The main UN bodies are established by the UN Charter. Underneath these bodies are many subsidiary organs.
The General Assembly
The General Assembly is the main deliberative organ of the United Nations. It is composed of representatives of all member Countries, each of which has one vote.
Decisions on important questions, such as those on peace and security, admission of new members and budgetary matters, require a two-thirds majority. Decisions on other questions are by simple majority.
There are various subsidiary organs within the General Assembly. These include the Disarmament Commission, the Peacebuilding Commission and the Human Rights Council.
The Security Council has primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. It is so organised as to be able to function continuously, and a representative of each of its members must be present at all times at United Nations Headquarters. The Presidency of the Council rotates monthly, according to the English alphabetical listing of its member Countries.
The Security Council’s functions and powers are:
1. To maintain international peace and security in accordance with the principles and purposes of the United Nations;
2. To investigate any dispute or situation which might lead to international friction;
3. To recommend methods of adjusting such disputes or the terms of settlement;
4. To formulate plans for the establishment of a system to regulate armaments;
5. To determine the existence of a threat to the peace or act of aggression and to recommend what action should be taken;
6. To call on Members to apply economic sanctions and other measures not involving the use of force to prevent or stop aggression;
7. To take military action against an aggressor;
8. To recommend the admission of new Members;
9. To exercise the trusteeship functions of the United Nations in “strategic areas”; and
10. To recommend to the General Assembly the appointment of the Secretary-General and, together with the Assembly, to elect the Judges of the International Court of Justice.
Equal parts diplomat and advocate, civil servant and CEO, the Secretary-General is a symbol of United Nations ideals and a spokesman for the interests of the world’s peoples, in particular the poor and vulnerable among them. The current Secretary-General, and the 10th occupant of the post, is Mr. António Guterres of Portugal, who took office on 1 January 2017.
This is an international staff working in duty stations around the world that carry out the diverse day-to-day work of the Organization. It services the other principal organs of the United Nations and administers the programmes and policies laid down by them.
Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)
The Economic and Social Council is the principal body coordinating the economic and social work of the United Nations and its operational arms. 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.
International Court of Justice (ICJ)
The ICJ is not the same as the International Criminal Court (ICC). The ICC hears cases against individuals accused of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. The ICJ hears only disputes between Countries.