United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)

  • The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) was established in 1964 as a permanent intergovernmental body.
  • UNCTAD is the principal organ of the United Nations General Assembly dealing with trade, investment, and development issues. 
  • The organization’s goals are to: “maximize the trade, investment and development opportunities of developing countries and assist them in their efforts to integrate into the world economy on an equitable basis.”
  • The primary objective of UNCTAD is to formulate policies relating to all aspects of development including trade, aid, transport, finance and technology.
  • The conference ordinarily meets once in four years; the permanent secretariat is in Geneva, Switzerland.

UN Secretary General

  • The charter is vague in defining the duties of the secretary-general, the United Nations’ top official.
  • He or she is expected to show no favoritism to any particular country, but the office is largely dependent on the funding and goodwill of the most powerful nations.
  • The Security Council — notably the P5 — chooses the secretary-general, by secret ballot, to serve a maximum of two five-year terms.
  • This process makes it difficult for the role to be independent of the P5’s influence.
  • The secretary-general has no army to deploy, but what the position does enjoy is a bully pulpit.
  • If the officeholder is perceived as being independent, he or she is often the only person in the world who can call warring parties to the peace table.
  • The 10-year tenure of the current secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, has repeatedly revealed the limits of the office’s authority.

United Nations Security Council – UNSC

  • The 15-member Security Council is by far the most powerful arm of the United Nations.
  • It can impose sanctions, as it did against Iran over its nuclear program, and authorize military intervention, as it did against Libya in 2011.
  • Its five permanent members are the victors of World War II: the United States, Britain, China, France and Russia.
  • The other 10 members are elected for two-year terms, with seats set aside for different regions of the world.
  • Efforts to expand the permanent membership of the council to include powers that have emerged since 1945 — such as India, Japan and Germany — have been stymied.
  • For every country that vies for a seat, rivals seek to block it.
  • Any member of the permanent five — or the P5, for short — can veto any measure, and each has regularly used this power to protect either itself or allies.
  • Since 1990, the United States has cast a veto on council resolutions 16 times, many concerning Israeli-Palestinian relations. Russia has done so 13 times, including four times over Syria.
  • The charter does allow the General Assembly to act if, because of a veto, international peace and security are threatened. But in reality, it is rarely done.

United Nations – UN

  • The United Nations is an intergovernmental organization that promotes international cooperation and peace building.
  • The United Nations was established after the end of WWII on the 24th of October 1945 in order to prevent a similar global conflict from ever reoccurring.
  • The United Nations replaced the ineffective League of Nations, which was created after the end of WWI.
  • The United Nations has 193 member states.
  • Its headquarters is situated in New York City.
  • The UN aims to maintain international peace, promote human rights, encourage global disarmament, foster social and economic development, protect the environment, provide humanitarian aid in cases of famine, natural disaster, and armed conflict, and further sustainable development.

The UN General Assembly  formally appointed Antonio Guterres as the new Secretary-General of the United Nations, replacing Ban Ki-moon.

  • He will serve for five years starting from January 1, 2017.
  • The UN Secretary-General is the head of the United Nations Secretariat and is de facto spokesperson and leader of the UN.