The structure of the United Nations is based around its charter. The United Nations Charter consists of 111 articles. These articles explain how the United Nations works.
The charter established six parts of the United Nations:
General Assembly Security Council Economic and Social Council Trusteeship Council International Court of Justice Secretariat
The General Assembly has the brief to discuss and decide on issues of international peace and security. All members of the United Nations are represented in the General Assembly. It can make recommendations to promote international peace; international economic and social co-operation and it can promote human rights. The General Assembly is expected to meet on a regular basis and when a vote is taken it needs a two-thirds majority for it to be passed.
The Security Council consists of eleven members. Five of these are permanent (USA, USSR, GB, China, France). The General Assembly appoints another six members who are non-permanent members. The Security Council is given the primary task by the United Nations of maintaining peace and security at an international level. Each member of the Security Council is given one vote and a vote of seven members is needed for action to be taken. All five permanent members have to agree with the course of action. The Security Council can recommend the use of a blockade or other financial impositions for any nation that is deemed as breaking international law. If these do not work, then the Security Council can call on the United Nations to use military force to enforce its will. This is the major difference to the League of Nations – the United Nations has the ability to enforce its decisions as each member state has to pledge to provide a military component dependent on its national wealth and capability.
The main task of the Economic and Social Council is to promote and improve the economic and social well-being of those living in the member states. This council deals with human rights and seeks to develop a greater understanding of cultures throughout the world. An improvement in world health is also in its remit. Article 57 gives a clear indication of the areas this council covers: health, education, economic, social and cultural issues and the promotion of the position of women in the world. Each member of the Council has one vote.
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is the main judicial body of the United Nations. All members of the United Nations are party to the International Court. The ICJ consists of 15 members and only two members come from the same country at any one time. All members of the United Nations have to agree to abide by the decisions of the ICJ.
The Secretariat comprises of a Secretary-General and it is the body that runs the United Nations. The Secretary-General is appointed by the General Assembly which receives recommendations from the Security Council. The Secretary-General is the United Nations’ chief administrative officer.