What is the United Nations?
Founded in 1945 following the Second World War, the United Nations is an international inter-governmental organization. According to the Charter of the United Nations, each Member State has a commitment to ensuring world “peace and security, developing friendly relations among nations and promoting social progress, better living standards and human rights.”
The four central purposes of the United Nations are:
- To keep peace throughout the world;
- To develop friendly relations among nations;
- To help nations work together to improve the lives of poor people to conquer hunger, disease and illiteracy, and to encourage respect for each other’s rights and freedoms;
- To be a center for harmonising the actions of nations to achieve these goals.
There are currently 193 member states, including every sovereign state in the world but the Vatican City. From its offices around the world, the UN and its specialized agencies decide on substantive and administrative issues in regular meetings held throughout the year. The organization is financed from assessed and voluntary contributions from its member states, and has six official languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish. To learn more, visit the UN website here.
UNANIMA International’s offices are located near the headquarters of the United Nations in New York City, USA.
What is a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO)?
NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations) are legally constituted organizations that operate independently from any government, typically in pursuit of humanitarian goals. Their existence and role are actually defined in Chapter 10 of the United Nations Charter.
If an NGO would like to become affiliated with the United Nations, it has two ways it can do this. The first is by affiliation with the UN Department of Public Information (DPI), which gives it official recognition and permits it to receive documents and other official notices and information from the DPI.
The second type of affiliation is through being accepted as an NGO in “consultative status” with the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). This allows the NGO to use its expertise in areas of concern to the United Nations the ability to interact with the UN Secretariat, programs, and agencies, and consult with member states—researching issues, educating, lobbying, and providing background information. Through this status the NGO can influence UN debate by proposing items for the draft agenda, submitting written statements, and making oral presentations at various UN functions. UNANIMA International has both DPI and ECOSOC affiliations with the United Nations.
One United Nations commission, the Commission on the Status of Women, says on its website that “Active participation of NGOs is a central element in the work of the CSW. NGOs have been influential in shaping the current global policy framework on women’s empowerment and gender equality…They play an important role in holding international and national leaders accountable for the commitments they make.” NGOs also provide a way for “grassroots” people and groups to influence United Nations policies and documents.
In an address delivered to the United Nations, Pope John Paul II referred to NGOs as “the conscience of the UN.”