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  • Print publication year: 2010
  • Online publication date: August 2012

5 - The United Nations I


Key facts

Headquarters: New York

Members: 192 countries

Mandate: to end international war, and promote social and economic development.

Key structure: six principal “organs” are the General Assembly (all UN members, to make recommendations to states), the Security Council (fifteen members, to take enforcement action on international security), the International Court of Justice (to decide legal disputes between states), the Secretariat (the Secretary-General and staff), the Economic and Social Council (fifty-four members, to make recommendations on economic and social questions), and the Trusteeship Council (defunct).

Key obligations: member states must give up the use of force except for self-defense, must carry out Security Council decisions, and can conclude no treaty that contradicts the Charter.

Enforcement: the Security Council can take any action it deems necessary, including the use of force, to respond to threats to international peace and security.

Key legal clauses of the UN Charter:

Article 2(1) “The Organization is based on the … sovereign equality of all its Members.”

Article 2(4) “All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force …”

Article 2(7) “Nothing … in the present Charter shall authorize the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state …”

Article 4(2) “Membership in the United Nations is open to all … peace-loving states.”

Article 10 “The General Assembly may discuss any questions … within the scope of the present Charter … [and] make recommendations to the Members of the United Nations or to the Security Council.”

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