The UN’s work for economic and social development has over the years become more specialized. A number of assistant bodies and specialist bodies have been formed or given new tasks. The reform work within the UN has meant that various bodies have begun to work together to achieve common development goals that concern their areas of interest. But in recent years, competition between different bodies working on the same issues has also grown. According to AbbreviationFinder, UN stands for United Nations.
• Population issues. The world’s population grew from 2.5 billion in 1950 to 7.2 billion in 2014. By 2050, the world’s population is forecast to have increased to 9 billion, a quarter of whom will be over 60 years old. The United Nations Population Fund, UNFPA, deals with population issues in developing countries. UNFPA supports so-called reproductive health, which includes family planning and sexual health, information about and distribution of contraceptives, measures against HIV / AIDS, strengthening mothers’ rights and health, etc. The fund also helps developing countries with the collection and analysis of population statistics. The UN has held three population conferences: in Bucharest in 1974, Mexico City in 1984 and in Cairo in 1994.
• Education. One of the millennium goals is to be able to provide all children with primary school education by 2015. Although the proportion of children starting school has increased significantly in many countries since 1990, it seems highly uncertain that the goal can be met in time. More than half of the 57 million children who did not go to school in 2010 lived in sub-Saharan Africa. Among other things, the UN agencies strive to ensure that countries remove school fees. The main body supporting education within the UN system is the UNESCO specialized body.
• Food problems. The uneven distribution of food in the world is a major problem. Today, more than 800 million of the world’s population are said to live in constant malnutrition. At the same time, progress has been made in reducing hunger, which is one of the Millennium Development Goals. The proportion of malnourished people in developing countries decreased from about 23 percent in the early 1990’s to just under 15 percent in the early 2010’s. The World Food Program (WFP) and the FAO are the leading organizations in the UN system working to combat hunger and hunger. WFP provides food aid to developing countries and provides food in the event of disasters. The FAO works to eradicate famine, including through support for agricultural projects in developing countries.
• Housing issues. In developing countries in particular, but also in industrialized countries, many people are homeless. Habitat, or UNCHS, a UN agency for housing and development, works for the right of all people to a roof over their heads and a decent standard of living. Habitat has a coordinating function for different types of UN efforts in the area of housing. An important question is how to be prepared for the growing urbanization: already today, a little more than half of the world’s population lives in the cities and by 2050, nine out of ten people are expected to live in the cities.
• Diseases and health. Fighting diseases and building up health care in developing countries is important for the development of people and societies. These issues are mainly handled by the WHO, although other bodies within the UN system began working on these areas in the 1990’s. WHO is waging a successful fight against serious diseases in many ways. Smallpox, for example, has been an eradicated disease since 1979. The hopes that polio would be eradicated by 2010 have been dashed since the disease has spread again in recent years.
Fighting malaria has been a priority area since the late 1990’s. The distribution of mosquito nets to prevent malaria saves many lives. The number of deaths from the disease has decreased by more than a quarter in 2000-2010. The fight against tuberculosis also continues and there is a slow decrease in the number of patients and those who die from the disease. It is estimated that the number of deaths from the disease has halved between 1990 and 2015.
The increasing resistance to antibiotics is seen as a serious problem. Other priority areas are women’s and children’s health. Mortality for children under the age of five has decreased since 1990, as has the number of mothers who die in childbirth, but many countries will still find it difficult to reach this millennium goal by 2015.
Together with the UN Children’s Fund Unicef, the WHO has organized campaigns to vaccinate children against various diseases and to encourage mothers to breastfeed. UNDP, Unicef, the World Bank and the WHO have successfully launched a sugar-salt solution to prevent dehydration caused by diarrhea. During the first decades of the 21st century, the WHO has come into particular focus in connection with its work to prevent the spread of the lung disease SARS, so-called bird flu, and also the so-called swine flu.
Unaids is a collaboration between several UN agencies that try to fight the immune deficiency disease AIDS and its virus HIV. About 35 million people had died from the disease, while about 70 million were infected with HIV a few years into the 2010’s. One of the millennium goals is to stop the spread of HIV by 2015. The number of people living with AIDS has increased in recent years, which is largely due to increased access to medicines and treatments that prolong life. At the same time, fewer people are infected with HIV than before. Sub-Saharan Africa most affected by the disease.
• Drug control and international crime. The UN has adopted a number of drug conventions. Since 1997, the United Nations Office (UNODC) has been leading the global effort to combat drugs, international crime and terrorism. The UN Special Commission on Drugs examines compliance with UN conventions and draws up guidelines for the fight against drugs.
The International Narcotics Control Board is an independent body that monitors compliance with the drug conventions.
• Refugees. A refugee is, according to the definition contained in the 1951 UN Refugee Convention, a person “who, out of well-founded fear of persecution because of his race, religion, nationality, belonging to a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country in which he is a citizen, and is incapable of, or because of such fear, as has just been said, not wishing to avail himself of the protection of said country…
The number of refugees in the world has fallen since 2001. According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, UNHCR, just over 45 million people were on the run in 2012, of which 15 million were refugees, 937,000 asylum seekers and 28 million so-called internally displaced persons. countries.
Since its establishment in 1951, the Norwegian Refugee Council has received increasingly extensive information as the number of people on the run has increased. The UNHCR, led by the so-called Refugee Commissioner, is almost entirely funded by voluntary contributions from member states. The tasks include assisting people with a roof over their heads and food and arranging for them to return to their home countries or find new homes.
Within the UN, there is another refugee body, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, UNRWA. It was established in 1949 by the General Assembly. Today, UNRWA helps about 5 million refugees, many of them living in refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria or the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza.
• Children. Several of the UN system’s bodies work with child – related issues. The United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) is one of the most well-known UN agencies. It is an advisory body, but has an independent status. Unicef was formed shortly after the end of World War II to take care of the many children affected by the war. Today, the organization has the whole world as its field of work, but above all helps children in developing countries. Unicef’s task is to work for the well – being of children in every conceivable area of society. Unicef often collaborates with other support bodies or specialized bodies within the UN system. The Children’s Fund also provides assistance in the event of disasters. The activity is financed almost entirely through voluntary grants.
Since the General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989, UNICEF has worked for its observance and informed of the rights enshrined in it. A world summit on children was held in 1990 in New York.
• Women. The UN Charter promises Member States to promote gender equality. Despite this, women are discriminated against in many areas of society, both in high- and middle-income countries and developing countries. Many UN agencies work to promote the status and rights of women.
In 2010, the General Assembly formed a completely new UN unit, UN Women, as a way to coordinate and gather under one roof the work of several previous bodies on gender issues and women’s and girls’ rights. These units included the United Nations (Division for the Advancement of Women), a special fund for women (Unifem) and a research institute for women’s development (INSTRAW).
One of the most important tasks of UN Women is to support the UN Commission on the Status of Women, which has been conducting studies and providing recommendations to Ecosoc since 1946 on areas affecting women’s rights. In addition, UN Women will support the Member States in their work to implement decided UN goals and regulations in this area, while at the same time keeping an eye on the entire work of the UN system for gender equality.
Sexual violence in conflicts has also received increasing attention in the UN in recent years. In 2010, the Secretary-General appointed for the first time a special envoy for these issues, Margot Wallström.
A number of UN conventions regulate women’s rights. Over the years, the UN has also hosted women’s conferences, including in Mexico City in 1975, in Nairobi in 1985 and in Beijing in 1995.
• Other vulnerable groups. The UN also works to help many other vulnerable groups and ensure that their rights are taken into account. These include the disabled, indigenous peoples, the elderly and young people.
Today, it is no longer only in the case of natural disasters that the UN mediates disaster relief. It has become more common for the UN to intervene in civil wars to provide food and medicine, to take care of refugees and clear mines. The civilian population has become increasingly vulnerable in connection with civil war. Sometimes aid has only been able to be brought into a country under the protection of peacekeeping forces. This development has also exposed aid workers to great dangers.
During the late 1990’s and into the 2000’s, the need for disaster response in connection with severe natural disasters has grown. Several severe natural disasters have occurred. In December 2004, a tsunami caused by a tsunami hit several countries in South and Southeast Asia, killing more than 200,000 people. One reason why the tsunami had such severe consequences was the lack of a tsunami warning system in the Indian Ocean. Following the tsunami disaster, the UN agency Unesco began work to build warning systems in several of the world’s oceans. The 2005 UN summit decided to set up a global warning system for all types of natural disasters.
One problem with the UN’s disaster relief work has been that some disasters tend to be neglected by donor countries. The support in connection with the 2004 tsunami disaster was enormous, but getting funding to help internally displaced people in northern Uganda was more difficult. Some crises that the UN has asked for support for have only received twenty percent of the grant requested. A special emergency fund (Central Emergency Response Fund) was established in 2006 to increase the UN’s ability to act in the event of disasters. Through it, UN agencies could quickly deploy disaster relief while the need is greatest.
Another problem for humanitarian work is that governments or other powerful actors such as militia groups do not give humanitarian organizations that want to provide emergency aid access to distressed areas, as has been the case in Syria, Somalia and Sri Lanka, for example.
A special committee consisting of UN agencies working on humanitarian aid and other aid organizations outside the UN was formed in the early 1990’s. The purpose was to make the relief work more efficient through closer cooperation. The Committee is chaired by the Deputy Secretary – General for Humanitarian Affairs and the UN Assistance Coordinator. He is also the head of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), which was established in 1998. If a country is hit by a disaster or conflict, a special humanitarian country coordinator can be appointed to coordinate relief work.