Globocops / UNITED NATIONS
Founded by 51 countries on 24 October 1945, just after the end of the Second World War, it now has 188 member states.
The Charter is a treaty binding all members ‘to maintain international peace and security’. It specifically calls on the UN to codify and develop international law.
The General Assembly is the ruling body composed of all members, each with one vote. It meets routinely between September and December every year.
The Security Council has responsibility for peace and security. There are 15 members, of which 5 – China, France, the Russian Federation, Britain and the US – are permanent and have a veto. The other 10 are elected by the General Assembly for two-year terms.
The International Court of Justice (sometimes known as the World Court) in The Hague is the main judicial organ of the UN, with 15 judges elected by the General Assembly and the Security Council.
The UN supports multilateral negotiations and treaties, which have included the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (1968), the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (1996) and nuclear-free zones. Other UN treaties cover chemical (1992) and bacteriological (1972) weapons, ban nuclear weapons from the ocean floor (1971) and outer space (1967).
Since the UN deployed its first peacekeepers in 1948 some 118 countries have provided more than 750,000 personnel for 53 peacekeeping operations, of which 14 are current, involving 26,600 personnel.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was proclaimed by the General Assembly in 1948 and is binding on all members. There are more than 80 related conventions and declarations. UN initiatives are currently active in 27 countries. In 1993 the Security Council set up a tribunal on war crimes in the former Yugoslavia; in 1994 another on genocide in Rwanda.
For more details see the UN system’s website: www.unsystem.org
Three outstanding books have been published recently. The first is Paul Rogers, Losing Control (Pluto Press, 2000), which combines a glimpse behind the security screens with sharp analysis of the real global insecurities – growing inequality and unsustainability. The second is Mary Kaldor, New and Old Wars (Polity Press, 1999), a brilliant, original analysis that benefits from personal experience on the Balkan ground. The third is George Monbiot, Captive State (Macmillan, 2000), which uncovers with wonderful power and clarity what corporations still have in mind, mostly for Britain. He concludes: ‘The architects of heaven always end up designing a hell.’
The Disarmament and Security Centre,
PO Box 8390, Christchurch, New Zealand.
Tel/Fax: +64 3 348 1353.
The DSC is a specialist branch of the NZ Peace Foundation.
United Nations Association of Australia,
179 St Georges Road, North Fitzroy, VIC 3068.
Tel: +61 3 9482 3655. Fax: +61 3 9419 5895.
The Rights Campaign
(for the Declaration of Human Rights)
Community Aid Abroad,
156 George St, Fitzroy, VIC 3065.
Tel: +61 3 9289 9444. Fax: +61 3 9419 5895.
Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace,
84 Park Rd, Woolloongabba, QLD 4102.
Tel: +61 7 3891 5911.
Fax: +61 7 3891 6944.
Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament,
162 Holloway Road, London N7 8DQ.
Tel: +44 20 7700 2393. Fax: +44 20 7700 2357.
Campaign Against the Arms Trade,
11 Goodwin Street, London N4 3HQ.
Tel: +44 20 7128 10297.
Fax: +44 20 7281 4369.
16b Cherwell St, Oxford OX4 1BG.
Tel: +44 1865 791 391.
Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies,
Conrad Grebel College, Waterloo, ON, N2L 3G6.
Tel: +1 519 888 6541.
Fax: +1 519 885 0806.
Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade (COAT),
541 McLeod St, Ottawa, ON K1R 5R2.
Tel: +1 613 231 3076. Fax: +1 613 231 2614.
PO Box 821, Stn B, Ottawa, ON K1P 5P9.
Tel: +1 613 241 5179. Fax: +1 613 241 4758.
Centre for Defense Information,
1779 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington, DC 20036.
Tel: +1 202 332 0600.
Fax: +1 202 462 4559.
Fellowship of Reconciliation,
PO Box 271, Nyack, NY 10960.
Tel: +1 845 358 4601. Fax: +1 845 358 4924.
PO Box 29344, San Francisco, CA 94129.
Tel: 415 561 6568. Fax: 415 561 6493.