Agencies of the United Nations System

The following organizations are often called part of the United Nations "family." The previous chapters have been concerned with the organs, programs, or funds of the United Nations that are directly governed by the General Assembly and/or the Security Council, and which have the Secretary General as their executive head. The following organizations all have their own separate member states, governing bodies, executive heads, and secretariats.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)

BACKGROUND: The UN came into existence at the beginning of the atomic age. Human beings' success in harnessing atomic energy has made the UN's objectives not only important but even indispensable.

The International Labour Organization (ILO)

BACKGROUND: The ILO is the only major organization originally part of the League of Nations system that has existed from the founding of the League in 1919 down to the present day. Its name is actually too narrow, for it is an organization neither of nor for labor alone.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)

BACKGROUND: "Since wars begin in the minds of men," the preamble to the UNESCO constitution states, "it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed." As also stated in the preamble, "the great and terrible war which has now ended was a war made possible by the denial of the democratic principles of the dignity, equality and mutual respect of men and by the propagation, in their place, through ignorance and prejudice, of the doctrine of the inequality of men and races." World War II was too recent of an event when UNESCO was created for its founders to forget that fact.

The World Health Organization (WHO)

BACKGROUND: In taking the pulse of global health in 1974, WHO member states concluded that despite vaccines, antibiotic drugs, and a host of extraordinary advances in medical technology, the world was far from healthy. There was a "signal failure," the 27th World Health Assembly concluded, to provide basic services to two-thirds of the world's population, particularly to rural inhabitants and the urban poor, who, despite being the most needy and in the majority, were the most neglected.

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)

BACKGROUND: In 1910, a conference on international air law code, attended by representatives of 18 European nations, was convened in Paris, France. In 1919, following World War I, the Paris Peace Conference created the International Air Convention to govern aspects of civil aviation.

The Universal Postal Union (UPU)

BACKGROUND: Every day, more than 1.2 billion letters are posted for delivery within national borders, accounting for more than 430 billion letters each year. In addition, each day, close to 20 million pieces of mail cross international boundaries, accounting for nearly 7.4 billion items posted in international service (over a third of them by developing countries) and are swiftly and safely delivered to their destinations.

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU)

BACKGROUND: The International Telecommunication Union is the oldest of the intergovernmental organizations that have become specialized agencies related to the UN. In 1865, a convention establishing an International Telegraph Union was signed in Paris by the plenipotentiaries of 20 continental European states, including two extending into Asia—Russia and Turkey.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO)

BACKGROUND: The practical uses of meteorology are to instruct, advise, and warn mankind about the weather. Thus, it can help prevent devastation caused by flood, drought, and storm; it can also assist the peoples of the world in best adapting their agriculture and industry to the climatic conditions under which they live.

The International Maritime Organization (IMO)

BACKGROUND: The seven seas, accounting for about two-thirds of the earth's surface, are the only truly international part of our globe. Except for a marginal belt a very few miles wide, touching on the shores of countries, the greater part of the world's oceans and maritime resources are the common property of all nations.

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)

BACKGROUND: Intellectual property includes industrial property, such as inventions, trademarks, and designs, on the one hand, and the objects of copyright and neighboring rights on the other. Until a century ago, there were no international instruments for the protection of intellectual property.

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)

BACKGROUND: The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is the first international institution established exclusively to provide additional resources for agricultural and rural development in developing countries and to channel those resources to the poorest rural populations in Africa, Near East and North Africa, Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean that suffer from chronic hunger and malnutrition.

The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO)

BACKGROUND: Industrialization is one of the primary goals of the developing countries, to increase their share of world manufacturing output and decrease their dependence on imported goods and services and on their traditional raw-materials export economies. The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the newest specialized agency of the UN, seeks to further that goal through its programs of technical cooperation with developing countries, designed to aid in the planning and implementation of industrial projects, the training of personnel in manufacturing and managerial skills, the transfer of technology and the provision of information, and the promotion of investment in industry in developing countries.

The World Trade Organization (WTO)

BACKGROUND: The World Trade Organization (WTO) was established on 1 January 1995 as the legal and institutional foundation of the multilateral trading system. It provides the principal contractual obligations determining how governments frame and implement domestic trade legislation and regulations.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF)

BACKGROUND: The 1930s was a period not only of great political upheaval but also of grave financial and economic difficulty. The gold standard was largely abandoned, and currency exchange rates fluctuated wildly.

The World Bank Group

The World Bank Group comprises five organizations: the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), the International Development Association (IDA), the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), and the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID).