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United Nations (UN)

The United Nations (UN) guide was created to assist with research using UN information and resources.

Organizational Structure


"The United Nations System" chart breakdown


The United Nations system of organizations is comprised of main organs, specialized agencies, programmes and funds, research and training institutes, and a variety of affiliated and related bodies.

For more information, please check out the Directory United Nations Systems Organization page

Main Organs

General Assembly 

The General Assembly (GA) is the main deliberative, policymaking and representative organ of the UN. All Member countries participate in the General Assembly and each state has one vote to decide on various issues and questions including peace and security, admission of new members and budgetary matters, etc. Each year, a regular session is held. Special and  emergency special sessions may also be convened. The Index to proceedings of the General Assembly is an annual bibliographic guide to the proceedings and documentation of the General Assembly and can be accessed through the hyperlink. 

Security Council

The Security Council has primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. It has 15 Members, and each Member has one vote. Under the Charter of the United Nations, all Member States are obligated to comply with Council decisions.The Security Council does not meet seasonally but stands ready to convene at any time as the need arises. The Index to proceedings of the Security Council is an annual bibliographic guide to the proceedings and documentation of the Security Council and can be accessed through the hyperlink. 

Economic and Social Council

The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) deals with economic, social, cultural, environmental, and health matters as well as human rights and fundamental freedoms.  It also coordinates the work of the UN and the specialized agencies. ECOSOC consists of 54 members and holds one substantive and one organizational session per year. The substantive session is divided into High-level segment, Operational activities for development segment, Humanitarian affairs segment, Integration segment, coordination and management meetings and financing for development meetings. The Index to proceedings of the Economic and Social Council is an annual bibliographic guide to the proceedings and documentation of the Economic and Social Council and can be accessed through the hyperlink. 

Trusteeship Council

The Trusteeship Council is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations. From 1947-1994 it was instrumental in the decolonization and subsequent independence of territories in Africa and the Pacific. The main goals of the System were to promote the advancement of the inhabitants of Trust Territories and their progressive development towards self-government or independence. The Trusteeship Council suspended its operations on 1 November 1994, a month after the independence of Palau, the last remaining United Nations trust territory. The Index to proceedings of the Trusteeship Council is an annual bibliographic guide to the proceedings and documentation of the Trusteeship Council and can be accessed through the hyperlink. 

International Court of Justice

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is the principal judicial organ of the UN. The Court’s role is to settle, in accordance with international law, legal disputes submitted to it by States and to give advisory opinions on legal questions referred to it by authorized United Nations organs and specialized agencies. The Court is composed of 15 judges, who are elected for terms of office of nine years by the United Nations General Assembly and the Security Council. It is assisted by a Registry, its administrative organ. Publications including Judgments, Pleadings, Acts, Yearbooks, etc can be accessed through the hyperlink.


The Secretariat, one of the main organs of the UN, provides service to the other principal organs and carries out the work mandated by them. The Secretariat is organized in departments and offices according to the changing needs of the Organization. At the head of the United Nations Secretariat is the Secretary-General appointed by the General Assembly upon recommendation of the Security Council. 

Funds, Programmes & Other Entities

Fund and Programmes

Specialized Agencies

Regional Commissions

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