What is the UN?
The United Nations is made up of 191 countries from around the world. 
It is often called the UN.
It was set up in 1945 - after the Second World War - 
as a way of bringing people together and to avoid war.
The United Nations logo shows the world held in the 'olive branches of peace'.

What does it do?
The UN works for world peace and development in many different ways.
It organises peace-keeping forces in troublespots around the world, 
such as Kosovo or in Africa.
It is also linked with organisations which help. 

These include:
(United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees)

(United Nations Children's Fund)

(United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation)

(Food and Agriculture Organisation)

(World Health Organisation)

What is a resolution?
Representatives of each member country meet in the General Assembly
this is the closest thing to a world parliament.

Each country has a single vote. 
Decisions that are voted for become resolutions.

Major decisions about things like who can join the UN 
need the support of two-thirds of the Assembly.

Less important decisions need the support of over half the Assembly.

The Assembly's decisions are not laws. 
Governments follow resolutions because they represent 
the world's opinion on major international issues.

Who are the Security Council?
The 15 members of the UN Security Council try to keep 
the world a peaceful and secure place.

They vote on the best ways to prevent countries fighting. 
There are two groups of members.

Five permanent members
These countries are always on the council. 
They got their membership because they were important 
in 1945, when the UN was set up.
United States

Ten temporary members
These members are voted for every two years by the rest of the UN. 
The members voted on to the security council as of January 2003 were:

The rules for voting
One member, one vote.
2. Each of the five permanent members can stop 
the UN from making decisions they may not agree with. 
This is called the power of veto.
3. Nine votes in favour are needed to make a decision.
4. Five of the nine votes must come from permanent members.

What is a veto?
The veto is a special power that allows a country to block 
decision that the security council is voting on.
All they have to do is vote against it.

Who can do this?
These are the countries who can veto, in order of how often they have done it.
Russia 120 
United States 76 
UK 32 
France 18 
China 5

Why can they do this?
These countries are permanent members of the UN Security Council. 
They got their power of veto because they were important in 1945. 
This is when the UN was set up.

Is it fair?
Lots of countries say it is not fair but there are two big reasons why it stays like this.

1. Money
The five permanent members pay for nearly half the cost of running the UN - 
even though there are 191 members.

2. Rules
If you had a vote on getting rid of the veto - the countries with a veto could veto it!

Who's in charge?
The head of the UN is called the Secretary-General.
At the moment the head is Kofi Annan, from Ghana. 
He is the seventh UN Secretary-General.
He took charge on 1 January 1997 and has helped the UN to win 
an important award for good work, the Nobel Peace Prize.

Where is it based?
The United Nations headquarters are in one of 
the busiest parts of New York City in America.
But the land and buildings do not belong to the USA.
The UN buildings are international territory. 
This means that they belong to every country that is part of the UN.

What is Unicef?
Unicef stands for the United Nations Children's Fund.
It looks after the needs of children and mothers 
n developing countries around the world.

It works with local communities and governments in more than 
160 countries to help every child reach their full potential.
UNICEF was created in December 1946 by the United Nations.
Since 1995, the Executive Director has been Carol Bellamy.
Some of Unicef's celebrity supporters are:
Manchester United FC
Robbie Williams (singer)
Helena Christensen (model)

Roger Moore (actor)

What is the UNHCR?
UNHCR stands for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
Its High Commissioner is Ruud Lubbers, the former Dutch prime minister.
It takes action to protect refugees and sort out refugee problems all over the world.
It looks after the rights and well-being of refugees
It was established on December 14, 1950 by the United Nations General Assembly.
The UNHCR has helped an estimated 50 million people restart their lives.

previous                                                         main page