The important ones are: (a) International Labour Organisation, (b) United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, (c) World Health Organisation, (d) International Bank of Reconstruction and Development, (e) International Monetary Fund, (f) United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund.
The most important organ of the U.N.O. is its Security Council. It has had five permanent members since the inception of the U.N.O. They are U.S.A., U.S.S.R. (now Russia), Great Britain, France and China. Every permanent member of the Security Council has a right of “Veto”. Thus, if a resolution finds favour with the majority of the permanent members, it cannot be passed even if one permanent member of the Security Council vetoes it. The Security Council has the basic responsibility for the maintenance of peace and security. It is also responsible for the functions of the U.N. in trust territories classed as “strategic areas”.
During the last 65 years of its existence, the U.N.O. has greatly helped in solving many political and military problems. Although wars have taken place from time to time in different parts of the world, yet these were localised. The U.N.O. was able to contain these wars and prevent them from turning into the Third World War. In 1978, the Security Council adopted the plan for the independence ofNamibia. It was at the instance of the U.N. Secretary-General that in the year 1988, Iran and Iraq broke their 8-year-old hostilities. In certain places the U.N.O. sent its own peace-keeping forces. At other places, a “cease fire” was brought about between waning nations.
In the early years, the U.S. and the other western powers ran the United Nations and its agencies as a western club. The same was true, of course, of the other western permanent members and the Soviet Union. The complexion of the United Nations began to change in the sixties, with the influx of a great many African nations in particular. The “have-not” nations, the countries of the South, were in a great majority, and their objective was to change the world Political and economic orders which were weighed against them.
The United Nations Organisation has seldom been out of the limelight, but it has now become a central focal point of world attention because the United States and the coalition gathered under the umbrella of the U.N., fought the Gulf War with the authorization of the U.N. Security Council. The U.N. Security Council’s actions in relation to the Gulf crisis following Iraq’s blatant invasion and annexation of Kuwait show the importance of the U.N. in the fast- changing modern world.
The U.N.O. not only helps in the resolution of political disputes, it also assists nations in the task of economic and social re-construction. It is also engaged in promoting co-operation and understanding among various countries. It helps even in educational and cultural fields. Its specialised agencies like W.H.O., F.A.O., World Bank, UNESCO, UNICEF, I.L.O., etc. have done commendable work in economic, social, educational and cultural fields.
The U.N.O. is the only hope to save mankind from the scourge of wars and to preserve peace in the world. Therefore, it is necessary that all the countries of the world should try their best to strengthen the U.N.O. instead of weakening it. There is no doubt that if the U.N.O. is destroyed, the very existence of mankind on this planet will be put in jeopardy.