The universal organizations

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The United Nations[edit | edit source]

Emblem of the United Nations.

It was developed in the United States just before the end of the war. The Charter of the United Nations was signed in San Francisco on June 26, 1945 by the free nations at war with the Axis powers.

Today, it has more than 196 members, including Switzerland.

Since the end of the war, Switzerland has had an observer seat. It was only in 2002, after the people and the cantons had accepted its accession, that it became a permanent member. Membership was first refused in 1986 in the midst of a period of confrontation between the Soviet and Western blocs.

The Charter of the United Nations has an objective of peacekeeping and international cooperation. Its headquarters are in New York. However, the European headquarters is maintained in Geneva.

The main organs:

  • General Assembly: meets in session once a year where each member is represented and represents one vote. On the other hand, it gives rise to special bodies with a high degree of autonomy, such as the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, established in 1950, UNESCO, and the ILO. Switzerland was a member of some of these bodies even before it became a permanent member of the UN.
  • Security Council: has 15 members, including 5 permanent members who are the victorious powers of the Second World War (United States, France, United Kingdom, China, Russia). The other members are elected for two years and the choice of these countries must take into account the geographical distribution. The permanent members have a veto vote. However, the right of veto is not officially registered, but is subject to an interpretation that stipulates that if a permanent member votes against a decision, he can therefore defeat the vote. The abstention of a permanent Member State does not paralyse the system. Since the Soviet Union disappeared, the Security Council has mostly used the consensus technique, the result of a long negotiation process.
  • General Secretariat: represented by Ban Ki Moon who is elected by a vote at the General Assembly and proposed by the Security Council. The functions are mainly political. The secretary is supported by an administrative team.
  • International Court of Justice: is composed of 15 judges elected by the General Assembly and the Security Council. It is the judicial body of the United Nations. Its objective is to decide according to the rules of international law. Its jurisdiction extends to all cases referred to it by States. Only States can bring an action before the international court of justice: an individual cannot act. No State may, without its consent, be forced to submit a dispute it has with another State to the mediation of the Court. The Court has jurisdiction:
    • If States recognize its jurisdiction
    • Either because the disputes concern the interpretation or application of a treaty.
    • Either because two States in conflict decide to submit the dispute to the court.

Article 93 provides that States that are not members of the United Nations may join the International Court of Justice. This was the case in Switzerland in 1948.

The specialized agencies[edit | edit source]

To promote peace, there are many organizations established in the wake of the United Nations: the Intellectual Property Organization (1967), UNESCO (1945), the World Health Organization, the International Labour Organization (1919). Switzerland was a member of it even before it sat on the UN General Assembly in New York.

Annexes[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]