Max-Planck-Schule Kiel
Interneteinsatz im Unterricht (2004)

The United Nations



Today we want to present to you the United Nations Organisation also referred to as the UN. We chose this topic because we believe this organisation to be very important for actual and future developments concerning us and the world policy. In times of war in Iraq and fight against terrorism  we all know of the resolutions passed by the UN and the discussions and votes about these matters in the Security Council. We wanted to know what hides behind it and found many interesting things about what the UN is, how the organisation works and what they are responsible for in our every day life in our research work.

To give you the possibility to gain an insight into the United Nations we tried to sum up our results in the following texts.





Aims of the UN are the assurance of universal peace by mediation and arbitrational decisions, observation and investigation in conflicts for example by sending peace-keeping forces, by diplomatic, economic and military sanctions and by disarmament measures.

In order to create good conditions for peace, the UN supports the human rights and economic, social and cultural development and cooperation.



Reasons for foundation


The forerunner of the UN was founded at the Treaty of Versailles right after the 1st World War to prevent such a thing from happening again. It was dissolved because it couldn’t prevent the 2nd World War.

In 1942 26 united nations worked together in order to fight together against the Axis Powers during the 2nd World War. But only 1945 the “real” United Nations were founded with the same aims as its forerunner, to prevent further wars and to secure peace.





The forerunner of the United Nations was the League of Nations, which was founded “ to promote international cooperation and to achieve peace and security” in 1919 during the first World War. Another forerunner was the International Labour Organization, also created under the Treaty of Versailles.

The League of nations ceased its activities after failing to prevent the second World War.


So the Inter- Allied Declaration was signed in London on 12 June 1941 as a first step towards the United nations. Two months later, on 14 August 1941, President Roosevelt and prime Minister Churchill signed the Atlantic Charta, a set of principles for international collaboration in maintaining peace and security. This document was signed “somewhere at the sea” during a meeting on the ship HMS Prince of Wales.


President Franklin Delano Roosevelt of the USA and Prime Minister Winston Churchill of the UK

On 1 January 1945, representatives of 26 Allied nations met in Washington D.C. to pledge their support for the Atlantic Charta by signing the “Declaration by United States” to fight against the Axis Power. This was the first document, in which the term “United Nations was used, suggested by President Roosevelt.

In this year were also two important conferences, where President Roosevelt, PM Churchill and Premier Stalin declared to establish “a general international organization to maintain peace and security” in Yalta in February and in April delegates of 50 nations met in San Francisco for the United nations Conference to draw up and sing the 111- article Charter. The United Nations was finally created on 24 October 1945, when its Charter was ratified by the five permanent members of the Security Council.


One year later, on 17 January1946, met the first General Assembly with 51 nations represented at Central Hall, London.











Just seven days later, the Security Council met for the first time to adopt its rules of procedure. After this first meeting of the General Assembly they adopted their first resolution, which main focus was the peaceful uses of atomic energy and the elimination of atomic or other weapons of mass destruction.




On 1 February 1946 Trygve Lie of Norway becomes first Secretary-General.











On 24 October 1947 the “United Nations Day” was officially designed by the General Assembly, which is celebrated every year.


The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the General Assembly on 10 December 1948.


Two years later the Security Council was acting in the absence of the Soviet union to help the southern part of Korea to repel an invasion from the north. This was only possible, due to the absence of the Soviet Union, because they were against this help. This was the only time the Security Council made a decision in the absence of one of the members.


In 1954 the UN High Commissioner won the first Nobel Peace Price for its work with European refugees.


The biggest increase in membership was in September1960, when 17 newly independent states, 16 from Africa, joined the UN.


Five years later the United Nations Children’ s found UNICEF was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for the first time.


On 4 January 1969 the International Convention on the elimination of Racial Discrimination comes into force.


The first UN Environment Conference was held in Stockholm, Sweden in June 1972 leading to the establishment of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).


Three years later the International Women’s Year is marked by the first UN conference on women, held in Mexico City.


On May 1980 the WHO declared, that smallpox was eradicated, three years after the last case was been reported.


The General Assembly adopted on 25 November 1981 the Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief.


The largest number of signatures ever made to a treaty on its first day were on 10 December 1984, when 117 states and two entities signed the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.


On the same day, but two years alter the General Assembly adopted the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.


The Convention on the Rights of Children came into force on 2 September 1990.


In June 1993 the International Year for the World’s Indigenous People was commemorated during the World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna.


The 50th anniversary was celebrated on 26 June 1995 in San Francisco.





The General Assembly appointed by acclamation Kofi Annan, of Ghana, as the seventh United Nations Secretary General on 17 December 1996 for a term beginning on 1 January 1997 to 31 December 2001.






On June 2001 they appointed him by acclamation to a second term ending on 31 December 2006.



Further on, the Un helped a lot of African states to become independent and to have free elections. Today many of them are members of the UN.

There were also a few more Nobel peace Prices for the UN and even more conventions against racism and torture.



United Nationsstructure and organisation


1. The General Assembly (UNGA)


In the General Assembly are all UN member states represented with at most five persons but with only one vote. The Assembly meets once in a year for not longer than three months but in urgent and actual cases  there are special sessions. The work during the meetings is organised by an each time new elected president and 21 vice-presidents who form together a general committee, which is responsible for the course. The topics from the agenda are than shared within seven committees who then work on political, financial or social subjects.

The General Assembly can give advices on every matter to member states and to the Security Council but its advices and resolutions are not binding.

Another task of the GA is to state the budget for which every member state pays subscriptions every year. The household in 2001 came to about 1.1 billion US $. As an example : Germany paid about 120 million US $; a small country for example Central Africa paid only about 12000 US $; the big continent Australia paid about 20 million US $. This shows how complicated the system is after which the states have to pay their subscriptions.



2. The Security Council


The Security Council is the only organ of the United Nations, which can order sanctions that are binding (for instance in prooved cases of agression or peacebraking).

There are 15 members: five constant members (US, UK, France, Russia and China) and ten, which are elected for a period of two years by the General Assembly. Every member has the executive for one month.

The council has the main responsibility for the preservation of the world peace and of the international security. Quarrelings and peacepreakings can be brought to the council by every UN-memberstate. States, which are not member of the Security Council, can be invited to take part in the discussion.

Another duty of the council is to appoint the general secretary and to propose new memberstates to the general assembly.



3. The Secretariat


The Secretariat consists of the General Secretary and as many employees as necessary to manage the work. The UN-staff is appointed by the General Secretary (at the moment Kofi Annan) and they should reflect in their formation the geographical diversity of the UN itself. The General Secretary is elected for always five years by the General Assembly. He is the highest employee in the UN Organisation and he is able to bring every matter to the Security Council if he believes it to endanger the world peace. Therefore you can say he has an executive force.

In 1977 the General Assembly also decided to give the general secretary the right to name a general director as a vice secretary. He is responsible for the economic development and the international economic cooperation and leads the social and economic UN organisations.

The UN-Secretariat in general has the task to organise international conferences, to take care of the offices and to do all the administration work.




4. The International Court of Justice  (ICJ)


The ICJ is the main juristic institution of the UN. It was founded in 1945 and has its main seat in Den Haag (Netherlands).

The ICJ works on the basis of its own article in the UN-Charta. Its main duty is to make decisions in rightquarrelings between states, and that is the thing, which is so special about it: Only states can appeal to it; no individual persons and organizations. It comes to its sentences by the basis of the law of nations, but also by contracts and conventions, which are accepted by the respectrive countries.

The article about the ICJ says that if states call it, they have to accept the sentences as binding, but many states do not accept this article.


In 1985, the United States of America declared that they would not accept the sentences of the ICJ. States like for instance Germany, France, China and Italy did not want to accept  them, either. So the ICJ lost a lot of its power.



5. The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)


This council is also one of the six principal organs and it consists of 54 representatives each from another member state. Every year the General Assembly elects 18 members for the time of three years.

The former task of the council was to help countries at recovering from war destructions, but today they concentrate on helping and supporting developing countries. The ECOSOC also carries out studies about economic, social and cultural subjects and coordinates activities from UN-authorities. 

The Council works in different committees which deal for example with questions of social development, human rights or the fight against terrorism. These committees are led by an executive secretary. In the council assembly every member has one vote and decisions go as advices to the General Assembly.

Regional affaires are the job of the Regional Committees which exist for every part of the world. The Economic Committee for Europe for example has its head office in Geneva and has 42 members. Regional Committees may give advices to governments, but they are only allowed to act with the permission of the state concerned.



6. The Trusteeship Council


The Trusteeship Council compounds of UN-members, which administrate trusteeship terretoris and of members that don’t. The ratio has to be balanced. That is why the number of members variates and depends on how many trusteeship territories there are.


The duties and authorities of the Trusteeship Council are to check the accounts that are given by the administration power of the particular territories to dispose preambulations to them and to check the progress in the territories.






The UN in Germany

The United Nations are not represented in Germany nor in any other member state with an office or anything similar. In addition to the head office in New York does the UN have offices in Geneva, Vienna and Nairobi and regional committees for example in Addis Abeba. In Germany the United Nations are represented in the form of an Information Center in Bonn which is called UNIC. But it will be closed on 31. 12. 2003 and reopened as a Regional Information Center (RUNIC) in Brussels on 1. 1. 2004.

There is also a German Association for the United Nations. Its task is it to spread information about the UN, to publish magazines and to achieve educational work.




(United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization)


The main aim of the Unesco  is to keep the world peace by supporting the understanding of nations and peoples. They want to reach their aim by supporting the international cooperation, by making possible the worldwide access to educational and cultural institutions and by increasing the education standard.

The Unesco has many projects all over the world, for instance campagnes that tries to increase the number of people that can read and write (Alphabetisierungscampagnen), and education programms. Furthermore the have founded an Aids-foundation and they trie to keep the cultural and natueral heritage of the world.


The Unesco was founded in 1945 by France and Great Britain and has its main seat in Paris.

In 1984 the USA left the organization for political reasons and so Great Britain did the same in 1985. That is why the Unesco got a lot of problems in financing themselves.



(United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund)


The UNICEF was founded by the UN-General Assembly in 1946 to help children who suffered from the consequences of the second world war. For this work the UNICEF received the Nobelprize for peace in 1965. Today they concentrate their work on relief-programs in developing countries.

The UNICEF is an autonomous organ with its head office in New York and more than 200 offices in 115 countries all over the world. On the board work three persons who can decide about policy, programs and costs. A network consisting of 34 committees works in the industrial nations for recruiting supporters and donators to gain more money for projects. These programs and projects are always carried out in agreement with the affected government and with the help of private persons and organisations from every part of society. At the moment the UNICEF supports more than 130 different countries in for example healthcare, nutrition, education and in problems like aids or prostitution. To finance all the activities the UNICEF gets subscriptions from private persons and also voluntarily from governments.

Regional affaires are the job of the Regional Committees which exist for every part of the world. The Economic Committee for Europe for example has its head office in Geneva and has 42 members. Regional Committees may give advices to governments, but they are only allowed to act with the permission of the state concerned.



UN Millennium Goals


By the year 2015, all 191 UN members have pledged to meet the 8 goals.


Goal 1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger

The goal is to halve the number of people whose income is less than one dollar a day and who suffer from hunger.


Goal 2: Achieve universal primary education

Children everywhere, boys and girls, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling.


Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empower women

Eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education, preferably by 2005, and to all levels of education no later than 2015.


Goal 4: Reduce child mortality

The goal is to reduce by two thirds, between 1990 and 2015, the under-five mortality rate.


Goal 5: Improve maternal health

Reduce by three quarters, between 1990 and 2015, the maternal mortality ratio.


Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases

Halve by 2015 and begin to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS.


Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability

Integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes and reverse the loss of environmental resources.


Goal 8: Develop a global partnership for development





Peacekeeping operations


The interantional community can encourage the establishment of sustainable peace in places and also situations where a conflict threatens or has been subdued.

The UN Charter says that the 15 member UN Security Council is allowed to take action to maintain international peace and security. The UN Security Council establishes the UN peacekeeping operations.

The first peacekeeping operation (UNTSO) was in 1848 in the Middle East and its still active today. Since 1948 the UN established 56 United peacekeeping operations. 43 operations have been established since 1988 and 13 are still ongoing.



UN Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

The duration of this mission was from February 1992 until March 1995. This mission was established to create the conditions of peace and security to solve the Yugoslav crisis. The mission was called UNPROFOR and its mandate was to ensure that the three “United Nations Protected Areas” in Croatia were demilitarised and that all inhabitants were protected from fear and armed attack. When the conflict extended to Bosnia and Herzegovina the missions mandate was enlarged to ensure the security at the airport at Sarajevo and to deliver humanitarian relief and to help the refugees. UNPROFOR was allowed to use force in self-defence and to coordinate with the NATO.

The strength of this mission was really big. Altogether 38.599 military personnel including 684 United Nations military observers were involved. The Force also included 803 civilian police, 2017 other international civilian staff and 2615 local staff. UNPROFOR was the biggest peacekeeping operation in the UN history and also a really successful one. The cost of this mission was about $ 4.616.725.556


UN mission in Kosovo

The mission called UNMIK( UN Interim Administration mission in Kosovo) was established in June 1999. The Security Council authorized a NATO-led security presence to demilitarize Kosovo and maintain law and order. UNMIK was authorized to exercise administrative and executive authority, also administration of justice. Their mission was also to rehabilitate the territory and prepare it for later elections and eventual autonomy within the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

The UN mission is still ongoing, but most work has been done in the past 4 years. The peacekeeping mission organised the first three democratic elections in Kosovo’s history. They also created the frame for a stable market economy, restored the infrastructure and established all the basic of a modern administration. UNMIK is still building a local judiciary and a police force. It already consists of 5000 people. They solve a higher rate of murders than some western European countries. The Kosovo mission belongs to the successful ones of the UN.


UN mission in Iraq/Iran War

In August 1988, after almost 8 years of war, the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Republic of Iraq agreed to a suggestion of the Secretary General to a ceasefire and the beginning of direct talks between the two foreign ministers.

The mission was called UNIIMOG and it was established in August 1988 to verify, confirm and supervise the ceasefire and the withdrawal of all forces to the internationally recognized boundaries. UNIIMOG was terminated in February 1991 after Iran and Iraq had withdrawn all their forces.

The situation worsened because of the Iraqi invasion and the occupation of Kuwait in August 1990. This situation complicated the work of UNIIMOG. At the time of withdrawal, UNIIMOG comprised 96 military observers. The group also had 16 military police and a small medical unit. The cost for this mission was about $177.9 million. 

In 1991 the Gulf war started. The people were facing a imminent catastrophe. On April 1995, the Oil-for-food programme was established. The first Iraqi oil under the Oil-for-food programme was exported in December 1996. This programme is one of the largest, most complex and unusual tasks ever entrusted to the Secretariat. About 3.4 billion barrels of oil valued at about $ 65 billion were exported under the programme between 1996 and 2003. Of this amount, 72 % of the total was allocated towards humanitarian needs after December 2000. It went to the Gulf War reparations, UN administrative and operational costs and costs for the weapons inspection programme. The programme closed on 21 November, 2003.


Power of UN in the Iraq

The power of the UN was questioned when the USA, Britain, Spain and Poland as the main countries decided to attack the Iraq in March 2003 without a UN mandate. The UN didn’t agree with these countries. The UN demanded more time for the inspectors to search for chemical weapons, because there was no real prove for having these weapons at that time.

After the war there is still the discussion about the rebuilding of the country. There is still no agreement who is paying for what and who gets the missions.


UN mission in East Timor

East Timor was placed on the international agenda in 1960, when the UN added the territory to the list of non-self-governing territories. East Timor was administered by Portugal. In 1974, fourteen years later, Portugal sought to establish a provisional government and a popular assembly that would determine the status of East Timor. Then a civil war broke out between the people who favored independence and the people who advocated integration with Indonesia. Portugal couldn’t handle the situation so they withdrew. Then Indonesia intervened military and integrated East Timor as its 27th province in 1976.  The UN never recognized this integration and the Security Council and the General Assembly called for Indonesia’s withdrawal.

UNTAET has the responsibility for the administration of East Timor and is also empowered to exercise all legislative and executive authority.

The mission was established to provide security and maintain law and order in East Timor, to establish an administration, to ensure the coordination and delivery of humanitarian assistance, rehabilitation and development assistance. 

The total cost of this mission from July 2001 until June 2002 was about $476.8 million. The country declared independence on May 20th , 2002.

The Democratic Republic of Timor – Leste (formerly East Timor)was the first new country of the millennium, who became a member state of the United nations( 191st member).


The UN is continuing to maintain a presence in this country to ensure the security and stability of the state.



The UN and decolonization


Since the world organisation was founded in 1945 more than 80 nations whose peoples were under colonial rule have joined the United Nations as sovereign independent States. Many other territories have achieved self determination through political association with other independent states or also through integration with other states. The UN has played a big role in that historic change.


Before the foundation of the UN in 1945, 750 million people (almost a third of the world’s population) lived in territories  that were non-self-governing and dependent on colonial powers. Today only 2 million people live in such territories.


The 16 Non-Self -Governing territories are: American Samoa, Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Guam, Montserrat, New Caledonia, Pitcairn, St, Helena, Tokelau, Turks and Caicos Islands, United States Virgin Islands and Western Sahara.



The UN in Israel

One topic, which is probably very popular at the moment is the block fence, which Israel built in  the Palestine area. They gave as reason that they want to protect themselves against the immigration of  suicide-assassins. The Palestinians say that Israel would take away more land from them by building this fence.

That is why the General Assembly of the United Nations decided to make resolution and called on Israel to stop building this fence. In the Assembly, 144 Nations agreed with this resolution and voted with yes. 4 Nations voted with no (f.i. the USA)and 12 abstained themselves.

The resolution says that the fence is against the international right, that the border is not the original one, which was fixed in 1949 and that fence means further humanitarian hardship for the Palestanians.

The resolution was a proposition made by the EU, because before, there had been lots of political quarrels between the nations what to do.

If the general assembly decides a resolution, it is an expression of the political will of the nations. If the Security Council does the same, it is binding and they have the right to order sanctions.

Israel refused this resolution on October, the 22nd 2003.



Annan’s lecture

On December 12th 2003, Kofi Annan held a lecture at the Tübingen University on Global Ethics. Professor Küng had asked him to do so as a birthday gift for him.

Annan starts telling, that the ideas of the UN are far away from being realized yet, but the universal peace has made progress. As the world grows closer together, there is a great need for principles, which are accepted all over the world and which tell you how to solve problems without violence. He goes on that, as recent events show, these principles can’t be taken as granted. Three years ago, many states signed the Millennium Declaration, which is about essential values such as freedom, equality and tolerance. But today, the focus has changed on war and peace and so, these promises are about to be forgotten. Because of the globalisation, we experience each other’s actions, but it didn’t bring us closer in a way, that we share each other’s benefits and burdens. As some people are therefore disappointed by the globalisation, they go back into their smaller communities, which might exclude some of their fellows.  This might lead to hate, fear and discrimination.

So this is the time to reassert on our universal values. We need to bring back to our minds what they stand for, what they are, and what they are not. They are ideals, which don’t have to be obeyed by everyone, but they are standards, by which moral failings can be judged. They are not made to prevent them. The universal values also require us to respect each other as individuals. We mustn’t condemn a whole nation because some of its people do things we don’t agree with. So we need universal values to say that some actions are not only against our particular morality, but against the one of all humans. They shall also help us to settle difference between or within societies. Therefore we will always need tolerance and dialogues, too. And if one nation finds a good way for them, to ensure our values, this way mustn’t be imposed on others. Every nation should be given the space to find its way to put the universal values in action.

Annan finishes with the hint that you mustn’t just talk about universal values you, have to live them. And nobody should be satisfied with the way the world is now. Even the UN needs to be constantly improved, in order to help the peoples in a better way. The universal values need to be defended and strengthened and everybody should live them in his daily live.


Rebuilding Iraq

December 11th: The International Reconstruction Fund Facility for Iraq, a combination of two trust funds, was inaugurated by the UN Development Group (UNDG) and the World Bank.

The World Bank Iraq trust fund will work on technical assistance and infrastructure aid. The other fund, managed by the UNDG will concentrate on quick impact projects and activities related to the countries political and economic transition.

On Iraq’s side, two entities will supervise the spending of contributions.




World Summit on the Information Society

From 10th to 12th December the UNO organized a world summit in Geneva which dealt with the problems of information technologies and the so-called digital divide between developing countries and the industrialized nations. The summit is divided into two phases and 6000 delegates from all over the world discussed about questions like is communication and access to medias a human right? and gave short statements on their opinion in this first phase.

The agenda contains a list of issues. For example:

1)      Information and communication infrastructure: financing and investment, affordability, development, and sustainability.

2)      Access to information and knowledge for everyone.

3)      The role of governments, the business sector and civil society in the promotion of ICTs for development.

4)      Capacity building: human resources development, education, and training.

5)      Security.

6)      Promotion of development-oriented ICT applications for all.

7)      Cultural identity and linguistic diversity, local content and media development.

8)      Identifying and overcoming barriers to the achievement of the information society with a human perspective.

The topics which are to discuss are very difficult ones and therefore the main achievements were the distribution of working topics among committees and the decision to come together again in Tunis 16th to 18th November 2005 for the second phase to discuss  the results.

The delegates only agreed on founding a Digital Solitary Fund to help developing countries with reducing the differences in the development of modern technologies and to set the 12th December as world day of Digital Solidarity. 



Saddam Hussein arrested in Tikrit

Saddam Hussein was arrested on December 13th near Tikrit. At 10.15 there were some information about his hiding place. The mission was to find Hussein dead or alive. There were about 600 soldiers participating in the move. The troops found a suspicious place. They found a little hole in the ground, which was about 2.45 meters deep including Saddam Hussein in it. Hussein was cooperative .





Microsoft Encarta

Claudias grandmother (Mrs. Hampe)

Elenas dad (Mr. Pieper)

Cornelsen Abi Pocket- Teacher (Politik und Sozialwissenschaften)